Boat Winterization Checklist

Winterization is a Must Do!

Winterization marks the end of the season but may be one of the most important steps you take for boat protection.

Every year, owners get to enjoy their boats out on the water for a few months of the year. When the summer season starts to sneak away, the last thing a boat owner wants to worry about is putting his boat away for the winter and making sure it’s safe.

Even though no one wants to winterize their boat, it is a must do. Preparing for winter helps owners get back on the water quicker when summer rolls around the next year.

The below checklist is a brief summary of some items to check during your winterization process.

Make sure your boat is ready with this winterization checklist:

1. Inspect the boat hull

Walk around the boat and check the hull for stress cracks and other mishaps. Pay special attention to bow eyes and areas like this. Boats with stress cracks may have structural damage and will need to be taken into a repair shop.  Minor flaws like gel coat blisters can be punctured, drained, dried and patched with an appropriate filler.  Check our Boat Maintenance category for available products for Boat Repair, Fiberglass, Gel Coat, Epoxy and Resin made for this purpose.

Winterization using Epoxy Reapair
Winterization using Epoxy Reapair

2. Inspect the hull bottom

Check for mildew, seaweed, barnacles and other sea creatures hanging out at the bottom of the boat. Before covering the boat for the winter, make sure all of the sea leftovers have been removed from it. The best way to do this is to scrape them off and then pressure wash.  There are special cleaning products for the deck and hull which are a great help.   If there is any residue left, a light sanding will help remove it.   To keep dirt from penetrating in the future, use a good wax and keep the hull maintained.

3. Clean and protect boat hull and deck

The inside is just as important as the outside. While a boat cover will keep it safe from winter damage, there are a few things that need to be taken care of first. Prevent the vinyl from cracking due to the winter air (whether it be dry or humid) with a cleaner and protectant. Keeping the inside dry with dehumidifiers helps and will decrease the chance of mold growing. A vent in the boat cover will also prevent mold from growing because it creates airflow.  Moisture and humidity promote rust on electronics, gauges and the like so avoid this at all costs.

Vinyl Protectant for Winterization
Vinyl Protectant for Winterization

4. Remove marine electronics

Boat covers are meant to protect the internal structure of a boat, not necessarily the extras found on many boats. Take out all removable electronics and keep them inside during the winter.  Rust can form and ruin your marine electronics.

5. Winterization of your engine

The worst winter damage can be done to the engine, which a boat cover can’t prevent. Freezing pipes, fuel degradation and corrosion are all too common signs that a boat has not been properly winterized. Using your owner’s manual or repair manual as a guide, check the condition of the engine before storing. If it looks good, then empty out the fuel, flush it with water and let it dry completely.  Any water left in the engine may cause great damage if frozen. Use antifreeze as indicated by your owner’s manual.  If you choose to leave fuel in the tank, fill it all the way and add appropriate fuel stabilizer.  Do not leave room for water to build up.  Apply fogging oil or 2-cycle engine oil to protect your motor and found in our Motors, Parts & Propellers section.  Check the gear case oil for color and damage indicated by metal fragments. Of course, check all lines, cables, hoses and electrical connections for integrity and wear.

6. Choose a boat cover

Pick a boat cover that will hug the frame. Make sure this boat cover is water repellent, mildew resistant and breathable.  Consider installing a vent in the cover so moisture can escape and aid in air circulation. Be sure your cover is supported so water and snow do not accumulate.  Pooled water causes degradation of the boat cover, seams to leak and shortens cover life.

Carver Custom Boat Cover for Winterization
Carver Custom Boat Cover for Winterization


Westland Exact Fit Custom Boat Cover for Winterization
Westland Exact Fit Custom Boat Cover for Winterization

Remember winterization is the key step to boat longevity and an easy hassle-free launch in the Spring.

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