When winter comes, it comes with a fury. Temperatures fall below zero, rain turns to snow or sleet or slush, and we have to say goodbye to our summer of fun and activities. With goodbyes comes one problem, where do we put all of our seasonal things? It can be easy to store towels, chairs, and children’s toys, but what about the larger, more substantial toys? If you have a boat, you understand the struggle. Having to say goodbye for the year is hard enough, but making sure your storage preparation is done right is crucial to keeping your boat in good condition for years to come and avoiding costly repairs. With winter in full swing, if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to take your boat out of the water and get it into storage. That’s why we’ve taken the time to put together everything you need to know to prepare your boat for winter storage.
Ideally, the first step in preparing your boat for winter storage is to take it for once last ride. When you do, listen carefully for anything that sounds off. Chances are you’ll know if there are any problems with your engine, which should then be taken care of prior to storing it for the season. If you let it wait, it might get worse over the months sitting idly in storage.
Drain Your Boat
If everything sounds good on your last ride, it’s time to remove your boat from the water and drain it completely. Include the bilge, all water tanks, the head, pipes, and seacocks when you drain it and make sure that everything is completely empty before moving to the next step. After which, you can add antifreeze for an added precaution. If you’re storing your boat in a self storage unit that’s climate controlled, antifreeze acts as an added measure, but isn’t 100% necessary. Wait to drain your engine water intake until you’ve successfully winterized the entire engine.
There are a lot of aspects to winterization that you will need to take care of, but some of the most important ones involve internal maintenance. Go through the following steps to ensure that your boat is properly taken care of throughout the winter.
This may seem counterproductive, but it’s important to put your boat into storage with a full tank of gas. This helps avoid any moisture buildup and damage. Include a fuel stabilizer when you get the last fill-up since your boat will be sitting for a while.
Regardless of when the last time you changed your oil was, do it again during winterization. Otherwise, you run the risk of corrosion if there is even the slightest amount of water buildup. If you don’t know how to change your boat’s oil by yourself, take it in for maintenance.
Refresh The Coolant
Winterizing your engine is extremely important for boat storage; otherwise you could be facing serious corrosion problems that arise with your coolant system. Water buildup needs to be avoided at all costs so drain your current coolant, clean out the system, fill it with antifreeze, and refresh the coolant. This will help combat the cold weather and reduce complications down the road.
Use Fogging Oil
After you’ve refreshed your coolant system, spray your engine’s carburetor and spark plug holes with fogging oil. Do this when your engine is turning over, but not started. Read your boat’s manual for more detailed instructions on your boat’s specifications, but don’t skip out on this step.
The last step of winterizing your engine is to remove any belts. Drive belts can easily snap or crack under the stress of prolonged tension that occurs when boats are being stored. To avoid costly repairs, it’s easy to remove or loosen these belts before heading to your storage location.
Grease Moving Parts
When parts are made to move, they can easily dry out and rust without motion. In order to avoid any problems when you re-start your boat next season, take some time to grease your steering and control mechanisms. Do this by placing a small amount of lubricant on the hinges, latches, linkages, and the propeller. After you’ve greased all of the moving parts, make sure they’re in their original location and position so no added stress is placed on them throughout the winter.
Disconnect the Battery
If you leave your battery connected throughout the winter, you run the risk of draining it to the point of no return. Rather, disconnected the battery and charge it completely. Before plugging it in, clean all of the terminals and lubricate them for the best results. You can also do this with the cable ends for the best results. Make sure that your battery is somewhere with a controlled climate, like the storage units at The Lock Up Self Storage, so that it continues to work again in the spring. When you periodically check on your boat throughout the winter, include your battery and run a test to make sure it’s still working. If need be, give it another charge.
Clean Your Boat
When you take your boat out of the water, give it a good cleaning prior to storing it. Remove any visible barnacles, algae, or accumulated debris. Be thorough, as leaving it dirty could lead to stains or the accumulation of rust. Clean the exterior of the boat along with the interior to ensure that it’s in good condition for the following season. While cleaning, keep an eye out for any damages and if you find some, get them fixed. Remove anything from the inside of your boat, including life jackets, buoys, and any other organic material to avoid molding or mildew accumulation during the winter.
Once you’ve cleaned, dried your boat, and repaired anything necessary, give it a final wax and put on your boat cover. A boat cover helps provide added protection, even when opting to store indoors. You should also take the time to seal any exhaust port openings. Doing so will reduce the likelihood of pests entering your engine, which brings a whole slew of problems come summer. Use duct tape or industrial strength wrapping to cover these.
After you’ve done everything both on the interior and the exterior, it’s time to head to your self storage location.
If you’d prefer to get help with winterizing your boat, talk to your local marina and see what kind of help they have available. More often than not, marinas have a service available to take care of winter preparations for you, but you should always check again after to make sure they’ve completed everything on this checklist.
There are a number of different storage options for you when you’re winterizing your boat. The important thing is to do your research and find a place where you feel comfortable leaving it for a prolonged period of time.
Storing your boat outdoors is possible, but the exposure to harsh weather can take a massive toll on the lifespan of your boat. If you do opt for outdoor storage, having a boat cover is absolutely mandatory.
This type of storage is usually done close to the dock in some sort of warehouse, but it can be extremely costly and may still experience weathering.
Using an indoor storage location is a great way to ensure that your boat is 100% protected from the elements and, because of this, requires a little less preparation. Depending on where you go, indoor storage can be costly, so it’s important to do your research.
To get the most out of your winterized boat storage, make sure you opt for somewhere with good climate control, like the units at The Lock Up Self Storage. Climate controlled units will provide the best storage option that will give your boat years of use with minimal damage. Storing your boat outdoors leaves it susceptible to storms, weather, damage, and in some circumstances, theft. At The Lock Up Self Storage, we have a number of units that are large enough for your boat to be stored for the winter. Since our contracts are specifically negotiated based on each customer, you’ll be able to find the perfect unit to meet your needs for the right amount of time. It’s a great alternative that leaves you worry-free without breaking the bank. All of our units are also protected by 24/7 video monitoring, perimeter alarms, and individually coded access at all times to ensure the utmost levels of security. To browse all of our available self storage units, head over to www.thelockup.com today. You can always call us with any questions or if you’d prefer to speak with a professional.