Is Your Boat Prepared for Winter?

As summer gives way to fall, and the cool breezes come in from the north, it’s time to say good-bye to the open water for another season. Winter is coming, and the time has come to put the boat into storage until the welcome return of spring. But there’s more to preparing your boat for winter than simply packing her up and putting her in storage. To protect your boat through the winter months you need to follow some specific, but simple, winterizing tips.

Cleaning Out Your Boat

The first thing to do when preparing your boat for winter is to give her a good clearing out. Remove any blankets or cushions, as well as any cookware or eating utensils. If your boat has an icebox, clean it out – you definitely don’t want to leave any food inside to be discovered several months later. Pull any fire extinguishers, and take advantage of the time to have them inspected and re-certified.

Cleaning the Boat Itself

Once you’ve removed the excess gear from your boat, it’s time to give her a good scrubbing down. Scrub down the lockers, and wipe out any cabinets and drawers. Be sure to give any carpeted areas a good cleaning, and give special attention to scrubbing down the head. Since your boat will be in storage for a few months, now is a good time to wipe down any wood surfaces with a protective wood oil to keep them from drying out during the winter months. Curtains and cushions should be removed for cleaning, and stored separately.

Airing Out Your Boat

After you’ve scrubbed your boat down both inside and out, and from stem to stern, it is important to open her up so she can air out. Leave the interior doors and lockers open so air can circulate, and lay out some commercial moisture and odor absorbers. This will help to reduce the risk of mildew and mold while your boat is in storage.

Winterizing Your Engine

Now that your boat is spic and span, it’s time to tend to the engine. Top off your fuel tanks, no more than ¾ of the way full, and add a fuel stabilizer. Change the oil, and check and replace any filters as needed. It is also important to check your cooling system, and to drain and replace the coolant. Take your used oil, filters, and coolant to an authorized recycling center.

Tend to the Head and the Water Tanks

Before you haul your boat to storage, be sure to flush out the head with fresh water. You will also want to pump out your boat’s holding tank. Fresh water tanks should be drained, as should the water heater and you should add non-toxic anti-freeze to your water tank, and pump it through the boat’s plumbing. You also want to run the non-toxic anti-freeze through your boat’s air conditioning pumps, sump pumps and bilge pumps.

Haul Your Boat to Storage

Once you have your boat shipshape, both inside and out, it will be ready for storage. When you reach the storage facility, you will want to cover your boat with tarps or canvas to help keep it clean through the winter months. The steps you take to winterize your boat in the fall will ensure that she is ready for action when spring inevitably gives way to summer.

If you are in the Boston area and in need of a storage solution for your boat, check out our indoor storage specials for fall and winter!

Image by archer10 (Dennis) and licensed through Creative Commons.