Winterize Your Boat
Your boat isn’t just an investment, it’s part of living your dream. During warm weather, you, your family and friends spend hours on the boat, having fun and building memories. When it’s time to put your boat away for the season, these easy-to-follow tips will pay off in extending your boat’s life and appearance.
In addition to these boat winterizing tips, it’s a good idea to follow your boat manufacturer’s recommendations for winterizing, since some of these tips may not apply to your particular boat.
Winterizing the drive system. Before you put your boat to bed for the winter, you’ll want to change the oil and filter (remember to run the engine and circulate the new oil). Don’t forget the transmission!
If you have an outboard motor you may want to purchase a winterizing kit (it comes with hoses) to get antifreeze into the engine. Remember to change the oil in the lower unit, too!
If you have an inboard motor you can winterize your cooling system by warming the engine up, draining water and running undiluted, marine engine antifreeze through the engine. You can pour the antifreeze in while it’s running or disconnect the cooling hose put it in a bucket filled with antifreeze and run it until it comes out the exhaust.
Follow your owner’s manual for fogging solutions (applying lubricating oil to cylinders and pistons while the engine is running) because engines’ needs vary.
Filling your fuel tank with gas can reduce condensation during storage.
Disconnect your boat’s battery, remove and store in a cool place. Ideally, a battery works best when you bring it up to a full charge once a month.
Clean the bilge and add a little RV antifreeze to prevent any remaining water from freezing.
Your water system needs special care to keep it from freezing over the winter:
- Pumping out the holding tank at a marina or RV septic pumping facility is highly recommended.
- Add fresh water to the system and pump it out again to be absolutely sure it’s clean.
- Completely drain the fresh water tank and hot water heater, if you have one.
- Disconnect the hot water heater lines and add non-toxic antifreeze.
- Add antifreeze and pump through the hoses, holding tank and discharge hose.
- Pump non-toxic antifreeze into the system until it runs out the faucets.
You can keep your boat’s exterior looking its best by pressure washing the hull and scraping off barnacles or anything else that’s sticking but shouldn’t be. Check for blisters and cracks – repairing them before they turn into a problem for you. And finally, waxing down your hull will help maintain the boat’s appearance. Your boat manufacturer can recommend waxing products for your boat.
Get a jump on next year’s boating season, by cleaning your boat’s interior. Vacuum the carpets, polish any metal and wipe down all surfaces. Spray clean the vinyl with a mildew protector. You may also want to add moth balls and moisture absorbing products in your storage areas.
Stash the accessories. Life preservers, water toys, food, electronics, hats, clothes, fishing gear, sunblock, etc. will last longer if they are removed from your boat over the winter and stored at home.
Once your boat is winterized and tucked in for the winter, you can be sure it will be running smoothly in the spring!