How to Winterize a Boat: Your Ultimate Winterizing Cheat Sheet

December 25th, 2019 by

When the temperatures are warmer, you enjoy taking your boat out on the water for the day or even the weekend. But when the temperature begins to drop, your boating days become limited. As much as you’d like to take your boat out during the wintertime, mother nature won’t permit it.

With that being said, it’s time to learn how to winterize a boat. When the lakes begin to freeze over, and the snow begins to fall heavy, you can’t park your boat in your backyard and be done with it until next season. There are specific things that you must do to keep your boat happy and healthy during the winter.

Do you know how to winterize your boat correctly? If not, then you’re in the right place. Below is our ultimate cheat sheet guide on winterizing a boat!



When winter hits, the best option for your boat is in storage. You don’t want to store your boat in the water if you don’t have to. You want to provide your boat with optimal coverage by storing it in a controlled climate facility.

Although this option can get expensive, it’s the best place for your boat to be. Otherwise, you can consider wrapping your boat or placing a tarp over it. Either way, you want your boat to be as completely covered as possible.


In Water

If you have no other option than to store it in the water, then you’ll need to close all of the seacocks. Check all stuffing boxes and rudder shafts for any possible leaks. If a leak is spotted, be sure to fix it then.

Check the charging system to ensure it’s working and clean terminals plus add water if needed. You also want your boat to have a fully charged battery, as well. Bilge pumps and float switches should both be working properly.

Unclog any debris and check on your boat from time to time. If it’s located in a body of water that freezes, then you’ll need a de-icing or bubbling system around your boat.


Out of Water

When storing your boat out of the water, you’ll want to pressure wash the hull. Remove barnacles from all parts of the boat and clean the strainers. Drain water from the seacocks and then close them back up.

If you find any blisters on the hull, then you should consider opening them up to let them drain. This is also the perfect time to wax the hull of the boat. You should also remove the batteries from the boat and bring them home to charge them every 30-60 days.


The Fuel

You’ll need to treat the fuel in your boat with a stabilizer. Add the stabilizer to the fuel and then allow then engine to run for about 10 minutes. Failure to do so might result in clogs that ruin your boat’s fuel system.


The Engine Cylinders

Fog the engine cylinders using a fogging solution, which will coat your boat’s engine’s insides to protect it during winter. What type of engine you have determines what type of fogging solution is best. Get in contact with the engine’s manufacturer to learn what fogging solution you should use.

Failure to do this step could result in corrosion forming within the engine.


The Engine

For inboards and stern drives, you’ll need to drain the engine. Locate the water pump and remove the hose to let it drain. Draining the engine is essential because failure to do so might lead to water within the cooling chambers to freeze.

If this happens, the water will expand once frozen, causing the engine to crack.


The Stern Drives

Check the stern drives for barnacles or other ocean life. Then, drain the gear case and be sure there isn’t an excessive amount of moisture in the oil. If you find that there is moisture, this could be an indication of a leak.

Repair any leaks and use soap and water to clean the lower unit. Any rubber on the stern drive should be checked for cracks, as well.


The Bilges

Clean and dry the bilges if necessary. Any oil spills can be cleaned using hot water and a hard brush. After they’re cleaned, add antifreeze into the bilges to prevent water from freezing during the colder months.

You should also spray the bilges with a lubricant made to displace moisture.


The Oil

You’ll want to change the oil when winterizing your boat. This will ensure that all moisture is removed, which will prevent corrosion. Failure to do so could lead to your boat having a loss of power, engine failure, and poor fuel economy.

It’s an easy step to take when preparing to store your boat for the winter, and there’s no doubt that it’s worth the effort.


The Gear Case

You’ll now need to drain the gear case lubricant. When draining it, be sure to take notice of the colour. If the colour of it is clear with an amber shade, then it’s in good shape.

If the colour is milky or even lumpy, then your seals might need replacing.


Do You Know How to Winterize a Boat?

Do you know how to winterize a boat? After reading our helpful guide, we hope you now know exactly what to do to keep your boat safe during the winter months. Keep these tips in mind, and your boat will stay happy throughout winter!

Need something serviced on your boat before storing it for the winter? Visit our services page to see how we can help you!

Posted in Winterizing a Boat