A Quick Guide to Winter Boat Storage
That Americans love boating is almost an understatement, with an estimated 100 million people participating in the activity each year. That makes boating the most prominent outdoor recreation activity, alongside fishing.
To truly enjoy boating, you need to ensure that your watercraft is in good shape all year round. That calls for keen boat care and maintenance.
Taking care of your vessel during the summer, when your watercraft sees the most use, is a no-brainer. But boat maintenance doesn't end when the boating fun of the summer comes to a close. Proper boat storage during the winter is essential too.
So, how do you properly store your boat during the winter? Read on to learn more.
Run the Boat Once More
As soon as you've finished using your boat in the summer, give it one final run to see whether it's working before you store it away. The goal is to avoid getting treated to the rude shock of expensive repairs when spring arrives.
Pay close attention to any issues that may warrant immediate repair before long-term storage. Even seemingly minor problems, such as cracks in the hull, can worsen during the winter, so you want to address them immediately.
Check the fuel lines and hose connection carefully. Notice any signs of corrosion on the cables, fluid leaks, and damaged fuses.
Resolve these issues promptly before they cause more significant problems. The typical boat repair can cost you as little as $75 per hour, including material costs and labor charges. But if you ignore these issues and have to pay for more prolonged labor and more material, you may end up paying as much as $350 an hour.
Drain the Boat
As soon as you take your vessel from the water, drain the water tanks, bilge, pipes, clean the bilge, head, and seacocks. Try raising the bow to accelerate drainage.
Using a moisture-displacing lubricant, spray the boat's bilge. Next, add a suitable antifreeze into the bilge to avert freezing during the cold months.
Don't drain the boat's engine water intake for now. Wait until you've winterized the engine to do so.
Clean the Boat
Another essential winter boat storage tip is to give your water vessel a thorough cleaning. Scrub the entire boat thoroughly using the best boat cleaners. Clean the boat from the hull to the craft's interior.
Wash off all the dirt, grime, debris, and water spots. These substances can easily create the ideal conditions for the formation of rust while your boat sits in storage during the winter.
Open all the drawers, lockers, freezers, and refrigerators and give them a thorough cleaning as well.
As soon as the entire boat is thoroughly scrubbed, give it ample time to dry completely. If you own a fiberglass boat, repair any blistering. Then apply a protective coat of wax onto the boat's hull and superstructure before polishing the vessel evenly.
Winterize Your Boat's Engine
Flush your boat's engine, including the boat's coolant system. Use freshwater to get rid of any salt, corrosion, and dirt. We recommend our engine flush kit and our De-Salt solution. Once you've finished flushing the engine, refill the coolant system using antifreeze.
Warm the engine briefly to loosen any impurities. Next, change the oil and the filters. Pay attention to any milky appearance of the old oil, which might indicate water intrusion.
Winterize the carburetor and spark plug holes by applying fogging oil into them. Remove the drive belts and store them away to avert snapping as a result of tension.
The last step is to fill the fuel tank with gas that's been mixed with a high-quality stabilizer. Run the boat's engine for roughly 15 minutes so the additives reach the fuel lines.
Lubricate the Moving Parts
Your vessel has many moving parts, many of which you need to grease, so they stay lubricated while your boat is in storage. Start with the boat's steering system, in addition to control mechanisms. Apply moisture-displacing lubricant on other moving parts, including the latches, hinges, and linkages.
Don't forget about the propeller. Detach it and inspect for any fishing line or seal damage. If satisfied with its condition, lubricate it and return it to its position.
Take Out Sensitive Materials
There's a lot of stuff that you keep in your boat for added safety and convenience during your boating expeditions. But as these components are not part of your vessel, you need to remove and store them separately during the winter months.
Start with such components as fire extinguishers, flares, and life jackets. If the boat's interior is fitted with leather, fabric, and other organic materials, you may want to remove them to prevent mold and mildew growth while the boat is in storage.
Remove any electronics on the boat as well as they can get damaged in icy conditions.
Stick a couple of dehumidifiers in the boat to keep moisture from building over the winter. We have a lot of options you can view here.
Find a Suitable Place for Storage
Now that you've gotten your boat ready for winter storage, it's time to find a suitable place to store the vessel. If your boat is adequately covered, you can keep it in your driveway or backyard.
But keeping your boat in your driveway is far from ideal, as the elements and thieves are still a threat to your vessel. If your garage is spacious enough, it's best to store your boat there.
The alternative is to rent a self-storage facility. Many of these offer round-the-clock monitoring, as well as regular maintenance during the time your vessel stays there.
Proper Winter Boat Storage Is Essential
Your boat is a considerable investment, and it's only natural to want to keep it in top shape for as long as possible. Part of doing so is ensuring that you take care of your watercraft during the winter. The boat storage tips we've offered here are enough to ensure that, when the cold months are over, your vessel will be in the best shape to provide the boating experience you'll have been looking forward to.
Be sure to take a look at our full catalog of boat supplies to help you keep your boat safe during those winter months.