You've worked hard all season to keep your boat in seaworthy shape. Boat maintenance, however, does not stop just because your ride around the water did.
Removing your boat and laying it up for the winter season takes thought and planning, so you can keep your vessel in quality long-term health once the favorable boating conditions return. Consider these tips for laying your boat up for a long duration:
Make sure to remove all of your boating equipment, including any seat cushions, removable electronic equipment, bed linens, lines, etc.
If you are hauling out the boat yourself, get a jump on boat prep for next year by waxing and scrubbing your boat thoroughly.
- Wash everything: the bottom, the trailer, deck and topsides.
- Take down your lines and soak them with soap and water. This step is extra important if your boat has been in salt water.
- Wash all the way to the bilge to ensure less work in the spring – and a reduced chance of unpleasant smells or mold awaiting you.
Remove all fluids
All it takes is a small sample of harsh winter to wreak havoc on your boat by freezing those interior liquids. Take the time to remove those fluids and properly winterize your boat.
For outboard motors:
- Add fuel stabilizer and completely fill your tank to prevent condensation from building.
- Flush your cooling system with freshwater from a five-gallon bucket and then disconnect the in-take hose.
- Run the engine for 15-20 minutes with the hose still in the bucket, and then add RV antifreeze to the bucket.
- Turn off your engine and reconnect your in-take hose.
- Change the oil filter and oil.
For freshwater systems:
If your boat has a motorized pump, fill it with antifreeze. If your boat has a mechanical pump, drain it.
Keep your boat’s battery charged. When your boat is at home, or if your batteries are removable and chargeable at home, make sure to take steps to keep them charged.
If your watercraft is being housed at a boatyard, invest in a small solar panel that can be used to maintain your battery’s level of charge. If that isn’t an option, schedule a couple times during the winter to visit your boat and recharge the battery using extension cords or get yourself battery pack chargers that can constantly drip-charge your battery during the offseason.
Cover the boat
No matter where you live, take steps to properly cover your boat for the winter months in order to prevent outside elements such as weather and debris from wearing your ride down.
Consider shrink-wrapping the boat to prevent rodents and other critters from getting inside the boat. It can also add an extra layer of protection against Mother Nature.
If this i your first year, consider starting a checklist to make notes every year so you build a concise approach to preserving your boat until the following spring.
Talk safety with boat yard
If you are looking to store your boat in a secure location such as a boat yard, talk to those in charge to see what security measures they take, such as video monitoring and gates, and see what sort of insurance options they have available.