6 Components to Include in Your Winterization Strategy
Like all good things, the boating season in moderate and cold climates comes to an end. This is a great time to reflect on the fun and learning that happened during the season. It’s also a very important time to tend to the maintenance of your boat. Investing in proper winterization can and will pay off with a cleaner and safer boat in the spring. Besides, who wants to spend the beautiful spring weather fixing problems that could have been avoided by a decent winterization job?
There are six main components to focus on while preparing your boat for an extended lay up during the cold months:
- Flush the engine with fresh water. Even if you’re not in a salt water environment, the engine will need a good flushing to clean out all the build up from the season.
- Stabilize the fuel in your tanks. Over the winter, fuel can degrade making your engine and fuel lines susceptible to fouling with gunk. It’s a good practice to fill your tanks to about 95% to avoid the buildup of condensation during the cold/warm cycles of the off season. Adding a fuel stabilizer to the tank and running the engine is also recommended.
- Fogging the cylinders and carburetor intake with fogging oil. This step can help prevent corrosion in a gasoline engine.
- I always flush my engine with antifreeze. This prevents any water from getting into the engine from freezing, which can expand and cause significant damage. A propylene Glycol antifreeze does a good job and is environmentally friendly. Look for the pink stuff at your marine store.
- Changing the oil in your engine before lay up is always a good practice. You’ll find that running your engine for a while will heat up the oil and make it flow easier. This also stirs up contaminates in the oil and helps to clean them out. Don’t forget to change the oil filter as well. This is also a good time to change the transmission oil and gear case lubricant.
- Check your propeller for dents or any other damage.
2. Domestic Systems:
- Just like your engine, all of your domestic systems should be winterized with antifreeze. Your domestic systems include the holding tanks and hoses, the fresh water tank and systems, as well as any air conditioning systems.
- Always pump out your waste holding tanks before laying up for the winter. I don’t think I need to tell you what will happen if you don’t!!!
- Disconnect your battery or batteries. It’s a good idea to remove them from the boat for storage if possible. Batteries should be charged before winter storage. Store them in a safe and dry location while maintaining a charge during the off season. If you have wet cell batteries that require maintenance, keep an eye on the fluid level throughout the winter.
4. Domestic Systems:
- Since you’re done with your boat for the season, do a good job cleaning it. Putting a boat away while dirty isn’t a good idea, and it will probably smell and look nasty when you bring her out again. While cleaning, keep an eye out for stress cracks and blisters. Any cracks should be looked at by a professional to nip any problems in the bud. You may be able to drain any fluids out of blisters and fill them with filler.
- Make sure you go through the interior of the boat with a close eye. Cleaning every nook and cranny inside will help mitigate the presence of the mold monster. Use a good mold killer/inhibitor to get that clean smell.
- I like to remove any electronic components that I can from my boat during the off season. Store them in a warm, dry place, so condensation and dust won’t accumulate. Once, I pulled the VHF radio off my boat to find a wasp nest on the underside…that won’t happen again!
6. Storing Your Boat:
- It’s always nice to store your boat out of the water, inside a climate-controlled environment. Those of us that don’t have that advantage can take steps to protect our boats from the nasty weather.
- I shrink wrap my boat when possible. I hire a crew here at Port Annapolis Marina and they do a great job! It’s a wonderful feeling to know your boat is wrapped when you look out the window in February to a raging blizzard. This is definitely a couple hundred bucks well spent!
- If you can’t or don’t want to shrink wrap, an alternative is a good tarp job. Make sure to overlap tarps like shingles on a roof so any water will drain off the tarps instead of in your boat.
You should consider all of these suggestions as a must do. Many of us have our boats at a facility that can offer a complete winterization program, like we offer here at Port Annapolis Marina. Letting the professionals take care of the critical tasks of preparing your boat for the winter is always a great idea! They’re qualified and do this work every year, so professionals know what to look for and how to do everything in a timely manner. If you’re unable to hire a crew to winterize your boat, then at least following these suggestions will help you have a cleaner and safer boat in the spring.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me!