Receding lake levels will soon force more boaters to abandon their weekend jaunts to nearby waters. Many boat owners seem to just cover their boats and park them in the yard, or leave these expensive toys tied to a dock. No wonder the boat repair business is so lucrative during the springtime!
One must realize that during the boating “off-season”, many things can and will happen to an idle boat and motor. Gasoline in tanks will often oxidize, any moisture can cause metal parts to rust, and corrosive residues from condensation can form inside the engine unless your boat is properly prepared for the winter. Therefore, to avoid these added costs when the weather warms again, winterize your boat.
Results of Not Winterizing a BoatWinterizing a boat ensures that it will not suffer undue damage while in storage, and it should be ready to run when spring rolls around. One may decide to have a marine dealer perform this task, but since the procedure doesn’t take long, you can do your own winterizing. All you need are some guidelines to perform the necessary steps.
With an Outboard motor, begin by flushing the engine, then disconnect the fuel line and run the engine out of fuel. Next, fog the engine and carburetor with a fogging oil. This procedure helps to prevent rust and corrosive combustion residue in two-cycle engines. Also, spray the powerhead and other components with a light lubricant, which protects rubber, plastic, paint, and metal from corrosion caused by salt and other elements. It also lubricates moving parts such as carburetor linkages.
Check and grease the steering cable, hydraulic cylinder pivots/sliders, the tilt and pivot points, then change the lower unit oil. Lastly, visually check the throttle and shift cables for wear, or lack of lubrication.
The boat must have the bilge degreased and flushed with a good marine cleaner. The hull should be washed and waxed. Any wood, especially teak, should be oiled lightly to prevent cracking over the winter months.
Fill the fuel tank to lessen condensation, then add a fuel stabilizer, and change the fuel filter. This prevents the build-up of fuel oxidants, gum and varnish deposits, and it inhibits corrosion in the carburetor and fuel system.
Inspect navigation and anchor lights for socket corrosion, and replace bulbs that don’t work. Also, check all other electronics for proper operation, then remove the batteries. These should be cleaned and recharged before storing them in a cool, dry place where they can be easily recharged once a month.
With trailers, begin by inspecting the brakes and wheel bearings for water entry. Clean, reseal, and grease the bearings. Check the surge brake fluid level, then grease the surge bearing.
Wash the trailer frame, and touch-up or repaint any scratched or damaged sections. The trailer lights should also be checked and repaired the same as boat lights.
Make sure that bunks and rollers are free and undamaged, and repair them if necessary. Also be certain that the winch cable or strap is in good shape. If not, replace it now. Additionally, check and grease the tongue jack, and re-torque the lug nuts on the wheels.
When all of these items are cleaned, lubricated, and properly repaired, cover the boat, or park it in a protected area. This should assure you of an easy time putting the boat back into use next spring at a minimal outlay of cash!