Your boat is your most expensive piece of fishing equipment. At the end of every fishing season, be sure to winterize your boats. Proper winterization makes spring launching easier and saves your boat from damage while sitting.
Storing the Boat
Thoroughly clean your boat, inside and out, before being stored for the winter. This is particularly important if it sat in the water all summer. In fresh water, algae can grow on the hull. Floating dirt gets caught in the algae. If not cleaned, the hull will eventually stain. Salt water can eat away metal fixtures and damage unprotected fiberglass and wood.
You might find a summer’s worth of beer and food covering your boat. There are mud and sand deposits everywhere. Often water saturates floor boards or carpet. Food and beer can stain the floor and upholstery. Moisture can cause mildew.
A pressure washer with boat detergent will do the trick. Before washing, remove the drain plug. Rinse the boat with water. Soap the boat in and out. Scrub the boat and rinse again. Let the boat dry completely inside before covering it for the winter. Tilt the bow of the boat up slightly to allow the wash water to drain after cleaning and to allow rain water to run off more easily if stored outside.
Preparing Your Trailer
Whether your boat is stored inside or outside, you should look after the trailer. Block at least one wheel of the trailer. Because boat trailers move fairly easily on a trailer, blocking will reduce the risk of accidentally pushing the trailer into another rig.
Even if your boat is stored indoors or outdoors in a fairly secure place, install a trailer lock. This can be a cable locking a wheel or a hitch lock. Thieves can remove both types of locks with some effort. No lock at all makes stealing your boat and trailer just too easy.
If you have access to your boat, while it’s being stored, open the cover from time to time allowing the boat to “air out.” If your boat is exposed to the elements during storage, condensation can form on the inside of the boat cover causing mildew on the cover and the boat interior.
Storing Your Motor
Whether you have an outboard, a direct drive or an IO, prepare it for storage. It’s a good idea to drain the engine block on water cooled motors. This is a must in cold climates. Many newer models have easy disconnect hoses that allow for quick draining. Older engines have drain plugs on the bottom of the block preventing sediment and rust from causing problems.
Drain the lower unit on an IO or an outboard. Install engine oil to prevent rusting if needed. Remove the spark plugs to put sewing machine oil on the cylinders Worked the oil into the cylinders to present seizing. The lower unit should not touch the ground. This can prevent accidental damage if the boat is moved. But, Don’t leave the lower unit fully trimmed because of the tension put on the trim mechanism over the months.
An appropriate additive should be used to preserve what gas is left over from the summer.
Winterizing Boats – Tips and Tricks
- Be sure to remove any equipment from your boat or any unattached pieces on the trailer.
- Place a bungee cord from one cleat to another under the lower unit to relieve pressure on the trim.
- Remove the battery and store it in a warm dry place, off of cement.
- Place old (clean) shop rags cover pointed edges on the boat to preserve the cover.
- Use your imagination 3/4″ PVC pipe to build a stand to hold up the boat cover.
- If you do lock your trailer, make sure that the storage facility has a key.
A boat is a big investment. If it needs major cleaning or work when you are ready to fish, it becomes a big frustration. If you know how to winterize a boat and do it properly, the start of boating season will be much more fun.
Share your thoughts winterizing boats in the comment section below. What works for you, will work for others.