How to winterize a boat
October 13, 2022
As the leaves on the trees begin to turn from green to colors of red, yellow, and orange, over 600,000 boaters in Massachusetts will be setting the anchor on boating season over the next couple of weeks. At WebFirst Insurance, we care not just about providing you insurance, but also about taking good care of the things that mean something to you, like your boat. Here’s some information about how to winterize a boat.
Start preparing for haul-out
In order to prevent having to make repairs to your boat in the spring, it’s important to follow the haul-out process as closely as possible.
Make one last trip.
Before you winterize a boat, you need to take your boat out for one last trip. Make sure you’re looking at your boat for things that may need to be repaired or updated. Once you’ve made the list, convert it into a list of projects that you can complete during the off-season, so as to avoid having to take down time during the boating season.
Unpack the boat.
Remove as much gear as possible from the boat. Empty the ice box and take food home or donate it to the local pantry. Most importantly, pull out all of your fire extinguishers so that they can be inspected over the winter.
Clean the boat.
Give the boat a good scrub down. Wipe out surfaces, lockers, and drawers. You can use lemon oil to wipe down the wood.
Air it out.
If you have a cabin boat, leave the doors open to air out the interior. You may want to consider an odor absorber such as DampRid.
Check up on deck.
Pull out your anchor and rinse the mud off the chain and rode. Clean the black hunk out of the scuppers and scrub the lazarette. Clean the sails with soapy water, and make sure they dry off before storing them away.
Check the engine system.
Winterizing your engine system comes next. Top off your tanks; fill to no more than 7/8 capacity to allow for expansion in the spring. Stabilize your fuel, change your engine oil, and replace all the filters. Check the coolant in the cooling systems for the proper degree of protection. Check hoses, belts, and clamps. Make sure your thru-hulls open and close, but leave them open to store the boat. Clean your strainers. Don’t throw away your used oil, filters, coolant, and absorbent pads. Instead, check with local authorities on what is the best way to recycle them.
Flush the head.
Flush the head with plenty of fresh water and pump out your holding tank. Run non-toxic antifreeze through the intake lines, the y-valve, macerator and discharge hose.
Drain water tanks.
Completely drain your fresh water tanks and water heater (just remember to turn it off first). You can add non-toxic antifreeze directly to your water tank and pump it directly through your hot and cold plumbing. Tip: to save time and antifreeze, consider installing a siphon hose fitting just before your water pump and a water heater bypass loop.
Fog the cylinders on gasoline engines and flush the engine’s raw water cooling system with non-toxic antifreeze. Open all thru-hulls, check your shaft, strut, cutlass bearing, props, intake screens, and anodes. Check the hull for blisters, change the gear lube in lower units. Clean and disconnect the batteries. Some boat owners remove the batteries so they can charge them at home over the winter. Others make sure the batteries are fully charged before haul-out and leave them in the boat. Wash the deck and hull. Cover the exhaust and any holes to keep critters from getting in your boat.
Storing your boat
Covering your boat to keep snow off is a good idea. Some people use wood frames and plastic tarps, others use PVC fortresses with canvas covers, and many boat owners even shrink wrap their boats. Check your owners’ manual for special recommendations on winterizing procedures. Here are ten boat storage “must-do’s”
- Store boats stern down so rain and melting snow will drain out through the scuppers
- Open all seacocks and drains to prevent damage from freezing
- Use fuel stabilizing additives and follow proper procedures for winterizing engines and systems
- Provide structural support under boat covers and tarps
- Never tie off boat covers or tarps to boat stands
- Trailer boat hulls should have some support so the weight is not all on the trailer ties
- Remove electronics, food, valuables, canvas, and cushions. Store those at home
- Put moisture absorbers in the cabin and lockers
- Never use a portable heater or auto battery charger in the bilge
- If your boat is blocked, check stands and blocking periodically during storage
What is Boat Insurance?
Boat insurance protects you from injuries that your boat may cause to others. It also covers your watercraft and trailer if theft or damage occurs. Here are some of the boats that can be covered:
- Fishing boats
- Pontoon boats
- Personal watercraft, including Jet Skis and WaveRunners
One of the biggest myths about boat insurance is that you don’t need it because you’re adequately covered under your home insurance policy. Your home insurance policy will give you the coverage you need for your boat while it’s being stored at home, but it’s rendered useless while your boat is in the water.
Boat Insurance covers
- Liability for any injuries or damage caused to others.
- Physical damage, both comprehensive and collision. Your policy can also include coverage for damages outside your control, such as weather, theft, or fire.
- Uninsured / underinsured boater pays for your injuries if you’re hit by a boater with little or no insurance.
Looking to purchase boat insurance? WebFirst Insurance can help you decide what the best coverage is for your budget. We’ll be transparent with you about pricing, and detail what each policy gives you in terms of coverage. Check out our Recreational Vehicle Insurance offerings, or give us a call today to get started.