For most people, the winter months are not a prime time for taking their boat out on the water. Just because you aren’t actively using your boat, however, doesn’t mean you are neglecting it. In fact, the colder months are when you should be investing some effort to ensure that your boat is protected from the elements by properly winterizing it. This keeps your boat in good working order, so it’s ready when boat season rolls around once again. Here’s a few things to consider when winterizing your boat.

Inboard Engine Maintenance

If you have an inboard engine, you will want to run the engine and change the oil while the engine is still warm. Next, supply cooling water via the flushing port, and remove the oil filter. Once those tasks are completed, refill the engine, check the levels and ensure there aren’t any leaks.

Finally, lush the engine with non-toxic antifreeze. Place one end of an intake hose in the water pump and the other end in a bucket or bottle of antifreeze. Then start the engine. Let the engine run, allowing the antifreeze to circulate until it starts to exit the exhaust. You should also take the time to change the fluid in the boat’s transmission, remove the spark plugs and spray “fogging oil” into each cylinder. Finish your maintenance by wiping down the engine with a shop towel sprayed with some of the fogging oil.

Outboard Engine Maintenance

An outboard engine requires a slightly different list of items to properly winterize it. Start by estimating the amount of fuel still in the tank and then add the proper amount of fuel stabilizer. Next flush the engine with fresh water. Your next step is to start the engine, letting it run with the cowl removed, while you spray a fogging solution into the air intakes.

While the engine is still running, remove the fuel line and continue to spray the fogging solution until the engine dies. This is an important step to ensure that all the fuel from the carburetors is burnt off, preventing deposits of evaporated fuel from building up.

Once that step is completed, treat the propeller shaft and threads with water resistant grease and change the gear oil in the lower unit. Finally lubricate the outside of the engine lightly and complete your maintenance by washing the engine with soap and water.

Boat Storage

You have three options for storing your boat during the winter months. The first, out of the water, under a cover, in a climate-controlled boat storage area, is the best, but also the most expensive. The next best option is to remove your boat from the water and have it shrink wrapped. There’s also some cost involved with this option. The final, and least expensive option, is to cover your boat with a tarp or some other cover to protect it from the elements.

Always consult your owner’s manual for specific recommendations for your craft. If you have never winterized your boat before, it’s a good idea to seek help from a professional to make sure you are performing the tasks mentioned above properly. There also may be additional maintenance procedures you should consider such as cleaning the bilges, draining the fresh water system or cleaning of the interior and exterior.

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