Get Ready for Fall: Five Tips for Winterizing Your Boat or Watercraft
Fall has officially arrived. As the temperature drops, you’ll need to prepare your boat for winter. Winterizing, also known as weatherizing, is the process of proofing your boat against cold weather. Even boats kept in garages should be winterized. Learn how to winterize your boat in five simple steps.
Five Tips for Winterizing Your Boat
- Replace Your Engine Oil - Your first step is changing the oil in your boat. Regardless of how recently you’ve changed the oil in these systems, there’s still a risk that water has seeped into the lower unit. Leaving water-contaminated oil in your boat over the winter causes freeze damage, which ruins your boat’s systems. It’s also good practice to regularly change your powerhead oil, especially if you know it’ll be inactive for long periods of time. You can shut the engine off when you’re done running oil through it. No antifreeze is necessary; if the systems are tilted downwards water will drain out of them.
- Drain Your Systems - All your systems need to be drained, not just your lower unit and powerhead. Pulling your boat’s plug allows you to easily drain your livewells and washdowns but you’ll still have residual water left in these systems. Next, put your boat on hard and run the pumps for just a few minutes –not too long or you risk damaging them. Pull your supply lines, put the ends of the supply line into non-toxic antifreeze, and run the antifreeze through the pumps until you see it come out of the ends of your washdown hose and livewell intake. Replace the line end on your seacock and once you’ve done that, these systems are drained and ready for spring. You’ll also need to run antifreeze through any other onboard systems that have water. All these systems need to go through the same process as your livewells and washdowns: put their intake hoses into non-toxic antifreeze and run the antifreeze through them.
- Treat Your Fuel - Here’s another crucial step for winterizing a boat: treating your fuel. Once you’re done using your boat for the season, refuel it up so it’s almost --not quite-- full to minimize the chances of condensation. Try to avoid ethanol fuel since ethanol collects water. If you use an ethanol fuel, you can treat it with an additive to prevent water accumulation and ethanol damage. It’s important to keep the fuel in your boat stabilized, and this includes the fuel in your lines as well. Don’t just dump in the additive and walk away, the job isn’t finished. You’ll need to run your engine for a few minutes to make sure that the treated fuel goes through the entire system.
- Keep Your Boat Covered - You need to be careful when deciding on a boat cover. A poor cover will just cause more problems. Cheap boat covers made from a cotton-poly weave won’t last as long or fit as well. You should invest in covers made from polyester or acrylic materials instead. Also pay attention to a cover’s weight rating. Commonly shown in ounces or denier, this rating is the cover’s weight. Boat covers with high ounce or denier ratings (six oz or higher, or 400D or higher) last longer and are better investments. For reference, Elite Shield boat covers use 600D Marine Treated Polyester Canvas for maximum construction stability and protection. Additionally, invest in some cover support poles to reduce sagging, removing areas for snow or rain to accumulate and cause additional wear on the cover. Before covering your boat, make sure that you have all your valuables safely removed from it.
- Check On Your Boat Regularly - Winterizing your boat and boat maintenance don’t end after you’ve covered your boat. Boats can become flooded, or boat covers can come loose or damaged. You need to check in on your boat at weekly or monthly intervals to stay on top of any potential issues. That way you’ll get plenty of use out of your boat when spring comes around.
Your Next Steps
Now that you know what you need to do to properly winterize your boat or watercraft, what should you do now? Well, the first thing we want you to do is go and grab your new semi-custom boat cover from Elite Shield. With over 20 years of experience providing the top semi-custom covers on the market, our covers will stand up to whatever the weather throws at them this winter. Don’t waste your time with other lower quality covers, and get your Elite Shield boat cover today.