how and when you should winterize your boat

How and When You Should Winterize Your Boat

How and When Should You Winterize Your Boat

One question every boat owner must ask is “When should I winterize my boat?”.

As summer turns to fall and the air outside turns chilly, boaters know that it is time to get their boats ready for winter and are forced to make serious choices about proper boat storage.

Even boat owners in more moderate climates like Florida or California need to “winterize” or get their boat ready for the colder weather.  In fact, in warmer weather states, the number of freeze related insurance claims are highest, because some owners choose to gamble on the weather, and figure they can skate through an occasional cold snap.  This ends up costing the owner way more to fix.

In colder climates, owners may not need any convincing to winterize their boats.  Most boat owners in cold climates know that winter brings ice, snow, and below-freezing temperatures.  So, regardless of where a boat owner lives, they will have to know how to winterize their boat, and when.

When Should You Begin to Winterize Your Boat

For many boat owners and anglers, the end of the fall may mean the end of the boating season.  So, it may be time to start making final preparations for winterizing boats.  In fact, it is important to make these preparations because it goes a long way in protecting the boat during the winter months.

The first step to winterizing a boat is to make a checklist of all the things that need to be done so no tasks go unfinished.  If starting a to-do list is hard, look to the owner’s manual for resources.  Or, please keep reading below for our own to-do list on how to winterize a boat.

To-Do List For Boat Winterization

Please follow this easy-to-do list to make sure that the boat is getting winterized properly.

Do a Damage Check: The first thing a boat owner should do is remove the boat from the water and carefully check it for any damage.  Take some time to inspect it thoroughly.  Look for scratches, dents, or any other signs of damage to the exterior of the boat.  Then, inspect the interior for damages as well. Make sure you do not forget to check the engine or hull for damages.  If you find any damage, have it fixed before you begin the winterization of the boat.

Change the filters and oil: You will want to change the oil and filters onboard. This is important so that engine oil is not sitting all winter long, which is not good for the engine.  Make sure that you fill the gas tanks and add a stabilizer for good measure.

Remove possessions from the boat that is perishable or valuable:  You will want to clean up the boat and remove all unnecessary items.  That means seat cushions, swimming accessories, and anything else valuable.  If you do not think you will be back in the boat until spring, it may be wise to get rid of all food and beverages as well.

Deep Clean the Boat: Take some time to wash the interior and exterior of the boat.  Clean off any debris to the exterior of the boat.  After, clean inside thoroughly.  Wipe down and sanitize the seats, and baseboards.  Spray the deck, using soap if necessary.  Make sure to allow everything to dry completely.

Time to Cover and Store: After you have completed the to-do list and all of the maintenance on board, it will be time to cover and store the boat.  Boat owners can shrink wrap the boat and store it on their property.  Or, a boat owner can store it at a boat storage facility.  Many different factors go into choosing one over the other, but it is completely up to the boat owner.

The boat owner may also want to inspect and store electronic equipment for winter too.  Unplug any power cords, and store for the winter.  Remove any fish finders from the boat.  They should be stored inside and away from cold until spring.

How to Winterize Different Kinds of Boat Engines

As mentioned above, some boat owners, especially in warmer climates, may think that following the to-do list for how to winterize your boat is a waste of time.  Many boat owners in warmer climates can still enjoy winter boating, so a complete winterization of the boat may be unnecessary.  But, any smart boat owner knows that you need to take care of the engine no matter what the weather brings.  Read our list below on how to winterize different kinds of boat engines.

Even if the boat owner is in a warmer climate, they should still change the oil, as suggested in the above list.  The reason for this is because old oil in the crankcase of a stored boat can form acids.  These acids can corrode the engine and shorten its life.

Also, the boat owner should fog the engine.  Fogging oil prevents corrosion to the engine, especially if the boat is stored for a long period of time.

Top off the fuel in the engine and to eliminate condensation that may settle as water at the bottom of the tank.  Stabilize the fuel to help prevent phase separation in the gasoline.  Diesel fuel stabilizers stop the growth of bacteria in the engine.

Add antifreeze to the engine block.  This helps stop residual water from freezing, which could crack the block.  When choosing antifreeze, a non-toxic propylene glycol one is best.

After the boat has been fully inspected, cleaned, and serviced the time has come to cover and store the boat for winter.  Remember when covering the boat, to allow for some circulation underneath to prevent mildew from forming.

It does take a lot of work to winterize a boat.  However, all of the steps on our to-do list are necessary in order to keep the boat in peak condition.  Winterizing a boat is the best thing a boat owner can do to ensure a successful boating season when spring returns.  By following our to-do list, a boat owner can be ready to hit the water once boating season comes around.

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