If you love all the water activities your boat allows you to enjoy, then you’re probably not looking forward to the winter. You’ve taken care of your boat all summer to keep it running it’s best, now you have to take some special steps to make sure it’s ready to go when you are when spring arrives.
Not taking the proper steps to protect your boat and motor from the cold weather could mean costly repairs. And, in extremely cold weather it could even mean having to replace your motor before you can use your boat again. The little extra effort spent on winter protection, will be well worth the time.
Many gas stations now have gas that contains 10% ethanol. This gas is fine to use in your boat as long as it’s not allowed to sit in the tank and lines for long periods of time. If it just stands in your fuel system, it separates into gas and water and can cause a lot of damage.
The best way to make sure there’s no damage to your boat from the gasoline, is to completely drain the tank and lines. Drain as much as you can out of the tank and then run the motor long enough to empty the carburetor and the fuel lines.
If you have an idea of when you’re going to be using your boat for the last time of the season, it’s a good idea not to put more gas in the tank than you’ll be using for the day. But, you don’t want to go to the trouble of draining the tank, then make sure that you top the gas tank off.
It’s much better for it to sit all winter with a full tank of gas than one that is half empty. Just remember to leave a little extra room so that the gas will be able to expand. A tank that is completely full won’t allow for air flow through the vent and will result in condensation and the fuel separating.
I always helped my Dad when he’d get ready to prepare his boat for the winter. He always emptied his tank, he never left any gas in it during the winter in all the years he owned his boat. It really didn’t take that long to get all of the gas out of gas out of the boat.
Aside from the fuel separating and causing damage, the ethanol can chemically react with many of the tanks that are made out of fiberglass. It will cause the entire tank to deteriorate and you’ll have to replace the fuel tank.
Some fiberglass is especially made to withstand the chemicals that ethanol contains. But, unless your owners manual states that your tank is made of these materials, or you can talk to the manufacture, it’s not worth taking the chance of damaging the tank.
Next you will want to drain the water from the motor and then refill it with antifreeze. Take the fog cylinders and spark plugs out and use an clean rag to wipe the engine with a good lubricant to help prevent rusting from the winter moisture. You can add some extra protection to your boat motor by changing the oil and oil filter.
Once you’ve gotten your motor ready for winter, make sure to keep your boat well covered to protect the boat itself. This was one problem I had with my Dad. He always wanted to use the cheap blue tarps, they will not hold up to the weather and unless you want to replace them several times before spring, invest the money in a good quality boat covering.
Protecting your boat and motor from damage is very important, but your trailer should get a little extra attention to. It’s best if you can put it up on blocks and get it off the ground. Make sure you oil the trailer jack, the winch and the rollers really well and take the time to grease the wheel bearings.
Last of all, remove the battery and store it in a dry place such as a garage or storage shed. This will help it maintain a charge and also help to keep it conditioned. And, you should check on your boat now and then just to make sure that the wind hasn’t blown the tarp or covering loose.