Wow! Summer flew by quickly. Which only means one thing: winter is coming. There are many things to do to get ready for the colder months.
However, if you’re an avid boater, you may have a few more things to do than most. My husband and I recently purchased a boat and loves it!
I grew up around boats and know the importance of overwintering them correctly. Therefore, I’m going to share a few basic tips on wintering your boat.
Granted, there are different types of boats. I’ll be adding a few helpful hints based on engine type, but most of the tips are generalized and should work for most types of boats.
Here’s what winterizing your boat for winter entails:
1. Get It Out of the Water
It’s a sad time of year, but we all know the time comes when we must get out of the water. This is especially hard for me because the water is my ‘happy place.’
Honestly, I can be the most stressed out person carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. Yet, when I climb on our boat and get out on the water, it all goes away.
The time of year comes when our boats can’t be on the water any longer. When winter comes around, do yourself a favor and don’t leave them in their boat slips.
Instead, pull them out and find a safe place to store them for the winter months.
2. Shelter Matters
When the boats are no longer on the water, it’s important to store them in a good location. If at all possible, store your boat under a covered location.
It could be a shed, a garage, a durable cover made for your boat, or ideally, in a climate-controlled storage unit.
If you can’t afford the climate-controlled storage unit, don’t feel bad because I can’t either. Our boat will be stored either under its durable cover, or the boat shed my husband will be building shortly.
3. Treat the Fuel
When you leave any piece of equipment sitting over a long period, it’s a good idea to treat the fuel.
With a boat, you can purchase fuel stabilizer. Add this to your fuel and allow the engine to run for approximately 10 minutes.
The fuel stabilizer should have enough time to work in throughout the engine to make sure it can take effect and do its job.
The purpose of this step is to keep the carburetor and fuel injectors from becoming clogged. You want your boat to fire right up when you climb onboard in the spring. Protect the engine now for this purpose.
4. Fog Engine Cylinders
I can’t stress enough how important it is to protect your engine over the winter months especially. You can purchase a fogging solution which will protect the inside of your engine by coating it.
This solution will help to prevent corrosion from forming in your engine. It’s easy to use because you spray it into the air-intake until the bottle is empty.
Be sure to check with the manufacturer of your engine as to which brand they recommend. Different manufacturers recommend different brands because certain varieties work better with specific engines.
Again, engine repairs can be costly. It’s best to spend a few dollars before winter to try to avoid more substantial expenses down the road.
5. A Quick Tip for Inboard and Stern-Drive Motors
Our first boat was an inboard. Therefore, the engine was inside the boat. My husband purchased it as a project boat, and this is where I learned a great deal about the mechanics of a boat.
I grew up near the water and spent some time on boats, but I hadn’t spent any time under the hood (so to speak.)
Inboard motors require different care techniques. When it comes to winterizing an inboard or stern-drive motor, it’s important to drain the engine.
Open the petcocks under the manifolds and on the sides of the engine block. Remove the water pump hose and let it drain thoroughly.
If you skip over this process, water will remain trapped. When water is trapped, it’ll freeze over the winter. When it freezes, the water expands and can crack the engine block. You don’t want this to happen.
To avoid this, be sure to drain the engine.
We now have outboard motors, which drains themselves. If you have an outboard motor, you can skip over this step in the process.
6. Change the Oil
Before putting any piece of equipment up for the winter, it’s a good idea to change the oil. Your boat has hopefully been put to good use this year.
Therefore, it probably needs an oil change. By changing the oil ahead of winter, it also helps prevent corrosion and removes moisture.
Some people will change their oil at the end of the summer and again when spring hits. The idea is to replace the old oil after a great deal of use over the summer before putting the boat up for winter.
But some boat owners change the oil again after winter because moisture could’ve made its way into the oil through the winter elements.
It’s up to you and changing your oil is a good thing. However, if you’re going to pick which time to change your oil, it’s a good idea to make sure you put fresh oil in your boat before winter because of the boats worked so hard over the summer.
7. Discard Gear-Case Lubricant
By discarding the gear-case lubricant, it allows you to know the health of the seals. If you drain the gear-case lubricant and it’s a clear, goldish color, you’ll know the seals are fine.
However, if you drain the lubricant and it’s cloudy or chunky, you’ll know the seals have failed and should be replaced.
Doing this simple amount of maintenance on your boat can spot potential issues before they produce real problems.
Be sure to check the gear-case lubricant before winter to better care for your boat.
8. A Quick Tip for Outboard Motors
We’ve discussed the importance of caring for your inboard motors, but what if you have an outboard motor?
Well, they don’t require a great deal of work, but there are a few extra steps you can take to better care for them.
Once you’ve coated your engine and propeller, use soap and water to wash the engine. Be sure you rinse the soap from the engine thoroughly before putting the boat under cover.
9. Shrink Wrap, Anyone?
This final step in preparing your boat for winter may sound silly, but it’s a great option. If you can’t afford to place your boat in a climate-controlled storage unit, or even if you can’t afford a durable cover for your boat, try shrink wrap.
It may take a great deal of shrink wrap to wrap your boat fully. However, it’ll keep the elements out. This is what you’re looking for because cold temperatures, ice, and snow can be hard on your boat.
You’ll need a friend to help you wrap your entire boat in shrink wrap, but you do what’s necessary to take care of what you have.
I hope these general tips will give you an idea as to what you should do to winterize your boat. Remember, these are only general tips.
For more detailed tips on how to properly winterize your specific boat, be sure to read your owner’s manual or contact the boat manufacturer.
Hopefully, your boat will do well over the winter and be in mint condition when you return to it next spring.