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Winterize Your Boat Now to Reduce Maintenance Costs

The lazy days of summer boating have faded like the setting sun. Now it’s time to winterize your boat to protect it against the harsh weather. This preventative measure will prolong the life of your boat, reduce maintenance costs and get it ready for next year’s boating season.

Taking the time to prep your boat now will pay dividends in the future. You’ll be able to check for needed repairs, replace critical fluids and make sure your investment is protected against Mother Nature.

Visual Inspection

Ideally, you’ll be able to get your boat out of the water for the winterization process. This gives you the opportunity to visually inspect the hull as well as the rest of the boat. Make note of any potential problem areas.

Now it’s time to clean. A thorough pressure wash is needed to remove dirt, barnacles and other growths that have attached to the boat and components. Make sure to check for leaks around the strainer, valve or seacocks and other areas where you have previously found leaks.

Shine Time

Once the boat is dry after the cleaning, wax the deck. It’s also recommended to check for blisters on the hull. If you find any, sand those areas and wax or paint the repaired surface.

You not only get a shiny hue to your boat, but it now has a protective cover to better protect it against the coming weather.

Fluid Focus

The numerous fluid systems in your boat need special attention to ensure your vessel opens next summer on the water instead of the service center.

Start by flushing your cooling system with freshwater to remove any dirt, salt or corrosion.

For the fuel system, change the filter, top off the tank and add marine fuel stabilizer to keep the system clean during storage. It’s also a good idea to run the engine for a few minutes after adding the stabilizer so it circulates through the system.

Change the engine oil, oil filter and transmission fluid.

Finally, run antifreeze into the cooling system and engine. Don’t forget to add non-toxic antifreeze to the boat’s freshwater system, shower, faucets and water heater.

Dry It Out

You’ll want to make sure that water has been removed from various systems to keep moisture and corrosion away.

You can start with the gear case. You’ll want to look for water intrusion, which causes the gear oil to look milky and discolored.

Drain the fresh water tank and hot water heater. Open the seacocks to let any water out. Drain all water from the engine and empty the bilges.

Don’t forget to check lockers, interior compartments and holds for moisture.

Charge It

It can be a challenge to keep your batteries charged during the winter, but it’s a necessary step. If you don’t want to keep your battery constantly connected to a charger, you can periodically check your battery’s power level. If it dips below 75 percent, reconnect the charger and let it repower.

In locations where freezing is a regular occurrence during winter, remove the batteries  and store them someplace warm.