The last thing you want to be doing next spring when boat season is finally back, is fixing your boat rather than having fun with it! During the winter, there are actually several things that could worsen the condition of your boat, despite it being relatively unused. It is advisable to deal with any regular maintenance of the vessel prior to storing for off season because of the harsh effects that the winter may bring, especially when the boat is not being checked on a regular basis. Hence, here are some tips that could be vital to ensuring that you can hit waters without niggling worries as soon as the weather turns nice.
Keep the Vessel Clean
A dirty boat is more susceptible to corrosion or rust, and in addition to this the hull, if fiberglass, the seal can be invaded by freezing or blistering. Any other materials or attachments to the boat should also be kept clean, and if there are special tops (including but not limited to bimini tops or spray hoods), they should be allowed to dry after being washed. It is also advisable to apply a layer of wax onto the hull of the boat, so that the exterior does not have old scratches or marks when the new season commences. All accessories such as fishing equipment or travel items should be taken off the boat during the off season, if you plan to use those items again the next summer, it is important to maintain them separately.
The first step in the process for winterizing the engine is to top up the fuel tank, to evade any moisture build or condensation over the winter period. Two items that can help the winterizing of a fuel are Water Separating Fuel Filters and Universal Fuel Stabilizers. Filters are meant to be changed at the end of the boating season and a stabilizer’s main function is to keep the engine pristine and healthy during the off season. If your boat uses an outboard or sterndrive (inboard/outboard) engine, cleaning the engine will also help in guaranteeing a smooth start in spring. A tip for this would be to use an aerosol cleaner and run it through the machinery to attack and remove any deposits of chemicals that could have found their way into the engine. If your boat has an inboard engine, circulate antifreeze through the system using a hose, the application of this process may depend on whether you have a ‘Raw Water’ or ‘Enclosed Fresh Water’ cooling system. Another tip would be to change the fluid in your transmission and to remove spark plugs to ensure that the engine stays clean throughout the winter. The process for draining an outboard motor is slightly simpler, as it requires you to simply flush the engine with fresh water, carefully, as you want to drain the engine completely to prevent any freezing. After that, it is advisable to lubricate the interior and exterior of the engine, or to polish it with wax. Lastly, the engine is another piece of the boat that has to be protected by rust and corrosion; hence a solution would be to spray fogging oil through the air intakes as well as the exterior of the engine to create a layer of protection.
Oil & Lubrication
One of the final steps of preparing your boat for its hibernation is to change the oil and the oil filter, based on the engine manufacturer’s suggestions. The next part of this step would be to change and refill the outdrive components of the boat, it is important to watch out for any intrusion of another substance including water as you drain the outdrive, as these can cause leaks. Lubrication can keep the boat fresh in all areas, especially during cold Canadian winters when the boat is being unused and frozen liquids can seep in. Coating all detachable objects that are still part of the boat itself is integral in preventing cracks and other forms of physical or water damage.
Finally, it is recommended that you do one final look over of your boat and all its parts, engines and accessories before storing it for the winter. One final look over at the end of the season could be the difference between getting out on your boat as soon as possible when the new season comes, or waiting weeks for small repairs and detailing to be done before you can get back out.