As the mercury drops below freezing and autumn turns to winter, it’s the end of the boating season. When that happens, wintering your boat is a prudent decision.
Leaving your boat as it is, sets you up for a spring nightmare. Winterizing is essential for keeping the engine, electronics, and other parts of the boat safe, even in regions that don’t experience extreme winters.
All responsible boat owners make plans to winterize their vessel, either themselves or by professionals.
If you have been searching, “Can I winterize my boat myself?” I have got the answer. Keep reading to find out if it’s preferable to winterize a boat yourself.
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Cost of Getting Your Boat Winterized
Hiring an independent boat mechanic to winterize your boat means losing anywhere from $150-$500.
The variation in cost is due to the quality of supplies and the size of your boat. Plus, mechanics also charge for their travel time, which easily adds $100-$150 to the bill.
Can I Winterize My Boat Myself?
If you want to cut down on some costs, it is a good idea to winterize your boat yourself. But, prepare to get your hands dirty.
There’s a significant difference in cost when you do it yourself than when you hire someone to winterize your boat. Winterizing it yourself is also quicker and saves you the time of taking the boat to a shop.
Your first time can take over an hour, but as you get more efficient over time, you can do the job in under an hour.
Once you get all your supplies, the total cost to winterize your boat will be around $150. It may vary depending on the size and condition of the vessel, as well as your level of experience.
How Can I Winterize My Boat Myself?
As winter approaches, your boat batteries frown, and the engine sulks under hoarfrost. The only sound that comes from the boat is the dripping of condensation and the destructive winter winds passing through the interior.
Surely you don’t want your boat to die on the winter bed. So, you need to prepare it even before winter arrives.
Follow these steps to winterize your boat and make it spring-ready.
Winterize the Fuel System
Whichever kind of boat you own, the gasoline fuel system has to be given special attention.
Start by topping up the fuel tank and stabilizing the fuel. Topping off the fuel tank will eliminate condensation that settles at the bottom of the tank.
The fuel-stabilizing additive will stop phase separation and the formation of gum and varnish in gasoline. It will also discourage the growth of injector-clogging bacteria.
Otherwise, when you start your boat in the next season, the water-saturated fuel will be a big problem for you.
Apart from that, change the engine oil to eliminate moisture and prevent corrosion. Also, consider changing the engine fuel filters and any separators in the system.
Run the Engine
After adding the fuel and additives, run the engine, so the fuel passes through the entire system. This step will also help you locate any major or minor issues that will need fixing in the next summer.
Drain the Engine
Winterizing basically means draining any water aboard and replacing it with antifreeze to protect the boat against low temperature.
As temperatures fall, the freshwater inside the boat expands and pushes outward with a lot of force. This force can crack engine blocks, damage the split hoses, and destroy the fiberglass in a matter of days.
But, before you drain the water tanks, flush the head with fresh water and rinse off the mud on the anchor and chain.
Now, open the petcocks, remove the water-pump hose from the water pump, and let the water drain out completely.
Drain Remaining Parts
Drain down any other parts or pump that holds water in it. You want to run things like raw water washdowns until the parts are dry.
If you feel there is remaining water that can’t drain out, put some antifreeze in the parts too.
If you’re planning to store your boat on dry land, don’t forget the bilges. Remove drain plugs and check belowdecks to make sure the boat is in the right position to drain out the water properly.
Disconnect the Battery
The battery is one of the most hardworking parts of your boat. If you want your boat to survive till spring, you have to protect the battery at all costs.
Lead-acid batteries work best around 25°C, and their capacity drops below 15°C. If you leave it discharged, flooded batteries may freeze.
On the other hand, the battery’s electrolyte levels can dry out with repeated charging and barely any usage.
So, disconnect the batteries, remove, and store them safely. If you do that, you won’t have to replace it in the next season.
If you are going to store your boat in a cool and dry place, such as your garage, you don’t have to remove the boat’s battery. Just disconnect it and leave it on board. Or, keep them on the garage floor, so they hold more charge.
Prevent Mold and Mildew
When you store your boat for winters, the enclosed parts might develop humidity and lead to mold and mildew buildup.
To keep mold away from your boat, keep it well ventilated. You can use cowl ventilators, clamshell ventilators, and other devices for that.
In addition to ventilators, you can also add an engine heater or any other low-temperature heater.
Cover Your Boat
You can choose from the three basic cover wraps available.
They are the least expensive and last one to two seasons. However, they might flap around in a heavy wind.
They are heavier than plastic tarps and don’t flap around as much. They also tend to last up to five seasons. You will need a solid frame to support them.
You will find pre-fitted covers for popular boat models. They are more expensive than the previous options, but they are expected to last the longest.
The last step is to start a log fire and get cozy for the winters.
As you can see, winterizing your boat yourself is not very hard. I hope I have answered your question, “Can I winterize my boat myself?”.