Long periods of wintertime storage can be brutal for your boat but learning how to winterize a boat can avoid hard starts and preventable damage once the snow melts and the seasons change.
How to Winterize a Boat: Preparing Your Boat for Winter the Right Way
1. Remove Any Valuables Inside
Make sure to remove all valuables from your boat like cash, jewelry, and electronics. Since you’ll not be around to watch your boat for the winter, robbers are going to have an easier time breaking in and running away with your things.
2. Get Your Boat Insured
Consider getting a separate insurance policy for your boat to protect it from unforeseen incidents like break-ins and natural disasters. If anything untoward does happen, your insurance can cover at least some of the damages.
3. Clean and Unpack the Boat
As you prepare your boat for storage, clean out any food and beddings before proceeding with maintenance work. This keeps bugs and mice away and eliminates any unpleasant odors from the vessel.
After unpacking, air out the boat before giving the interior surfaces a good scrub and leaving the boat to air dry once more.
3. Add Some Fuel Stabilizer in Your Fuel Tank
Before putting your boat away for the freezing months, empty your boat’s fuel tank and replenish it with some fresh fuel and add some fuel stabilizer into the mix. A good quality marine fuel stabilizer can keep boat fuel fresh for a long time, as long as you apply the stabilizer while the fuel is at peak condition.
Fuel deterioration is one of the most common causes of boat damage during winter. Gunk and varnish can build-up due to condensation and leave sticky residue on the boat’s engine.
4. Change Your Engine Oil
Dirty oil can corrode your engine, especially when you don’t use your boat for long periods. Run your boat to warm up the engine to flush out the old oil, then replace it with new engine oil based on your boat manufacturer’s recommendations.
5. Replace the Gear Oil
Don’t forget to drain out your gear oil before storing your boat for the winter. This is more so if water spews out of the lower unit or your old oil comes out with a milky consistency (signs that moisture has contaminated the lower unit).
6. Drain and Flush Out Water
Drain out any excess water from your boat’s engine so you don’t get any corrosion and cracking from freezing temperatures. To do this during the winter, use water muffs to hook your boat to an antifreeze pump and flush the engine with antifreeze until the solution has circulated and exits out of the boat’s exhaust.
If you use your boat on saltwater, flush out the engine with some fresh water and a desalting solution first before pumping with antifreeze. Salt is a boat’s number one enemy and repairing salt-related damage can cost you thousands of dollars in repair.
7. Spray Fogging Oil All Over the Engine
Next, spray down your engine with a coat of fogging oil. Fogging oil prevents your engine from corrosion and protects it from the elements while the boat is in storage.
Fogging oil also adds a coat of lubricant that prevents metal-to-metal contact once you run the boat next season.
8. Lubricate the Fittings
Use some marine lubricant to grease the engine fittings. Pay special attention to the bearings around the steering area and check the manual to ensure everything’s greased out and ready to go.
9. Store Your Boat Properly
Once you’re done with maintenance work and everything’s working properly, it’s time to store your boat. If you have the funds, you should ideally place it in a dry storage facility, but if this isn’t possible, cover your boat with a fitted boat cover or shrink wrap.
Learn how to winterize a boat's air conditioning system with these tips from Onboard with Eddie:
Knowing how to winterize a boat may seem like a daunting task, but it’s a necessary process to ensure you remain afloat the rest of the year. Do all these steps, and you’ll be ready to sail again once springtime rolls.
How do you winterize your own boat? Share your boat winterization tips and tricks in the comments section down below!
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