Consider These Tips When Winterizing Your Boat
Summer and fall have passed and, chances are, so has your time on the water. You’ve lovingly prepped your boat for the winter season, but have you done everything that’s necessary? Whether your boat is coming out of the water as things become icy, or it’s left bobbing in the water in warmer areas, here are a few tips for avoiding common mistakes you might make when winterizing your boat.
Vessels Coming Out of the Water
If you’re planning on taking your boat out of the water for winter storage, consider these four tips:
- Cover your boat. A boat’s hull can keep water in as well as keep it out. All it takes are a few leaves washing into the boat’s drainage system to create a situation where flooding can occur, potentially leading to damage. Once water (from rain or elsewhere) enters the boat, it may settle in the engine bay or cabin below, causing damage.
- Plug all the holes. Unwelcome guests like insects and mice typically look for a dry place to call home during the winter months. Plug any holes, like your exhaust outlet or thru-hulls, with mosquito netting material to help prevent them from getting in. Make sure to leave yourself a note to remove the screen material before launching again in spring.
- Charge your batteries. Before leaving them to sit all winter, make sure to fully charge your batteries. According to Cars.com, a battery left in a discharged state (having given up most of its electricity) in exceptionally cold temperatures will allow the electrolyte (the fluid inside the battery) to freeze and expand. When this happens, it can potentially crack the battery case, causing a leak or outright failure. While a full charged battery has a freezing point of nearly -80 degrees Fahrenheit a discharged battery may freeze around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. A fully charged battery may help you avoid failures come spring and make launching your boat back into the water that much easier.
- Add antifreeze. When leaving a boat for the winter, consider adding a few gallons of nontoxic propylene glycol antifreeze to your fully dried bilge. Then, run the bilge pump until the antifreeze comes out your thru-hull (an access hole in a boat’s hull, often used to expel or take in water), to help ensure there is no water in the compartment. Also, if water does happen to make its way into your bilge pump, the antifreeze will help to prevent it from freezing, so it won’t expand and damage the boat.
Vessels Staying in the Water
For boats staying in the water through the winter months, you should consider these additional precautions:
- Leave moisture traps. In all cabins, leave moisture traps, such as mildew discs, to eliminate excess moisture in the air.
- Screen your vents. If your dorade vents (vents that allow for air flow but keep water out) have screens, leave them in place during the winter. If not, add screens to help deter critters from crawling on board.
- Declutter your deck. Clear the deck of all the unnecessary items (cushions, umbrellas, etc.) that you can, and stow those items below deck.
- Add covers. Consider covering ports and hatches from the inside with ultraviolet-resistant covers to help protect the cabin from sun damage.
- Clean out your food supply. Remove any food that will spoil. For non-perishable food, leave it in a zip-top bag to help prevent excess moisture from getting in.
- Lock down your boat from wind. Secure items that may move in the wind.
With a little extra care toward your boat in the winter, you can help ensure that next spring you can spend more time on the water and not addressing issues that could have been avoided.