Now that autumn is here, it’s time to start thinking about winterizing your watercraft. In fact, it’s time to do more than simply think about it. Now is the time to prepare your vessel for winter storage. If you’ve never winterized a boat, or if you need a few reminders, here are the basics of winterizing your boat:
Give the drive a good once-over, checking thoroughly for signs of corrosion. Remove barnacles, moss and seaweed from the drive. Drain oil from gear case, and check for moisture. Excessive moisture in oil may indicate a leaking seal that must be repaired prior to winter storage. Check hydraulic steering fluids and top off as necessary. Grease fittings.
Change oil while engine is warm. Change oil filter. Use a pickup hose and bucket to flush engine manifold via the water pump. Change transmission fluid and remove spark plugs. Wipe spark plugs and store in plastic bag. Spray each cylinder with high quality fogging oil, and wipe down engine with WD-40.
Drain all water from motor and flush engine with clear water. Wash exterior of motor with soap and water, rinse, and wipe engine dry. Disconnect fuel line, start engine and let it run until all remaining fuel is consumed. Lubricate pistons and cylinder walls with spray fogging oil. Change gear oil. Wipe down engine exterior and apply a coat of paste wax. Change fuel filter, then fill tank and add fuel stabilizer.
Bilges should be drained, cleaned and dried prior to winter storage. If oil spills are present, scrub them away with a stiff brush and hot water. Once bilges are dry, spray interiors with a water displacement product and pour ½ cup antifreeze into each bilge.
Empty holding tank and flush system with clear water. Add toilet cleaning crystals and let sit for ten minutes. Flush system with water until crystals are cleared. Pump antifreeze through holding tank, macerator, y-valve and hoses.
Remove valuables and personal items. Open all lockers, drawers and cabinets and wipe clean. Clean refrigerator and leave door open. Place seat cushions on edges to allow air circulation. Place a couple of open boxes of baking soda in cabin to eliminate odors during winter storage.
Boat experts at Popular Mechanics remind boaters to cover their boat with a protective tarp, especially if the vessel is to be stored outdoors. Fiberglass hulls are designed to withstand summertime sun and sea water, but not snow or ice. Discover Boating suggests shrink-wrapping your boat before putting into seasonal storage. It may be a costly task but one that will protect your vessel until you’re ready to launch her again.