Winterizing Your Boat Tips
It’s that time of year again – the time where northern boaters either remove their boats from the water for the winter or prepare for them to continue to be in use during freezing conditions and southern and western boaters perform regular maintenance before the High Season starts.
Not only is winterization an important part of maintaining your boat and ensuring it’s around for many seasons to come, it’s also important from a safety standpoint, keeping you and your loved ones, as well as your favorite waterways, safe and sound.
Here are five winterization tips from the Sea Tow Foundation:
· Drain water – This may seem like common sense for many boaters, but you’d be surprised how many skip this critical winterization step. If you store your boat on land or in the water in cold weather, it’s important to drain all water lines and use marine-specific anti-freeze to prevent critical engine and other components from freezing as the temperatures drop. Even states with warmer climates can see a handful of below freezing days or nights so this is important for these boaters as well. Also take the time to check the boat plug and window seals to ensure they are ready for the cold weather as well.
· Properly dispose of all fluids and other hazardous materials – Proper winterization always includes changing your boat’s oil. Some boaters will also swap out batteries, check belts and hoses for leaks and follow other specific steps when getting their boat ready for winter in the cold regions or warmer climates. Remember to properly dispose of oil and batteries, as they can all be extremely harmful to the environment. If you’re not sure where you can dispose of these in your area, check with your marina or local authorities like the U.S. Coast Guard or police marine unit.
· Clean and inspect all life jackets – In order to be sure your life jackets are effective and able to work when needed, it’s important to properly clean them before storing them over the winter months or continuing to use them in the warmer climates. Mold and mildew can be a problem, but the Sea Tow Foundation has some simple steps that you can take to clean and dry them. And if you have any life jackets that no longer fit your boat’s passengers, you can always donate them to a local Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Drive!
· Boat cleaning the eco-friendly way – Life jackets aren’t the only things on your boat that can become dirty. If you’re not careful, you may find mold all throughout your vessel, so it is important to scrub the boat with eco-friendly cleaners that won’t harm the environment before shrink wrapping the boat if you are planning to store the boat on land. If the boat is being used throughout the winter, it is still a good idea to give it a good cleaning before continued use.
· Double check all safety equipment – Now is the perfect time to double check all of your boat’s safety equipment. This includes your VHF radio, air horn, safety flares, lines, throwable buoys, boat hooks, fire extinguishers, and the first aid kit. Make sure that nothing is expired or needs to be replaced or replenished. If so, take the time to get these items before the end of the year. You can also use Sea Tow’s Automated Radio Check service to be sure your VHF radio is working correctly.
What other tips do you have when it comes to boat winterization? Share your favorite tips in the comments below!