How Boat Owners Should Prepare for Winter

snowy boat

You might not like to hear it, but winter is right around the corner – and boat owners who live in areas with cold winters are already thinking about how to prepare for this seasonal change. Winterising your boat and preparing it for storage is an important step in preserving the value and functionality of your boat – so it pays to do it properly.

Decide How You’re Going to Store Your Boat

One of the most important choices you’ll make in the winterisation process is where you’re going to store your boat. There are several options, each with some pros and cons:

  • On the water. In areas with mild winters, or on large bodies of water, it’s possible to keep your boat on the water all winter. You’ll have to take some extra precautions, potentially using a low-wattage heater in the cabin to combat the cold, but you’ll save a lot of money and hassle in the process. Still, for most people in most places, storing on the water during winter isn’t advisable.
  • In a garage. If you have ample room in your garage, you can keep your boat at home. It will be sheltered from the elements, and you’ll have more control and visibility into the conditions of the storage; you’ll also save money since you’re not relying on an offsite storage provider. However, not everyone has the room to spare – and you might be left keeping your cars outside for the winter.
  • Outside, on a trailer. If you like the idea of keeping your boat at home, but you don’t have garage space, you can also keep it outside, on a trailer. However, your boat will be more exposed to the elements, so you’ll need to do a great job covering it. You may also be prohibited from doing this by local laws and ordinances.
  • At an indoor storage facility. More commonly, people choose to store their boats at an indoor storage facility. It’s a bit more expensive than storing the boat at your own place, but you’ll have access to a spacious facility designed for this purpose.
  • At an outdoor storage facility. Outdoor facilities don’t afford you as much protection from the elements as an indoor storage facility, but they tend to be accessible and inexpensive. They’re an option worth considering.

Clean and Empty the Vessel

Before you store your boat for the winter, it’s a good idea to completely empty and clean the vessel. Take home any items or equipment you typically store on your boat and give it a thorough scrubbing and waxing. This way, you won’t have to worry about the integrity of your onboard possessions, and the cleanliness of the boat will help it resist the onset of mould, mildew, and other problems.

Conduct a Thorough Inspection

This is also a perfect opportunity to inspect your boat; you’ll want to inspect it come spring as well. If there are any standing issues, this is your chance to correct them before it goes into storage. You’ll also be able to evaluate any deterioration or damage your boat sustains while it’s being stored.

Winterise the Engine

Next, you’ll want to winterise the engine, preparing it to be idle for long periods of time in the cold.

  • Treat your fuel system. When sitting idle, fuel can accumulate moisture and become less effective. That’s why it’s a good idea to treat your fuel system with a fuel stabilising agent.
  • Check and replace the fuel filter. You’ll also want to check your fuel filter and replace it if necessary.
  • Refill/change oil and check spark plugs. Take the time to evaluate your oil levels and refill if necessary (or make a full oil change). You can also check and/or replace your spark plugs.
  • Drain the tank and water lines. Make sure you drain the tank and water lines; otherwise, storage could present some major problems.
  • Run the engine. Bring your engine up to temperature; running it will ensure your fuel stabiliser works its way through your entire system.
  • Fog the engine. Fogging the engine will limit the amount of corrosion faced by your inboard and outboard engines.

Wrap Your Boat

One of the best ways to protect your boat from mould, mildew, and other damage that results from winter storage is shrink wrapping. Shrink wrap kits are inexpensive, and they don’t take much time to apply to your vessel. Once completely covered, your boat will be far more resilient – and in spring, you’ll be able to take it out looking the way it did when you first stored it.

If you don’t want to shrink wrap your boat, a good secondary option is to cover your boat with a tarp. Make sure you cover the entire vessel as tightly as possible to ensure the best level of protection.

Find a New (Temporary) Hobby

The hardest part of winterising your boat is realising you’re going to go a few months without access to the water. In the meantime, try to find a hobby you can practice indoors – or one that capitalises on the winter weather.

Make a Plan for Spring

Finally, make a plan for spring. Take note of any issues with your boat that will need to be addressed next year and make a checklist of all the steps you’ll want to take before getting your boat on the water. The more detailed your plans are, the smoother things will run when you’re ready to boat once again.

Keeping your boat in good shape will not only help it run better come spring – but it can also help you fetch a higher resale price! At TheYachtMarket, we’re no strangers to helping people sell their boats and get a return on their investment.

If you’re ready to sell your boat, or if you just want to know more about the process, take the first steps to prepare your boat for our listings today!

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