Like many boat owners, you may be saddened as the winter sets in and you’re forced to tuck your boat away until the spring. But in order to ensure you boat’s good condition come warmer weather, you must winterize your boat. This process could keep you busy for much of the winter, extending your boating season on-shore. It may seem like a lot of work, but these preventative measures will reduce your chances of uncovering your boat in the spring only to find that you must make repairs before heading to the lake. The following is a checklist of steps you can take to protect your boat during the winter:
· Unpack: Remove food, tackle boxes, linens, lifejackets (wash with freshwater), electronic gadgets, dishes, cushions, pillows etc. from your boat. Some of these items (like dishes) should be washed, while others (like electronics) are simply better off inside while not in use.
· Charge/store batteries: Turn off your main battery switch and remove the batteries from your boat. It’s better to store them indoors during the winter. Keep them charged; they lose charge gradually, even when not in use.
· Check for necessary maintenance: Replace any corroded connections and cover all connections with a corrosion inhibitor. Scrub away rust with a wire brush. This is the time to scour your boat for any small issues that can be fixed during the off-season.
· Prep the engine system: Top off your tanks, up to seven-eighths full to allow for expansion in the spring. Stabilize your fuel, change the engine oil and replace all filters. Leave all thru-hulls open. Clean the strainers. Fog the engine cylinders and flush the engine’s raw water cooling system with non-toxic antifreeze. Cover the exhaust and any other holes that critters may nest in. Contact local authorities to learn how to properly dispose of used oil, filters and coolant.
· Prep other systems and areas: Clean the anchor (chain and rode) and the scuppers. Flush the head with freshwater and pump out the holding tank. Run non-toxic antifreeze through the intake lines, macerator, y-valve, discharge hose, ice makers, plumping system, A/C pumps, sump pumps, fish wells and bilge pumps. Drain freshwater tanks and the water heater (turn it off first). Wash and/or repair your sails and lines if necessary. Pull the bungs out and open the sea-cocks to prevent water from pooling inside.
· Clean it up: Thoroughly clean your boat with freshwater and a specialized marine cleaner from bow to stern. Wipe out the lockers and drawers. Treat the wood with lemon oil. Vacuum, scrub and dust each area of your boat. This will remove any salt, rust and other contaminants that can reduce the lifespan of your boat. After cleaning, open the doors and lockers to air dry. You may even chose to lay out moisture and odor absorbers before closing up the boat for winter.
· Cover and store: A fitted boat cover protects your boat from the elements and also deters thieves. Consult your owner’s manual or a professional to find a cover that is suitable for your specific boat. Store your boat stern down so water and snow can drain out through the scuppers.Boats may not be able to ride the waves during the winter, but they can still fall victim to theft or vandalism. Call Casey Insurance Group at 888-537-1412 for more information on boat insurance.