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October 2003

Electronics Winterization and Storage Tips
By Lary George

New and experienced boaters should start thinking about the winterization ritual that is a yearly occurrence in the Great Lakes. The general rule of thumb is that if you are going to be away from your boat for more than three months at a time, you should think about de-commissioning the boat. That rule applies to boats just about anywhere! By adhering to this rule of thumb, you can prevent all kinds of unwanted damage and deteriorization.

The easy way to winterize electronics is to have your storage provider put the boat in a heated building. The fun way is to take the time off and head south on a planed cruise for the winter.

If you plan to have your boat shrink wrapped, there are a few precautions you should take to prevent other problems from cropping up. You should select a shrink-wrap that is porous and that allows some airflow. This is a good way to prevent corrosion, mildew and fungus growth. A shrink-wrap can create a green house effect on the boat where moister is created during the day when the sun is out and at night the moisture is frozen.

Another tip is to have at least one access door through the shrink-wrap to allow you to enter and inspect the boat to see what is taking place so you can head off any potential problems. It’s a good idea to visit the boat at least once a month for this purpose.

Removing your electronics from the boat for winter can save a ton of trouble next season. Here are some simple tips to consider before you put the boat away for the winter. Electronics with LCD screens are designed to take about 30 degrees F – not much for Great Lakes’ winters. These electronics are best removed and stored for the winter.

The practical way is to start with a check list of what electronics are onboard and determine what type exposure they will be subjected to. While removing the items, it is a good time to label wires, and determine better ways and locations for mounting.

The following are valuable items that are candidates for removal and proper storage: Radar, GPS, Chart Plotters, Fishfinders, Instrumentation (Speed, Depth, Temp, Log), Radios, and anything with an LCD readout. However, your engine instrumentation and, in general, any analog gauges are fairly safe left in place.

Now is the time to check connections for corrosion and stability of the connection. Corroded connections should be cleaned or cut out and replaced entirely, depending on the amount of deterioration. It is very important that full connections are made when interfacing due to the low voltage used in serial communication. Sometimes a quick, light coat of silicone spray such a WD40 can help chase water away, and keep connections dry. Dielectric grease and petroleum jelly should be on the list of things that coat and protect connections also.

Radio antennas, at their base, are constantly exposed to the elements and should be checked regularly to maintain full functionality. Inspect around the ferrule of the antenna for visible signs of corrosion.

Disconnecting the battery should be a consideration. This should not affect the new electronic controlled fuel injection systems or their computer. The chips have burned in memory and are generally designed to last at least 100 years. This is good time to check for connections (Such as engine grounds and battery terminals) that should be clean for spring launch. This is also a good time to catch those pesky incorrectly rigged wires that may not belong, or replace the ones that need a clean feed for Positive and Negative Power posts. The resistance from poor electrical connections can cause electronic symptoms that are sometimes very difficult to trace. In fact – poor grounding can cause a DC system to reverse its polarity

Check Radar antenna mounting bases and connections. Be sure that the installer did not cover up the weep hole in the base of the unit. Moisture will collect there over the winter and submerge the drive motor and array, which will halt the antenna function.

If you have GPS, Loran, Chart Plotter, Fishfinder or any system that requires internal memory function that is five years old or older, now is the time to take the unit to a Marine Electronics shop that has an electronics bench. Have the internal memory battery replaced. The way to tell if your unit is having problems is to note that the unit is constantly seeking a new almanac, or that the stored waypoints are no longer present. Another way to tell is if you have lost stored routes and added feature data settings that are no longer accessible.

Confused about winterization? Shop for a good electronics installer to do the work so you can be sure the job is done right. Installers can mark locations, schematic interfacing (make line drawings we all can understand), route wires, and label wires. This is a great idea - - knowing where all the electrical and electronic wires are so you can identify and repair the system and keep a history of the work so upgrades and future additions can be done properly. This also makes your job easier if there are problems onboard and you need to trouble shoot at a later date.

Many new problems often appear in the spring when you are just getting ready for a season of fun. Having done your homework by knowing electrical and electronic maintenance have been performed during winterization will make your job much easier.

You should start shopping for the latest in new electronic products on the web, at your electronics dealer, or at one of the many upcoming boat shows. That way when spring comes, you will be ready with your new gear and a boat that is ready to go with few repairs because you properly winterized.

Lary George, Continental Sales, PO Box 15331, Ft Wayne IN, 46885, ljgeorge@juno.com is a Manufacturers Rep in the Great Lakes Region.

Whether you're an Angler, Boater or Fisherman...Findley Lake has it All!
By Richard Martin

Boating, fishing and camping are three sports that have always gone hand in hand, but pursuing these activities in big state parks like Salt Fork, Pymatuning, and Buckeye can be a hassle. Even after Labor Day these well known parks often have crowds of people making too much noise, and lakes with far too many boats crisscrossing and pulling water skiers. But there are small parks around too, parks that offer good camping and fishing, parks that you've seldom heard of and never visited. Findley State Park is a classic example.

Findlay lies just a modest drive from northern cities, a 903 acre area along SR 58 just south of Wellington. It has a nice wooded campground with 272 sites, and a pleasant little lake of 93 acres. The campground these days seldom has more than two or three campers in residence, maybe a few more on weekends, so it's an ideal place to set up camp, smell wood smoke on crisp morning air, eat a fire blackened hotdog, and just lay back and enjoy peace and quiet. Readers interested in trying the sport of camping, but lack equipment, can spend time in one of three camper cabins at Findlay, and at least get a taste of outdoor living.

It may be a small lake, but there are still basic facilities, including two launch ramps and in season, rental boats and a commissary. Unfortunately, motors are electric only, but that makes peaceful and quiet exploring with little distracting noise. The lake is worth exploring too, with backwaters, secluded coves, and a tiny island. Boaters are likely to see waterfowl from ducks to geese, shorebirds, and along wooded shores anything from deer coming for a dawn drink to squirrels.

The lake has all of the standard fish, bass, channel cats, bluegill, and crappie, and bass fishing is first class during these autumn months. Catfishing is good at night, especially along a right angle channel by the swimming beach, which ends in a dozen or so rental canoes. One local angler fishes there after every rain, and hammers the cats, which are probably drawn by a fresh supply of washed-in worms and insects. A park ranger said "The biggest cat I've seen the man catch there weighed 17 pounds!"

Another good aspect for boater/camper/anglers here is that Spencer Lake Wildlife Area is just a few miles away. It's about one mile east of the town of Spencer on SR 162, then another mile north. Spencer is a prime fishing lake, two actually, separated by a nice cement and grass causeway. It has a launch ramp, two good wooden fishing piers, and a fine supply of channel cats and bass.

Boaters who like a little hiking with their water sports will find 10 miles of trails, including a portion of the Buckeye Trail, and those who like mountain biking can use the trails, too. There's even a self-guided interpretive trail that starts and ends at the camp check-in building.

A second pleasant little (and almost unknown) state park is Van Buren State Park. It's just north of the town of Findlay, 251 acres of wooded land with a 45 acre lake and a mile stretch of river running through it. LikeFindley Lake, electric motors only are allowed, and its 45 acres offer their own brand of quiet boating. The campground has 78 sites which, like Findley, lack electricity, and pet camping is permitted on designated sites.

The lake has a good population of largemouth bass, channel cats, bluegill, bullheads, and crappie, and a mornings catch is only minutes away from the campfire skillet. Van Buren also has hiking trails, lots of birds and other wildlife, and six miles of multiple-use trails that mountain bikers can use. A place worth seeing.

Then there's Jefferson Lake State Park, another spot I'm betting you've never heard of. It lies east of New Philadelphia almost on the Pennsylvania border, 945 acres of rolling, hilly land cloaked with beech, oak, maple, and walnut. Those who walk its 22 miles of trails, or horseback there, and do so in early morning or late evening, will likely see deer and wild turkey, maybe ruffed grouse, surely squirrels and other forest creatures.

The campground has 57 non-electric sites with basic amenities, and the 17 acre lake can provide good fishing for the usual bass, cats, and panfish. Again, it's electric motors only, but there's a fair launch ramp for small boats. Hunters might want to combine this sport with their fishing and camping, since designated areas of the park are open to hunting. And while they're enjoying a woods walk, the kids can try a game of volleyball, basketball, or horseshoes. But, again it's all low key and campers are likely to find few people sharing their pleasures.

There are lots of other places, and readers searching for out-of-the way boating, camping and fishing might try Wolf Run which has trout as well as other fish, or scenic Beaver Creek, or maybe just search "ohio state parks" and click on Pick a Park. Then choose any that please you. Lots will.

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