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Winterizing Boats

Winterizing a boat is the procedure completed for preparing a boat for long-term storage.

This may not be an issue for a boat kept in a more temperate climate, but even when it’s unlikely that the off-season temperature will drop below freezing, there are still some good reasons to follow the procedure for long-term storage.

Make it part of your annual

Many boat owners combine the “winterization” process with annual maintenance. This usually includes:

  • Changing the engine oil and oil filter
  • Checking or changing the gearcase lubricant in an outboard or sterndrive
  • Changing fuel filters or spark plugs
  • Testing the batteries
  • And any other maintenance specified by the engine or boat manufacturer.

Regular maintenance is usually required either annually or every 100 hours. Even if you don’t fully winterize your boat, you should take care of annual maintenance.

Fuel plays a big part

Treating fuel in the boat’s fuel tank and in the engine is also a step in the off-season storage routine. Even if you decide you don’t need to have the engine flushed of water if the boat will be sitting for more than a month, “winterizing” the fuel tank will help ensure that the engine will start and run smoothly when you’re ready to hit the water again.

Don’t risk Mother Nature

The year you don’t winterize your boat will almost certainly be the year you get an unexpected cold snap. The climate is changing, often in unexpected ways. Better safe than sorry. If you live in Northern Florida then you know, sometimes when you least expect it you’ll wake up to freezing cold temperatures. It’s best not to risk when this happens for the safety of your boat.

But what if you want to take your boat out when the temperate is warm on one of those rare winter weekends? Just be sure to return the boat to its long-term storage state—fuel treated, engine drained, battery maintained—after your warm-weather fling. It may be weeks or months before you use the boat again.

If your boat has a sterndrive or inboard engine that has been treated with anti-freeze, and there’s a chance of more freezing weather, you’ll need to have the engine winterized again if you launch the boat. This is an inconvenience and expense that deters most boat owners from taking a mid-winter cruise.

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