Part of your annual boat maintenance includes winterizing your boat when the off season comes around. Winterizing your boat protects it from damage while not in use, specifically during the colder months depending on where you live. It is important to keep your boat in prime working condition and ready to go when you are ready to take it out again.
Flushing Excess Water
First, you need to flush and drain all of the water lines. If water is kept in these areas, much like your home pipes, they may burst if they freeze. Make sure to also drain any water from the engine cooling systems, plumbing system, and lines. Make sure to be sure to consult your boats owners manual or a marine technician if you are not sure of all of the places to remove excess water. Then, flush the engine using water muffs until it is at the right temperature.
Next, you will need to change the oil and fluids. It is important to keep track of when your boat needs an oil change, similar to your car. It will depend on the specific boat and how often you use it. During storage, the oil will still drain. Use a fogging spray that will coat the internal engine compartments with a layer of anti-corrosion. Once you change the oil and filter, you will also want to check the fluids. If any levels are below where they need to be, top them off. During these steps, it is also important to check the hoses and lines for cracks and leaks. Either of these will cause the fluid levels to drop and that is not something you want happening in the cold temps (or at all, ultimately). If you have hoses or lines that show wear and tear, now is the time to replace them! Finally, you will want to ensure that everything is properly lubricated for storage.
Similar to checking the fluid levels and making sure they are correct, you also need to stabilize the boat's fuel. Fuel lifespan is very short, and if not properly maintained during the off season will cause build up, which can create major problems such as hard starts and poor performance. Make sure to top off your fuel tank, add a stabilizer and make sure it runs through the engine to prevent build up and other issues.
Before putting your boat up into storage, make sure you take all of your personal belongings or anything that you may want or need during the off season. Depending on how and where you store your boat, you may not have access until the next season to get any of those things out of your boat. Additionally, if you store your boat somewhere other than your home, you do not want anyone taking anything of value from your boat.
Wash & Detail
Finally, you will want to give your boat a good wash and detail. This is typically a deep clean that will protect both the exterior and interior of your boat while in storage, and be one less thing you have to do when you are ready to take it out again. Use a pressure washer as well as an acid-based hull or bottom cleaner if needed to remove build up and algae. It ensures you will have a clean surface. Thoroughly clean the cabin, heads, kitchen, and helm by scrubbing the topsides using a non-skid deck cleaner to remove dirt from the crevices. Then, clean all teak, plastic, glass, vinyl, and canvas. You will also want to make sure your boat cover is clean – after all, covering something nice and clean with something dirty will just make everything dirty. It is also recommended to add a fresh coat of waterproofing to the canvas and wax the topsides of exposed fiberglass of your boat. This helps protect it against wear and tear while being stored.
Finally, it is time to store your boat. Whether you store it at home or somewhere else, you will want to keep it as tightly wrapped as possible – it is advised to use boat shrinkwrap to keep it airtight in storage. This will keep it safe during harsh weather if kept outside. If you keep it inside during the colder months, you may just use your typical boat cover but make sure it fits properly.
While winterizing is important, if you keep up with your regular maintenance, it should not be too difficult to do on your own. However, there are plenty of places you can take your boat to have it done, or you can have someone come out and winterize your boat for you so that you can ensure it is kept in the best shape possible during the off season.