When the sun sets on another boating season, it is time to get your boat ready for the cold winter months. Taking the necessary steps to winterize your boat will safeguard the vessel and its motor against the elements so it is ready to use when the warm weather arrives. Winterizing your boat also will preserve your investment. Follow these guidelines to prepare your boat for the cold winter months.
· Fill your boat’s fuel tank to just about capacity. Leave enough room for it to expand. Add gasoline stabilizer to prevent the fuel from degrading over the winter. The stabilizer also curtails the oxidation process and impedes varnish and corrosion.
· Close the fuel valves to avoid potentially destructive interior condensation. Any thru-port exhaust ports should be sealed with duct tape and the fuel filter and water separator will need to be replaced.
· Coat the spark plugs. Take out the engine flame arrestor and “shoot” fogging or two-cycle oil into the carburetor while the engine is running. Turn off the fuel supply to burn off an excess fuel. With the engine off inject oil inside the cylinders. Spin the engine several times to coat the spark plugs. Put the plugs back in but do not connect the wires. This will keep your boat’s pistons from being subjected to air, dampness and other caustic materials when not in use.
· Fill the engine block with antifreeze. Bleed any remaining engine coolant from the engine block and manifolds and fill with the proper antifreeze for your model boat. Antifreeze containing propylene glycol is environmentally friendly and recommended by nearly all manufacturers.
· Change the engine’s gear oil. Flush and replace the lower unit gear case lubricant if your boat has an inboard/outdrive engine. This keeps the internal parts free of water damage.
· Disengage the battery and store in a safe, dry place for the winter. The battery should be fully charged when put away. Retain the charge and maintain the water level while the battery is in storage.
· Inspect your vessel’s propeller and hub. Look for dented or bowed blades and widespread wear. Change damaged parts and perform needed repairs when winterizing your boat.
· Prepare the plugs and bulb sockets. Spray the contact points on all plugs and bulb sockets with a moisture displacing lubricant. Wrap the plugs with electrical tape to keep them dry.
Clean your boat before storing it for the winter. Remove surface dirt with a washcloth or soft sponge. Check with your local marina before using any commercial product or soap on your boat’s exterior. Any “over-the-counter” glass cleaners or vinegar and water solutions are safe to use, as are most vinyl cleaners and protectants.
Cover your boat, even if it will be stored in a heated garage or another type of storage facility. An 8- to 10-ounce cotton canvas is recommended to protect your vessel from grime, dust, insects and bird excrement. It should be tight fitting and waterproof.