Winterizing your Boat
With boating season winding down and coming to an end, you will need to know the steps to take to prepare you boat for the winter. Winterizing may not be the most enjoyable part of owning a boat. However, it is one of the most crucial steps to ensuring longevity of your boatís value. Of course you want your boat to offer you the same reliability that it did this season. Therefore, you should take care of your boat now, to prevent unnecessary costs and repairs when boating season comes around again. Without proper care of your boat now, you run the risk of next year not having that same recreational wonder that allowed you to spend endless summer days on the water. Some precautionary measures differ depending on whether you have an inboard or outboard engine. Inboard Engine How you care for your motor depends on the type of engine you have in your boat. With inboard engines; first change out the coolant in fresh water systems. Change the oil by running the engine to warm it up so that all of the contaminants are carried out with the bad oil, while the new coolant is run through the engine. Replace the oil filters and flush the engine with fresh water. Because cold temperatures can cause your engine to freeze up, you should circulate antifreeze through the manifold. After pouring the antifreeze in, run the engine until water starts to come out of the exhaust. To avoid condensation, fill the fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer. Change the fuel filters and water separators. Clean, inspect, and grease cables and fittings. Stern Drive Remove any plants that may have attached themselves to the lower unit, and clean with soap and water. Drain the gear case and check for excessive moisture in the oil, and leaking seals should be repaired. Clean and grease all fittings, and check fluid levels in steering or lift pumps. Check the stern drive for cracks or holes. Outboard Engine Using a flushing attachment; flush the engine with freshwater and make sure that all water has drained out of the engine. Wash the outside of the engine with soap and water, and rinse thoroughly. Fuel lines should be emptied to prevent gumming of the gasoline, which could lead to clogging lines and injectors. To empty the fuel lines, disconnect them from the engine while it is running. While the fuel is emptying, spray fogging into the carburetors. Spray well to be sure that the internal surfaces are coated, preventing corroding of the carburetor and cylinders. The best time to do this is when you hear the engine run rougher than usual, just before it runs out. You will know that the fuel has emptied when the engine stops running. With the motor upright; disconnect the flushing attachment and open drain plugs, allowing all of the water to drain out. To empty the water pump, bump it with the starter or crank the motor by hand a few times. This will prevent any water from being left in the motor to freeze. To prevent corrosion of cylinders, remove spark plugs and spray fogging into these holes. Rotating the flywheel will spread the fogging on the interior walls. Before putting the spark plugs back in, make sure that they do not need to be replaced. Clean and grease gears and pivots. Fill the oil and fuel tanks, adding stabilizer to the fuel, to prevent condensation. It is best to remove props from the boat and have them repaired and serviced. Lay the engine upright, preferably on an engine stand to prevent draining. A few more things Be sure that bilges are cleaned with soap, water, and stiff brush, and dried. There are appropriate facilities for pumping out the holding tank. While pumping, add fresh water to the toilet bowl and flush several times. Flush antifreeze through hoses, holding tank, y-valve, macerator and discharge hose. Check drive belts for signs of wearing or cracking. Disconnect battery cables and remove the battery from the boat. Clean the terminal ends with a baking soda and water solution, then lightly grease. The battery should be stored in an open area that is cool and dry. The use of a trickle charger will keep the battery charged, or charge it frequently. Check all hoses for bulging, cracking or loss of flexibility. Donít forget the inside Remove all valuables, electronics, and safety equipment. These can be cleaned, repaired and kept safe over the winter. Seat cushions and curtains should be removed, and refrigerator doors kept open to prevent moisture collecting and causing a moldy smell. Installing a dehumidifier will keep the boat dry and free of mildew. Hull Care Wash and wax the topsides, bottom and deck. Wax all chrome and polished steel accessories. For a protective barrier, leave the wax on unpolished until spring. Repair any damages, cracks or blistering that you see. Repairs may take some time, and you would rather your boat be unusable in the winter, than in the spring. Covering Now that you have cleaned and repaired all of your boatís 2000 parts, you want to be sure that nothing gets to it before you do in the spring. The ideal storage of your boat is shrink wrapped with ventilation, in a climate controlled storage facility. However, this can be quite costly and not everyone has this type of storage available. Shrink wrapping is also best if you are keeping your boat outside for the winter. Wherever you store your boat, it is important that it is covered, if only with a tied-down tarp. Donít worry; it wonít be long before boating season is upon us again. When this time comes, be sure to check out articles on for tips on how to get your boat ready for the summer.
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