08 Nov Storing Your Boat for the Winter
Winter is fast approaching, and for many of us, it’s time to start thinking about storing our boats for the cold season. Whether your boat will be staying at the dock, spending the winter in storage, or hanging out in your back yard for a few months, it’s important you prepare it well for the winter. Just like with any other vehicle, cold temperatures and long periods out of use can take a real toll on a boat; there are certain steps that are important to take to ensure that your boat comes out of the winter season in just as good shape as it entered it in.
Before you decide how you’d like to store your boat for the winter, let’s go over how you can prepare it for safe storage.
1. Prevent a Freeze
You’ll want to prevent freezing both in the mechanics of the boat and in the boat itself. Do a check for any standing water and drain out any you see. This includes in the bilges, storage compartments, live wells, etc. It’s also important you refresh the coolant system. Drain it, flush it with water, and refill it with fresh antifreeze. This way, parts of your engine won’t freeze when temperatures drop. You’ll also want to prevent freezing in your boat’s gas tank. To do so, you’ll simply need to ensure your gas tank is entirely full; empty or partially empty gas tanks can collect condensation which can then freeze and cause you some major issues.
2. Protect your Engine
There’s a couple important things you’ll want to do to ensure your engine survives the winter. If you followed our first tip, you’ll know you should definitely be adding fresh anti-freeze, but we also suggest you give it a spray of fogging oil. Fogging oil should be sprayed through the air intakes while your engine is running and will protect it from rust and corrosion during the winter months. Old oil can also corrode your engine; be sure to change the filter and change the oil. Lastly, if you have an inboard powered boat, it likely has large exhaust openings. Be sure you cover these in some way (duct tape works great!) to keep out any pests that may want to nest there for the winter.
3. Lubricate Moving Parts
Things can get a bit stiff during the winter— make sure your boat is a well-oiled machine before storing it. Anything that moves can probably use some grease! That means control mechanisms, the steering wheel, hinges, latches, the propeller, and so forth.
4. Tidy Up
Gather up all the loose stuff that’s been on board your boat all summer and get it into storage. This includes everything from life jackets to fire extinguishers. Pay special attention to anything made of fabric, like cushions. These will be prone to mildew if left out in the dampness of winter. Bring these in and keep them somewhere safe and dry. Electronics can also be negatively affected by cold temperatures; make sure you don’t leave any on board.
5. Finish it Off
Give your boat a nice, deep clean— inside and out. Finish by waxing the outside of your boat. Not only will it look great, but it will keep your boat from rusting or corroding during the winter.
No matter where or how you’ll be storing your boat this winter, our final tip is to invest in a good boat cover and rest easy knowing you’ve followed all these vital steps. Your boat will be safe, sound, and waiting for you in the spring! And before you take it out to set sail again, be sure to give us a call at 508-528-5200 to discuss your Massachusetts boat insurance. We’ll make sure your policy isn’t sailing through choppy waters!