Whether you like it or not, winter is fast approaching. For boat owners, this means the dreaded task of pulling the boat out of the water and preparing it to withstand the dangers of winter. Are you ready?

Take These 4 Steps to Properly Winterize Your Boat

Boat winterization isn’t an issue to take lightly. If you’re a new boat owner or don’t have a lot of experience properly caring for and maintaining boats, now’s a good time to listen up. Use the following tips to get started:

1. Start With the Engine

The engine is the heart of your boat, so make sure you prioritize it when it comes to winterization. If you take care of your engine, you’ll get plenty of life out of it. If you’re sloppy and careless with it, expect to have problems.

“While the engine is running, apply lubricating oil to the engine cylinders and pistons. This is called ‘fogging’ and can be sprayed on carburetors, air intakes or through the fuel line,” Wholesale Marine explains. “Be sure to change your engine oil after you’ve fogged the engine. Lastly, pour biodegradable antifreeze through the cooling system to flush any water and to protect engine parts.”

2. Protect the Hull

Your boat’s hull can take a beating during a season of use, so make sure you carefully inspect it during the winterization process.

“Check the hull, looking for stress cracks (common around the bow eye) and gelcoat blisters,” Cliff Gromer writes for Popular Mechanics. “Stress cracks can indicate structural damage, and anything serious should be looked at by a professional. The drill with blisters is to puncture, drain, dry and patch with an epoxy-based filler made for this purpose. If your hull is aluminum, bang the drum slowly with a rubber mallet to knock out dents.”

3. Store Personal Items

Now that you have the engine and hull taken care of, turn your attention to the interior of the boat. If you’re like most boat owners, the various compartments and lockers on your boat have accumulated junk over the past few months and need to be cleaned out. Grab a sturdy trash bag and toss anything you won’t need next season.

This is also the ideal time to clean out any valuables, such as electronics, fishing rods, fire extinguishers, flares, fenders, first aid kits, GPS systems, etc. Not only does this eliminate the risk of theft, but it also makes it easier to get organized when you start up the boat for the first time next spring. 

4. Shrink Wrap the Boat

If your boat is going to be stored outside during the winter, it’s important that you shrink wrap the boat to protect it from the elements. 

As Boats.com explains, “Shrink wrap is a polyethylene which has UV inhibitors, and is formulated to shrink when heated to create a seal which is much tighter than the one you or I can make with a tarp and ropes. That seal not only keeps the weather out of your boat, it also prevents the stretching and tearing tarps commonly display after a few months in the elements.”

Shrink wrap can be expensive, but it’s better to spend a few hundred dollars protecting the boat than thousands repairing it. 

Don’t Forget About Your Boat

While it gets the most use during the warmer months, it could be argued that the winter months represent the most critically important time for your boat. If you leave it unprotected or improperly store it, you could do long-term damage and drastically increase the amount of time it takes to get it back up and running the following season. 

Pay attention to these winterization tips and you’ll be a lot better off come spring.