5 Steps to Winterizing a Boat
Posted: November 12, 2021
5 Steps to Winterizing a Boat
For those boaters who live where winter happens, winterizing your boat is part of boat maintenance. Follow our tips in getting your boat ready for storage.
For those boaters who live where winter happens, sadly, boating season does come to an end, temporarily. While the end of boating season is bittersweet, winterizing your boat will not only save money, it also protects and prolongs your investment. Plus, launching in the spring will be that much easier since you took the time to prepare your boat for the winter months properly.
This blog will walk you through the general steps you should follow to winterize a boat for most boat models . Of course, we encourage you to refer to your owner’s manual and seek the advice of experts since how you winterize your boat depends on the type and model of the boat you own.
Boat maintenance can be outsourced or done as a DIY project. We are giving you an overview of your boat's needs to make sure it is protected throughout the winter season.
Step-by-Step Boat Winterization
1. Winterizing a Boat Motor
Whether it is an outboard, inboard, or stern drive motor, your boat engine needs to be drained and flushed with antifreeze as part of the winterizing process. We've listed some general steps that you'll need to follow to get your motor ready for winter storage.
- Add fuel stabilizer to the gasoline (run the engine for 10-20 minutes to distribute)
- Fog the carburetor and engine cylinders which prevent corrosion
- Change the oil and drain engine
- Flush the engine's cooling system and add antifreeze
- Spray engine with anti-corrosion spray and spray electrical connections with water repellent
This is also an excellent time to change batteries and check hoses and belts for any damage during this process, namely leaks. Don't forget to dispose of oil and batteries. We advise you to make sure you are following the proper guidelines on disposing of these items.
Again, we recommend that you refer to your boat owner's manual or seek the advice of a professional depending on your boat's specific motor.
2. Drain all Water Lines
An essential step in winterizing your boat is to drain all water lines. You don't want water left in pipes, holding lines, plumbing lines, or sewage tanks. Damage caused by freezing water can be costly, so draining all of your boat's water lines is very important.
In this draining process, you’ll want to run the plumbing lines and tanks until dry, close them up and add antifreeze to the tanks. Again, you don’t want to deal with the costly and mess of dealing with damaged water lines next spring.
When you’re done draining all the water lines on your boat, it’s time to address the bilges. As part of winterizing your boat, make sure you remove the drain plugs. You don’t want to put them back in because there may be residual water that can expand during the winter, causing unwanted cracks.
3. A Top-to-Bottom Cleaning
As you're preparing your boat for winter, this is a great time to scrub from bow to stern, inside and out. You don't want your boat's finishes to take on any damage over the winter months, and an extensive cleaning will prevent that from happening.
Many boaters power wash their boat's exterior, ridding it of the elements that may have accumulated on the bottom (the hull). This is also an excellent time to inspect the hull for any cracks, blisters, or dents. Depending on what you discover, you may be able to fix it yourself or seek the advice of a professional. Cracks or blisters that are exposed to freezing temperatures can cause significant damage if not addressed.
4. Check All Safety Equipment
As you're cleaning your boat, it's a great time to ensure your safety equipment is in working order. You'll want to check the radio, air horn, safety flares, lines, buoys, boat hooks, fire extinguishers, life rings, and the boat's first aid kit. If anything wasn’t replaced, repaired or replenished throughout the boating season, now is the time to get this done. You'll be that much further ahead in the spring when you are anxious to get your boat launched.
5. Choosing the Type of Boat Storage
You will have to decide how you will store your boat. Some factors to consider include associated costs, convenience, the severity of winters (temperature and precipitation) in your area, and the type of protection you want for your boat.
You have your choice of outdoor or indoor storage.
Outdoor storage options include:
- Home storage on your property
- Boat storage outside facilities
Indoor boat storage options include:
- Storage on your own property in a shed or garage
- Storage facilities-dry-stacked storage or self-storage- DIY or professional
Many storage units
Fitted Boat Covers
If you’re going with a fitted boat cover, we recommend that it is snug. If you’re storing your boat outside, you don’t want to risk having loose parts of a cover flapping around and potentially ruining your gel coat.
You want your cover to protect your boat from letting any moisture in, causing mold and mildew to greet you in the spring when you’re ready to get it prepared for boating season. This is not only costly but can take time out of your boating season to have this fixed.
If you live in climates that get a lot of snow, you'll want a boat cover that can support a lot of weight. You may want to consider adding extra support, such as poles, to ensure the cover doesn't collapse and that water easily runs off the cover rather than pool when the temperatures get warmer, and the snow melts. You'll also want to make sure that your boat cover is rated to withstand the elements you expect your boat to encounter, like snow, sleet, high winds, etc.
Shrink Wrap as an Alternative
Another cover option is shrink wrap. Shrink wrap is available in various sizes and is priced depending on the size of your boat. These covers are not breathable like canvas boat covers, so you’ll need to install vents to let moisture out and not cause mold or mildew.
Unlike a fitted boat cover that will last many boating seasons, shrink wrapping is something that has to be done each time you store your boat.
You can shrink wrap yourself, but many boaters have this done professionally, which of course, can raise the price.
The Importance of Winterizing a Boat
Preparing your boat for the upcoming winter season is essential. When you follow these tips, you prevent your boat from the damaging freezing temperatures and other elements. Taking the time to follow the above steps will not only save you money, but it will also make launching your boat that much easier next year.
Maintaining your boat is a large part of boat ownership and protecting your boat from the harsh winters will keep your vessel in tip-top shape for years to come.
We have you covered with the products you need to help winterize your boat!
Check out our boat cover collection, designed to protect your boat during the off-season.
Our boat d-icers help prevent or eliminate ice formation around your slip, dock, or pier during the winter months.
Keep melting snow or heavy rains from getting into your boat with our support poles for extra weight.
When you’re checking your safety gear, don’t forget air horns and life rings.
Use our Floë draining system for assistance with draining your water systems.