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Storing a boat? Let's do it right

November 13, 2010

This time of year when the first cold winds blow and the water temperature starts to fall, many fair-weather fishermen think about putting old faithful on the lift or trailer for several months.

Being from the north this is a strange phenomenon to me. Maybe it's because I'm a true fishing addict and I see fishing as a year-round sport anywhere on the planet, especially in the south.

Growing up in the midAtlantic states, many times we would head to the frozen pond in January and break ice with our paddles to get to deep water to catch crappies and an occasional bass. If I still have not inspired you to continue to fish and boat this winter and you still will be giving your boat a rest, do it properly so next season she will be ready to go.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

The fuel gremlins love a partially filled fuel tank sitting for months sucking in moisture through the vents and mixing with the ethanol supplements the government force feeds us in the fuel. Ethanol bonds to the water in the fuel and falls to the bottom of the tank in a milky sludge just waiting for when the first few cranks of the motor forces this soup into carbs and injectors to cause all kinds of problems.

Most area dealers tell me that nowadays a full 50 percent of repairs are ethanol related. Before storing run out the old remaining fuel, fill with fresh fuel and add an ethanol stabilizing product according to the manufactures directions. Marinas sell ethanol-free gas if you can afford it. Lastly, install a new water separating filter and inspect for water contamination.

The good news is in Florida there isn't much need to remove the plugs and fog the cylinders with lubricant although it can never hurt if your boat will remain unused for several months.

This also is the time to complete any unfinished projects that you have been putting off - fixing bad wires and failing switches, replacing bilge and live well pumps, topping off batteries with distilled water and cleaning terminals, inspecting hoses and steering cables, etc. Remember to keep charging the batteries all winter.

This also is a great time to finally wash the boat and apply a good coat of wax to preserve the finish. Try to wax at least twice a year and don't forget the bottom of the hull if you like saving money at the gas pump and want a bit more top-end speed.

You can't catch fish if you can't get old faithful to the water. Go over the trailer with a socket set, tightening nuts and bolts. Replace those rusted out tail lights. Check tires for sidewall rot and cover to protect from the sun. Pull the wheels, inspect and grease the bearings. Flush the brakes and spray everything down with a corrosion control spray. Installing blocks under the trailer frame to take the load off the tires is helpful, too.

It's a full-time job, but boats don't come cheap and since you aren't fishing you now have a lot of time.

The 38th annual Fort Myers Boat Show is back in town until Nov. 14 at the Harborside Convention Center Yacht Basin. Admission is $8 for adults and kids under 12 get in free. This is a great event and just keeps getting better every year.

Canoes to giant motor yachts will be there for sale or inspection. This is a good time to buy a boat if you are in the market since many dealers run show specials that can save you thousands of dollars.

Check out the many seminars by local guides and speakers for some great tips on fishing and boating. If you have ever wanted to learn to throw a cast net this is the place to be for free demonstrations being given all days.

Life is a short season. Fish hard.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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