If you’re lucky, you get to use your boat year-round, but few people live in an area that provides such a luxury. Most boaters must think about putting the boat away for winter, certainly not an easy task, but if done properly, can save money in the long term. After all, your insurance probably won’t cover damages caused by neglect of lack of maintenance.
The most secure place for your boat in winter is out of the water and under cover, preferably in a storage area that is climate-controlled. If not, try for the driest place possible.
Depending on the type of boat you have makes a difference in how you winterize it. Here are some helpful tips for boats with inboard and outboard engines. If you’re a new boat owner, refer to your owner’s manual and as an extra precaution, ask a knowledgeable boat owner friend to give you some help.
First of all, run the engine to warm it up and change the oil while it is still warm, allowing the oil to drain more completely. Supply cooling water to the engine via the flushing port. Remove the oil filter and properly dispose of it. Refill the engine, check the level and check it again for leaks.
Next, flush the engine with non-toxic antifreeze using an intake hose to the water pump. Place the end of the hose in a bucket or bottle of antifreeze. Start the engine and allow the antifreeze to circulate until it starts to exit the exhaust. It’s a good idea to also change the transmission fluid. Take out the spark plugs and use "fogging oil" to spray into each cylinder. Wipe down the engine with a towel sprayed with some fogging oil.
Measure the remaining fuel in the tank and treat it with the correct amount of a fuel stabilizer. Flush the engine with fresh water using the flushing port located on the back of the engine. Start the engine and keep it running with the cowl removed, then spray fogging solution into the air intakes on the front of the engine.
While it’s still running, remove the fuel line from the engine and continue spraying fogging solution until the engine dies. It is important to run the engine with the fuel line removed to burn all fuel from the carburetors to prevent build-up of deposits from evaporated fuel.
Next apply water resistant grease to propeller shaft and threads. Then change the gear oil in the lower unit and lightly lubricate the exterior of the engine or polish with a good wax. Finally, wash the engine thoroughly with soap and water and rinse clean.
Before you say good-bye to your boat for the winter, remember to check with your independent insurance agent to find out about saving money on your boat insurance while your boat is not in use. You may be able to pay less or put your policy on hold until spring, when you get your boat back on the water.