The boating season is coming to an end as winter settles in. Your boat is a significant investment, and depending on where you reside, you may have to haul it out of the water and store it until the next favorable season.
A lot could go wrong if you don’t winterize your boat. It puts your vessel at risk of rusting. And leaving the boat as it is will accelerate wear and tear during this period.
It takes proper planning to prepare your boat for the harsh cold. This guide will offer tips for preparing your boat for winter and keeping it in its best shape throughout the cold months.
What Happens If You Don’t Winterize Your Boat?
Wondering why you should winterize your boat and if the process is worthy? Failure to winterize your boat will cost you more time and money than what you hope to save.
For starters, the operational lifespan of the vessel reduces significantly, so you have to replace it sooner. Moreover, the boat is prone to damages, which will demand costly repairs.
If you leave your boat unprotected, water may seep into the vessel through unprotected spaces. The water freezes due to the cold, and when it expands, it damages everything trapped in the boat.
Furthermore, the salty water plus corrosive waste could lead to corrosion buildup, which may damage your boat’s delicate components, such as the engine.
Unprotected fuel grows dirty, not to forget mold and mildew growth. In return, when spring comes, you find that your boat cannot function due to unending failures.
Boat Storage Options
The best winter boat storage option depends on your location and available resources. You can opt for home storage if you have the space, but ensure you follow all the winterizing guidelines.
Nonetheless, if you live near a boat and RV storage facility, it would be best if you leave your vessel in the hands of professionals. The covered facilities have plenty of space.
You will also have peace of mind knowing that your boat is in climate-controlled storage, away from harsh winter elements. Even better, you do not have to worry about the boat’s security as the facility owners have that covered.
How Do You Winterize Your Boat?
Now that you understand the risks of not winterizing your boat, you should invest time and effort to prepare your vessel for winter storage. Check out these tips to guide you through the preparations.
Empty and Clean Your Boat
The first step to prepare your boat for winter storage is to empty and clean it. As soon as you haul the vessel out of the water, give it a thorough cleaning to remove debris and dirt.
Get rid of any leftover foods, swimsuits, towels, and riding gear that you may have left behind. Check under the seats, beds and go through the cabinets and bathrooms so you don’t leave anything behind that could freeze or spoil during the storage months.
Clean the vessel’s hull and deck to eliminate grime from the surfaces. It will also help if you wash off salty water from the exterior and interior of the boat to reduce the chances of corrosion.
Ensure you have the right cleaning products to avoid scratching the boat or using corrosive detergents. Use a soft brush to get rid of dirt, grime, and algae buildup. While at this, use a spots checklist to ensure you are not leaving any areas untouched.
You should not overlook the importance of waxing your vessel before storage. Wax aims to seal off your newly cleaned vessel from all the harsh elements winter could bring. The wax will protect your boat from temperature changes and keep it shiny and ready for the warm season.
Prep the Engine
The engine is the heart of your vessel. The boat can’t run without it. Therefore, you should pay more attention to its protection from rusting and freezing.
The acids and moisture in the engine oil will corrode the bearings and other essential engine components when in storage. It would help if you, therefore, gave the engine an oil change. Invest in quality oil and filters before putting your vessel to rest.
For the inboard engine of your vessel, an oil change is paramount to avoid corrosion and fuel breakdown. Use a non-toxic anti-freeze to flush the engine.
The outboard engine, on the other hand, requires complete treatment with a fuel stabilizer. Flush and clean the engine with fresh water to get rid of oil traces. Ensure that you lubricate the engine’s exterior lightly for rust prevention.
Flush the cooling system with fresh water to get rid of salt and dirt. If you live in a freezing environment, it would be best to invest in anti-freeze for the cooling system.
As earlier mentioned, the moisture expands when it freezes, putting the boat engine at risk of damages. It is advisable that you flush the inboard engine with fresh water and don’t forget to drain it. The next step is to inspect the waterline and replace it if necessary.
Fuel Fill-Up and Stabilization
It would be best to keep the fuel tank full to prevent condensation in the fuel systems during winter storage. Replace the fuel filters or get one if you do not have it already.
Your boat will remain in storage for up to 90 days. This is enough time for fuel to deteriorate and harm the engine. The varnish and gum buildup makes the engine hard to start when the time comes to get back in the water. Moreover, it reduces the engine lifespan.
The best way to avoid such inconveniences is by stabilizing fuel with a high-quality fuel stabilizer. It ensures that the fuel remains in its best condition when stored away. But if you live in warm areas, you do not necessarily need the marine stabilizer.
Keep the Battery Healthy
The boat’s battery must survive the freezing season. You can facilitate this by keeping it with a healthy charge.
It is best to start preparing the battery for winter a few months before the season kicks in. Test the charge once a month.
If the charge is below 75%, plug in the charger to charge the battery overnight. Repeat this next month, and if you notice the battery is not keeping the charge as long as it should, replace it.
If you live in a frigid area, it is recommendable that you remove the battery from the boat and store it in a warm place. This will prevent it from dying and deteriorating during the winter storage period.
Inspect the Electrical System
Confirm that all the boat’s components are in good working condition before storage. Assess the electrical connectors and power cord for any signs of corrosion, burning, and discoloring.
Replace any questionable components. This will prevent the damages from spreading further. Also, you save yourself from frustrations when the boating season comes.
Spot Dents and Scrapes
Evaluate your boat for dents and scrapes. Inspect the sidewalls and joints to confirm that there are no questionable spots and gaps.
If your budget lets you, it will help to let a professional inspect the boat. The boat technician can quickly identify any breakdowns and offer quality repair services. Consequently, this eliminates any liability, especially if you wish to take your vessel to a professional storage facility.
Ensuring that your boat has no dents means that the storage facility owner will be held responsible for any damages at the end of the storage period.
Drain and Dry the Boat
Drain and dry the parts of the boat that are susceptible to corrosion during winter. Inspect the gear case for any water intrusion. You can spot this problem through the appearance of the gear oil. If it looks milky, that’s an indicator of a leaking seal.
Moreover, you should drain the fresh water tank and water heater. Drain the seacocks and engine area. Inspect the bilges to remove any standing water.
Do not forget to dry the drawers, live wells, lockers, and storage areas. Clean the refrigerator to avoid mildew growth. Most importantly, place moisture absorbers in critical areas of the boat to remove mildew and mold during the long storage period.
Wrap It Up
While some individuals opt to store boats with tarps, it is advisable that you wrap your vessel before storage for proper sealing and pressurizing.
Shrink-wrapping, to be precise, is the most recommended choice. But it is pretty complex, and it would help if you let professionals carry out the task for you.
Winterize Your Boat to Maximize Its Life and Enjoy a Great Boating Season
Ironically, while boats spend most of their time in the water, moisture is the riskiest factor during boat storage. Whatever you do to winterize your boat, prioritize water removal in risk-prone areas.
Keep the vessel clean, dry, and protected from freezing temperatures. You will thank yourself when spring comes, and you find your boat healthy and ready for a ride.
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