How To Prepare Your Boat for Winter Storage

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Before you cover up your boat and stash it away for the winter, perform some basic maintenance first. Ensure that it’s ready for action in the spring by cleaning and fixing it up in the fall. Learn how to prepare your boat for winter storage and you’ll enjoy it for many years to come.

Clean It Thoroughly

You’re about to cover up your boat and keep it in storage for a few months. Make sure it’s clean—and dry!—before you put it away. Marine-grade vinyl doesn’t require harsh chemical cleaners; just dilute some dish soap in warm water and use a little elbow grease to get messes out. Make sure to wipe everything completely dry afterward. Leave vinyl floors and seats damp for too long, and they’ll be covered in mold and mildew by the spring.

Flush and Fill

Before you put your boat away for the winter, flush out the cooling system completely with warm water to get rid of grimy buildup. Clean out your water systems by flushing everything with antifreeze.

Meanwhile, make sure your trailer tires are inflated and your boat’s gas tank is full. Add fuel stabilizer to the tank to reduce buildup; a less-than-full tank can build up condensation over the winter. Change the oil and put in a fresh oil filter, as well as a new fuel filter.

Mind Your Battery

To avoid having to buy a new battery in the spring, keep your current one safe from the elements and at a healthy charge. Unplug your battery charger during the winter to save energy, but check the battery’s charge once a month. Don’t let it dip below 75 percent.

If you live in an area that regularly sees below-freezing temps, don’t leave your battery in a cold garage. Keep it somewhere warm and consider investing in a portable battery charger so you can keep an eye on that charge in freezing weather.

Cover It Up

Your boat cover should be airtight and made of material that stands up to even the harshest weather conditions. Even if you’re keeping it in a garage or storage locker, cover it tightly. If you live in a particularly cold area, think about shrink-wrapping your boat to keep it as protected as possible.

If your boat has exhaust ports on it, cover them up with duct tape so pests don’t creep in and make a home there. Every couple of weeks, check on your boat and dust away snow buildup.

Before you put your boat away for the winter, give it a thorough once-over and take preventative measures to avoid mold and pests in the spring. Keep these tips on how to prepare your boat for winter storage in mind as you finish up your fall chores.

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Written by Henry Johnson

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