Ozarks. Many people don’t understand the importance of winterizing their boats, and unfortunately they learn the hard way after spending thousands of dollars in repairs. A boat is a big investment, so take the time to properly protect it against the winter elements. After much research, we recommend that you seek out the work of a professional to winterize your boats for several reasons. Every brand of boat is different, so there is no generic way to winterize all boats; and there are inboard and outboard engines which require a different process as well. A professional will know the boat and will have the material to winterize the watercraft according to the manufacturers’ specifications. Finally, most insurance companies will not cover damage to boats that have not been properly winterized, and most insurance companies require proof of maintenance or winterization by a professional in to order cover a claim because most policies do not cover owner neglect. Be safe and hire a professional, and keep all the paperwork in case something happens. Even if all of the proper winterizing procedures are followed winter is harsh and there is no way to protect a boat or cruiser 100% of the time, but winterizing can help safeguard against the extreme cold. Below are the five steps to winterizing your boat, cruiser, or yacht here at the Lake of the Ozarks. These instructional videos by West Marine featuring Chuck Hawley and Kevin Osborn are very helpful and informative, and the main source most of this information was gathered from. The links to these videos will be included after the explanation of each step. Please be sure to check out these short videos and the products they offer as well that aid in the winterizing process. However, do not use these videos and instructions as a soul source when winterizing your watercraft, please contact one of the many professionals here at the Lake of the Ozarks first! Links to their service pages will be at the bottom of this blog.
Cleaning is always a great place to start when winterizing your boat. This process is quite simple and is something most people can do themselves as long as they have the time, space, and resources to do it. Imagine a spring cleaning in the fall except on a boat instead of a home. Begin on the inside and work your way to the outside of the boat.
- Start with a good pressure wash and scrub of the floors and wipe down all interior seats with appropriate cleaner. West Marine carries specific cleaners for every step of this process.
- Pressure wash the hull using appropriate product (West Marine has these products available for sale).
- Finish with a good wax job of the hull.
- If fouling is present use an acid based cleaner to remove it.
- Clean any barnacles on your props, shafts, and rudders.
- If the boat has wood, make sure to follow the manufactures instructions on how to care and maintain the wood during the cold months.
- If the watercraft has a canvas make sure to have it waterproofed.
Please be sure to check the link below for video instruction on how to clean boats properly, brought to you by West Marine, and then check out the products they offer to help people winterize their boats here at The Lake of The Ozarks.
Winterizing the engine block of watercrafts can be a very complicated process, so it is advised to hire a professional to ensure the boat is winterized correctly. A professional should do the following items plus additional actions based on your boats make and model.
- First, add fuel stabilizer to the tank and then top it off. Some manufacturers recommend storing their watercraft empty during the winter months, so seek professional advice on what is best for your particular boat.
- Now replace the fuel filter and water separator.
- Next step eliminate residual water using non-toxic antifreeze and flog the engine block. The process for eliminating residual water depends on if the boat has an inboard or outboard engine. Please watch the instructional video from West Marine before attempting to do this on yourself, or seek out a professional here at the lake.
- The engine should be warm after the flogging process, so change the oil and filter in the boat. Although experts advise to have the oil changed before storing the watercraft for the winter, if the oil is not changed make sure crankcase oil stabilizer is added.
- Finally if the watercraft has a lower unit, be sure to have it properly winterized according to the recommendations in the owner’s manual.
- Start by draining water lines by turning on all faucets (including showers), and drain the hot water heater at this time as well. Turn on the pump and wait for the water to stop running out of faucets.
- Turn off all faucets and turn off water pump.
- Add 4-5 gallons of non-toxic antifreeze properly mixed to the freshwater pump and hot water heater.
- Turn on pump, and turn on the hot water faucet, furthest away from pump and run until you see antifreeze instead of water, and then turn off. Do the same thing with the cold water faucet next.
- Repeat this process with all faucets working backwards toward the water pump, ending with fixture closest to the pump. (Don’t forget the Shower)
- Pump out the holding tank at an approved facility, and while pumping be sure to add freshwater several time and use vanish crystals or whatever the manufacturer recommends then flush fresh water through to clean the tank thoroughly. (discoverboats)
- Remove the raw water intake hose and place in a bucket of antifreeze.
- Flush the head to circulate through the system.
- First, take out any food items, personal belongings, life jackets, and electronics so they do not get stolen while in storage.
- Open up any cabinets and turn up seat cushions or even better remove them and store them in a place that is climate controlled.
- Since you are fighting the battle against mold and mildew a dehumidifier is a good investment or other products that absorb moisture in the air.
- Ensure all batteries are fully charged, removed, and stored on a wood surface not a concrete surface so the batteries are not damaged.
Now that all the systems of the boat have been winterized, inspect the boat one last time to ensure it is ready to be covered. It is really important to keep the elements off the boat because the drier the boat stays the less likely stress cracks will form. Keeping boats sheltered from the elements also prevents premature leaks and helps fiberglass finishes last longer.
- Cover the boat well with a tarp or shrink wrap, and be sure the tarp is of high quality so it keeps out moisture.
- Remove all plugs and store the plugs with the keys so you don’t forget to put them back in before the boat goes out the first time in the spring
- Make sure the bow is higher than the rest of boat so water can drain properly.
- If storing boat on a trailer, inspect trailer and make repairs before storing a boat on it, and add blocks behind tires so the trailer does not roll.
- When using jacks be sure to set jacks on plywood so they do not sink into the ground when it thaws.
- If storing a boat in the water, here at The Lake, make sure there is a water agitator in the water to prevent freezing around the boat’s hull.
- Make sure bilge pumps and float switches are properly activated. (discoverboats)
- Inspect the boat on a regular basis or leaks.