With increasingly cooler weather, many folks stop boating for the rest of the year and don’t expect to get on the water again until spring. This is especially true in northern latitudes where the prospect of freezing temperatures and frozen precipitation looms, possibly prompting thoughts about winterizing a boat.
Those who live in the most southerly climes, and/or those who use their boat on a year-round basis, don’t think much about how to winterize a boat, (they should still perform routine maintenance), but most others should, particularly if you’re a new boat owner.
Actually, this topic should not just be considered “winterizing,” per se, but also “long-term storing.” After all, three to six months is a long time for a boat (and motor) to sit idle. No matter where you live, if you want your boat in good shape and ready to use when spring arrives, take care of it properly when you stop using it.
Follow These Steps for How to Winterize a Boat (and Store It)
• If you’re not doing the work yourself, don’t wait to go to a dealer or marine service center to winterize a boat, and/or prep it for spring.
• If you’re doing the work yourself, a good place to start is by reviewing a winterizing a boat checklist.
• Start with the engine: draining, flushing, using corrosion protection, de-fogging, adding fuel stabilizer, and changing the fuel filter. Consider removing any batteries and electronics. There’s conflicting advice on whether to fill or empty the fuel tank in this ethanol-gas era. I only use ethanol-free gas but still put a stabilizer in it and I keep the tank full over winter. Check your engine owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation, or ask a dealer.
• Then move to the boat: drain lines, add antifreeze, remove water from wells and bilge, take out the drain plug, and power wash the interior and exterior. Open all compartments to dry out.
• As for the trailer (if you have one): this is a good time to repack the bearings, fix any light issues, and check on your winch, winch strap, bow chain, and transom tiedowns; power wash the trailer as well.
• For outside storage: make sure that the bow is elevated higher than the stern; when it is thoroughly dry, cover the boat and engine; keep it away from trees or any place where debris or objects (like ice from a roof) can fall on it.
With this all done, you should be in great shape for spring boating.