As the season begins, many boat owners feel the pain of boat de-winterization. The preparation process is a tedious exercise for boat owners since you have to get back to the water. Many boats go into hibernation especially the cold winter months. For the better functioning of your boat, it requires you to maintain your boat constantly. Though it is a painful exercise to winterize then de-winterize your boat, it is very important for the longevity of your boat.
It is very costly in terms of time and money if you fail to maintain your boat properly. You will be asking yourself questions especially when problems arise on why you did not take the necessary steps of maintaining your boat before the season began. Therefore, it is important during the spring to maintain properly your boat to avoid problems like being stranded out when you are on the water. I know you might be interested in going out to enjoy yourself but you can spare one weekend for your boat inspection. Take your time to clean it up and do repairs because this is the investment that will give you money.
All you need to do is to decide at least one weekend to set it aside for boat inspection. It is very important to note that boats are of different models and makes in which different procedures for the testing of equipment are required. It is therefore to have a guide on how to de-winterize your boat. You can also contact your owner for the manual that provides additional instructions.
1. Remove the Cover of the Boat and Do the Initial Inspection
Covering your boat when prepping for storage during the off season is an important step in protecting the boat. That being said, a cover does not guarantee that issues will not arise under the cover during storage. For example, rodents, reptiles, and insects can choose to make your boat a home over the off-season. Carefully remove the cover and check for these pests. Their bites can cause health issues, and mice droppings can cause illness.
Also, other hazards such as sharp edges or tools can cut you during this process or a chemical that was not stored correctly could have spilled and now poses a health hazard. While these scenarios may seem silly, don’t rush in getting your boat out on the water and end up with an injury that prolongs you getting to enjoy the boat.
2. Do the Thorough Cleaning of the Canvas, Carpeting, and the Vinyl
Use a shop vacuum to vacuum any debris, dust, animal droppings, etc. that might be in the boat due to storage. All you need to do is cushion the vinyl, and the bikini top as a general cleaning as a start. Make sure that the vinyl is in good condition-check any cracks or tears in the upholstery of the vinyl. Invest in the seat covers because of they a play a major role in the protection of the vinyl from the UV rays. Before the boat begins to operate, clean all the canvas and vinyl thoroughly. We recommend the boat cleaning kit linked to the right.
3. Make Sure the Engine and the Propeller are in Good Condition
Check the engine, the propeller and the hull of the boat. Check if there are any damage and dents. If you decide to replace the oil filter, and then make sure, you change the oil. This process is very essential as it keeps your boat’s engine from corroding. During winter months when temperatures are very high, it is easy for the fuel pipes to crack. If the engine of your boat has black soot, then think of investing in a new belt.
When de-winterizing your boat, you need to check for the following on the engine:
- Check the levels of the power steering fluid
- The levels of the coolant
- The levels of the engine leaks
- The cracks in the fuels lines
Therefore, it is very essential to have the line replaced in time. You need to do it in time and not the weekend when you get out.
4. Check the Steering Cables
It is very important to for check for the steering cables when you de-winterize your boat. The steering is required to be a bit stiff. Do not force the steering to turn if it refuses because forcing it will cause more damage. The reason why sometimes it refuses to turn might be due to the blockage that occurs in the steering tube. All you need to do is to remove the hard grease, which is blocking it. Later apply the grease and then place the steering cables back.
5. Checking the Cooling System and Antifreeze Replacement
During winterization, you are required to flush out the cooling system. Now, you are required to refill it. It is important to use diluted coolant during this process. Check the hoses to ensure that it is in good condition. You need to check if there are any cracks that could cause leaks in the later time. Ensure that there is not any visible leakage after replacing the coolant.
6. Replace the Boat’s Battery if Needed
The best battery for a boat usually has a lifespan of between four and five years. You need to re-fill the battery and check its charge. You are required to refill the battery with the distilled water. The battery always should have a strong charge. The next thing is to remove the wires from the charge posts and checks if they have any rust. Use a small wire brush to remove the dust. The battery should be charged for at least twelve hours. To prevent the charge posts from rusting further, you need to coat them using lithium grease.
7. Test the Electronics on the Boat
It is essential to test all electronics before going back to the water. The device that needs to be checked includes navigational devices such as GPS and depth finders. Ensure that the lighting system is properly installed. Make sure the switch is properly tested. This step is essential after connecting the battery and ensuring that it is working well. The next step is turning off the battery. This will enable you to check if the bilge pump float is properly functioning. If the test fails, then you are required to carry out a correction measure. This will help you to avoid any danger while on the water.
8. Boat Trailer Maintenance
If you are planning to haul for a long distance, then it is important to maintain your trailer the same way you maintain your boat. Ensure that the trailer’s tires have enough pressure to start. Trailer tires are notorious for having issues, whether you are using it often or not. The signals of the trailer should also be checked to ensure they are functioning. Think about just replacing the bulbs since they have been there for the whole season. This will give you an assurance for that they will not burn out unexpectedly. Apply a lubricant throughout the trailer components where needed. If the trailer requires registration, ensure it is up to date. Also, remember to check the jack, safety chains, etc.
9. Check the Safety Equipment on the Boat
This step is very important. It is vital to check the availability of safety equipment. It should be new without any damage. Check the following:
- Check the number of floatation devices.
- Check the expiry date of the fire extinguisher.
- Check if the lights in the cabin are working well.
- Check if the signaling types of equipment are properly working.
Amazon offers a wide variety of boat safety equipment, including the kit we linked below.
10. Wax and Polish Your Boat
Some people take this to be unimportant activity but the fact is that it is very essential if you want to maintain the longevity of your boat. Polishing prevents the boat’s windshield and fiberglass from structural damage. During the season, dirt always accumulates, it, therefore, important to use a power washer to get rid out it. After a thorough cleaning, you can wax to make it look good. If it happens for your boat to have teak, then use the power wash to clean it. Before taking the boat into the water, be sure that the oil takes time to absorb into the wood.
11. Finishing Touches Before Taking the Boat Out
Add back any accessories that you might have taken out. Such accessories may include the following: inflatables, fishing gear, and grills. Other creatures comforts that you may want on the boat include paper plates, snacks, bottles of water, phone chargers, towels, etc. Marine speakers are also a nice “must-have” on a boat. There are great cheap and small options online.
12. Have the Boat or Engine Checked Over if Needed
Maintaining a boat is sometimes confusing. If you are ever unsure about maintaining your boat or if the components of your boat are as-expected, stop and get assistance from a pro. Your local boat shop or experienced boater can easily spot any problem the boat might have. The financial and time cost of addressing issues proactively is often much smaller than finding out about an issue when trailing a boat or hitting the water for the first time.
You should always maintain your boat and equipment as recommended by the manufacturers. It takes a lot of effort and know-how, especially in the winter when you put it away and bringing it back to water in the spring. It is very costly in the future if you do not follow the above steps.