October 4, 2012
Winterize Now. Save Money Next Spring.
Well the days are getting shorter. There’s a chill in the air. And sadly yes….its now time to start thinking about winterizing your boat.
Sufficiently and correctly winterizing your boat is probably the most important maintenance activity you can perform. Freezing, corrosion and moisture can (and will) result in costly damages. Your engine’s cylinders need to be fogged, the cooling system flushed and the gear case oil drained amongst other preventative measures.
Keep in mind that many insurance policies may not cover damage due to lack of maintenance or neglectful winterization. Make the investment now to properly winterize your boat. The time and effort you spend today will definitely save you money next spring… and you’ll be out on the water that much quicker.
Leave It To The Professionals?
DIYers: Thinking about taking care of business? With a few hours work, basic tools and some inexpensive maintenance materials you can winterize your boat and get the job done right. Depending on the type of boat you have, some or all of this may apply.
Step 1 – Checklist
Get prepared. Check the owner’s manual for both your boat and engine to be clear on the manufacturer’s recommendations for winterization. Check the internet. Talk to a friend who’s winterized boats in years past. Make a checklist of what you need to do and the materials and tools you’ll need to do it. The key is to acquire the right knowledge and be prepared.
Step 2 – Clean Your Boat
o Pressure wash hull and clean entire boat using an environmentally friendly
cleaning agent that removes algae and plant life
o Wax hull and upper decks
o Remove any plant life or barnacles from lower unit
o Dry it out the interior and cabin
o Clean bilge with soap, hot water and stiff brush to remove oil spills
o Spray bilge with a moisture displacing lubricant and add a small amount of
antifreeze to the bilge
o Apply a rust inhibitor to metal hardware and on your steering and control cables
o Place a mildew control agent, control bags or buckets throughout the cabin and
in any enclosed compartments
Step 3 – Drain Your Boat
o Drain fluid from the engine block and manifolds*
o Drain water pumps and coolers*
o Drain internal blast systems*
o Drain fresh water systems and portable toilets
o Add freshwater antifreeze to water tank and portable toilets
*Consult your owner’s manual for the location of all drain plugs
Step 4 – Fill Your Boat’s Systems
o Fill the gas tank and add fuel stabilizer.
o Run the engine for approximately 15 minutes to allow the stabilizer additive
to circulate through the gasoline in your fuel lines.
o Fill block, manifold and circulating pump with propylene glycol antifreeze
(-200 antifreeze is best)
o Backwash the engine cooling system and lower unit using an earmuff style flushing kit.
o Use a winterization kit to draw antifreeze into the cooling system.
o Pump antifreeze into the supply lines that lead to faucets and showers.
Step 5 – Fog Your Engine
o Start engine and spray fogging oil into the cylinders until the engine stalls
Step 6 – Lubricate And Protect
o Inspect and grease steering system
o Inspect and grease throttle system (PWC)
o Grease sterndrive gimbal bearing and engine coupler (consult owner’s manual)
o Apply water resistant grease to the propeller shaft and threads
o Lightly lubricate the engine exterior or polish with wax
o Grease trailer bearings
Step 7 – Change Filters and Oil
o Change engine oil and oil filter
o Replace fuel-water separator (fuel filter)
o Inspect and replace worn belts and hoses
o Replace sacrifical anodes that are less then half their original size
Step 8 – Remove & Take Home
o Remove battery and store in a cool dry place, not directly on concrete
o Check battery fluid levels
o Attach a battery tender (trickle charger)
o Remove marine charts, linens, electronics and safety equipment that could be
damaged by moisture
o Remove interior cushions and store in a cool dry place (otherwise place
cushions on ends to allow for ventilation)
o Remove any trace of food to deter rodents
Now You’re Ready For Storage
If at all possible, you should store your boat undercover. However, even if you’re able to utilize covered storage (garage, covered marine storage) you should still cover your boat with your mooring or trailering cover to protect against dust and dirt, pests and bird droppings.
If covered storage is not an option, then you should shrink-wrap. Do it yourself kits are available, but it’s highly recommended to use a professional service provider or marina. If your boat is stored on a trailer, block the wheels so they are off the ground and loosen tie-down straps to reduce stress on the hull.