Ways to Winterize Your Boat

October 2013

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With winter on the horizon, for many of us, it’s that time of year when we need to prepare our boats for winter storage. Hibernation sets in, and we begin the long wait for spring, warm weather, and another boating season.

Taking the initiative now to protect your boat will assure that it will be ready to get back on the water in a few months when you are. Winterizing your boat doesn’t have to be difficult. Aircraft Marine and Insurance has put together a checklist to keep your marine craft in good condition during the winter months.

Exterior

  • Thoroughly wash the motor and boat hull removing all stains, dirt, or debris.
  • Coat the boat and painted motor surfaces with a fresh coating of wax.
  • Cover boat with a high-quality, breathable cover.
  • Remove the propeller and check thoroughly for damage. If you have a damaged propeller, now is the time to replace or service it — not at the start of the next season.
  • Clean the propeller shaft and apply a protective coating of grease.
  • If your boat will be kept in the water, install a de-icing device.
Interior
  • Make sure bilges are clean and dry.
  • Remove bilge drain plug and make a note of where you have placed it. Consider attaching the plug to the steering wheel or other conspicuous location with a piece of string so you don’t forget to reinstall it in the spring.
  • Install a dehumidifier in cabins and enclosed areas to help prevent mildew growth.
Electrical
  • Check and repair all electrical wiring and connections. Make sure nothing was damaged during the season.
  • Remove boat batteries and store in a cool dry place. Place batteries on a smart charger or charge them approximately once a month.

Engine

  • Change crankcase and gearcase oil while engine is warm and run the motor afterwards to distribute fresh oil throughout the power head.
  • Change oil filters.
  • Flush the engine with fresh water and drain.
  • Circulate antifreeze through engine block and manifolds.
  • Drain vapor separator tank of fuel by drain screw.
  • On carbureted outboard motors, drain the carburetor float bowls.
  • Change transmission fluid.
  • Fog the engine by spraying fogging fluid into each of the carburetors or throttle body throats.
  • Remove hoses from raw water pump.
  • Replace spark plugs and spray fogging fluid into spark plug ports.
  • Perform a complete lubrication service on the boat and motor.
  • Apply grease to all external engine fittings.
  • Apply protective anti-corrosion film to engine’s external parts.
  • Check the motor for loose, broken or missing fasteners. Tighten fasteners and make necessary repairs.
Fuel Systems
  • Fill permanently installed fuel tanks with fuel to prevent the formation of condensation.
  • Add appropriate amount of fuel stabilizer to fuel tanks.
  • Remove portable fuel tanks to safe, well-ventilated area. Drain plastic tanks and top-off metal tanks. Drain attached fuel lines.
Boat Trailer
  • Place the trailer on stands or blocks so the wheels are supported off the ground. Raise the bow higher than the stern to promote draining of rainwater or snow.
  • Remove trailer wheels to clean and repack the wheel bearings.

Please note: as with all boat repairs and maintenance, follow the instructions in your boat owner’s manual.