Did you know: Water or Vodka?

Some shipyards are turning to vodka to flush systems and make sure your boat is ready for winter.

What are they using to clean your systems for winter? It might not be what you think... Some shipyards have taken to using vodka to decommission boats with freshwater systems. The practice has existed for some time, but it was only recently that it started gaining popularity among boatyards for their higher end customers.

The concept is that the vodka will help identify places in the system where water remains. First the freshwater system is drained entirely, then vodka with food coloring is flushed through to penetrate any spots where water might remain. After the water is cleared, any vodka that remains will evaporate leaving no taste and no trace next season.

Though a bottle of vodka might cost more than a traditional bottle of antifreeze, boatyards are confident the benefits outweigh the small difference in price.

Of course, you can always swap the cheap stuff for Grey Goose if you're looking for the finest quality for your boat's systems.

Check out this real email exchange a reader sent us between a boat owner and the Brooklin Boat Yard about some mysterious charges at the end of the season...

Owner: Hi. I'm sure there's a boatyard term I don't know here, but on my current bill for Lyra I'm paying for three half-gallons of "vodka"?

Yard: Arrr. There'll be no friggin' in the riggin', especially with spirits, laddy boy.

We’ve taken to decommissioning the boats’ fresh-water systems with vodka. It used to be something only a few did, but in recent years it has become more the norm, at least for our top-end yachts.

The idea is to drain the water completely, add food coloring to a bottle of vodka (so we can see it), and run it through the system to penetrate any spots where water remains. Then blow it clear. Whatever vodka remains, evaporates. Since it leaves no trace, there is no aftertaste next season. A bottle of vodka costs more than a minus-100-degree bottle of pink antifreeze, but the benefits far outweigh the $10 to $15 more in cost.

We use only the finest bottom-shelf stuff, but if you’d like to brag to your friends, we could use Grey Goose, Belvedere, Russo-Baltique or something similar.