Link to “The Tidy Boat Man” (Lead story)
To properly winterize your boat, you’ll need more than a few household cleaners. Here are a few things that you (or your boat dealer) should do if you plan to store your boat through the winter:
Engine and batteries
• Place fuel stabilizer in your tank according to manufacturer’s specifications and run your outboard for at least one hour on the last outing before you park it for the winter. After running your boat with the fuel stabilizer added, top off each tank with additional fuel and stabilizer. Leaving the tanks full will minimize condensation in the fuel system.
• Top off your oil tank.
• Fully charge your batteries and, if needed, add fluid according to manufacturer’s specifications. These are good tips to improve battery life year-round.
• If you will be storing your boat outside, remove the batteries and store them in a location where they will be protected from freezing temperatures.
• If you will be storing your boat in a garage equipped with an electric door opener, you can remove the courtesy bulb from the opener and replace it with a screw-in electrical receptacle. Plugging your charging system into this receptacle will give your batteries a few minutes charge every time the garage door is opened. If the batteries were fully charged before being stored, this should be enough maintenance to keep them in top shape all winter.
• Disconnect your batteries with the outboard in the down position after the boat has been placed in storage.
• Change the gear lube in your lower unit and check for problems such as excessive metal filings on the magnetic drain plug or water in the lubricant. Changing the lube may seem intimidating to the novice boater, but it is a relatively simple procedure. Your owner’s manual will walk you through this process.
• Remove the prop and grease the prop shaft. Again, a relatively simple procedure that will be outlined in your owner’s manual.
• Only use NMMA- or ASE-approved, brand-name oil and gear lube in your outboard. Check the specifications in your owner’s manual to determine your exact needs.
• Wash your trailer to remove all possible road substances before parking your boat for the winter.
• Service your trailer bearings to ensure no moisture is present.
• If your trailer has brakes, make sure the brake system is full of fluid.
• Check your tires to ensure they are fully inflated.
• Lube your trailer hitch receiver and assembly.
• Make sure the drain plug in your boat is removed and that the plug port is free of trash. Be sure to store the plug in a safe place.
• Wash your boat hull and vacuum the carpets. This will make your first outing in the spring much more enjoyable.
• If your boat is stored outside, make sure its cover is on properly and pulled tight to shed water. Be sure that the boat is completely dry inside before covering it.
• Remove articles from your boat that moisture may damage (life vests, tackle, pliers, etc.).
• Store your boat with the bow slightly higher than the stern.