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A boat needs a lot of tender loving care, even when it's going to be out of the water for the winter. It's a matter of investing the time now or paying for it later, according to boating expert Chris Olsen.
"Without proper winterizing, broken exhaust manifolds alone can run up to $3,500," says Olsen, who is operations manager at Seattle Boat Company, a top marine dealer. "A frozen engine replacement can run anywhere from $6,000 to more than $20,000."
Olsen says there are several steps to take before shutting your boat down until spring. Here are a few of the big ones, and below is a full winterize your boat checklist.
1. Focus on fuel systems
Add fuel stabilizer to the tank, using a factory-recommended winterizing solution. "Run the boat up to temperature," Olsen says. "Then check for leaks and run issues. Lubricate fuel pumps and the injection system, with the oil warmed up for easy evacuation."
2. Change fluids and filters
Change gear and engine oil, as well as the oil and fuel filters. "It's always best to store the boat with fresh fluids to eliminate condensation," Olsen says.
3. Drain water
Drain water from the engine block, exhaust system, sea-pump, hoses and coolers - especially if you don't have access to a warm storage facility. Run the engine while it's hooked up to an antifreeze pump until the antifreeze has filled the entire system and is coming out of the exhaust. "This eliminates trapped water in the system," Olsen says. "That water can become a potential freezing danger during the winter. Ice expands and can easily break steel components."
4. Disconnect batteries
This ensures the boat will be ready for a quick start in spring, Olsen says. It also helps the batteries last longer.
5. Spray anti-corrosion solution
Spray the engine and outdrive package with anti-corrosion spray. This preserves the paint and prepares the components for a long break
6. Store safely
If you can afford it, use a heated, indoor storage area. Otherwise, make sure you have a strong tarp cover over the boat throughout winter. If you do decide to store your boat, make sure you properly prepare it to go back on the water once winter is over.
In the end, you'll appreciate having taken all of these steps when the weather warms up and it's time to hit the water. A boat requires maintenance to keep up the value of the vessel and extend its life as long as possible.