All You Need to Know About Winterizing Your Boat

In fishing by hooversoutdoors1 Comment

All You Need to Know About Winterizing Your Boat

Owning a boat, if you have the money, has many benefits. Not only does it give you a chance to enjoy the summers in a fun and exciting way but it also cost-effectively fulfills your recreational needs. Whether you want to witness the July 4 fireworks or go water skiing and fishing, you can use your boat without having to spend a lot of money. Moreover, if you invest in a boat, you can use it to take a break from your hectic routine and spend some quality time with your family.

Understanding the Significance of Winterizing

While the benefits of owning a boat are many, there are also certain maintenance tips that you must follow if you want to prolong the life of your boat. Routine maintenance for a boat is critical but what happens when the chill of the fall sets in? It is when your boat is stranded in one place for a long time that it is susceptible to getting damaged. Moreover, your insurance might not cover the damages caused by a lack of maintenance. Therefore, taking appropriate steps to prepare your boat for the coming winters is extremely important if you want to add a few more years to your boat’s life.

Steps for Winterizing Your Boat

“Winterizing” your boat is not a very complicated procedure and can be easily carried out by the owner as well. Of course, a lot of the maintenance will depend on the type of your boat, but some steps are common to all models and makes. So, if you do not want your boat to die during the winter season silently, take these easy steps to protect your valuable asset.

1. Make a Checklist

Before you start the winterizing process, make a checklist of all the steps that you need to take during the maintenance. Apart from following all the important steps in this article, you should also check the owner’s manual for other recommendations. If you feel the whole process is tiresome, you can seek help from a family member or a friend. You can also seek help from professionals and extend the life of your boat with the help of their expertise.

2. Write Everything Down

While you might feel like you will remember every single step that you have taken during the maintenance work, the reality is, you won’t. Therefore, you should make it a habit to note down the date on which you carried out the winterizing procedure and what steps were undertaken. This will benefit you once you are ready to take out your boat when the spring hits. Not knowing whether you changed the filter and oil will bring about a lot of concern and confusion.

3. Pending Maintenance

As mentioned earlier, routine maintenance is essential for the longevity of your boat. However, most of the owners are so busy with taking their boat out into the waters during summertime that they do not give maintenance the needed attention. Therefore, when you are winterizing your boat, you should keep in mind all the necessary maintenance steps that you missed and address them as well. Do not rush the winterizing procedure and do everything you can to make sure that everything about your boat is in order and working well. Once you have carried out the regular maintenance steps and winterized your boat, you will be able to give your boat the valuable care that it deserves.

4. Storage

While a climate and temperature-controlled storage option would be considered to be ideal by every boat owner, it does not fall within every individual’s budget. Generally, there are two options available to boat owners that cannot afford the luxury of a temperature-controlled storage solution. These are:

a) In-Water

In case of In-water storage, you will not have to go through a lengthy winterizing procedure. You can also use your boat almost immediately once spring sets in. To winterize your boat stored in -water, you will have to make sure that you shut all seacocks that are basically the valves installed on the hull of a boat and monitor the battery and its charging system. Look for any kinds of leaks in the stuffing boxes and rudder shafts. If there are any leaks, you will have to repack or tighten accordingly. The bilge pumps will have to be checked, and you will have to make sure that the flow is smooth without any obstruction from debris.

b) Out-of-Water

If you live in a location that has freezing weather, you should consider out-of-water storage. However, the winterizing procedure for this storage will be a bit more complicated than in-water. Firstly, you will have to pay great attention to the cleaning of the exterior of your boat. A wax job is the ideal winterizing technique that you should use in the case of out-of-water storage. Open the seacocks to allow drainage of water. You should look for blisters on the hull and address them if any. Also, make sure that you take the batteries with you and take care of their charging needs after every month.

5. Covering

If you think that the covering does not matter, think again. While your boat remains in one place for the season, it will be exposed to a lot of natural elements. This will happen regardless of what type of storage you choose. You should think about investing in a robust cover and frame for your boat beforehand. Of course, the most important thing to check in a cover is that it fits the structure of your boat. Generally, the manual that comes with the boat explicitly specifies the kind of cover that you should choose. However, if there is none, you should make sure that you choose one that fits your boat perfectly well. Any cover that is either too big or small can hurt the exterior of your boat.

6. Wash & Inspect

With time, it is common for the bottom of your boat to get covered with dirt and scum. It is important that you scrape them off before storing your boat for the winter season. Sanding and washing should also be done once you have scraped all the material off the bottom of the boat. Identifying the cracks and dents can be difficult if you haven’t scraped everything off completely. Hence, once you have removed everything from the bottom of the boat, you can look for any cracks and dents and fix them with easy tips. All of this should be done before the winter season.

7. Interior Changes

Just like the exterior of your boat, the interior will also need attention. Before you cover your boat, it is important that you use a mildew spray on the interior. A cover cannot protect from moisture settling in which is why it recommended having a vent within the covering. Any valuable items that you have inside the boat should be taken care of before you store the boat for winters. You should also clean the locks and drawers, so that spring cleaning does not take up a lot of your time. Along with all this, you should also clean the freezer and refrigerator thoroughly.

8. Fuel

Before storing your boat, you should check for any leaks within the fuel filter and fix them. You will have to clean the fuel filter and fill the tank so that condensation does not take place during the winter season. Use a stabilizer to treat the fuel inside the tank. Once you have added the stabilizer, make sure that you run the boat for a minimum of 10 minutes to make sure it has circulated thoroughly inside the engine.

9. Outboard Engine

To winterize the outboard engine, you will need to use the port for flushing at the engine’s back. Use fresh water to flush the engine and then allow the water to drain. After draining the water, wash the engine thoroughly. To make sure all the deposits are removed, use fogging oil and let it circulate in the engine thoroughly. Use water-repellent grease and apply it to the shaft and threads of the propeller. Then move on to changing the lower unit’s gear oil. At the end of the process, you should lubricate the engine’s exterior as well.

10. Inboard Engine

For winterizing the inboard engine, you will need to warm the engine by running it and then change the oil while warm. Warm oil will help you get rid of any impurities that are present. After changing the filters, you should move on to using fresh water for flushing. Then, you should circulate anti-freeze throughout the system until it exits through the exhaust. During this step, it is also recommended to change the transmission fluid, spray fogging oil in every cylinder, and remove the spark plugs. All these steps will help you avoid rust settling in during the winters.

11. Stern Drive(s)

The stern drive’s preparation for winterizing begins with a visual inspection. If you witness any plants or barnacles, you should get rid of them before storing the boat. Also, check for any seals that are leaking and repair them. Look out for cracks within the rubber boot that is present between the engine and transom. You should clean the lower unit thoroughly with water and soap. In the end, check the levels of the fluid in lift pumps.

12. Draining the Fresh Water System

Presence of water in the system can cause significant problems since it can freeze during the winters. Such a situation can prove to be extremely challenging for the owner. Therefore, it is recommended to drain the freshwater system completely before the start of the winter season. Drain the water heater and the freshwater tank entirely and pump antifreeze throughout the system to avoid such problems.

13. Marine Head

An essential part of the sanitation system in the boat is the marine head which varies considerably from one boat to the other. However, fortunately, the winterizing of each marine head comprises the same steps. Disinfecting the marine head and pouring anti-freeze are the two main tasks at hand. If there is no holding tank present, you will have to add the disinfectant solution to the bowl and circulate it through the entire system with the help of the pump. In case, there is a holding tank installed; you will first have to empty it and then circulate the disinfectant. The antifreeze solution can be poured directly in the case of a marine head without the holding tank. In the other situation, you will have to add the antifreeze solution in the Y valve to circulate it thoroughly.

You will also find the right way of carrying this step out written in the owner’s manual and can consult it for any other questions.

14. Bilges

It is not uncommon to see water and/or oil accumulated in the bilges. While prepping your boat for the winters, it is important that you remove all such deposits thoroughly. First clean the bilge completely and then use a lubricant that does not let moisture set in. In the end, you should add the antifreeze solution so that if there is any water accumulation, it does not end up freezing and causing cracks or leaks.

Bottom Line

It is possible to carry out the winterizing process on your own without getting professional help. However, as every boat has its distinct features, you might want to consult the owner’s manual now and then. Nevertheless, winterizing your boat should not be considered to be a quick and fast process, and you should devote a sufficient amount of time to carry out this task before the start of the winter season. If this is the first time you are prepping your boat for the winters, you should ask a friend for help. Make sure that you carry out all the steps mentioned above to prepare your boat for the winter season ahead.




  1. My dad is planning to purchase a second-hand boat when he retired so that he could finally travel. Of course, following the purchase, we would need to know how to maintain it especially in winter and I think he needs to purchase a cover to protect the sensitive parts like the motor. Thanks for the tips especially mentioning that we need to check if the covering perfectly fits the boat structure as it can’t be either too small or even too big.

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