The air starts to cool down and the leaves change color. Now is the time to prepare your boat for the colder part of the year. Your boat’s make and model will dictate how you winterize it. Also please check your owners manual! However, there are some common sense practices all boaters should use.
These are some helpful tips for winterizing your boat.
Find the best place to store your boat in the winter
In the water
It is important to seal everything if you plan to keep your boat in the slip throughout winter. Check all windows, portsholes, and seacocks for leakages. Next, make sure to check the bilges for excess water. Also, make sure to test your bilge pumps. It would be a good idea to also change your zincs.
If your harbor water is likely to freeze, you might then suspend your vessel above the water or installing a deicer in your marina.
Out of water
If you’re planning on taking your boat out to winter, this is a great time to check the hull for cracks or damage, inspect your shafts, propellers, and rudders to see if they have signs of corrosion, as well as clean your strainers. Allow all seacocks to drain. Close all portholes and windows. Finally, switch off everything that can drain the battery.
Protecting your boat from the elements is a good idea.
Make sure you have all the necessary supplies
The supplies you will need depend on your boat, motor, storage setup and other factors, but they will likely include the following:
- Nontoxic antifreeze to be used in engines and plumbing.
- Fogging oil (special anti corrosion oil) to prevent corrosion of engines.
- Fuel stabilizer for fuel tanks.
- For antifreeze or fogging oil, hoses and funnels are available.
- Buckets are used to drain or change oil.
- Shrink wrap and canvas can be used to provide additional protection for your boat against the elements.
Winterize the engine
Outboard motors are most often found on smaller boats. These units can be found as self-contained units, which include the engine and gearbox as well as the propeller.
To protect your fuel during winter, add a fuel stabiliser to a full tank. As an alternative, you can empty your fuel tank completely and clean it.
Drain all fluids from the engine, including the cooling unit. For any excess buildup, it is possible to flush your engine using fresh water. You can then run non-toxic antifreeze through the motor to prevent water droplets from freezing. This can damage fuel lines and carburetors as well as injectors.
After coating the engine with antifreeze spray the fogging oil in the carburetor. This helps protect the interior surfaces from deposits.
Finalize the process by changing the oil. Spray pivots and gears in lubricating oil so that corrosion is prevented.
Contrary to outboard engines, which are usually mounted outside of vessels, inboard motors are housed within the hull of the vessel.
First, clean your fuel filters. Next, add a fuel stabilizer to stabilize your fuel. This protects your lines, fuel tanks, and injectors during winter.
The next step is to flush your engine with antifreeze. This will prevent water droplets and cracks from freezing. Use a nontoxic antifreeze if you have a boat that uses raw water-cooling systems (most do).
After applying antifreeze to your engine, you can coat it with oil. Before you apply fogging oil to the carburetor, warm the engine. This is a more labor-intensive process for inboard motors. It’s worth consulting your owners manual, a mechanic or an expert at your local boating shop before you start fogging oil.
Apart from protecting your engine, it’s important to inspect and change the oil. Check your engine, transmission oil, and inspect hoses, exhaust systems, and engine openings for signs of buildup, cracking, corrosion, and seal them up to keep air out.
Drain all the fluids
If your ship has a head or galley with water tanks, make sure you drain any water from your plumbing system (faucets/toilets, pipes, etc.) Non-toxic antifreeze can also be used to flush out your pipes in order to prevent frozen water droplets.
Get your boat cleaned (inside and outside)
When it comes time to put your boat in storage, you don’t want the hassle of cleaning up all that summer’s mess. You can take some time to clean the exterior and interior. Before you store your boat away for winter, wax it.
Last few things to keep in mind
If you plan on leaving your boat in water, or if it will be stored outside, it is important to inspect it regularly. You may need to remove excess snow, plug any leaks, and especially if you are unable to cover it (in shrink wrap, canvas, etc.).
While winter hibernating your boat can be sad, it is possible to winterize it properly and have a happy reunion in the summer. Progressive insurance will ensure that everything you love is protected, regardless of whether it’s kept in the water for winter hibernation or stored until next summer. Click here for more information about comprehensive boating coverage.
Let the countdown begin to the next season of boating!