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Winterizing Your Boat

Posted by Schaefer's Canal House on 10/21/2014 to Marina

When the boating season is winding down, itís time to start thinking about protecting your valuable recreational asset. The time and effort you spend now will have a definite effect on your boat's performance, or lack of it, and certainly save you time, effort and money come spring. You should remember that your insurance policy may not cover damage done by lack of maintenance or neglect.

The best place for your boat to be during the winter is out of the water, under cover, in a climate-controlled boat storage area. This, however, can be expensive. If don't have this option perhaps you should consider shrink-wrapping your boat. This, too, is a little expensive but provides a very protective cover. Short of these two items, make sure that your boat is well covered with a tarp or some other sturdy cover.

Your first step in winterizing should be to make a checklist of all items that need to be accomplished. Check the owner's manual of both your boat and motor for manufacturer's recommendations on winterization. If you are a new boat owner, perhaps you should employ the assistance of a friend with experience in winterizing or hire a professional to do the job.

Inboard Engine(s)

You should run the engine to warm it up and change the oil while it is warm. This allows the oil to drain more fully. Make sure you supply cooling water to the engine via the flushing port. Remove the oil filter and properly dispose of it as well. Refill the engine, check the level and check it again for leaks.

Finally, flush the engine with non-toxic antifreeze by using an intake hose to the water pump. Place the end of the hose in a bucket or bottle of antifreeze. Start the engine and allow the antifreeze to circulate until it starts to exit the exhaust. While you're in the engine room you should also change the fluid in your transmission. Remove spark plugs and use "fogging oil" to spray into each cylinder. Wipe down the engine with a shop towel sprayed with a little fogging oil.

Outboard Engine(s)

Gauge the remaining fuel in the tank and treat it with the correct amount of a fuel stabilizer.

Flush the engine with fresh water using flush muffs or the flushing port usually on the back of the engine.

Start the engine and with it running and the cowl removed, spray fogging solution into the air intakes on the front of the engine.

While its still running, remove the fuel line from the engine and continue spraying fogging solution until the engine dies. It is important to run the engine with the fuel line removed to burn all fuel from the carburetors to prevent build-up of deposits from evaporated fuel.

Apply water resistant grease to propeller shaft and threads.

Change the gear oil in the lower unit.

Lightly lubricate the exterior of the engine or polish with a good wax.

Wash the engine down with soap and water and rinse thoroughly


Out of Water Storage

Pressure wash hull, clean barnacles off props and shafts, rudders, struts and trim tabs.

Clean all thru-hulls and strainers.

Open seacocks to allow any water to drain.

Check the hull for blisters and if you find any that should be attended make a note to tell your service manager.

Now is a great time to give the hull a good wax job.

Be sure the batteries are fully charged and switches are turned off.

In Water Storage

Close all seacocks and check rudder shafts and stuffing boxes for leaks, tighten or repack as necessary.

Check your battery to make sure it is fully charged, clean terminals, add water if necessary and make sure your charging system is working.

Check bilge pumps to ensure they are working and that float switches properly activate the pumps and that they are not hindered by debris.

Monitor your boat regularly to avoid leaks, or animal infestations.

If your mooring area is likely to freeze be sure to suspend water agitators below it to bring warmer water to the surface so its not iced in.

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