How To Winterize Your Boat

It is that time of year again when we start to think about winterizing our boats and getting them ready for winter storage. In the Okanagan it is good practice to have your boat engine and house water system winterized (sink, shower, toilet etc) and the boat efficiently stored by the end of October. If you work out of province or away from home, it is a good idea to winterize your boat before you leave and play it safe, as work schedules tend to change. If you keep your boat moored in the lake over the summer and the green slime builds up on the hull, it is a good idea to take your boat for a fast run on the lake to try to remove as much as possible and then pull the boat out of the water to give the hull an acid wash to remove the rest. Typical costs at a boat shop or detail shop are $10/ft to acid wash the hull. If you leave it over the winter, the minerals harden and it is much more difficult, though not impossible, to remove at a later date.

For winterizing your engine and house water system, it is best to have a certified marine mechanic complete the service. Many engines have drain plugs that you cannot see and they must be removed to allow the water to drain. Also, if you drive close to the shore, sand can build up and plug engine drain holes even with a drain plug removed. Certified marine mechanics know what to look for on each engine and each house water system and know how to ensure that there are no surprise cracks in the engine block or water lines come spring time.

When storing your boat, you have the options of indoor (heated or not heated) and outdoor storage. In all cases we recommend that you still have your engine block drained, even in heated indoor storage, as there is always the chance of a power outage. As well, with heated indoor storage, and definitely with outdoor storage, it is always good practice to remove any wet towels, life jackets, towable tubes etc as even a couple of wet towels hidden under a seat compartment can cause mildew over the winter months. Always remember to remove your rear hull drain plug when storing your boat outside, so that if water does find its way into the boat it may drain back out. Water in the bilge will equal mildew in the boat come springtime.

Storage costs vary from shop to shop but the average is around $9/ft per month for heated indoor and $3/ft per month for outdoor. Outdoor storage for your boat can be made easy with shrink wrapping. Costs are around $15/ft for labour and materials. The drier the inside of your boat is the better. If you have a wakeboard tower, the shrink wrap will go over the tower creating a great slope for the snow to slide off of. If snow does build up, a few light taps on the plastic with a broom will help break it loose. Two small vents will be placed at the highest point of the shrink wrap to allow for airflow. Two Dry-Z-Air units with moisture absorbing crystals will be placed in the boat, one in the bow and one near the stern, to absorb moisture over the winter months. A zipper door can be easily installed on the shrink wrap to provide quick, easy access to the inside of the boat over the winter should you wish to tackle any small projects and also to check the moisture absorbing crystals. If you notice the crystals are all dissolved and the catchment is full of water, simply empty the water somewhere safe and add more of the Dry-Z-Air crystals to the unit and place it back in the boat.

If you prefer to use a canvas boat cover or tarps, make sure that you create a peak for snow and water to flow down off the boat. For both shrink wrapping and canvas or tarp storage covers we recommend removing the snap on tonneau cover and storing it in a dry place until spring. Removing the snap on tonneau cover in the shrink wrapped boats allows for better airflow. Removing it in the canvas or tarp covered boats is important because the weight of the snow will put stress on the snaps and cover. On warm winter days the snow will melt and pool in the covers mostly by the nose in bow rider boats and in the cockpit area near the back seats. If the water is unable to run off the cover it will pool and freeze, more snow will fall and it will become very heavy, potentially ripping the canvas or tarp covers. If you store your boat in your yard or somewhere that you will see it or check on it frequently, brush the snow off whenever you can. If you store your boat somewhere you won’t see it until spring, it is important to prep your storage cover effectively to guard against the issues previously mentioned.

Article Contributed by

Crystal Selka

Selka Boat Centre Ltd

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