We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to prep your watercraft for the harsh winter months. Now is the time to prepare for off-season maintenance to avoid oversights that may lead to a pricey repair next season.
SHRINK WRAP YOUR BOAT
It is vital to shrink wrap your boat for the winter to prevent snow, ice, and water from building up in the hull. Shrink wrap will provide a barrier to protect against weather damage and unwanted rodents, insects, dust and more. This type of protection requires little to no maintenance throughout the off-season. There are a variety of colors, sizes, and widths available to ensure your boat receives the proper safeguard. You should consult a professional for installation because improper shrink wrapping can result in mold and mildew – a headache you don’t want.
A DODGER OR BIMINI DOES NOT COUNT
Do not use a dodger extension or Bimini top as a replacement for shrink wrapping. These covers are versatile and durable, but ONLY during the boating season when weather conditions are mild. They are not built to withstand the winter.
NO SPACE HEATERS ON BOARD
Do not use a space heater to help winterize your boat. This is a fire hazard and will not suffice for the necessary maintenance required to appropriately winterize your boat. A space heater will cause more damage than good.
DRAIN YOUR ENGINE
Do not rely solely on antifreeze to maintain your engine during the off-season. Some engines have heat exchangers that are not entirely protected by anti-freeze. As an additional precaution, drain your engine and check for any requirements that may apply to your specific make and model.
PEPARE STERN DRIVES
Thoroughly inspect the stern drive and check for barnacles, plant life, cracks, and pinholes. In addition, drain the gear case and check for moisture in the oil. This method will allow you to identify leaking seals. Finally, clean the lower unit with soap and water.
Remove any valuables from the craft (electronics, lines, PFD, fire extinguishers, flares, fenders, and more) before shrink wrapping your boat. Clean the interior of the boat thoroughly. Look through all drawers and storage areas, remove all cushions, and clean any refrigerators and freezers. Consider covering interior furnishings and carpeting with plastic drop cloths or other protection. Finally, spray some odor and moisture products to avoid mildew and mold. Consider using No Damp or Damp Away.
1. Inventory the boat's fenders, dock lines, cushions, covers and other equipment
2. Review the boat's condition and report findings
3. Examine electrical and mechanical systems
COMPLETE BOAT WINTERIZATION CHECKLIST
1. Change engine oil & filters (including fuel)
2. Change engine coolant
3. Check & adjust belts
4. Pressure test the cooling system
5. Change transmission fluid & filter
6. Winterize the fresh water system and all appliances
7. Winterize head, including the holding tank
8. Pump the holding tank
9. Disconnect cables and clean all battery terminals
10. Winterize refrigeration
11. Winterize air conditioning
12. Winterize salt water wash-down pump
13. Inspect and clean shower sump and filter
14. Examine discharge pump and filter
15. Remove exterior cushions and canvas