Don’t Forget These 5 Things When De-Winterizing A Boat

The day you've been waiting for all winter long is here — it's that day following the official onset of spring when you can finally take your beloved vessel out of storage and go through the steps of de-winterizing a boat. Before you head out on the water for your first trip of the season, there are some important tasks you'll want to check off your list in order to make sure that your boat is in prime working order.

The tips below should only serve as helpful de-winterizing reminders since the process of de-winterizing a boat will differ based on the type of engine and boat model. Always follow the instructions in your boat owner's manual first and foremost.

Don’t forget to consider the following five things when de-winterizing a boat:

  1. Inspect all life jackets and safety equipment. Check to make sure you have the proper number of life jackets and functioning safety equipment on board given the number of anticipated passengers. Inspect each life jacket, checking for torn straps and broken zippers or buckles. Check all safety equipment, such as flares or air horns, so you know the equipment will work properly in the event of an emergency.

  2. Test your electronics. Before you take your boat out for the first trip of the season, check your radio, GPS, depth finder, and all other marine electronics to be certain all electronics are functioning as they should be.

  3. Replace your fluids. Check your boat owner's manual and purchase all of the fluids you’ll need to replace before you begin to go through the de-winterizing process. For example, you will need to flush the cooling system and replace old antifreeze with equal parts of water and coolant.

  4. Charge and clean your boat batteries. Use a battery tester to check the amps and volts. If your battery isn't holding a charge, it should be replaced. If your battery is holding a charge, clean the battery connections and make sure the connections are tight.

  5. Check the fuel line for cracks. Fuel lines can occasionally crack from cold winter temperatures, so always inspection the lines thoroughly when going through the de-winterizing process. This is also a good time to change the fuel filter if you didn't change the filter prior to storing the boat for the winter.

Now that you know what five things you won't want to forget when de-winterizing a boat, find out what it takes to transport your boat safely from home to the launch by visiting the "Hauling Your Boat" pages at

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard

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Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.