Winterizing Your Boat for the Off Season

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a boat covered and prepared for winterIf you own a house right on the lake, then you may be lucky enough to have direct access to your boat. There’s nothing quite like being able to walk out of your lake home, onto the dock and right on to your boat! While you may go out on your boat on a regular basis during the summer, you might not be taking it out as often during the off season – especially if your located in an area that gets cold or if you’re on a lake that can freeze during the winter time.

If your boat is going to be exposed to the winter elements for an extended period, you’ll want to make sure that you winterize it in order to minimize any damage from occurring. The following are some practical tips on winterizing your boat for the off season:

  • Fill your boat’s fuel tank – Make sure that your fuel tank is filled roughly to capacity. Don’t fill it all the way up as you’ll want a little bit of space to allow for the expansion that often occurs during cold weather. Don’t forget to add gasoline stabilizer as well – this will help to keep your boat’s fuel from degrading during the winter. It will also help to slow down the oxidation process in addition to helping prevent varnish and corrosion.
  • Close your boat’s fuel valves – To avoid condensation from occurring inside the fuel tank, be sure to close your fuel valves. You will also want to replace the fuel filter and water separator as well as seal all thru-port exhaust ports using duct tape.
  • Coat your boat’s spark plugs – Remove the engine flame arrestor and while the engine is running, shoot two-cycle oil into the carburetor. In order to burn any excess fuel, turn the fuel supply off. To coat the spark plugs, spin the engine a few times. Replace the plugs but don’t connect any of the wires. This will help to prevent the pistons of the boat from being exposed to air and dampness.
  • Fill your boat’s engine block – First of all, make sure all leftover engine coolant is drained from the engine block. Then fill it with antifreeze. Make sure that you use antifreeze that is appropriate for the model of your boat.
  • Change the gear oil of your boat’s engine – If your boat contains an inboard/outdrive engine, then you’ll want to flush the lower unite gear case lubricant and replace it to keep the engine’s internal parts from becoming damaged by water.
  • Remove the boat’s battery – Before taking the battery out of your boat, ensure that it’s fully charged. Store the battery in a place that is safe and dry for the remainder of the winter.
  • Check the boat’s propeller and hub – Inspect the blades and see if the blades are damaged or have experienced severe wear. Anything that’s damaged should be repaired or replaced.
  • Protect your boat’s plugs and bulb sockets – Use a moisture displacing lubricant to coat the plugs and bulb sockets’ contact points. Get some electrical tape and cover the plugs in order to keep them dry during the remainder of winter.
  • Clean your boat – Once you’ve done all the maintenance tasks to ensure that the boat will be protected during the winter, you’ll want to clean it one more time. Remove any surface dirt that might have collected on the boat. When cleaning the boat, you may want to check to make sure the cleaning solutions you are using are appropriate for your boat. For the most part, over-the-counter glass cleaners, vinyl cleaners and vinegar and water solutions should be safe and effective to use.
  • Cover your boat – You will want to make sure that it’s protected from rain, snow, ice and other debris during the winter. Make sure that the canvas or other cover type that you use is waterproof.

Winterizing your boat is incredibly important. The cold weather and the elements that winter brings can be damaging to some of the more sensitive components of your boat. Be sure to use these tips in order to ensure that your boat will get through the off season and be ready to hit the water running next year!

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