How To Winterize A Boat
You have enjoyed your boat through the summer months and now that winter is coming, it is time to consider showing your boat some love and care. Many people do not realize that winterizing is important for boats. There is more to it than just charging your marine battery and adding some fresh fuel. By learning how to winterize a boat you will be adding years to its life, both in how it runs and how it looks. Follow these steps to ensure that your boat is as ready for that first time out next spring as you are.
Clean Your Boat
Before winter is a perfect time to handle scrubbing down your boat. Whether you have spent the summer at the lake or in the ocean, your boat has most likely had dirty feet, mud, and the likes on its deck. Scrubbing it down will eliminate all of the funky mold growths so that next spring you will be ready for your first boating expedition.
If your boat has a cabin, now is also the perfect time to prepare it for the upcoming winter. Remove any items that you are able to and lessen the chance that mold will form inside the cabin. Cushions that you do not want to remove should be propped up so that air can freely circulate around all sides of it. Prop cabinet doors open and you may even want to consider putting a dehumidifier packet inside the cabin to further reduce the chance of mold and other odors from forming.
Winterize The Boat Motor
When learning how to winterize a boat motor, you may feel that it is a complicated process. However, it sounds more complicated than it actually is. The primary goal of winterizing is to reduce the water that may form during the winter months as well as any water that may be inside of the motor already. By removing the water, you run less risk of it expanding during a freeze and cracking the block.
To start, you may want to fill your fuel tank as well as add a fuel stabilizer. A full tank will have less air in it and due to the simple fact that air can turn to water during the winter months, you will want to eliminate as much air as possible. Stabilizer prevents build up from forming, which may cause you to have to repair the carburetor and fuel lines when spring comes. You will need to circulate the stabilizer through your boat’s motor, therefore it should be done first because you will need to run the boat during other winterizing steps.
If you are unable to top off your tank before winter, it is okay, but you may want to add a fuel water absorber to the tank before you start your boat next spring. This will keep your motor from sounding rough due to having water in the fuel. At this time you may also want to consider changing the fuel/water separator to further help your boat’s motor.
You put antifreeze in your vehicle to prevent damage to your block. Your boat needs the same consideration. You should use marine safe antifreeze or antifreeze that is made of Propylene Glycol because it is nontoxic. The last thing that you want to do is poison the water you fish or swim in when spring comes your way again.
Some people feel that simply removing the petcock or drain plug and blasting the motor with air is enough, but with this method, you cannot remove all water from your motor which means you are still taking a chance. Why risk it?
The right way to add antifreeze will depend on your boat’s motor. If you have an inboard motor you will need to remove the raw water intake hose from the seacock and place it into a bucket that contains antifreeze. For an outboard motor that uses pure water from the lake you will need to put the stern into a bucket of water. Some people also use a fogger on their motor to prevent corrosion in the carburetor. If you have a diesel powered boat motor though, fogging is not necessary.
You may also consider changing the oil and filter or at least adding crankcase stabilizer to your oil tank. If you plan to use fogging oil in the carburetor or combustion chamber, during the oil change is a great time. Now would also be a great time to change the lower unit fluids. Do this by removing your vent plug and drain plug on the lower half of the motor and add fresh.
Winterizing Other Water Sources
When winterizing, do not forget the other water sources you may have on your boat. This includes faucets, the head, air conditioners, and generators. These areas of your boat also need antifreeze added to them.
You will do this by draining water storage tanks and filling them with antifreeze. Then turn on the faucets and flush the head until you see the antifreeze coming through the lines. Failure to do so could result in frozen lines that will not hold up once spring is in the air again.
To keep your battery in great working order for the long winter months, it is a great idea to take them out of your boat. This will prevent them from draining their charge and not working as well next spring. However, it is important that you fully charge your battery before you store it. You should also place your fully charged battery on a wooden surface rather than concrete. Concrete will drain your battery’s charge and cause damage to it. You could also use a trickle chargers when maintaining your marine battery.
After all the hard work is done, you will need to decide whether to cover your boat or not. If you choose to cover it and prevent damage, a tight fitting cover that still allows air to flow would be ideal. Before you cover, and even if you choose not to cover your boat, all canvases and Bimini tops should be removed and stored in a safe area. This will ensure they are as ready as you are for that first big boating trip of spring.