For boat owners in the northern regions of the US, winterization is likely the single most important maintenance duty you’ll perform all year. So, as the season begins to draw to a close, you need to be prepared in order to ensure that your boat is suitably prepared for hibernation.
Winter weather can wreak havoc on a vessel that’s not properly winterized — to the tune of thousands of dollars in repairs and replacement costs. But, on the other hand, when it’s done correctly, little work is needed to make your boat ready for use in the spring. Not to mention that proper winterization can extend the life of your boat and its engine(s) by protecting the components from freezing, corrosion and lying idle for months at a time.
What’s more, freeze damage is usually considered “lack of maintenance” and often falls outside the protection of warranties and boat insurance policies. So, your safest course of action is to call a qualified marine service company and let them perform a comprehensive winterization.
Even with a shop doing the heavy lifting when it comes to your winterization, there are still some things that you and your family can do to protect your investment and get a jump on next boating season:
- Make sure your holding tanks are empty and fuel tanks are ¾-full before winterization is performed.
- Check and tighten any screws that have loosened during the boating season.
- Make sure drains are clear of debris and flowing freely before closing up the boat for the winter.
- Use a fiberglass cleaner to remove rust stains and other blemishes from your hull and deck now, so they don’t set over the long winter months.
- Add 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol to your favorite window cleaner and treat windows to prevent ice from forming over the winter.
- Remove all perishable and freezable items (food, beverages, etc.) from your boat before storage, so they won’t spoil, burst or attract pests.
- Remove any valuable items, including portable electronics.
- Open all lockers, drawers and compartments and clean thoroughly.
- Open and clean the refrigerator and freezer.
- Turn your cushions on edge to allow air to circulate around them, or take them home and clean and store them in a climate-controlled space.
- Remove your lines, fenders and other mooring gear and inspect them for wear and tear. Replace as necessary.