As boating season comes to an end, if you don’t live in an area where you can use your boat year-round, then you need to be thinking about the steps to take to winterize your boat.

Remember, taking the time to protect your boat is worth it to ensure your investment doesn’t suffer later on. If you winterize correctly, you’ll save time and effort when it’s time to bring your boat back out again.

Don’t forget that winterizing your boat as necessary may also be part of your maintaining your insurance policy, so you’ll want to check that, too.

Where to Store Your Boat

Part of winterizing your boat includes storing your boat properly. The best place to store your boat during the colder months is going to be somewhere where your boat is not in the water. Ideally, you want your boat to be covered and some place that is also climate-controlled.

That kind of storage can be expensive, but if you can’t afford the costs involved, you do have an alternative. Shrink wrapping your boat is an option, too, because it will protect your boat from the elements.

Once you have a place to store your boat, you’ll also want to go down a checklist to make sure you get all of the steps done.

Following the Checklist

There are lots of parts to a boat that need to be tended to when it comes to winterizing properly that includes everything from your engine to your spark plugs.

1. Engines

Run the inboard engines to warm them up, and follow it up with an oil change. Keeping it warm will allow it to drain better. Change the oil filter, too, and check for leaks along the way.

You’ll also want to flush the engine with antifreeze by placing a hose in a bottle and letting the antifreeze circulate through the engine until it comes out of the exhaust.

Don’t forget to change your transmission fluid, take the spark plugs out, and spray fogging oil on every cylinder. Use a little more fogging oil on the engine to finish it off.

Outboard engines need to have fuel stabilizer added in addition to being flushed. Don’t forget to let the engine run until the engine completely dies, so you know that the fuel is all burned up if it is specified in the owner’s manual. If you don’t, you risk having build-up start to accumulate.

You’ll want to use fogging oil here, too, on the air intakes, and coat the shaft and threads with water resistant grease. Polish the exterior with a good wax, and then wash the engine down followed by a thorough rinse.

2. Drives

Check your stern drives for any barnacles or plant life. Also look for moisture mixed with the oil from the gear case because it could mean that you have a leak that needs to be repaired.

Clean the stern drives and check for cracks along the way. Check fluid levels, grease fittings, and check the owner’s manual for any other items you need to check.

3. Fuel

Fuel depends on the make and model. Many do recommend that you should burn up all the fuel inside the engine, but some recommend filling the tank and adding stabilizer. Having a full tank means you won’t end up with condensation.

Either way, check the manufacturer instructions to verify what you need to do so you don’t accidentally cause problems.

4. Bilges

You’ll need to clean the bilges, too, with hot water, soap, and a good quality stiff brush. Once they’re clean, spray a thin coat of lubricant to keep moisture at bay while your boat is being stored.

5. Fresh Water System

Don’t forget to drain both the fresh water tank as well a the water heater. Once drained, pump antifreeze through the system and turn on faucets until you see it coming out. Be sure that the antifreeze is non-toxic.

6. Head

Check your owner manual to make sure you use the correct and recommended products to avoid any potential damage while winterizing.

That means only using an approved facility to empty the holding tank, using Vanish crystals if appropriate, and the right antifreeze for the job.

7. Interior

Remove everything from the interior that can be taken out like electronics, PFDs, flares, and other valuables. The reason for this is to clean, check, and then replace these individual pieces as needed.

For any cushions, pull them up to allow for circulation or pull them inside and keep them stored until you need them in the spring.

To help keep the inside of your boat dry, consider using a moisture-absorbing product to prevent moisture from causing problems. You can find these products at places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Amazon.

Finalizing Your Winterizing

To protect your assets, don’t forget to winterize appropriately. If you have questions, check with your owner’s manual to make sure you use recommended products and follow the right procedures.

Your boat, your engine, and your equipment will thank you for it!