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Winterizing Your Boat and Your Gear

Winterizing Your Boat and Your Gear

When it comes to winterizing gear on our boat, I keep a note pad in a Ziploc so I can write down things that need to be addressed once the boat is off the water for the winter.

My husband is the type who would toss the above-mentioned note pad first thing when trying to cut weight. What can I say? He’s still a work in progress.

The point is by tracking things that are not working properly or have become outdated, you will know where to start when it becomes time to winterize. And as you embark on the last ride of the season, you can push the painful feelings behind as you look forward to winter projects that will make your boat that much better for next year. Also, if you have a list of steps to take, winterizing won’t seem so overwhelming.

Winterizing Your Engine

When it comes to your outboard, there is a ton to do before you store it for the winter. It’s very possible to do it yourself or if you don’t feel like you have the time, you can take it to a boat performance shop and they will take care of it for you. It’s a time-consuming process but the basics include emptying fuel lines and carburetors, draining the cooling passages, spray fogging oil into the carburetors and cylinders, lubricating linkages and the electric starter drive mechanism, drain and refill gear casing and clean and lubricate the propeller shaft. Your owner’s guide will clearly outline all of these processes plus anything specific to your brand of outboard. Take the time to review this document so you can do it right. If you don’t, you will have major problems next year.

Winterizing Your Gear

After you have your boat out of the water for winter, taking care of your gear is a must. My first piece of advice would be to remove everything for a complete clean down. All the water toys and anything else that has piled up needs to be taken out and placed in a safe spot where they won’t be affected by the weather.

Life jackets will need to be removed and hung up in a dry place where they won’t mildew as well. Your tubes need to be hosed down to remove sand and dirt and then fully dried so they don’t trap moisture. After they are fully dried your tow tubes should be stored in a tamper proof container that won't let rodents or moisture in. 

Once everything is out, wipe down all your boat storage and vinyl. I like to use 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda and a gallon of water all mixed together in a bucket. This natural cleaner saves money, plus is easier on your skin than some store-bought materials.

Clean The Carpets

Don’t forget to clean the carpets. If it snaps out you may want to consider taking it in to be professionally cleaned so it looks newer for longer. If it doesn’t come out, most marine grade carpet can be scrubbed down with warm water and soap. Again, it wouldn’t hurt to check in your owner’s manual for manufacturers recommendations though. Clean carpet not only feels better it will help with the resale value of your boat if you should ever decide to upgrade. This is also a good time to carefully inspect canvas and upholstery for any tearing. Winter months are the perfect time to get those repairs done.

Storing Your Boat

Once the boat is cleaned, remember to leave the interior doors and storage compartments open so air can circulate. This will prevent mildew and other nasty buildup. Right before you close it up, a couple of strategically placed DampRid products will work wonders. If moisture is not removed, dampness and humidity can cause problems such as creating a musty smell, enabling rust to develop, and causing rot and damage to wood, carpet, upholstery, fixtures and electronics. Controlling moisture in a stored vessel is that much more important because it can also cause aggressive metal corrosion. If you haven’t taken proper measures to keep things dry, when you put the boat back into the water, you might find damage which is not a good feeling.

The Anchor

Don’t forget about your anchor. Pull it out and rinse the mud off the chain and rode. An old toothbrush will have it looking shiny like new in no time. If you have nylon rope onboard, make sure you soak it in warm water and lay it out to dry before packing it up. Carefully inspect canvas and upholstery for any tearing. Winter months are the perfect time to get those repairs done.

The worst part about owning a boat is putting it away for the winter. It’s a painful reminder you’re not going to be out on the water for a few months. The good news is, time stops for no man and we’ll all be back on the water before we know it.  

 Article written by Katie Burke


 Katie Burke is the Editor of Houseboat Magazine and the Assistant Editor of Pontoon & Deckboat Magazine




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