The days are getting longer and warmer. It is about time to get back out on the water – which means it is time to de-winterize your boat. Winterizing your boat typically is draining all water out of the vessel and or filling it with the proper antifreeze product to prevent any freezing over the colder months. When water freezes, it expands and this can cause damage to your boat. Once that is complete, you will be able to finish by securing a good fitting cover on your boat and keeping it in your desired storage space. This post will serve as a guide to reversing your winterizing and getting your boat ready to be in the water again.
UNCOVER YOUR BOAT
The first step to de-winterizing your vessel is removing the cover. Hopefully you placed a secure-fitting cover on your boat to save some time cleaning months of dirt and grime from the elements. Additionally, note that if your cover was not properly secured, small creatures or other insects may have taken up residency in your boat while it has been stored for the winter months. It is always good to check for any unapproved voyagers. Assuming your cover performed its job well, you may still have to clean up slightly from the time it had been stored away, but the cleanup should be minimal.
CHECK YOUR ENGINE PERFORMANCE
After you have removed your cover, you will want to check your engine. This is the most important part of de-winterizing your boat. You will want to make sure everything is in working order. Since your boat has not been used the last few months, you will need to do an oil change (do not forget to change the oil filter) and inspect the outdrive before starting your motor. While doing your oil change, make sure to add an additive to keep your engine clean and free from corrosion. After this, you can check your bilge pump. You will need to make sure this is switching properly as water hits it; otherwise, you will need to replace the pump.
INSPECT YOUR COOLING SYSTEM
Since you filled your cooling system with the proper antifreeze for the cooler temperatures, now it is time to make sure it did its job. You will want to inspect your hoses for cracks and rips. Once everything is deemed in working order, you will be able to drain and refill your cooling system. Additionally, it is important that you check your water pumps and thermostats. Like the cooling system, you will want to check these hoses for cracks and leaks. Your water pump is what keeps water flowing to the engine to keep it cool and running properly. The thermostat also is important because it keeps your engine temperature at a good level so it does not overheat. It is recommended to replace these two items every 200 hours the boat is in use.
TEST YOUR BATTERY
Next, you will want to check your battery. When you winterized your boat, you should have unplugged your battery from the cables. Once you have tested it with a battery tester and determined that it still holds a charge, you can connect it back to the cables and clear any erosion. If the battery no longer holds a charge, it is time to replace it. During the colder months, your distributor might have corroded. If this is the case, just give it a good cleaning and place it back in place.
DRAIN AND REFILL YOUR FUEL TANK
During your winterization process, you should have filled your gas tank up and placed an additive into it to keep the gas from going stale and being ruined while stored away. If you did not, it is okay – you will need to drain out the fuel and refill. If you fill the tank all the way up and add a stabilizer, your boat will be easier to de-winterize and also prevents moisture from getting into the tank. Now is also a good time to check all hoses, belts, and caps - you will want to make sure that they are all crack and leak free. Some hoses are rubber and are susceptible to cracking during the colder months. Worn belts can keep your boat from running at 100% while using it.
CONDUCT A PHYSICAL INSPECTION
Now, it is almost time to take your boat out on the water again. Once all the inner workings of your vessel have been checked and are in working order, it is time to check the physical aspects of your boat. You will want to check for any major or minor imperfections that were not there before storing your boat. Cleaning both the inside and outside of the boat will help with preservation. It is also recommended to paint the bottom of your boat with antifouling paint to prevent rot.
Before your maiden voyage for the season, make sure all safety equipment is working and accessible on your vessel. This includes, but is not limited to, light jackets, bumpers, flares, lights, ropes, first aid, etc. You will also want to check your trailer equipment if you need to transport your boat to the water.
In summation, to de-winterize your boat:
- Remove cover
- Check for animals, insects, etc. and remove from boat
- Check engine (Change oil, Change oil filter, Inspect outdrive)
- Check bilge pump
- Check all hoses for cracks
- Check belts
- Check distributor caps
- Refill cooling system
- Check battery
- Check water pump
- Check thermostat
- Check fuel system
- Clean inside
- Clean & prep outside of boat
- Check safety equipment
- Check towing equipment (if needed)
We know this may seem like a lot, but it is important and worthwhile to keep you and those around you safe while out on the water. It will also keep your boat problem free for longer. We wish you all a fun (and safe) boating season!