There’s a nip in the air, the leaves are starting to change and soon those warm days on the water will be a distant memory. But don’t fret; summer will be here again before you know it, so be sure to take the proper steps to ensure that your boat and dock get through winter unscathed. Your pocketbook will thank you when boating season begins.
Tips for Winterizing Your Boat
Use Fuel Treatment – Since your boat will be sitting for a while it’s important to add stabilizer to its fuel to prevent it from potentially clogging your carburetors or fuel injectors. Numerous commercial fuel stabilizers are available, and most only require you to run your boat’s engine for about 10 minutes to circulate them throughout the fuel system.
Fog Your Cylinders – Each engine manufacturer makes a proprietary fogging solution designed to coat the inside of the engine and protect it from corrosion until spring. The manufacturer of your boat’s engine should have information available on the proper product and procedure for this important step in winterizing.
Drain Your Engine – If your boat is an inboard or stern-drive, draining the engine is essential before winter storage. Neglecting to do so means any water left in the engine could freeze over the winter, expanding and cracking the engine block and manifolds. Check with your engine manufacturer for the proper drainage procedure. If your boat has an outboard engine this step isn’t necessary, as all outboards are self-draining.
Change Your Oil – To eliminate moisture and prevent corrosion, give your boat a fresh oil change prior to storing it for winter. If you don’t, the remaining moisture could cause excessive engine wear, degrading performance and potentially damaging the engine.
Drain Gear Case Lubricant – Translucent, amber-colored gear case lubricant is a sign that your gear case seals are in good shape. If the lubricant is milky it’s probably time to replace the seals. The best time to get this done is in the fall when marine mechanics aren’t as busy, and will sometimes offer better prices.
Getting Your Boat Dock Ready for Winter
Check Your Dock Cables – In shallow water, ice can harden around dock areas, and as it melts it could push your dock farther out and put additional stress on the cables. Examine your dock cables for any weaknesses and replace as needed before the first freeze.
Keep Your Boat Lift in Good Working Order – Check to make sure that your boat lift is in good repair and holding air to keep your boat out of the water. Give the lift a “once over”, checking for visual damage and listening for any strange noises as you operate it. If you’re unsure whether it’s operating properly, contact the lift company to have them perform an inspection.
Consider a Dock Bubbler – If your dock is on a body of water that tends to freeze hard, a dock bubbler might help prevent it from being damaged by moving ice. Dock bubblers use a small electric motor to continuously create bubbles in the water near your dock to prevent or reduce ice formation.
Make Sure You’re Covered – Is your boat dock covered by your insurance? Are you sure? Many insurance policies don’t cover boat docks, even when it’s assumed that they do. Give your insurance company a call to ensure your dock is covered before winter arrives.
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