When the snow is coming down, everyone bundles up to stay safe. But in our rush to stay warm we sometimes forget that our machines also need to be protected from the cold. Too many boats die quietly every winter. Your boat may not be able to come inside and warm up, but if winterized properly it won’t be spending extra time in the repair shop in the spring when it should be out on the water. A properly stored winterized boat can save its owner thousands of dollars in repair fees and hundreds of hours in the shop. Winterizing your boat only takes a day of your time or less but will save you so much time and money in the future.
How to winterize a boat
Step 1: The Hull
- When winterizing your boat make sure the hull is free of stress cracks that ice can aggravate.
- Pop, drain, dry, and patch all gelcoat blisters you find.
- Pressure wash the outside to clean off any dirt and sea grim.
Step 2: The Interior
- Remove any kind of electronics and electrical systems so they don’t corrode in humid winter weather. Store inside in a dry place.
- Treat vinyl interiors with protectant gels to prevent drying out and cracking.
- Clean and dry built-in head, and drain sinks and showers. Don’t forget to put antifreeze down the drains.
Step 3: The Motor
- Add fuel stabilizer to the gasoline and run for 10-20 minutes to distribute.
- Fog the carburetor and engine cylinders to prevent corrosion.
- Change the oil and drain the engine.
- Flush cooling system and add antifreeze.
- Spray engine with anti-corrosion spray. Also spray electrical connections with water repellent.
Stabilize your Fuel
Be sure to treat your boat with a fuel stabilizer when winterizing your boat. Pennzoil Fuel Stabilizer, PRI-G and Stabil are great products that have been known to protect your boat through even the harshest of winters. After adding it to the fuel, run the engine for 15 minutes or until you are sure the stabilized fuel circulates throughout the engine. If you don’t stabilize the fuel, carburetors and fuel injectors can be clogged with varnish deposits. Cost to stabilize your fuel: $5 to $15. Cost if you don’t: $300 to $1,500.
Fog the Engine Cylinders
Aerosol fogging solutions coat the inside of the engine. Each engine manufacturer makes specific products they promote as ideal for their engines, so be sure to find the recommended Aerosol for your specific engine. Hook a garden hose to the engine, start it, and then spray the aerosol fogging lubricant directly into the air intake. If you don’t fog the engine cylinders, corrosion can form inside the engine, covering the cylinders, pistons and rings with a patina of abrasive crud. Cost if you do: $5 to $25. Cost if you don’t: $1,500 to $20,000 (or more).
Drain the Engine
Draining the Engine is crucial in winterizing your boat. Locate and open the petcocks underneath the manifolds and on the sides of the engine block. Remove the water-pump hose. Allow pump to drain and dry completely. If you don’t drain the engine, any leftover water can freeze, expand, and crack the engine block and manifolds. Outboard engines self-drain and never require this step. Cost if you do: $0. Cost if you don’t: $5,000 to $25,000.
Change the Oil
Changing the engine oil helps eliminate moisture, prevent corrosion, and keeps the oil fresh. If you don’t, moisture can cause excessive damage, which can lead to loss of engine power, poor engine fuel economy, and possible engine failure. Cost if you do: $25 to $100. Cost if you don’t: $500 (excess fuel) to $20,000 (possible engine failure).
Step 4: The Cover
- Outside boat storage requires finding a boat cover which will protect the waterline. The cover needs to keep water and snow out while still allowing for airflow to minimize mildew growth. A few good options are Polytarp covers (with a frame), Polyvinyl (for maximum water repellency), or Shrink wrap.
- Indoor boat storage does not require a special boat cover.
Step 5: Storing your Boat
Park your boat on a flat paved surface if possible to prevent tires from sinking into the ground when the earth heats back up in the spring. If you are having trouble finding space in your backyard or garage, or you are can’t afford to pay the exorbitant prices to keep your boat close to the water, check out Neighbor boat storage. We can hook you up with both outdoor and indoor boat storage in your own Neighborhood for a fraction of the cost of other vehicle storage facilities.
For more details about winterizing your boat, check out Popular Mechanic’s article on Boat Winterization.