Seasonal Boat Storage

Seasonal Boat Storage Checklist

Note: This is by no means an exhaustive winter boat storage guide. Consult your watercraft manufacturer's manual for model-specific instructions.

As summer winds down, it's time to start planning for winter boat storage. It's something we dread every season, but it's also something that needs to be done with care and the proper precautions. So, we've created a high-level boat storage checklist for you to use each year when it comes time to put her away for the season.

When your boat isn't in use for a time, it can take a toll on your watercraft's system if the right preparations aren't made. Corrosion can spread, lubrication can congeal and moisture can seep in and freeze. It's a boat owner's worst nightmare and something no one wants to discover come spring.

Whether you're a new boat owner who's wondering how to store a boat outside in winter or a seasoned owner who needs to brush up on proper boat storage, our checklist can help.

1. Refresh the Coolant System

First, you'll want to drain out any current coolant that may be in your system. If you have an inboard and sterndrive boat with raw water-cooling systems, flush them thoroughly with fresh water to remove salt, dirt and any possible corrosion. An outboard motor will need to be flushed with fresh water, then simply drain all water from the engine.

After this, you'll want to add fresh antifreeze to your system, making sure you dilute it to the proper specifications outlined in the manufacturer's manual or the instructions. By taking the time to do this, you'll prevent engine components from freezing and corroding while in storage.

2. Spray Fogging Oil

Now, get your engine turning over without actually starting it. While it's turning over, spray fogging oil through the spark plug holes or into the carburetor, based on your manual's instructions. By doing this, you'll ensure your engine's moving parts are properly protected during the winter.

3. Remove the Drive Belts

Before placing your boat into storage, you should loosen or entirely remove the drive belts. If kept under tension for extended periods of time, the belts can often crack under stress.

4. Lubricate Any Critical Systems

You shouldn't overlook small but potentially critical systems on your watercraft when it will be stored for long periods of time. Slather some lubricant onto your steering and control mechanisms, as well as the joints, to ensure they continue to run smoothly next season.

You should also go around your boat and apply moisture-displacing lubricant on things like hinges, latches, switches, wheel bearings, ratchet mounts, bow rollers and linkages.

5. Disconnect the Battery

To prevent your boat's battery from draining and dying over the winter, you'll want to carefully disconnect and remove it. Be sure to keep it in a cool, dry location up off the ground. Then, clean the battery cable ends and coat the cables and terminals with a light coat of grease.

Using a battery converter charger, you should charge the battery every now and again over the winter season to ensure it's ready to go when you reconnect it come spring. A good rule of thumb is to bring it up to a full charge every 30 days when in storage.

6. Fill the Gas Tank

Just like with your car's gas tank, condensation can build up in a boat's fuel tank if it's empty. This can cause the tank to corrode or worse. At the end of the season, you should thoroughly flush and change your filter and then top off your fuel tank.

You should also use a marine gasoline stabilizer to minimize the buildup of gum and varnish, and to keep the fuel system clean. Once you've added the stabilizer to the tank, be sure to run your engine for a few minutes to allow it to circulate throughout the system.

7. Seal Exhaust Ports if Needed

If you have an inboard powerboat, you most likely have larger exhaust port openings where pests and grime can get into your engine. Because of this, you'll want to use duct tape to simply plug any openings you see.

8. Remove Electronics and Fabrics

In general, you should remove and store anything from your boat that you can before winter. Depending on the type of boat you have, you may have some electronics that need removing. By leaving electronics in place, you leave them vulnerable to extreme temps, moisture and possibly damage or theft. So, you'll want to make sure you remove them and store them someplace safe until spring.

In addition to this, you'll want to remove any organic materials. This includes canvas, leather or any other type of fabric that may be susceptible to mold and mildew. Gather lifejackets, fire extinguishers, dock lines, fenders, flares, ski ropes and any other gear you may keep on your boat.

9. Combat Potential Moisture

Moisture can be the beginning of the end for your boat. So, you'll want to do everything you can to prevent it from seeping into your boat. Remove any standing water in the bilge, live wells, fish holds, lockers and drawers. Then, clean them thoroughly. At this point, you'll want to use a moisture absorber to eliminate and prevent mold and mildew while your boat is in storage.

10. Wash and Wax

While this step may seem obvious, it's extremely important to clean your boat inside and out. This includes any windscreens, spray hoods, hardware, etc. You'll then want to check for blistering. If you find any, treat and repair the blisters before you store your boat.

Then, you'll want to cover the boat's body with wax. This will ward off rust — an important thing if you're going to be storing your boat outside for the winter.

While this seems like a hassle now, washing and waxing your boat will keep away dirt and corrosion. And the biggest upside? It'll help you get out on the water faster come next spring.

11. Prepare for Storage

Now, it's time to make final preparations to store your watercraft. Use custom-fit boat covers and motor covers to protect your boat from dirt, dust, moisture and grime. This will help to keep your boat clean and ready to go when boating season comes back around. Once you check that everything is good to go, tighten your cover down.

You should park your boat under a protective canopy or garage if possible. While the best storage option is usually an enclosed and climate-controlled space, we understand that this is not always feasible.

Shop Boat & Rv Accessories to Prepare Your Boat for Winter

Browse our entire selection of covers, blocks, battery chargers and more to find everything you need to keep your boat in mint condition this winter. We work hard to provide our customers with quality products at affordable prices. Each has been designed and manufactured to be of the highest quality, safety and durability standards. Contact us today for more information.

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