Prepare Your Boat for Winter
Help keep your vessel in pristine condition with proper end-of-season winterizing.
As you say goodbye to summer and weekends on the water, give your boat the maintenance it needs to make it through winter and be seaworthy come spring. Here are tips for winterizing your watercraft:
Winterizing the engine depends on whether you have an inboard or outboard engine and/or a stern drive. Read the owner’s manual. Despite your engine type you should expect to:
- Change the engine oil and oil filters.
- Flush your engine with fresh water.
- Use fogging oil on the carburetor, cylinders and pistons.
Fill your gas tank nearly to capacity—this can help prevent condensation—leaving some space to allow the gas to expand. Then add fuel stabilizer. It keeps the fuel from breaking down and helps reduce the risk of corrosion. If the engine runs on diesel, use fuel biocide instead. Run the engine about 10 to 15 minutes to move the treated fuel through the system.
To prevent theft and damage, disconnect the battery and store it somewhere safe. However, if your boat remains in the water over the winter, leave it connected; a charged battery is necessary to run the bilge pump. Also consider removing other devices such as depth finders, navigation systems and radios.
Exterior and Interior
Give the outside of your boat a good cleaning. Once you’re finished, apply a coat of wax for extra protection. Also be sure to thoroughly clean the carpet and upholstery, and condition vinyl surfaces with a protective coating or spray. If you’re worried about developing mildew, purchase a moisture absorber and place it in the boat when you store it.
If possible, take your boat to a climate-controlled indoor storage facility. Whether you store your boat indoors or outdoors, it’s important that the boat has a tight-fitting cover. If the boat stays outside, add a frame under the cover so rainwater and snow can’t accumulate or pool in one place. Another option is to have the boat professionally shrink-wrapped before storing it.