All good things come to an end eventually, and sadly that includes summer and prime boating weather. Luckily though, the warm weather is never gone for good. To make sure your boat will be ready on the first warm day of spring when you can finally get on the water again, it’s essential to winterize it correctly. Keep reading for everything you need to know about prepping your boat for the off-season.
Location, location, location
You might be wondering where the best place to keep a boat over the winter is, and you’d have a few different options. Typically, your options are going to be at home on the trailer, in your own garage, or in a dedicated indoor boat storage facility. While renting space in a dedicated facility can be the easiest because they’re usually climate controlled, it’s also often the most expensive option.
Wherever you decide to store your boat for the winter, the basic things you need are the same: somewhere your boat is out of the elements, out of direct sunlight, and protected from moisture that can cause mold and mildew.
No matter where you store your boat, the steps you need to take to protect it during the off season will me the same:
A Bath Before Bed
Before retiring your boat for the season, give it one last good cleaning and detailing. In addition to keeping you from having to clean off stale, dried on muck, it will help you identify any parts of the boat that might need repairs. Cold weather will only exacerbate engine problems and cracks in the hull, so make any necessary repairs before storing your boat.
Winterize the Engine
Flush the engine, cooling system and all, with fresh water to remove any debris and corrosion that might have built up. Refill the coolant system and run the engine just enough to warm it and remove loose impurities. Then change the oil and apply fogging oil on all the components suggested in the manual.
You can also remove and store tension belts to prevent damage from prolonged tension in fluctuating temperatures. Finally, top off the fuel tank with a mixture of gas and stabilizer, and run the engine for about 15 minutes to make sure the additives get distributed through the fuel lines.
Drain the Water
An important step of winterizing your boat is to drain all water from the bilge, water tank, head, pipes, and cooling systems that use water. Water expands when it freezes, so skipping this step could cause serious damage to interior pipes and the engine.
Make sure to add antifreeze into the bilge and water tanks — and don’t drain the engine water intake before you winterize the engine.
Add marine-grade lubricant to all moving metal parts, steering systems, and control mechanisms, including the propeller. This will make sure there’s no moisture that could cause corrosion trapped in the joints.
Check the battery
Cold weather is killer for batteries, so it’s important to prevent your marine battery from losing charge as much as possible. Disconnect the battery and charge it periodically throughout the winter to keep it from getting so low it needs to be replaced.
Remove and store porous materials
To further prevent mold and mildew, remove all fabric, organic material, and other porous items from your boat and store them somewhere temperature controlled (even a closet in your house!)
Always Cover Your Boat Before Storage
Regardless of where you keep your boat over the winter, it’s imperative that you keep it covered. You should always at the very least use a boat cover that will keep dust and sun off your boat, but if you live in a harsher environment and are going to be storing your boat outdoors it can also be a good idea to shrink-wrap it for extra protection from the elements.
Remember, never leave the boat in the water over the winter!
Winter will be here and gone again before you know it, and if you properly winterize your vessel, you’ll be back on the water before you know it. We hope you’ve learned a bit more about how to protect your boat in the off-months.