Winterizing Your Boat
the boating season is winding down in many parts of the
country and it is time to start thinking about
protecting your valuable recreational asset. Winterizing
a boat reminds me of the old commercial that says "pay
me now or pay me later." The time and effort you spend
now will have a definite effect on your boat's performance,
or lack of it, and certainly save you time, effort and money
come spring. You should remember that your insurance policy
may not cover damage done by lack of maintenance or neglect.
The best place for your boat to be during the winter is
out of the water, under cover, in a climate-controlled boat
storage area. This, however, can be expensive. If don't have
this option perhaps you should consider shrink-wrapping your
boat. This, too, is a little expensive but provides a very
protective cover. Short of these two items, make sure that
your boat is well covered with a tarp or some other sturdy
Your first step in winterizing should be to make a checklist
of all items that need to be accomplished. Check the owner's
manual of your boat and motor(s) for manufacturer's recommendations
on winterization. If you are a new boat owner, perhaps you
should employ the assistance of a friend with experience
in winterizing or hire a professional to do the job. The
following is a generic outline of areas which should be of
concern to you, however, there are many resources on the
Internet with more detailed and specific information.
Inboard Engine(s) - You
should run the engine(s) to warm it up and change the oil
while it is warm.
This tends to allow impurities to be drained away with the
oil. You should also change the oil filter(s). Flush the
engine(s) with fresh water. You should circulate antifreeze
through the manifold by using a pickup hose from the water
pump to a bucket of antifreeze. Start the engine and allow
antifreeze to circulate until water starts to exit the exhaust.
This process will vary slightly depending on whether you
have a "Raw Water" cooling system or an "Enclosed
Fresh Water" cooling system. While you're in the engine
room you should also change the fluid in your transmission.
Remove spark plugs and use "fogging oil" to spray
into each cylinder. Wipe down the engine with a shop towel
sprayed with a little fogging oil or WD-40.
Fuel - Fill your fuel tank(s) to avoid
a build up of condensation over the winter months. Add a
fuel stabilizer (such as one found here) by following the
instructions on the product. Change the fuel filter(s) and
Stern Drive(s) - You should thoroughly
inspect the stern drive and remove any plant life or barnacles
from the lower unit. Drain the gear case and check for excessive
moisture in the oil. This could indicate leaking seals and
should be repaired. Clean the lower unit with soap and water.
If your stern drive has a rubber boot, check it for cracks
or pinholes. Grease all fittings and check fluid levels in
hydraulic steering or lift pumps. Check with your owner's
manual for additional recommendations by the manufacturer.
Outboard Engine(s) -
Flush engine with fresh water using flush muffs or similar
to the raw water pickup. Let all water drain from the engine.
Wash engine down with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.
Thanks to Jerry Turley a member of the USCG Auxiliary for
pointing out that there are two theories on whether you should
disconnect the fuel hose and run the engine until it stops
or treat the fuel. Nissan recommends draining fuel for lay-up
and it and has a step by step process to follow. Their purpose
is to make sure that all fuel is drained from the carburetor
to prevent build-up of deposits from evaporated fuel. Other
manufacturers such as Mercury, OMC, Force and all recommend
treating the fuel with a fuel conditioner and stabilizer,
have a full tank, and running treated fuel into the engine
prior to the balance of the winterizing process. The presence
of treated fuel prevents the interaction with air. Also,
the small amount of fuel left after draining does not have
a chance to evaporate and form the "varnish" type
residue. Fuel conditioners are available at marine dealers,
marine stores and auto parts stores.
You should consult your owners manual for the manufacturers
recommendations on how to handle fuel in your winterization
Use fogging oil in the cylinders to lubricate the cylinder
walls and pistons. Apply water resistant grease to propeller
shaft and threads. Change the gear oil in the lower unit.
Lightly lubricate the exterior of the engine or polish with
a good wax.
Batteries - Disconnect the battery cables,
remove the battery from the boat. Clean the terminal ends
and battery with a solution of baking soda and water, rinse
thoroughly with clean water. Apply a light coat of grease
on the terminal end of the battery and cables. Store the
battery in a cool dry place. Use a trickle charger to keep
battery charged . Do not charge battery near any open flame
or in a confined area.
Bilges - Make sure the bilges are clean
and dry. Use soap, hot water and a stiff brush to clean up
any oil spills. Once the bilges are clean, spray with a moisture
displacing lubricant and add a little antifreeze to prevent
any water from freezing.
Fresh Water System - Completely drain the
fresh water tank and hot water heater. Isolate the hot water
heater by disconnecting the in and out lines and connect
them together. Pump a non-toxic antifreeze into the system
and turn on all the facets including the shower and any wash-down
areas until you see the antifreeze coming out. Also put non-toxic
antifreeze in the water heater.
Head - Pump out the holding tank at an
approved facility. While pumping, add fresh water to the
bowl and flush several times. Use Vanish crystals or whatever
your owner's manual recommends that will not harm your system
and let sit for a few minutes. Again add fresh water and
pump out again. Add antifreeze and pump through hoses, holding
tank, y-valve, macerator and discharge hose. Again, check
your owners manual to make sure that an alcohol-based antifreeze
won't damage your system.
Interior - Once
you have taken care of the system you should remove any
lines, PFD, fire extinguishers, flares, fenders, etc. Over
the winter these items can be cleaned, checked and replaced
as necessary. Open all drawers and lockers and clean thoroughly.
Turn cushions up on edge so that air is able to circulate
around them or, better yet, bring them home to a climate
controlled area. Open and clean the refrigerator and freezer.
To keep your boat dry and mildew-free you might want to install
a dehumidifier or use some of the commercially available
odor and moisture absorber products such as "No Damp," "Damp
Away" or "Sportsman's Mate."
Out of Water Storage - pressure wash hull,
clean barnacles off props and shafts, rudders, struts and
trim tabs. Clean all thru-hulls and strainers. Open seacocks
to allow any water to drain. Check the hull for blisters
and if you find any that should be attended to you might
want to open them to drain over the winter. While you're
at it, why not give the hull a good wax job? It is probably
best to take the batteries out of the boat and take them
home and either put them on a trickle charger or charge them
every 30-60 days.
In Water Storage - Close all seacocks and
check rudder shafts and stuffing boxes for leaks, tighten
or repack as necessary. Check your battery to make sure it
is fully charged, clean terminals, add water if necessary
and make sure your charging system is working. Check bilge
pumps to ensure they are working and that float switches
properly activate the pumps and that they are not hindered
by debris. Make sure either to check your boat periodically
or have the marina check it and report to you. If in an area
where the water you are docked or moored in actually freezes,
you should have a de-icing device or bubbling system around
By following some of the above suggestions, and suggestions
given from the links provided, you should be in good shape
for the winter. Do not, however, neglect to consult your
owner's manuals for manufacture's recommendations on winterizing
your boat and other systems. If you have not done a winterization
job before or don't have an experienced friend to rely on
seek out a professional to do the job for you.
Neither Nautical Know How or the authors
of additional information provided in the links in this
article are responsible for damage or injuries that may
occur as a result of this information.
Cove Marina, Inc.
534 vandenburg Point Road
Mayfield NY 12117
Public Launch, Parking and dock space for a fee
Edinburg marinA & Pwersports
North Shore Road
located at the mouth of Beechers Creek in Edinburg,
Surface and parking available.
Public - Pay to Launch - Dock Space Available
322 Lakeside Drive
Mayfield, NY 12117
We have equipment to haul-out power boats up to 45' and sail boats up to
36' and storage for all. Our boat launch is available to the public (for a
fee) and space is available to park trailers while boating.
- Go -Inn
South Shore Road
Launch, Parking and dock space for a fee
at the Bridge
641 Bridge Street
Public - Pay to Launch - Dock Space
on the Lake
1751 State Route 30
2335 N Shore Rd
Hadley, NY 12835
Launch Ramp (4 w.d. vehicle required) 10. per
use (launch or take out)
245 Lakeview Road
199 State Highway 30
284 Houseman Street
Mayfield - 12117
Marine Base, Inc.
199 County Highway 152
Sacandaga Park, Northville