The complete guide to winterizing

Published online: Oct 08, 2009 News
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For boaters who live in colder climates but aren't making the trip down the ICW to a warm destination, it's time to get going with decommissioning.

Proper winterizing is much more than taking the cooler, PFDs and fishing gear off the boat. Taking the time now to decommission the right way - engine, batteries, sails and systems - can save you a big headache come spring.

Plus, putting her to bed properly in the fall means you'll be on the water faster next season.

We asked several of our technical experts to weigh in on decommissioning done right. Read on for a general overview, then click the links on the right for practical tips on how to winterize specific systems.

The Complete Guide to Winterizing

Properly winterizing your boat comes down to three main points, says Soundings technical advisor Erik Klockars, who will decommission about 100 vessels - big and small, inboard, outboard and sterndrive - by the time the snow falls.

  1. If it moves, grease it. Lubricate all moving parts to ensure they remain that way until spring.
  2. If it could freeze, protect it either with antifreeze or by aerating the whole system.
  3. Be sure any fuel stabilizer or treatment makes it all the way through the fuel system to the engine.

Make a list of any maintenance issues that must be addressed and other indicators of potential problems you run into while decommissioning. The list will help you keep the issues in mind so they don't pop up as surprises in the spring.

Keep in mind that the tips set out here are general guidelines, and manufacturers often have their own recommendations.

Have questions? E-mail your winterizing dilemmas to Soundings Boat Shop

Winterization Checklist


  • hot water heater off
  • hot water heater drained
  • water tank drained
  • non-toxic antifreeze added
  • faucets
  • sinks
  • shower
  • shower pump
  • head


  • non-toxic antifreeze added


  • removed
  • water levels checked
  • charged


  • stabilized
  • filters cleaned or changed
  • filters filled


  • check degree of protection


  • hydraulic
  • transmission

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