Insurance and Finance

How to Winterize Your Boat

By Abi Grise Morgan 11.10.21

As the sun sets on prime boating season, it’s important to get your vessel shipshape for winter. Why? Unfortunately, rust doesn’t hibernate. Dropping temps and lack of use can accelerate corrosion. The good news is a little work now will prevent you from sinking lots of money into costly boat repairs.

Here is a checklist of what you need to winterize your boat.

1. Keep It Clean

With your boat out of the water, you’ll be able to reach parts that were previously inaccessible. That means it’s cleaning time.

  • Rent or buy a pressure washer (available at most hardware stores) and blast away barnacles and grime clinging to the underside.
  • Mop the topsides, deck, and lower unit with soap and water.
  • Once dry, add a fresh coat of wax.
  • Blisters on the hull? Wax, sand, and paint over imperfections while checking for leaks.
  • Clean your windscreens and spray hoods.
  • Allow anything made with canvas to dry thoroughly before storage.

2. Drain It

A dry boat in winter is a happy boat. It’s important to drain all water from all areas where moisture might sit and lead to rust or corrosion. Check:

  • Engine
  • Sea cocks
  • Bilges
  • Gear case
  • Freshwater tank
  • Water heater

3. Freshen Up Your Fuel

Flush out and reup your boat’s fluids.

  • Flush your cooling system with warm freshwater to remove salt and dirt.
  • Top off your fuel tank to avoid the accumulation of condensation, which can freeze inside your gas tank.
  • Add marine fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank to combat gum and varnish, and run the engine for a few minutes to ensure that it circulates throughout the entire system.
  • Change the engine oil, filter, and transmission fluid.
  • Use fogging oil liberally: Spray it into the air intakes while the engine is running and spray into the spark plug cylinders. This will protect your engine from rust.

4. Air It Out

Lockers, fishholds, and marine refrigerators are often forgotten during winterization. But the consequence of neglect in these areas is hard to miss later … because you’ll smell it. Sanitize and dry out these areas at least once a year. Note that cushions are particularly prone to mildew (and expensive to replace year after year). Increase their longevity by simply propping them up along the sides of the boat to promote air circulation.

5. Mind Your Battery

Keep your boat’s battery cozy and warm at home during winter months. Use a portable charger to keep it juiced throughout the winter — kick-starting it once a month ought to be sufficient.

6. Cover It

Ideally, your boat will be stored in a climate-controlled facility with four walls and a ceiling. For many, that’s not an option. If you store your boat outdoors, protect it from the elements with a custom-fit cover or professionally applied shrink-wrap. Store under a roof, if possible, to limit exposure to snow, rain, and sunlight.

7. Cover It … Again

Last but certainly not least, once you’ve done everything you can to winterize your boat, make sure your boat has sufficient insurance coverage. Contact your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent to talk through your policy and ensure you have the protection you need for smooth sailing next year. You can start learning about your boat insurance here.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2021 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance