A Winterization Guide for Boats

Being a boat owner in Florida makes life a lot simpler. There is truly one real season, summer. Without fall or winter, the average boat owner need only worry about extreme heat. However, with most boat owners residing in Michigan (a whooping 1,000,337 boat owners) and around the Great Lakes, it’s vastly more difficult and time consuming to keep boats functional after a mild to severe winter. There seems to very little in the way of guides or How Tos to preparing a boat for the harsh winter season and we at Marine Supply Dock are here to help!
Any sort of liquid in your marine craft is prone to freezing. When a liquid freezes, components surrounding the liquid are apt to cracking and corroding. The fuel will be degraded, so leaving any liquid in your boat is definitely a terrible idea. What’s why you need to check the engine is working properly, and that the fluid has been replaced properly, like with an engine flushing system. You can add Golden Eagle fuel stabilizer to your fuel to keep it in tip-top shape.

Like your car, letting an engine sit idle for long periods of time is not good for the boat. This is why winterization for the engine is absolutely vital to maintaining the integrity of your engine and components. Change the oil right before you begin to prepare your boat to be stored for a couple months. For the best results, run the engine for a couple minutes to heat up the engine and lower oil viscosity, and then change the oil. Change the fuel filter as well, but check that both the oil and fuel filters have no preexisting leaks. After changing all these fluids, check that the engine is running properly. It’s also good to recirculate the new fluids as well as check for issues. Check the outdrive, drain the gear case and add new lubricant. Make sure that there are no metallic shavings or water, which indicates a broken seal and needs to be scene by a mechanic. If possible, remove the outboard and store at your home. This component is easily and frequently a target of thieves. Store it in a safe, dry place in your home or storage facility. Lastly, top off your fuel tank to help aid against fuel degeneration. Fumes become minimized and condensation is less likely to occur in an occupied environment. If you are looking for a decent way to keep the marine battery functional rain or shine, try Eco Energy Solar Panels. Solar panels are an excellent alternative to battery chargers, wasting little to no resources but that of the sun.

To keep the engine from freezing over, you must use circulate antifreeze through the raw water intake. Clean various parts of the boat replace any parts that have seen better days, coat the engine with CRC or corrosion products for maintaining engine life. It’s important to note that the prep for diesel is different than gasoline, and that it is not critical nor should coating the cylinders be attempted unless specified by your boat manufacturer. Remove the water pump rubber impeller, but don’t forget to put it back in next spring. Run the engine until at operating temperature, once you see the antifreeze out of the exhaust you are finished. Shut down the engine and prepare the rest of your boat. In the transmission, check the dipstick and replace fluid if necessary. It’s important to just check to make sure that the various wires in your engine are not exposed and properly connected.

Your boat needs to be spic and span before storage, the end. You store a dirty boat, you’re just asking for that dirt and grime to reproduce tenfold, and that will take a toll on your vessel. What goes into cleaning the boat properly for store? For starters, removing those sharp barnacles, cleaning off dirt, salt, and other deposits should be some of the first steps you make. Tip: make sure all the fluids are swapped out, engine checked, wires and mechanisms in working order, etc before cleaning. You don’t want a mess after you’ve cleaned; it’s a terrible amount of needless work.

Most growth can be removed by pressure washing. If this is not the route you decide to take to clean your boat, you need a stainless steel hand-held scrubber, preferably one that will keep your hands at a distance. Scrape gently until all smaller barnacles are removed. The remove the heavier, larger ones you want to use something that will not scratch the hull, but more heavy duty than a brush. A plastic putty knife will make short work, but in the case that is not enough use a dulled metal knife. Pressure washing (after your boat has sat out for a couple weeks, drying thoroughly) is the best way to remove all the pesky barnacles residing on the boat. Make sure when using this method to spray parallel to the vessel. Focus on small clusters by creating pressure underneath by spraying parallel. More often than not, there will be remaining remnants of barnacles, use a little hydrochloric acid and use the previously mentioned methods of removal (scrub brush, dulled metal knife, etc). Use a product that will make the hull of the boat slick, like Meguiars Wax. Another option is to simply repaint your hull using paint with copper oxide, toxic to barnacles.

Choose what you need to clean your boat, specifically for your boat. Don’t choose brushes that are too harsh, that will damage the finish. Choose a brush that is sturdy, with a handle that’s easy to use, and use cleaning liquids that will best fight dirt and grime. Lean more towards products that are not super concentrated, these type of cleaners will strip your boat’s paint off. Make that boat shine, wax if you so desire, and you should be ready to go. Cleaning your boat will be less tedious with the proper preventative maintenance equipment.

Ice EaterLet’s say you live in a colder climate and you don’t want to go through the hassle of preparing your boat for winterization, we recommend using ice eaters to circulate the water outside your vessel. Due to the water being continuously circulated outside your boat, the water has no ability to turn to ice. However, make sure to find the right kind of ice eater and keep an eye out on the temperature, because the ability of an ice eater can dwindle rapidly in below freezing climates. We recommend using Taylor Made Ice Eaters.

Shrink Wrap KitYour boat will absolutely need one of these boat cover tops, one of which is boat shrink wrap covers. Boat shrink wrap covers account for the fact that nearly every boat is designed and shaped differently. They are one time use only, but can wrap to fit any type of boat. It is important to take a few of the following things into account, in prepping your boat to be covered with blue, clear, or white shrink wrap covering. First, cover all vents with tape. If you cannot locate your fuel vent, do a little Google investigation or contact your manufacturer/dealer/seller. Cover all sharp objects so they do not pierce the covering (foam, tape, shrink-wrap, etc). Do not allow the film to drag on the ground; it creates friction which attracts dust and dirt to the vessel. The process of shrinking is relatively easy, and revolves around a heating process that sucks out all the air and leaves a completely covered boat, ready for winter storage. We completely recommending using Dr. Shrink’s Rapid Shrink wrap kit. Or, if you only need the shrink wrap itself you can visit this link.

Blue shrink wrap is best for northern use, blue is a color that will absorb heat, by absorbing heat snow will melt and recede from the body of the boat. In southern climates, blue shrink wrap would overheat and cause possible damage to the water craft. This is not a good type of cover to use to transport a boat, to a new location.

Like blue shrink wrap, clear shrink wrap absorbs heat. It’s what commonly used in greenhouses, but the sun penetrates this cover easily and could cause a buildup of moisture. Those who use this type of shrink wrap should take care to ventilate properly, even using desiccants under the shrink wrap.

White shrink wrap is best for the southern states, where sun rays are plentiful and snow is not. Many boating companies will use this type of wrap when transporting new boats from point A to point B. Although white shrink wrap is not the best for northern states, it is used by boaters for all types of applications. It’s the type of shrink wrap that will keep the temperature of the boat underneath at a consistent temperature, minimizing condensation and moisture.

Winterized Boats

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