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What You Should Know About Boating in Freezing Weather

The holiday season is fast approaching and, while most boaters in your neighborhood have winterized and stored their boat and engine until spring, you still have some late-season fishing and/or hunting on your to-do list. Several sections of the US offer outdoor activities late in the year – and all Mercury Marine outboards are rated to operate at temperatures as low as -15C/+5F.

However, no matter how invigorating late-season boating can be, you’ll need to ensure your outboard and boat are ready to withstand the cold. Before you set the alarm clock for early tomorrow morning, keep these facts and recommendations in mind.

  1. If you have a FourStroke outboard, check the owner’s manual for advice on proper oil viscosity for cold-weather operation.
  2. The most common cold-weather outboard problem is something many hunters call “duck hunter’s freeze-up,” which occurs when a hunter in the winter months tilts up the outboard to keep it out of marsh muck or to pull their skiff ashore. Tilting up the outboard traps water in the motor, which freezes if the air temperature is low enough. Frozen water in your outboard almost always results in serious engine damage.

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