Sad as that may be, it's important to consider one last (albeit tedious) important task this season: preparing your boat for winter. There are several steps that must be completed to ensure your boat is protected from the elements and any lingering hazards that could develop into problems over the colder months. Here's how to get started with winterizing your boat:
1. Decision time: Indoor or outdoor storage? While you're not using your boat, you'll have to decide where you're going to store it. There are pros and cons to both indoor and outdoor options. Indoor storage is typically much more expensive and depending on the facility, your boat might require a good cleaning if there are lots of trucks and tractors kicking up dirt in the warehouse. However, once your boat is tucked away indoors, you won't have to worry about it again until springtime.
Outdoor storage with shrink wrap is a far less expensive option, but if you store the boat in your yard, you'll need to be sure to clear off snow and ice from the shrink wrap. Your trailer may also be subject to damage from the elements in severe conditions. Simply covering your boat with a tarp won't suffice, as the wind is sure to lift it off and even make a muddy mess. If you shrink wrap, it's vital to get rid of any lingering water, as the wrap-plus-moisture can have a sauna/greenhouse effect that the components of your boat surely will not endure.
2. Stabilize the fuel. Since it's nearly impossible to remove all the fuel from your vessel's tanks, you'll want to use a fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from evaporating and separating. If this happens and restart your boat next spring, your engine will be mighty angry with you. It would be ideal to use the stabilizer on your last trips out, so the stabilizer is well distributed. There are many fuel stabilizing products on the market that you can compare. Also, you'll want to change the fuel filter and fill the fuel tanks to nearly full to reduce condensation.
3. Flush, drain and lubricate. Flush the engine with fresh water to remove any salt and dirt. You may want to add antifreeze if you're in an extreme climate. Outboard and sterndrive engines need to be cleared of any residual gummed up varnish or carbon deposits. Change the oil and oil filter and try a fogging oil product that protects against corrosion. Add lubricant to any metal-on-metal parts before storage ... including those on your trailer!
4. Keep it clean. A clean machine is a happy machine. Be sure to wash all sides of your boat as well as hardware, trim and upholstery. Make sure any fabrics, like canvas coverings, dry completely before storing them away. Do a thorough inspection of your boat and repair any fiberglass blisters before storage. This extra elbow grease will pay off because it combats rust, dirt and corrosion from wreaking havoc over winter break.