How to De-winterize Your Boat

Whether you attended the boat show or not you are likely excited to get your boat ready for boating adventures with the family and getting out fishing. If you’re of over 87 million adults who boat every year, you’ll know it’s only a matter of time before you’re back on the water again. How can you get back on the water after packing your boat all through winter? This can be done through a process known by the boating experts as de-winterizing.

Read on to discover how to de-winterize a boat just in time for spring and thus get answers to these important questions.


Take the Tarp Off
Before you do anything, you need to get the tarp or covering off your boat. Hopefully, before you put your boat away for winter you covered it up. Otherwise, you may have to clean up to three months’ worth of dust and grime off it.

If you’re really unlucky, you may find a few unwanted visitors on it too. Bugs, rodents, snakes or birds may have made nests on or in your boat. This is why a strong, protective sheeting is important for a boat when it is in storage.

Check the Engine
Although you may not know how to de-winterize a boat, any boating expert knows that the first thing you must check on a boat after it has been in storage for a long time is the engine. This includes an oil change and inspecting the outdrive so that it is ready for you to start the engine.

Also, don’t forget to change the oil filter. Be sure to also add the correct oil additive so that your engine is corrosion free and clean.

Refill the Cooling System
Before you stored your boat away for the winter, you should have hopefully drained the cooling system. This prevents the coolant line from freezing and causing you issues in Spring.

When it comes down to how de-winterize a boat, check the cooling system’s hoses for holes and cracks and don’t forget to empty the strainer too. Once everything looks good, you can refill the system. Just be sure that the rubber impeller is not cracked either.

Check Water Pumps and Thermostats
About every 200 hours, the water pump on the impeller should be replaced. This important rubber part is what keeps waters flowing down to cool your engine. So, if it is ready to be replaced then it should be.

The thermostat plays an important part too. It regulates the water temperature and if it is not working correctly, you may find that your engine can become too hot or too cold. Like the water pump, make sure to replace this once it reaches 200 hours of use.

Also, when going about how to de-winterize a boat, don’t forget to check your hoses for cracks and be sure to replace them immediately.

Check Cables and Hoses
Cables and hoses will inevitably endure some wear and tear as the years go on. This is especially so if they are made of rubber, as this material breaks down in cold temperatures and sunlight.

When going about how to de-winterize a boat, check all of the cables and hoses on it. Make sure they are tight and secure. There are important rubber parts on your boat that need to be checked too. These are the fuel and coolant hoses.

Check Your Battery
When it comes to how to de-winterize a boat, a battery check should always be included. As part of this, topping off of any fluids should be included as well. The best thing to use for this is distilled water to prevent any imperfections from entering the battery.

Check the volts and amps of your battery with a battery tester. If the battery is not capable of holding a charge it most likely needs replacement. If it is working, clean any corrosion from the battery terminals before attaching it back to the cables.

Clean the Distributor
During the Winter months, distributors have a tendency to corrode. To help remedy this, it is best to clean it during the de-winterizing process. First, remove the distributor cap and give it a thorough clean. Once it is all cleaned up, be sure all of the connections are hooked up tightly.

Check the Fuel System
Although it is best to drain the cooling system before Winter, your fuel tank should be completely filled to the brim with fuel stabilizer. This helps to prevent moisture from forming inside it during the cooler months.

You may be wondering how to de-winterize a boat, more specifically its fuel system. First, you need to carefully inspect the fuel line for any cracks. Due to the freezing temperatures of winter, the fuel lines can easily crack since they are mostly made out of rubber.

If the fuel filter is the same one from last season, change it. If you did put gas in your fuel tank but you didn’t add an additive to it to prevent fuel separation or water contamination, you will need to drain it out. This is because the gas has most likely gone stale.

Inspect the Boat’s Exterior
According to statistics, one-third of boats sink on the water due to damage done to the boat’s hull. Although your boat may not have been damaged when you stored it, anything could have happened to it while in storage.

So, as part of your de-winterizing routine, check the exterior to ensure there is no outside damage to the boat. This includes cracks, missing pieces or gouges. If you need help with this process, always go to a boating expert.

Check for Worn Belts
Belts play a vital part on your boat, so it is of the utmost importance that you check for worn belts during the de-winterizing process. To see if they need replacement, press your hand down on them. There shouldn’t much give. If it does have a lot of give, it needs replacing.

Another way to discover if a belt needs replacing is by looking near the pulleys for soot. If you notice soot, this means the worn belts need replacement.


Inspect the Bilge Pump
There are a couple of bilge pump parts that need checking. This includes the pump, the automatic switch and the circuit. When water enters the bilge it hits the switch. Therefore, if the pump doesn’t turn on appropriately you may be in a spot of trouble.


Paint the Bottom of the Boat
This is done with anti-fouling paint in order to keep it clean and to avoid rot. Before applying paint, sand and scape the bottom and wipe it down too, if needed of course.


Do a Trailer Check
Along with knowing how to de-winterize a boat, there are many other things that can happen to your boat’s trailer over the Winter months too. Brackets can corrode and springs can rust, so if you need to replace the trailer be sure to do so.


Ensure Safety Gear Is in Order
This is a step that could potentially save a life. You need to make sure all of your safety equipment is not expired or damaged and that it is ready for a potential emergency situation.

This includes reading expiration dates for fire extinguishers and replacing any old ones, testing lights in the cabin and on deck, checking signaling equipment like horns and flares as well as checking you have the right amount of flotation devices on board.


Clean Up
Before you take your boat out for a ride, you need to complete the final process of how to de-winterize a boat. This includes making sure all of your electronics are onboard are working, charging your battery, checking navigational lights and, of course, doing a quick clean up.