From the Boathouse: Another warm winter in the Southland


We can enjoy another beautiful weekend in Southern California with our picturesque views to the Channel Islands and our local mountains. Additionally, boaters can venture for a great time in the middle of winter, unlike in other parts of the country where boaters are dreaming of the spring thaw.

Normally, this time of year, I like to report the new boating laws that go into effect after Jan. 1, but I can only find a couple of regulations affecting the commercial boat operations. Those changes primarily deal with new homeland security issues. I will keep looking for any new laws affecting the recreational boater and if you know of any new laws, let me know so I can report it in this column.

Our big concerns this time of the year in the Southland are any astronomical high tides and the low swings in air temperatures. Believe it or not, high tides can cause a lot damage to not only boats and docks but buildings as well. If the high tides are combined with a storm or big surf, then the ocean waves can flow over the beach and into buildings and also flood streets. I have seen the swells flow across the peninsula and into the bay. Now, that ride would make the record books for a surfer.

Additionally, the high tides can affect boaters, from docks floating free up and over their pilings to gangways flexing upward in the wrong direction and dock lines becoming snagged on the tops of pilings lifting the boats as the tide lowers. Remember that with every high tide, there is a corresponding low tide. The low tides can cause problems, too, from a dock twisting if it settles on the bay floor to high spots in channels where a boat might run aground and the strong tidal currents created by the seawater rush in or out of a harbor.

Ah, the difficulties of living in this area, as I ponder whether to go boating today or head up the mountains to go snow skiing.

However, this time of the year is my favorite time to go boating, since the crowds are gone, the air is crisp and guest facilities usually have available slip space for your boat in other harbors. As I always advise in winter, you need to keep an eye to the north for any storms or big seas heading our way. Presently, the jet stream is riding high to the north and this is pushing the storms to the east before any heads our way.

You will still need to winterize your boat even if you use it during cold period. Now, let me clarify before I get a flood of readers' emails that you do not need to winterize your boat for freezing temperatures, but for primarily condensation and fuel storage. Thus, temperature only plays a role in the extent to which you will have to do your winterization preparation.

I hope that every boater knows that the harbor's water temperature governs the ambient air temperature. Therefore, it will be highly unlikely that our air temperature will reach the freezing point long enough to cause any damage from the expansion of ice. Therefore, you do not need to drain your fresh water tanks, nor do you have to add antifreeze to all the boat's plumbing. However, do not let foul odors consume your boat, so pump out your holding tanks and then add in an odor treatment product during the lay-up. Additionally, you need to dry out your shower's sump pumps, if equipped, to keep the smelly organic gases from mold and mildew sweeping up and out the drains.

This is only a brief list. Boat owners should consult with your manual or online to your boat's manufacturer for a more thorough checklist for the environment where your boat is moored or stored.

Tip of the week is that mold is one of the biggest culprits to attack a boat during the winter months and mold loves to grow in dark, damp areas. You need to remove or thoroughly dry all the towels, swim fins, bedding and cushions on your boat or any item that might help mold grow. Do not forget the lifejackets aboard, so wash and dry the PFDs while replacing any jackets that are worn out or damaged.

I like using electric dehumidifiers, which work very well, if your boat is connected to shore power. If your boat is without power — for example, on a mooring can — then you can use the dry chemical dehumidifiers, but you will have to remember to empty the water collection containers once in a while.

Please be boat smart and boat safe. Lastly, please boat responsibly and look behind you before you turn the wheel at the helm.

Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting live coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network. See times at, and

Safe voyages!

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

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