There’s no denying that for many Americans, winter has arrived, and has announced her entrance with a roar. Cold snaps are whipping across the country like a January wind, and life seems to be frozen under a thick layer of ice. And while it would have been best to already have stowed your boat under a DuraShield cover for the winter by now, it’s still not too late to protect it.
Clean It Off
Before you do anything else, take the time to thoroughly clean your boat from top to bottom, including the deck, hardware and trim. Apply a coat of wax to the topsides to keep them nicely sealed, treat any blisters (on fiberglass boats), clean all the windscreens, and let all the canvas dry completely.
Fill up the tank with gas and a little bit of gas stabilizer to minimize the chances of condensation build-up. To make sure everything runs through the system well and all the additives reach the gas that’s been left resting in the fuel lines and engine, run the motor for 10 or 15 minutes. You’ll also want to flush out your coolant system with water to get any residual gunk out, and then add antifreeze. Lastly, do a run-through of all the engine parts to see how they look: hoses, belts, clamps, strainers, and thru-halls.
Next on the list is flushing out the head with a healthy amount of water and pumping out the holding tank. When you’re done that, finish by running a non-toxic antifreeze through the intake lines, y-valve, macerator, discharge hose, ice makers, A/C pumps, sump pumps, fish wells, bilge pumps, and shower.
Oil and Lubrication
You’re just about done! The final step in winterizing your boat is to drain the oil and filters on the stern drive, inboard engines, outdrive gear case or outboard lower unit, and four-stroke outboards, but to do this when the engine’s warm so you maximize the amount of sediment and impurities that’s flushed out. A warning sign: if the oil you’re draining looks milky, that’s an indication that water’s crept in and there might be loose or leaky seals that need to be tightened, repaired, or replaced.
And to make sure nothing rusts or tightens up until warmer weather arrives, lubricate moving parts like hinges, latches,
push-pull switches, linkages, ratchet mounts, bow rollers, and sterndrive gimbal bearing and engine coupler (on sterndrive boats.)
Take It Inside
Last step: store your boat in a cool, dry place (like your garage), and make sure you’ve got a DuraShield cover on it. It’s not a good idea just to throw a tarp over top because they don’t breathe and can trap moisture inside, leading to rust and a shortened lifespan.