5 Key Steps to Winterizing Your Boat

Author: Adrian Pye [Kebony]

The end of summer is always a somber occasion. Kids have returned to school, people have begun to bundle up and suddenly it’s time to store your most valuable recreational asset: your boat. While every captain has his own method for preparing the vessel for winter, here are a few key steps you must take to ensure your favorite first mate will survive the winter frost.

Take It for a Spin
Sure, it’s almost time to put your boat away, but it’s not winter yet. Before storing your boat, it’s imperative to take one last ride and take note of anything that needs to be fixed, especially all of those small projects you put off during the warmer months. In particular, pay attention to cracks in the hull. A small crack today can turn into a big problem tomorrow. Do not hesitate to fix it.

Clean It
Now that you have taken your last voyage of the season, it’s time to bring your vessel ashore and give it a good scrub. Doing so will help preserve your boat’s exterior. Remove all nonessential items, scrub the deck and batten down the hatches. If the wood decking is not low maintenance and weather resistant, wash it with a bit of lemon oil or Murphy Oil Soap to maintain its gloss and shine. Now is a good opportunity to clean out the bilge, as a wide array of items tends to get lost in this area over the boating season. You never know what hidden treasures you may find!

Get Rid of Moisture
To ensure your vessel does not incur any damage in the freezing temperatures, expel all moisture from it. To expedite that process, leave all interior doors and lockers open to air out. Drain your freshwater tanks, water heater, bilge and any hose lines. If you notice the bilge water has an oily sheen while cleaning it, do not dump it overboard. Dispose of this water in an environmentally friendly manner. Finally, remove your drain plug and drain any excess water. Even after covering the boat, the elements can seep through while in storage. Leave the plug removed, raise the front of your boat to its highest point and store it in a safe area, which will allow your boat to continue draining any excess moisture throughout the storage period.

Fill ‘er Up
It’s time to fill your tank, but always check with your indoor storage facility for its rules and regulations about flammable liquids before taking this step. First, add a fuel stabilizer to help circumvent the freezing of gasoline in the tank and the gas lines. Now, fill up your tank to just about full, which will help prevent the air from crystallizing your gas. The more gas there is in the tank, the less space there is for air. Be sure to leave a small space, however, for expansion in the spring. You do not want your gas tank to burst under the pressure.

Start Your Engines
Finally, run your engine for a minimum of 15 minutes to ensure the treated fuel you’ve just put in your tank gets through the gas lines. If you’d like, you can even run some non-toxic antifreeze through your hoses just to be sure they don’t freeze up in the winter. (Just remember to empty out that liquid, as well, before storage). For added protection during the winter, take off the carburetor cap and spray inside the carburetor with fogging oil while it is running. The oil will keep your engine properly lubricated through the fall so it’s ready come springtime.

About the Author
Adrian Pye is the international sales director of Kebony, a sustainable real-wood alternative to tropical hardwoods used in boats, yachts and docks around the world. Kebony’s patented process infuses softwoods with plant-based polymers so it requires no additional treatment, is weather-resistant and lasts up to 10 times longer — better protecting the beauty of vessels throughout their life.

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