summer goodbyeThe end of summer is upon us.  “Back to School” ads are pervasive. Sadly, it is time to start thinking about boat winterizing.  The only thing that could be worse than the end of summer is returning next spring to find out that your boat winterization efforts were not properly executed and your fun on the water will continue its hiatus until your boat is fixed. The good news is that boat winterizing is not all that difficult. Boat owners do have options. Before anything else, take your boat out on one final journey before summer ends and school begins. Instead of basking in the sun and enjoying the wind in your face, make notes of things that need to be repaired. Are electronics outdated? Does the holding tank smell or is the carpet dirty?

It is a good idea, also, to unpack your boat.  Remove as much gear from the boat as possible. Take home the pots, dishes, and cups.  Nothing cleanses them as well as the dishwasher at your home. Empty the refrigerator.  Wash linens and blankets. It is a good idea to air out the cushions and pillows. In the end, it will be much easier to scrub out the cabin once all gear has been removed.  Wipe out lockers and drawers and give the wood a good dose of lemon oil. Get down in the bilge and retrieve all those things you have dropped down in there over the years. If you clean your bilge, do not pump any bilge water overboard if it has an oily sheen! Once the boat is cleaned, remember to leave the interior doors and lockers open so air can circulate.  Moisture absorbers work very well in a boat that will be in storage for the winter.

Pull out your anchor and rinse the mud off the chain and rode.  Clean that black gunk out of the scuppers.  If you have a sailboat, lay your sails and lines out on the lawn and wash them with warm soapy water.  Make sure they are dry before you stow them for the winter.  If your sails or canvas needs repair, now is the time to drop them at the sail loft.

Winterizing your engine and systems comes next.  Start by topping off your tanks and stabilizing your fuel.  Change your engine oil and replace all the filters.  Check the coolant in closed cooling systems for the proper degree of protection.  Check the hoses, belts and clamps.  Make sure all your thru-hulls open and close, and then leave them open.  Clean your strainers. Check with your local authorities about how to recycle your used oil, filters, used coolant and absorbent pads.  Do not throw any of these items into the dumpsters!

Flush your 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. Completely drain your fresh water tanks and water heater.

Once your boat has been hauled, you’ll want to fog the cylinders on gasoline engines and flush the engine’s raw water cooling system with non-toxic antifreeze.  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 then in the boat.  Wash the deck and hull.  Cover the exhaust and any holes to keep critters from getting in your boat.

Check your owner’s manuals for any special recommendations or winterizing procedures.  And if you haven’t done this before, seek out the help of an experience friend or hire a professional.

Source: “Boat Winterizing: 10 Tips to Help Your Boat Make It Through the Winter.” Boat Winterizing: 10 Tips to Help Your Boat Make It Through the Winter. Web. 31 July 2013.

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