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How to Winterize your Boat for the Winter

Feb 21st 2018

BoatUS has released a free publication detailing how owners can prevent costly winter damage to their boats . The new guide, titled “The Boater’s Guide to Winterizing”, focuses on the most common problems faced by boat owners in the winter months as determined by an analysis of ten years of insurance claims from BoatUS’s Marine Insurance Program. The full guide, which details proper storage, maintenance, and a winterizing checklist, can be seen here. I’ve detailed a few of main points below.

  1. Storage

Taking your boat out of the water for storage can prevent a lot of winter damage, such as blistering, storm damage, and even sinking. Make sure to use a suitable support, such as a cradle or trailer, as the hull can be damaged if supported improperly. If the boat will be spending the winter in the water, make sure all thru-halls are closed, except for the cockpit drains. Clear any debris from the bilge pump and test to see if it is working properly. Also, protect the exterior of the boat by using appropriate ropes and chafe guards.

  1. Covering

A custom made, ventilated canvas cover, supported with a wood or aluminum frame is the best way to keep the elements out of your boat while allowing any moisture inside to escape. Tarps and bimini covers offer poor winter protection and will likely be damaged by snow and wind. If shrinkwrapping the boat,Its worth paying to have it done professionally to ensure that the boat is properly sealed and vented to prevent mildew.

3. Engines

The most important step in protecting your boat’s engine from freeze damage is removing the water and/or adding antifreeze to prevent expanding water from causing damage. The exact process varies depending on the type of engine and how it is cooled, and consulting your manual or a mechanic is a good idea if you’ve never winterized a boat engine. Make sure to change the oil, oil filter, and fuel filter before storing for the winter, and either drain the tanks or add a fuel stabilizer.