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Winterizing Your Boat - Required Maintenance

Aug 18, 2007
Failure to winterize can cause your boat to suffer significant damage such as cracks that cause leaks, corrosion, frozen pipes, interior damage, and fuel degradation.

The first thing to do is to fill the gas tank to prevent condensation, oxidation, and subsequent spoilage, and add enough stable to condition the fuel for storage. After the fuel is topped off, hook up your water supply hose to your "ears" and attach them to the lower unit. The "ears" are the same ones you use to flush and run your outboard with. Use these to prevent damage to your engine, while warming it up. While warming the engine, change the oil to allow impurities to drain. Your owner's manual will show the location of where to pump out your oil. Most are through the dipstick pipe, but some boats have a special pipe just for this. You need to make sure the hose runs down the pipe well into the engine sump pan.

Getting your boat ready for winter is essential to keeping it in great shape for next season. Here are a few basic tips to remember when dry docking your boat this winter:

-Make sure the oil filter has a check valve in it to protect your engine from oil draining back through the filter.

-To stop oil from settling on the bottom of the engine block, consider fogging the carburetor while the engine is running for 20-30 seconds or until it begins to smoke.. Once the engine is fogged, detach the fuel line and run the engine until all of the gas is burned. Lower the motor so all of the water drains from it

-If your engine uses coolant, drain the existing fluid from the engine block and replace it with a non-toxic, propylene glycol base antifreeze

The best place to store your boat during the cold winter months is ashore (dry-docked). But it can be expensive. Dry-docking your boat is a better storing method because it protects from developing blisters around the hull caused by water soaking into the laminate below the waterline. Always power wash the outside of your boat at the end of the season to clean off any stands and sea build-up. Check for places that need to be re-sealed, painted and varnished. It not only looks better, but it helps to protect your boat even more.

Always cover your boat, whether you store in the water, or out of it. This will protect the waterline from the wind, snow, and ice and eliminate undue corrosion. Place mildew bags throughout the interior of your boat to eliminate smells and extra cleaning in the spring. Make sure your cover is in good shape -- not torn, or ripped anywhere, and that it fits snugly.

Boats need a lot of tender loving care; both during the season and when they aren't in use to keep them working great for years to come.
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