A Guide to Winterization


It’s just about that time to winterize your boat. With the cold weather settling in more and more each day, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect your watercraft from harsh winter weather conditions. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when winterizing:

1. Shrink Wrap 

Shrink wrap prevents snow, ice, and water from building up in the hull. This provides a protective barrier   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.

2. No Tarp, Please

These covers are versatile and durable, but only protective against mild weather conditions . They are not built to withstand the winter. 

3. Or Space Heaters

Do not use a space heater to help winterize your boat. This is a fire hazard and can cause more damage than good.  

4. 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.  

5. Prepare 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  will allow you to identify leaking seals. Finally, clean the lower unit with soap and water.  

6. Prepare the Interior

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 odor and moisture products to avoid mildew and mold.

Here's how to winterize the engine:

1. Begin by fogging the engine. This will prevent corrosion of the oil when it is stored for an extended period of time.

2. Change the engine oil and filters. Keeping old oil in the crankcase during winter storage can cause corroded engine components. Change the engine coolant as well.

3. Fill the engine block with antifreeze. This will help guard against residual water freezing and potentially cracking the block.

Here are some supplies you may need to fully winterize the boat:

Here’s our winterization checklist:

Pre-Winterization Inspection

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 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

Here are the most common mistakes to avoid when winterizing:

Cover the Boat

You may think it is common sense to cover your boat in the winter, but we have seen many boaters simply leave their boat unprotected from the weather. Storing a boat with no cover can be extremely detrimental, so first and foremost, cover your boat.  

Set up the Stands Correctly

If you’re planning to use them, take the time to set up your boat stands. If done incorrectly, the stands could shift out or slide into the terrain and ultimately drop your boat. Make sure your boat stands are far out from the boat and there is a piece of wood underneath each stand to sustain the bases.


Take the appropriate time to winterize your boat. Before you begin, do your due diligence and be sure to hire a professional as needed. Spending a little more time and money from the start can save you a costly repair or even your boat in the end. 

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