How to Winterize Your Boat
Baby your Boat

For all you fair weather boaters like me. The time has come to clean your boat or wave runners one last time, create some room in your storage unit, and make sure your valuable recreational asset is properly protected from the frigid temperatures that will soon arrive.

You may be tempted to leave your boat as is thinking it should be fine in storage. It doesn’t get that cold, right? Wrong! Need I remind you of that insurance policy that may not cover damages caused by your neglect or lack of maintenance?  Don’t neglect your boat in the winter because it may come to haunt you in the spring when you’re stuck on trailer at the boat ramp rather than cruising on the lake after your quick pain free launch.

Check your owner’s manual for proper winterizing steps on your specific make and model.

The following is a suggested checklist for sterndrives, inboards, and outboards.

1)      Flush the engine with fresh water – this will flush any dirt, grim, salt, or other particles that could potentially block or corrode your engine.
a) Outboard motors, you may need a flushing kit to attach to the water intakes on your engine. Once the flushing kit is in place, hook up a water hose and let the engine run in neutral until the water runs out clean.
b) Newer outboard motors have built-in water hose attachments. Check owner’s manual for more info.

2)      Add gas stabilizer - gasoline will break down while sitting inactive. Add a fuel stabilizer to the tank and idle the engine for a few minutes to mix the stabilizer throughout the system.

3)      Spray fogging oil into the cylinders and carburetor intakes - to prevent corrosion and rust spray fogging oil down the carburetor with the engine in neutral. Shut off the engine and pull the spark plugs and spray into the cylinders before replacing/reinstalling them.

4)      Flush engine with antifreeze – using antifreeze with prevent any water from freezing in your engine block that can cause serious damage.

5)      Oil change – for inboard motors, you should change your transmission and engine oil. This is easiest if the oil is hot so it will flow quicker. Might be a good idea to replace your oil filter. Check owner’s manual for info on type and grade of oil you should use. Dispose of old oil properly (recycling facility)

6)      Drain and replace the gear case lubricant – this will flush out water and other potential corroding or rusting causing contaminates.

7)      Remove the battery - disconnect the battery and store it in a dry place for the winter. Retain the charge and maintain water level in battery.

8)      Check the following items and replace as needed – plugs, wires, rotor, cap, belts, hoses, shift/throttle cables, steering and power trim fluids, propeller, grease u-joints, and replace water pump impeller.

9)      Clean and wax you boat – check your boat for chips or cracks and fill them before storing it for the winter. Deep cleaning your boat before putting it away for the winter will help prevent any molding or rotting of the interior. Using a professional grade wax on the exterior will protect your shine through the cold months and make spring cleaning much simpler.

10)   Cover and/or store your boat – boat storage is an ideal way to keep your boat protected all winter long, however, it can be expensive. If this isn’t an option, consider shrink wrapping your boat and obtaining a good tie-down or snap-down cover to prevent any water from seeping into the interior.

Remember the time you put into winterizing your boat is well worth the money in damages it may cost you if you don’t. It is important to baby your boat with professional grade products. The steps above are suggestions on how to winterize your boat. Remember to check the owner’s manual for any questions..