Winterize your boat
Make sure your boat is shipshape for next spring
Depending on where you live, boating season has ended or is nearing its end. It’s time to get your boat ready for a long winter in storage. Here are a few tips to help you winterize your boat:
- Check the power cord, boat electrical plug, and associated wiring for corrosion or overheating.
- Drain the freshwater and hot water tanks. Add pink potable antifreeze directly into the empty freshwater tank and pump it through the faucets to protect the waterlines. Once you launch next spring, flush the antifreeze out of the waterlines with fresh water.
- With the holding tank empty, I pour about a half-gallon of pink potable antifreeze in the head and pump it through the head pump.
- Top off the fuel tank.
- Change the engine oil and filter.
- If you keep your boat in the water over the winter, make sure the through-hulls are closed. (I put a tag by the starter switch that reads, “Thru-hull closed.”)
- Run an air drier in the cabin and have one in the engine room (not recommended on a boat with a gasoline engine unless it is ignition-protected). While not a necessity, this keeps the boat fresh and decreases humidity.
- Check and top off the house bank and starting batteries.
- Check the auto bilge pump switch to make sure it works.
- Storm tie the boat with extra lines in the winter so it’s always ready for a big blow.
I think the most important thing is to go down and check on your boat every week if you are in town. Post a note in the window with a phone number in case of an emergency.
Get to know other boaters on your dock. If you’re out of town they might be able to check on your boat for you.
These tips were written with the West Coast in mind. Winterizing boats in cooler climates like the East Coast might require a different procedure. This article orignally appeared in Bell Signals, newsletter of Bellingham Sail & Power Squadron/16.