A boat is a great way to have loads of fun throughout the summer months, but once temperatures start dropping, the time comes to place it in storage for the winter months ahead. Your boat can withstand the harsh conditions of winter by doing a few simple things before placing it in storage at the marina. These are five tips that can help you avoid significant gradual damage to your boat (or jet ski) as it remains in storage during winter.

1. Take It For a Spin

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to get one last morsel of enjoyment out of your boat before storing it for the winter months, but you’ll also want to take your boat for a cruise to observe any possible operational or physical problems. Fixing problems before putting your boat in storage can help prevent headaches later in spring when the weather has already taken a long term toll on your boat. After all, cold temperatures can worsen many problems with boats. 

2. Give Your Boat a Good Cleaning

Once you’ve removed your boat from the water, it’s a good time to begin thoroughly cleaning and preparing the vessel for storage. A great way to start is by removing the bilge drain plug, and then giving the hull a meticulous scrub-down, along with the decks. It’s imperative to clean off as much grime, gunk, and barnacles as possible, as there could be a lot if you used your boat frequently throughout the summer. Also, you should focus on the thru-hulls, seacocks, and strainers. Also, don’t forget about your boat’s interior. You don’t want to pull your boat out of storage in the spring only to find a lunch that was left to spoil for several months. Yikes!

3. Dry Your Boat as Much as Possible

Before placing the boat in storage, it’s incredibly important to get it as dry as possible. You’ll want to drain it completely, and if you’re finding it’s taking a bit longer than usual, consider elevating the bow. If too much moisture is left over on/in the boat, it can freeze, expand, and potentially damage certain areas of the vessel. Be sure to stuff the cabin and various nooks and compartments with moisture control bags to help keep it away. 

4. Perform Routine Maintenance

  • Replace the oil. Maintenance is imperative to ensure that your boat lasts through the winter with no damages. Remaining idle while in poor shape and enduring cold temperatures is a recipe for disaster. You can easily prevent a mishap by replacing the boat’s oil. Even if you believe the oil currently inside the boat is still good, consider that it can easily accumulate acid/water over time. If these contaminants are left in your oil, it can easily lead to engine damage. As your replacing the oil, don’t forget to also change out the filter.
  • Replace the antifreeze. It’s a good idea to give your boat new coolant before it embarks on the winter months. The last thing you want to do is send your boat to sit in cold temperatures with weak or no coolant. Therefore, you should do a complete replacement of the boat’s antifreeze by totally flushing it with water and adding new coolant. Keep in mind that you should also dilute the antifreeze in accordance with your boat’s specifications.
  • Use fogging oil. Your engine will have an easier time of withstanding winter when you also use fogging oil. Start by turning the boat key, but don’t actually start the boat. While the key is in this position, use fogging oil and apply it to the carburetor or spark plug holes. Your boat’s manual will provide more clarification on where this should be applied. Doing this simple step will help the preservation of your engine’s parts through the colder months.
  • Replace the fuel filters. A fuel filter is a filter in the fuel line that screens out dirt and rust particles from the fuel, normally made into cartridges containing a filter paper. 
  • Prepare your drive belts. You have two options when it comes to your drive belts: you can either loosen them up or remove them completely. Of course, removing them entirely will provide the best results, but even loosening will at least relieve the pressure on them for several months ahead. If they are left under pressure through winter, they can become susceptible to cracking.
  • Check on a few more things. Be sure to grease up the control/steering components of your boat, and ensure that they move freely and easily. Disconnect the boat’s battery and add a small amount of distilled water to it. Also, top of your gas tank before storage. If it’s left in storage with nothing in it, the walls of the tank can corrode from condensation.

5. Wax the Boat And Cover It

Lastly, you should give your vessel a good waxing. It’s a nice feeling to wax your boat, but it also provides preventative measures against corrosion. Lastly, wrap your boat with its cover and send it off to storage!

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