Winterization 101

Preventative measures should be taken by boat owners to prevent vessels from sinking or damage caused by winter weather. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Preventative measures should be taken by boat owners to prevent vessels from sinking or being damaged by winter weather. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Sadly, summer is over and freezing temperatures are right around the corner. Freezing temperatures for boat owners means time for winterization! Even if you are in a region that is more temperate, winterizing your boat is important and fall is the perfect time to take the proper steps.

Winterizing is important not only in ensuring the safety of your vessel but also in safeguarding the maritime environment. The Coast Guard often responds to cases of vessels sinking due to heavy snowfall or oil in the water at a marina due to poor winterization.

Below are a few items to consider in preparing your boat for colder temperatures, heavy snowfall or long periods of not being used. While you may not be comfortable performing all of the below steps, we encourage you to contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary unit, marina or boat dealer for winterization help.

One last trip

Enjoy one last trip on your boat – and don’t forget your life jacket – taking note of all the things you’ve been putting off during boating season. Winter is the perfect time to complete your “to-do” list of repairs, replacements or modifications on your boat.

Unload

Remove all the gear that has accumulated over boating season and take it home or place it in storage. Don’t forget to take home your fire extinguishers and have them inspected over the winter too! Be sure you drain your fresh water tanks, fittings or lines or you can fill them with non-toxic antifreeze. Pump out any holding tanks and don’t forget about icemakers, air conditioning systems, fish wells and bilge pumps.

Clean

There are many steps boat owners can take to prevent damage on their vessel from winter weather. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

There are many steps boat owners can take to prevent damage on their vessel from winter weather. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

With all the non-essentials removed from your boat, you’ll have room to clean. Be mindful of the chemicals you are using and recycle or properly dispose waste from cleaning. For any questions on your engine, cooling or fuel systems, consult with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Haul out and wrap

After you haul your boat out of the water, check the boat’s shaft, strut, cutlass bearing and propellers. Clean and disconnect the batteries. Finally, put on any covers or have the boat shrink wrapped.

As with all boating tips, check your owner’s manuals for any special recommendations or concerns. If you have any tips for our readers on what works for you and your boat, leave them in the comments below!

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  • Jerry

    We have had several boats become bottom feeders on the Great Salt Lake during winter. Snow built up on the decks and cockpits forcing a hull opening (engine exhaust?) under the surface of the water. Hard to salvage any wood or wire after it has soaked in very salty water.