Shorter days, turning leaves, and chilly water temperatures signal that soon it may be time to store your boat. Before you store your boat, Pardridge Insurance and Grinnell Mutual recommends performing end-of-season maintenance.
“The primary purpose of winterizing your boat is to prevent the engine block from freezing, cracking, or related mechanical failure that you may discover as you prepare for that first trip around the lake when warm temperatures arrive next spring,” said Larry Gallagher, director of corporate loss control at Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company.
1. Take a trip to identify needed repairs.
One way to create a checklist of routine and necessary repairs for your boat is to go for a boat ride. Take one last trip on your boat this fall, noting the things you’ve been putting off during boating season.
2. Change fluids.
Whether you have an inboard or outboard motor, change the oil and oil filter. Moisture in your oil is a sign of leaking seals so if you find moisture, check seals for cracks and holes and replace them as needed.
Lubricate gears, fittings and other moving parts to help prevent freezing in your motor and other mechanical equipment. A full tank of fuel will help prevent condensation inside the tank. Check your owner’s manual about whether you should add fuel stabilizer, too.
3. Flush and drain.
Water is a foe of boats during winter storage. Flush the engine and water systems with fresh water. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations on whether to use anti-freeze or other products.
“Drain water from the bilges and leave the transom drain plug out,” said the Division of Watercraft at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “It’s a good idea to place a reminder note in a conspicuous place to avoid embarrassment at the boat ramp next spring.”
4. Clean thoroughly.
Discover Boating recommends pressure washing all exterior parts of your boat including the hull, propeller, and rudder. This may help to extend the life of your boat and prevent your boat from introducing invasive species into a local waterway next boating season.
Allow air into spaces and places such as drawers, lockers, coolers, and cushions to help mitigate mold and mildew. Remove the battery and nonessential items—especially safety equipment and valuables such as electronics—from your boat and store them separately. To view the full list of Winterizing tips, click here.