How to Store a Boat for the Winter
As the boating season comes to a close, you’re probably thinking about how to store your boat for the winter. It’s a good thing if you have an indoor space to park it in, but what if you’re not one of these privileged few? Would you just keep it on the water until the next boating season? Considering the cost of keeping it in a professional facility, some boat owners may be tempted to choose this option, but be forewarned: This often leads to costly results.
However, if you have no choice but to store your beloved watercraft outdoors or on the water during the off-season, you can still keep it in tip-top shape as long as you winterize it and use the appropriate winter boat covers for extra protection.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Prepping Your Boat for the Off-Season
Leaving your precious vessel out in the open, whether in or out of the water, exposes it to harsh winter conditions that may result in premature corrosion of the exposed metal parts. However, leaving it in its slip may bring more serious problems since it increases the risk of storm damage, blistering, and theft.
Armed with this information, what should you do to prepare your boat for winter storage? Here are some things you need to do to properly store your boat for the winter.
Take it out for a ride. Don’t start the winterization process without taking your boat out for a spin at least one more time. But aside from enjoying the sea and the sights, you should also take this time to identify issues that need to be addressed. Is there anything that needs to be repaired, replaced, or modified? This is the best time to take care of these things, so grab the chance!
Start unpacking. Remove all valuables and gear from the boat. Everything that is not a part of the vessel should be taken out and properly stored in a safe, dry place. Remove all electronics, since they can be damaged by extremely low temperatures, and don’t leave organic materials (fabric, leather, cushions, pillows, etc.) onboard since this will encourage mold and mildew growth and could invite nasty critters in.
Drain the boat. Drain all the water from the bilge, water tanks, head, pipes, and seacocks. Elevate the bow to speed up the process.
Give it a good cleaning. Your boat deserves a thorough scrubbing after being out in the water for months, so roll up your sleeves and start working! Scrub it from front to back with soap and water, wipe down lockers, drawers, and all interior surfaces and send the carpet and curtains to the cleaners. Use lemon oil to restore the beauty of the wooden components and don’t forget to clean out the bilge. Inspect the hull for cracks and blisters, and remove barnacles and residues with a scraper or a hose with a pressurized nozzle. Applying a coat of wax to the hull provides added protection against the elements during the harsh winter season, so don’t skip it!
Air it out. Leave interior doors and lockers open to allow excess moisture to dry out completely. Some boat owners recommend putting out some moisture and odor absorbers to prevent and eliminate musty odors and prevent the growth of mold and mildew during the off-season.
Winterize the engine. To get the engine ready for winter storage, start by flushing out dirt, salt, rust, and other debris with freshwater. Refill the coolant system with antifreeze and run up the engine for a few minutes to loosen up any impurities. Think you’re done yet? Well, not so fast. Here’s a list of things you need to do to properly winterize the boat engine.
- Replace the engine oil along with all the filters.
- Apply fogging oil to the carburetor and spark plug holes.
- Check hoses, belts, and clamps and remove or replace them when necessary.
- Top off the engine with a full tank of gas mixed with a high-quality stabilizer. This will keep moisture out, prevent hard starting, ensure good performance, and prolong the engine life.
Grease them up. Lubricate all moving parts, including the steering system and control mechanisms, and apply a high-quality moisture-displacing lubricant on the hinges, latches, and linkages. Remember to remove the propeller so you can inspect it for any signs of damage before applying a suitable lubricating agent.
Remove the battery. Take out the battery, clean the terminals and cable ends, and lightly coat them with grease. Store it in a cool, dry place and charge it completely. You wouldn’t want to leave the battery in your boat during the winter since it will affect its performance and shorten its life.
Seal exhaust ports. Don’t give pests and critters the chance to nest and make a mess on or in your boat during the cold season. Seal all exhaust ports with duct tape and use the best boat storage covers for winter to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Cover it up. Since you don’t have a covered indoor parking space for your boat, you’ll need a winter boat cover that provides ample protection for your craft. However, you may need some expert guidance in choosing a suitable boat storage cover for winter, since not all winter boat covers are created equal.
Should you use a tarp, a shrink wrap, or a boat cover? Well, it really depends on your decision. Some boat owners use plastic tarps because they are the least expensive option, but honestly, these are unlikely to do the job. Others go for shrink wrap since it provide a tight fit but unfortunately, only a few can afford them. Many boat owners, however, choose a boat cover.
Boat covers come in all forms, shapes, and sizes, so how would you know if you made the right choice? Here are some of the features that you should consider if you want to get the best boat covers for winter.
- Thick construction. More layers means better protection, so choose a boat cover with at least three layers of material. Basically, it should have a tough, durable outer layer, a middle layer that can substantially reduce the impact of minor bumps and blows, and a soft inner layer that ensures a scratch-free finish.
- Choose a boat cover with superior breathability to prevent mold and mildew growth. Keep in mind that the best winter boat covers allow excess moisture to evaporate instead of trapping it in.
- Nobody wants to throw their hard-earned dollars for something that isn’t worth it, so look for a boat cover that will last for years to come. Pay particular attention to the workmanship and quality of materials used. Do you think it can protect your boat from extreme weather conditions? Only boat covers that are made from premium materials can stand up to the test! For better results, choose covers with ultrasonically welded seams.
- Provides a snug fit. If you want to make sure that your craft gets the right amount of protection it needs during the chilly months ahead, choose a snug-fitting boat cover. Basically, you have three choices: universal, custom, and semi-custom fit. Universal fit boat covers are the most affordable but are typically either too small or too big for your boat, while custom fit covers provide the perfect fit. Sadly, they can be quite pricey. If you’re like most boat owners, and want to get the best cover money can buy without breaking the bank, you’ll go for a high-quality semi-custom cover from a trusted manufacturer like Seal Skin covers.
- For maximum protection, provide structural support under the boat cover and mount the boat on supports to encourage proper drainage.
- Remove snow buildup regularly.
- Avoid placing your boat on a trailer, since it will unnecessarily wear down the tires and bearings over time.
- Check your boat every few weeks to avoid any problems during storage.
Looking for the Best Winter Boat Cover? Find What You Need at Seal Skin!
Your boat is your pride and joy, so it deserves the best protection you can give, especially as the harsh winter season approaches. And that’s precisely the reason why you need a Seal Skin boat cover!
At Seal Skin Covers, we offer 100% waterproof yet extremely breathable boat covers that are durable yet extremely affordable. We only use the finest materials for our semi-custom covers and we can guarantee that they are made with the highest standard of workmanship. We understand that you want to get value for your money so that’s exactly what we’ll give you!
Our products are guaranteed to meet and even surpass your expectations so we can confidently offer a 30-day return and exchange warranty with every purchase, at no additional cost. Please give us a call at 800-915-0038 during our office hours (Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST) if you have any questions about our products, exchange, and refund policies.
We’ll help you find the best winter cover for your boat, so don’t hesitate. Give us a call today!