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“Winterize” Your Boat

a group of people on a beach near a body of water

As most of you have seen on local San Diego news, the El Nino winter is already in full swing. These Gale-force winds have managed to blow ashore two boats in front of the Hotel Del Coronado.



(1) Start with a clean boat. During the winter, even in sunny San Diego, we all most likely use our boats less than the long summer days and nights. Wash your boat inside and out, top to bottom to ensure that nothing can surprise you when you unwrap her in a few months. Check for any blistering if your boat is fiberglass and treat/repair them. Don’t leave out the spray sheets, bimini tops and all windows and screens. Starting the winter holiday with a clean boat prevents dirt and erosion from getting ahold.

(2) Flush the cooling system. For boats with raw water cooling systems, flush the engine system with fresh water to remove salt, dirt and other impurities that could lead to corrosion. Not necessary for local residents, but if you are located in an area of extreme climate, you should run anti-freeze into the cooling system as well as directly onto the cylinder block. For outboard motors, simply flush with fresh water and allow to fully drain and dry.

(3) Prepare your fuel system. It’s a good idea to top off your fuel tank in order to avoid condensation building up over the months of little-to-no use. And change the fuel filter at the end of the season.

(4) Change the oil. Change the engine oil and oil filter on stern drives, inboard engines and four-stroke outboards. This will flush out any impurities along with discarded oil. Be on the watch for water intrusion as you drain the gear case (“milky”). While you are in there, acknowledge any moisture seeing as this could indicate leaking seals.

(5) Lubricate everything that needs it. Particularly the small but critical systems. This is so important when boats are going to be put into storage, trailered or unused for an extended amount of time. You can also go around the entire boat and use a moisture-displacing lubricant to help hinges and latches stay strong during the winter.

By following these five easy steps, you can help your wallet avoid painful extractions when the season starts up again. Your boat will thank you too by running like a well-oiled machine when its time to cast off!