Unless you’ve picked the right wetsuit, it’s time to start thinking about getting the boat winterized for use in the spring. For many of us, all that involves is putting the boat on the trailer, hooking it to the truck and towing it to the local dealership. This can cost up to $400 depending on your relationship with the dealer and the size of your boat, but we suck it up and pay the price because the alternative is dealing with frozen pipes, rust and corrosion that could add up to thousands of dollars in repair.
Oh, if only there were another way … fortunately there is. Winterizing your boat on your own can save you hundreds and can be done with basic household tools in just a few hours.
Clean It Up
Start out by cleaning the inside of your boat. Vacuum the carpet, discard any trash and wipe down the vinyl so everything is ready when you uncover it in the spring. You’ll also want to spray a rust inhibitor on any metal screws and on the control and steering cables.
Make sure to open any compartments so that no mold builds up. If you live in a particularly humid or wet climate you should consider placing mold control bags in any closed spaces.
Use Fuel Stabilizer
Screw in a hose to the back of your boat using an adapter, or Fake-A-Lake, and bring the boat to operating temperature. When the engine is at operating temperature, add fuel stabilizer to the the fuel tank and let the engine run for at least 10 minutes so that the stabilizer reaches all parts of the engine. This will ensure your fuel system doesn’t get ruined and will save you a thousand dollar headache.
Fog Engine Cylinders
Keep the engine running in idle. Take a can of aerosol fogging solution and spray the air intake until the can is gone. This will ensure that the engine won’t experience any corrosion.
Flush With Antifreeze
Shut the engine off and disconnect the hose. Locate and drain the fluid from the engine block and manifolds — on many ski boats these will be bronze plugs. Make sure to remove the water pump hose from the water pump and let it drain completely. After this is complete you’ll want to flush the engine with antifreeze (non-toxic) by using an intake hose to the water pump. Put the end of the hose in a bucket of antifreeze and run the engine until the antifreeze starts to come out of the exhaust. Next, check your gear case. If the lubricant appears to have an amber-ish clear color then you’re good, but if it’s lumpy and milky then the seals need to be replaced. If you do drain your gear case oil, make sure to recycle it.
Locate and replace fuel rod separator. Change the oil and oil filters, access your boats hoses and belts and change them if there is any damage.
Now you’re boat is properly winterized and ready to be put in storage!