How to Winterize Your Boat - NYCM Insurance Blog

Find an Agent

Home Top Ad

Responsive Ads Here

Sep 17, 2021

How to Winterize Your Boat

With boating season coming to an end, many may be wondering how to best protect their boat during the off-season. Taking the proper steps to winterize your boat can save you a lot of time and money when it comes to taking it back out next summer. Whether you have an outboard, gas inboard, or sterndrive engine, following these steps can help ensure a quick and easy startup next season. Continue reading to learn more.


Motorboat Maintenance

You may be surprised to learn just how much effort goes into properly maintaining a boat's engine. Taking these steps can help set you up for smooth sailing next season.


Stabilize Your Fuel

Just like with any other piece of equipment that goes unused for an extended period, it’s important to utilize a fuel stabilizer. In as little as 60 days, fuel can start to deteriorate, which can then cause gunk to build up inside of your engine. All that built-up gunk can cause major issues that affect your engine's overall lifespan. When in doubt, use a high-quality marine fuel stabilizer, and then fill the tank with fresh fuel. It’s important to know that simply draining the fuel and letting the tank sit empty will not prevent build-up and can actually lead to further damage.


Replace the Engine Oil and Filter

Did you know that the moisture and acids that are in old oil will start to deteriorate your engine's bearings and other components over time? With your boat still in the water, you’ll want to begin this process by warming up your engine. Be sure to place an absorbent pad or towel underneath the engine to catch any spills. If you are not able to drain your oil tank, you may need to invest in a pump so that you can manually remove the old oil. Remove the oil fill cap to make it easier to suction out the old oil. Insert your tube into the dipstick hole until you feel it bottoming out, then start pumping. Be sure to move the tube around to ensure that you’ve gotten out as much oil as possible. When it comes to changing your filter, you’ll want to make sure the gasket is off. Pro-tip: Use an inside-out plastic bag and pull the old filter right into it to avoid a mess. Once that has been completed, you can dab some new oil on the gasket to help the new filter seal, and then spin it on tight. Finally, check your owner’s manual to see how much oil needs to be added after a filter and oil change.


Flush and Drain Cooling Water

To prevent damage caused by expanding ice, you’ll want to make sure you’ve drained all the water from your engine. For inboard engines, flush the engine with clean water using water muffs (or something similar) to connect a water hose to your boat’s cooling system. Then you can flush until the engine reaches its normal operating temperature. Don’t forget to remove drain plugs after. For outboard engines, you’ll want to make sure that all drain holes are open from the start. Start the engine and begin cleaning by flushing it with fresh water.


Replace the Gear Oil

Be sure to drain your motorboat's lower unit of old gear oil and replace it with a fresh supply. Note that if water comes out first, or if you see lumpy oil, this can be a sign that your motorboat has moisture trapped inside and will need to be resealed before being stored for the season.


Protect the Internal Engine Components

When oil drains away, it can expose internal engine components to harsh elements that then lead to internal damage. In order to prevent this, you might consider using a “fogging oil” spray, which was created specifically to coat engine parts with a protective layer of anti-corrosive compounds.


Grease and Lubricate

You can use a quality marine lubricant to protect your engine against corrosion, rust, oxidation, and other issues. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for specifications about what needs to be greased before going unused for an extended period.


Charging the Battery

Don’t forget to take out your boat’s battery and charge it. You’ll also want to clean the battery terminals and battery cable ends before lightly coating them with grease. Be sure to store the battery in a warm, dry place.


Cleaning Up

Since you’ll be away from your boat for an extended period of time, you’ll want to make certain that everything is clean and stored away properly.


Removing Sensitive Items

First, you’ll want to remove any sensitive materials from the boat. Anything that is not a part of the boat should be removed and stored away (think life jackets, fire extinguishers, and flares). If the interior of your boat includes fabric or leather covers, you’ll want to either cover or remove them in order to prevent mildew growth. Don’t forget to remove all electronics from the boat, as these can be easily damaged by extreme cold.


Scrubbing Down

Now it’s time to give your boat a thorough scrub down from the hull all the way through to the interior. First, you’ll want to remove any plant life or barnacles that have attached themselves to the exterior of your boat. Next, you’ll want to go in and clean out any lockers, drawers, refrigerators, and freezers you may have aboard.  Then you can give the boat a thorough cleaning. Once the boat has been completely cleaned and dried, you can apply a coat of wax to the hull. Be sure that none of your cleaning supplies, chemicals, or waste ends up in the water, as these are extremely dangerous to local ecosystems and wildlife.



Ideally, your boat would be stored in clean, dry storage. However, in areas like New York State, where winters are especially long, this can become quite expensive. If your boat is being stored in the water for the winter, you’ll want to make sure that it is absolutely secured to  its dock, and that it is protected by a durable, weather resistant cover. You might also consider shrink wrapping your boat.



The final step in making sure that your motorboat is protected is to complete an insurance checkup. For more information about your boat insurance needs or a policy with NYCM Insurance, check out the link below!