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How to Winterize Your Boat

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Authored by Johnny Dunn in Water Sports
Published on 03-03-2009

A boat is one of the most expensive and enduring recreational vehicles. The process of winterization for a boat is quite possibly the most important duty you owe to your boat if you want it to have a much longer life-span. If you do the winterization process correctly, you can get the boat ready out to spring with little effort.

It is always good to read your boat’s manual before doing anything. If your boat needs special care or attention, then you should know and it should be in the manual. Usually the boat’s manufactures will recommend you some guidelines on winterizing your boat already. Or if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, several services and companies offer a winterization service for boats.

First you have to fill your fuel tank until it’s full, but leave just a little bit of room for expansion. You’d do well to add a bit of stabilizer, but be careful, read the instructions. If the fuel tank isn’t full then there is a chance of condensation occurring in the tank, which can lead to corrosion and clogging. If you use nonalcoholic fuel, then it lowers the chance of condensation.

Turn on your engine and keep it on for a little while so it’s warm. This will make sure that the new fuel gets to all parts of the engine. With the engine still running, change the oil; when you change the boat’s oil while the engine’s warm, it drains away many of the impurities of the oil. Because oil settles to the bottom of an engine if it is not used often, which leaves the pistons and valves defenseless against corrosion, you remove the spark plugs and spray some oil inside the carburetor and the cylinders. Remember to put the spark plugs back in when you’re done.

If your boat will be out of water during the winter, take the battery and store it somewhere safe. But if you leave it in the water, you should still have the battery in place in case the bilge pump is needed to function.

You should also do an overall checkup on your boat. Even the smallest nicks or damages can severely decrease performance, and they’ll only get worse during the winter. Especially check the boat’s propeller and hub. While you’re checking, you should give your boat a good wash and clean. Remove all the dirt and other messes now so you won’t have to in the spring.

To prevent mildew, install a dehumidifier to absorb the moisture. This will also let the air circulate better while you’re gone.

Finally you should drain and clean the boat’s bilges. If your boat is going to be in the water all winter, then take away the drain plugs and put them back in when spring comes. Spray the bilges with some lubricant and antifreeze.

If all is well, then you should be ready to go boating once spring hits in no time at all. Impress all your boating friends and be the first one out there as soon as that first leaf turns green again.

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