Fall is on its way, which may be exciting if you’re all about campfire weather or have been looking for an excuse to break out your favorite fuzzy sweater, but for most of us boaters, it’s a time of summertime sadness as we know we have just a mere few weeks left to enjoy our boats (if we’re lucky) before having to go through the daunting process of performing needed boat maintenance, winterizing out boats, and saying our goodbyes till next season.
Winter weather can undoubtedly wreak havoc on a boat (cracked blocks, corrosion, etc.) that’s not fully prepared for its hibernation — especially if you live in a region that can still experience some harsh winters despite how great it can be out on the water in the summertime.
Despite the common beliefs held by many boat owners, boat maintenance for winterization involves much more than simply sloshing in some fuel stabilizer, draining the engine, and adding some antifreeze. While these are essential, there are other procedures to perform to your boat to ensure it is fully protected throughout the entire winter season.
Fiberglass is made to stand up to the ravages of the summer sun and salt water, so a little snow shouldn’t be any concern, right? Wrong. Ice accumulation can do serious damage including slit open hatches and window tracks, which can lead to hard-to-repair leaks.
The best place for your boat to be during the winter months is out of the water, under a cover, and in a climate-controlled boat storage area. This can be an expensive option for some, and if all else fails, our recommendation for home storage is to consider shrink-wrapping your boat. Short of these two options, you should make sure that your boat is well-covered with a tarp or another form of sturdy cover.
The Hull Story
Thoroughly cleaning the boat hull is an overlooked step in the winterization process for one reason or another, but it is imperative. Barnacles and any other unwelcome guests tagging along on your boat hull should have their free-ride privileges revoked by scraping and then sanding away any residue. If you were smart enough to purchase a set of Dripper Guards for your boat, then this shouldn’t be too extensive of a process. A good pressure wash is more than likely in order as well to remove dirt and dreaded sea scum.
Outside of cleaning your boat hull, you should also give it a thorough inspection for stress cracks (common around the bow eye) and gel coat blisters. Stress cracks can indicate some serious structural damage that requires the attention of a professional, so if you stumble upon some, don’t put them off until next boating season permitting mother nature to get a crack at making them even worse.
The drill with gel coat blisters is to puncture, drain, dry and patch them with an epoxy-based filler made for this specific use. If your boat has an aluminum hull, bang the drum slowly with a rubber mallet to knock out blisters and dents.
The biggest impending dangers winter can bring about to your boat engine are freezing, corrosion, and fuel degradation. When performing boat maintenance to your engine, you should pull back the engine cover and fully inspect all wiring for anything that appears frayed or loose. Give the hoses an inspection as well for any that are deflated or show cracks. Also, check the tension of the belts and adjust them if necessary. Then you’re ready to get the engine cranked and warmed up to change the oil and filter.
Flush out your boat engine with fresh water/ Make sure the engine is idle while flushing, making sure the engine doesn’t overheat until all the water begins to flush out clean. Be sure you drain the water completely out after getting the engine cleaned out as the last thing you want is the potential for ice to form inside. You are then ready to add your fuel stabilizer to prevent corrosion during your boat’s dormant months.
The following is our comprehensive list of items to check off as you go about your winter boat maintenance process. While they may all not be a requirement, if you want to ensure your boat is in pristine condition when you break it out next season ready to hit the water again, we highly recommend following them to a T.
We hope these tips help you to have a more simplified and successful time performing your boat maintenance and preparing your vessel for winterization. Want to make boat maintenance even more of a breeze? Order your Dripper Guards for keeping your boat hull cleaner throughout the season.