What Is Boat Winterisation (and Is It Really Necessary)?


We're about to head into winter, which means it's time for millions of boat owners to consider winterising their vessels. It certainly sounds like something that could benefit you and your boat, if done properly.

But what exactly does it mean to winterise a boat – and is it really necessary?

The Basics of Boat Winterisation

Winterising a boat is, essentially, preparing it for the winter. If you live in a climate that is warm and sunny all year long, you probably don't need to worry about this, since winter isn't much different than the other seasons.

But if you live in an area with harsh winters, you'll need to have a plan for how to store and protect your boat properly. Cold temperatures, snow, sleet, and long periods of inactivity can all have a detrimental effect on the look, functionality, and safety of your vessel.

On some level, winterisation is about taking care of your boat and storing it properly so that it can avoid the worst problems associated with a typical winter. Many boat owners also take this as an opportunity to perform a routine inspection on the boat and take care of any maintenance or repair issues that require attention. This way, the boat will be ready or nearly ready whenever you’re prepared to head back out in the spring.

Successful winterisation can prevent boat engine problems, mitigate the detrimental effects of winter weather, and make sure your boat looks and feels as good as it should when you're ready to take the boat out of storage.

Essential Elements of Winterisation

Winterisation usually includes activities and tasks like the following:

  • Draining water. It's important to drain all the water out of your boat and bilges. If there's significant water leftover in your boat, and that water freezes in cold winter weather, it could cause significant damage. Even if the water doesn't freeze, stagnant water being trapped for too long on a boat can also cause issues.
  • Stabilising fuel. Gasoline/petrol has a tendency to get gummy and cause buildup if it's left unattended in a given container for too long. If you're running the boat regularly, this isn't usually an issue, but if you're leaving it unattended for months, it could cause problems in the spring. You have two options: you can either drain the fuel from your tank and refill it with fresh fuel and spring, or you can treat the existing fuel with a fuel stabilising product.
  • Winterising the engine. You'll also need to spend time winterising your engine, adding antifreeze and making sure the internal components of your engine are treated properly before committing your boat to long-term storage.
  • Draining other materials. You’ll also want to drain materials like gas and propane if you use them on the vessel. In fact, you may want to remove anything that's not necessary or attached to your boat.
  • Inspecting and cleaning. Since you're already spending time working on your boat, this is a perfect opportunity to inspect and clean it. If you notice any points of damage, or things that need repaired, this is your chance to address them. And while cleaning may feel like a superficial action, it's actually very important to the health and performance of your boat as well.
  • Adding a cover. Even if you're storing your boat in a secure garage, or something similar, it's a good idea to add a tight, fitted cover to it. This cover will shield your boat from the elements, as well as bugs and other animals.
  • Storing. Finally, you'll need to find a way to store your boat in conditions that allow it to stay in good shape throughout winter. Even simple boat canopies are better than nothing, but ideally, you'll find a place to store your boat that is dry, warm, and protected from all the elements.

Is Winterisation Strictly Necessary?

Is winterisation strictly necessary?

Obviously, there are some circumstances that preclude the need for winterisation; if winters are very mild in your area, you can get by without winterising. However, it's still important to conduct routine maintenance and address specific winterisation items at least periodically.

For most other boat owners, it's good to treat winterisation as a necessity. Even if your boat can survive a couple of winters without winterisation, these actions have the power to protect your boat from serious harm and prolong its lifespan.

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

Should you practice winterising on your own or hire a pro to do it on your behalf?

There are reasonable proponents of each side of this question, so it largely comes down to your personal preferences.

These are the advantages of doing the work yourself:

  • Save money. Winterisation isn’t especially expensive, but if you do the work yourself, you can save some money.
  • Build your skills. The more time you spend working on your boat, the more familiar you'll become with it, and the more likely you'll be to handle repairs and maintenance issues in the future.
  • Work at your leisure. If you do the work yourself, you can winterise your boat over a prolonged period. You can take care of one task at a time, potentially over the course of weeks, until your boat is ready for winter.
  • Rest easy. When you winterise the boat yourself, you'll see everything that happens to it. If you're confident in your skills, you'll be able to rest easy knowing all the important fundamentals are taken care of.

These are the advantages of hiring a pro:

  • Save time. Many people choose to hire a pro for winterising a boat so they can save time. A few hundred pounds/euros/dollars isn't much if it saves you several hours of time.
  • Skip learning. Some people love boating but hate taking care of boats. There's nothing wrong with this. If you want to skip the learning process, or just make your life simpler, hire a pro to do it.
  • Verify the condition. Even if you have years of experience working on boats, professionals you hire probably have more experience. When hiring a pro, you'll be able to reliably verify the condition of your vessel and highlight anything that's wrong with it.

You’re getting ready to winterise your boat, but are you sure you’ll want to take this vessel back out this spring? If you sell your boat with TheYachtMarket, you could get an impressive return – and use the proceeds to buy something even better. And if you’re already in the market for a new or used boat, be sure to browse our collection of boats for sale today!

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