Properly Winterizing Your Watercraft

For boat owners, one of the year’s saddest days is their last on the water. Proper winterizing, however, can prevent further gloom when the season finally rolls around again. Many watercrafts suffer unnecessary and costly winter damage due to neglectful storage. We can help you protect your nautical investment and save you money with the advice below.

Inspect the exterior

Once your boat is on land, scrub the hull with soap & water, then scrape off any barnacles or plant life. Keep an eye out for any stress cracks or blisters in the body and repair them. If your hull is fiberglass, add a wax coat for cold-weather protection.

Treat the tank

A partially filled fuel tank can cause problems. Temperature shifts cause condensation, while old gas gums up the carburetor and fuel injectors. Manufacturers recommend either filling it to the top or draining it completely. Before doing either, though, they all suggest using a preventative fuel stabilizer to help prevent issues. Once you add the stabilizer, idle the engine for 15 minutes to evenly distribute it through the system.

Clean the engine

For outboard motors, flush the engine with fresh water to remove dirt and other impurities. With inboard and stern-drives, you’ll additionally want to do a final flushing with anti-freeze. Improperly drained engines leave residual water in the cooling chambers, that expands when it freezes—possibly cracking the manifolds or engine block.

Change the oil

Changing the oil & filter prevents potential moisture corrosion. Run the engine beforehand for faster and more efficient draining. Some owners will even change the oil while winterizing and do it again in the spring.

Care for the cylinders

Fogging oil helps protect the interior during storage. If you don’t fog the cylinders, pistons and rings, rust and other decay occur. Many engines allow you to spray this solution into the air intake while it’s running, or you can remove the spark plugs and apply it there.

Keep it covered

Most people don’t have the luxury of a climate-controlled storage facility, but at the very least you should use a tarp or sturdy cover during colder months. It’s important to keep the interior of the boat as dry as possible to avoid mold or mildew. Covers with ventilation deter ice accumulation and allow for some airflow. You can additional buy sprays or dehumidifiers to pull excess moisture from the air.

Winterizing may seem like a lot of work, but when it’s done correctly, it will save you time and money when the time arrives to get your boat out on the lake again. And these tips are only the basics—please consult your owner’s manual for additional instructions and recommendations for specific makes and models.