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Batten Down the Hatches: What To Know About Winterizing Your Boat

By September 12, 2023Insurance

As the days become shorter and the temperature dips, the inevitable appears on the horizon for every boater: winter.

But don’t let the impending off-season blow you off course. By planning to properly winterize your boat, you’ll confidently end the season knowing you and your beloved ship will be ready to take on the waves as soon as the snow passes and spring arrives.

A winterization plan largely consists of answering three primary questions:

  • Who will winterize the boat?
  • What steps need to be taken?
  • Where will the boat reside during the winter?

Choosing Your Crew: Who Winterizes the Boat?

Answering “Who?” might be as straightforward as looking in the mirror. Or, it might require a bit more calculation to recruit your winterizing crew. Here are some pros and cons to consider:


As a proud and handy boat owner, you’re perfectly capable of taking on this task. Think of it as tucking your boat in before its long winter nap.

  • It’s more cost-effective.
  • It gives a personal touch to the winterization process.
  • It requires a good understanding of the boat’s engine and systems.
  • There’s a risk of incorrect winterization without proper knowledge.

Professional Winterization

However, if you’re not a fan of engine grease, you might prefer to hire professionals. Using experienced professionals can eliminate a lot of doubt and second-guessing.

  • Pros bring specialized knowledge and the right tools to the job.
  • Using professionals eliminates the risk of incorrect winterization.
  • Professional care is typically more expensive than doing it yourself.
  • You won’t have the same personal connection to the process, so you may sacrifice some valuable learning opportunities.

You can always acquaint yourself with winterization by watching some instructional videos — like those offered by Boat Buyer’s Secret Weapon. You’ll be better prepared to make a decision about who’ll winterize your craft when you understand the effort involved.

Captain’s Log: What Steps are Needed?

Once you’ve established who will do the winterizing, it’s time to delve into the “What?” category. Steps you take here will be a decisive factor in how quickly you get back on the water next spring, so it’s important to get them right.

Here’s a summary of important tasks:

  • Changing the engine oil is vital to prevent ice damage. The first step in this process involves the engine oil. It must be replaced since old oil and winter mix as well as cats and water. Drain the old oil, introduce the new and your boat engine will be grateful.
  • Flushing and draining the cooling water is crucial for a frost-free voyage. Your next task is to address the water in your engine. If neglected, it can freeze, expand and cause more drama than you’re likely to appreciate. So flush and drain it to avoid any frosty situations.
  • Stabilizing your fuel is essential for smooth sailing. Next, there’s the surprisingly delicate realm of fuel. Gasoline can decay quickly, resulting in a sticky, expensive-to-remedy mess. To prevent this, introduce a high-quality marine fuel stabilizer to keep your engine running smoothly. Just make sure to run the engine once the stabilizer has been added.
  • Cleaning, waxing and covering is necessary for overall protection. The last part of the “What?” involves cleanliness. Give your boat a thorough clean, wax it and, finally, cover it with a sturdy cover.

Keep in mind: even if you choose to have a professional winterize your watercraft for you, having a good checklist will allow you to “trust but verify” that the job is done correctly.

Waiting Out the Winter: Where Should You Store Your Boat?

Once the “Who?” and “What?” have been decided, it’s time to address the important question: “Where?”

Depending on your checkbook, your yard-space and how much of an eyesore your spouse considers your drydocked dinghy, you may have tricky choices to make. Here are the pros and cons of several common options: outdoor storage, indoor storage and dry stack storage.

Outdoor Storage

  • It’s usually the most cost-effective option.
  • It often accommodates larger boats.
  • Your boat will be exposed to weather and potential damage.
  • Security can be a concern.

Indoor Storage

  • It offers the best protection from weather and potential damage.
  • It usually has better security measures in place.
  • It’s the most expensive option.
  • Availability of space can be an issue.

Dry Stack Storage

  • It provides better protection than outdoor storage.
  • It is usually more available than indoor storage.
  • It’s pricier than outdoor storage.
  • There may be size limitations for your boat.

Of course, there’s always everyone’s favorite fantasy option: sail south to a balmy, palmy island harbor and don’t come back till spring has sprung. (And take us with you, please.)

Safe Haven: Guaranteeing Your Peace of Mind

Winterizing your boat is crucial for its longevity, but sometimes, unforeseen events occur — such as fire, theft or storm damage — even when your boat is in storage. Learn how the extensive coverage of our boat insurance makes for smooth sailing and peace of mind. 

Article courtesy of Erie