When it’s simply too cold to hit the water, you and your boat are likely staying on shore. However, you need to take care of your boat before you curl up in front of the fireplace all winter! Your boat can sustain damage if left out in the elements, particularly if you don’t take the time to winterize it.

This guide to preparing your boat for cold weather storage is provided by your friends at Norfolk Marine. We’re your Virginia headquarters for all things marine-related! Bring us any questions you may have about how to properly maintain your craft all year long.

Clean Things Up

Your first step is to clean up your boat thoroughly, inside and out. This means removing trash, recycling, food and personal items from the interior, as well as fishing gear and watersports equipment. Leaving any of these items in your boat can make it vulnerable to mold, mildew and pest infestation. Scrub everything down and allow it to dry thoroughly.

Next, clean the exterior with a good rinse and a marine-friendly soap to remove barnacles, algae, sand and salt. Applying a coat of wax after your craft is dry can help to protect the hull from damage and discoloration during storage.

Change Oil

Your engine may not yet be due for its regular oil change (the standard recommendation is to change oil after every 50 to 100 hours of operation), but when you’re about to put it in winter storage, it’s smart to change out the oil anyway. Fresh oil, topped up, will keep condensation from forming.

First, run your engine for a minute to lower the oil’s viscosity. Shut it down and change out both oil and filter at the same time, collecting used oil to dispose of it responsibly. Rubbing oil on your filter’s gasket after changing it will help it to seat better.

Start the motor again and run it for a minute to allow the oil to circulate and lubricate all the parts. You can also watch for any leaks while you do this so you can get your boat serviced at Norfolk Marine if necessary.

Flush Cooling System

Your next step is to drain the coolant and refill the reservoir with fresh antifreeze, which should be diluted according to the engine manufacturer’s specifications. Propylene glycol is a more eco-friendly choice of antifreeze that isn’t as toxic as other types. While temperatures fluctuate during the winter, the antifreeze will keep internal tanks and gears from freezing up.

This process varies a little according to the type of engine you have, but in general, you’ll want to drain any water in the engine, then warm it up and circulate antifreeze through it as it runs for a few minutes.

Keep It Covered

Covering your boat is another essential step to keeping it protected, particularly if it must be stored outdoors. A tight-fitting, waterproof cover will prevent pest infestation and weather-related damage. A good cover extends your boat’s life, so it’s a worthy investment.

Locate A Storage Facility

Finally, you will want to locate a place to store your boat for the cold months. It’s best to store it indoors if at all possible, particularly in less temperate climates. Leaving your craft in the driveway on a trailer leaves it vulnerable to theft, too! Garages and sheds are good places on your property for cold weather storage. You can also look up local storage facilities to see whether they’re within your means.

We hope our guide has taught you the basics behind boat winterization before storage! Stop into our Norfolk location to see our selection of new and used boats for sale. We can also help you with parts and service! Norfolk Marine welcomes our customers coming from the Virginia cities of Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Hampton.