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How to Winterize Your Boat

One of the perks that comes more easily with having a Maine lakefront home is having a place to use your boat. When the weather gets cold, though, you’ll want to winterize your boat to protect it from the elements. There are several different areas to consider, to give it the maximum protection possible. The most important area to consider is the liquids. Things like gas and oil can be affected by the external temperature. While they won’t easily freeze solid, they can become thick and sluggish. They can also get condensation in them from temperature changes.

Many people drain the liquids from their boat when they winterize and dry dock it, but that’s generally not recommended. Instead, fill the gas tank to around the 3/4 full mark. That leaves some room for pressure and temperature changes, without leaving the tank sit empty. Fuel stabilizer added to the gas tank will help keep the gasoline fresh over the winter, so it won’t give you trouble when you restart your boat after spring has thawed everything out. Without the stabilizer, gasoline can deteriorate and degrade over time. It won’t work as well, and can also be hard on your boat’s engine.

If you have a 4-cycle motor (as opposed to a 2-cycle), you’ll need to take care of your oil for winter, too. By changing the filter and replacing the oil in your boat with fresh oil, you’ll be on your way to protecting your engine from damage. Make sure to flush your engine at the same time, to get rid of any standing water that could cause corrosion problems, and spray fogging oil into the spark plug holes and the carburetor. Then replace the spark plugs, but leave the wires disconnected. Before you restart your boat in the spring, make sure you hook the wires back up. Otherwise, you could be risking engine damage.

Charge up your battery before storing it, and if it has been having trouble holding a charge, it may need to be replaced instead. While you’re winterizing your boat, go over everything on and in it carefully and look for anything that needs service, repair, or replacement. The winter months are a great time to take care of all the little things that need to be done, and that you might have been putting off when you were using your boat during warmer weather.

By taking care of those issues when it’s cold outside and your boat is in storage, you’ll be ready for next spring and all the boating adventures it has to offer. Some of the things to check during the winterization process include flares, fire extinguishers, life jackets, lines, your first aid kit, and any food or water you typically keep on board. Also take a look at the propeller and make sure it doesn’t have nicks and other damage. If your boat has any damage to the hull or needs to be re-painted, the winter months can also be a great time to take care of those things.

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