Taking the proper precautions is very important if you want your boat to be ready to use when spring comes. Failure to winterize your boat can cause significant damage such as cracks, leaks, corrosion, and frozen pipes. Freezing, dormancy, moisture, and corrosion can lead to large repair bills. In order to avoid costly repairs in the spring, take the proper precautions in the fall.
Here are some necessary steps to take when winterizing your boat:
Give your boat a thorough cleaning inside and out. This also lets you discover anything that might need repair before putting your boat away until the spring. You may also choose to apply a rust inhibitor on your steering and control cables and on the metal hardware.
It is best to handle anything that is broken, worn, or damaged in the fall when boatyards are less busy than in the springtime rush. You also don’t want to leave something like a crack sitting all winter long, as damage could become worse.
All electronics should be removed and stored in a safe, dry, and warm place.
Things such as cushions, curtains, sails, personal flotation devices, and fire extinguishers should also be stored to prevent mildew. Be sure to place some boxes of baking soda throughout your boat to absorb moisture.
Drain the fluid from your manifolds and engine blocks, water pumps, and coolers.
Fill the gas tank to prevent condensation, oxidation, and gas spoilage. Be sure to add stabilizer to preserve the gas and prevent damage to the fuel system. Run the engine for about 15 minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the gas in your fuel lines. Put antifreeze into the cooling system.
Run the engine to warm it up and change the oil while it is warm. Dirty engine oil can thicken after long-term storage and make it difficult to start the boat after storing it. Be sure to change the oil filter, too.
You’ll also want to change the transmission fluid, remove spark plugs, and use “fogging oil” on each cylinder. Spray a towel with fogging oil or WD-40 and wipe down the engine.
Disconnect the battery cables and remove the battery. Clean the terminal ends, wash the battery with a solution of water and baking soda, and rinse it with distilled water. Apply a light coating of grease to the terminal ends of the battery and cables. Be sure to use a trickle charger to keep the battery charged. Store it in a dry, safe place and off of concrete.
Be sure to cover your boat tightly before storing it, even if it is being stored indoors. Make sure that whatever cover you choose has good ventilation. Also be certain there are no tears or damages to the cover.
Most insurance policies don’t cover damage caused by lack of maintenance, so winterizing is very important. The best way to winterize your boat is to check your owner’s manual; every boat is different. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help and ask lots of questions if you have never winterized before. It’s better to be safe than sorry.