Winterizing your boat at the end of the season is the best way to guarantee that next season is full of fantastic on-water adventures, because a properly winterized boat will be clean, safe and ready to run come spring.
Winterization comes in two forms:
- The first is the "have-your-dealer-do-it" form, which is certainly easier and potentially relationship-saving
- The second is the "do-it-yourself" form for those who love to tinker and have pride in getting a good project done In either case, the information below should provide you a quick education on questions to ask or tasks to perform to ensure the beginning of next season is as fun as the end of this season.
First, your local authorized Bayliner dealer is fully equipped to winterize your boat and, in many cases, assist with onshore or in-water storage for the off-season. We recommend authorized dealers because they understand best how to work with your boat configuration and, should they discover any warranty work in the winterization check, they can handle it on the spot.
Here are some questions to ask your dealer about the winterization process:
- By what time in the year do I need to winterize my boat?
- Is there a benefit to winterizing now instead of waiting until it gets freezing cold?
- How does winterization prevent damage to my boat?
- What other maintenance checks do you perform during the winterization process?
- What will I need to do to get the boat ready next spring?
Now, if you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, what follows is the step-by-step procedure for winterization that most dealership service departments follow. Ambitious boaters can also winterize their boats themselves -- another bit of work that comes with a great payoff when next summer rolls around. If you have any questions during the process, please give your local dealer service department a call for assistance.
Stabilizing Your Fuel System and Preventing Corrosion- Start by changing the fuel separator before filling your fuel tank(s) about three-quarters full and adding the proper amount of fuel stabilizer. The stabilizer prevents the fuel from deteriorating and causing varnish build up. Fuller tanks reduce the likelihood of condensation; but don't top them off, because extreme changes in temperature can cause fuel expansion that forces fuel out your overflow vents. Running the engines for 15 minutes ensures stabilized fuel gets into your fuel lines, filters, and carburetors.
Your next step is flushing the engine(s) with freshwater before circulating non-toxic antifreeze through the manifold via a pickup hose from the water pump. The process will vary a little depending on whether your system is cooled by raw water or an enclosed freshwater system, but your owner?s manual will point the way. Run the engine to ensure the antifreeze chases all water from the system. Any water left inside could freeze, thaw and repeat, in the same basic process that water uses to turn rocks into sand -- not exactly the type of activity you want going on inside your engines. Do an oil change after you've warmed the engine, which will drain impurities away with the oil. You should also change the oil filter(s). Then, with the motor running, spray fogging oil into the air intakes on the carburetors to liberally coat the internal components of the motor. If you need to, remove the air box to access the carburetor throats; some engines have fogging ports to make the job easier. The motor may smoke and start to stall while the fogging oil is being injected, but a little extra throttle will allow you to finish the job.
The process is different on EFI engines, where you should put an ounce of 2-cycle outboard engine oil in the fuel-water separator and run the engine briefly to coat internal components. If you have a stern drive, repeat the drain-and-fill drill with the gear oil, checking for signs of water intrusion and excess metal shavings in the drained oil. Either is a sign that a mechanic needs to get involved. Grease all fittings and rams for the hydraulic steering and tilt/trim and check these fluid levels. Make sure you store the boat with the drive in the down position, which prevents water from collecting anywhere and retracts the tilt/trim rams for better corrosion protection. Finally, make sure that your batteries are fully charged, and clean and grease all connections to prevent corrosion. If your boat is equipped with an on-board trickle charger, leave it on, otherwise check the batteries every couple of months, topping off the charge on each battery as necessary. Stabilizing the Plumbing System Completely drain the freshwater tank and water heater while in the off position. Pump non-toxic antifreeze into the system and turn on all the faucets, showers, wash-downs, etc., until you see the antifreeze coming out. You want it to run through all of the associated pumps and drains, everywhere. Pump out the holding tank, flush with freshwater and pump out again. Then pump antifreeze throughout. A liberal dose of olive oil in the bowl will keep your VacuFlush® seal from sticking and tearing next spring.
Finally, make sure the bilges are clean and dry. Use soap, hot water and a stiff brush to clean up any oil, then spray a moisture-displacing lubricant and add a little antifreeze to prevent any water that may get in during lay-up from freezing. Storage Remove all valuables, electronics, fishing gear, lines, PFDs, fire extinguishers, flares, etc. Then turn all your cushions on end so that air can circulate around them, or bring them home along with all the other removables. Prop open all storage compartments to maximize circulation there, too. Also, open, defrost and clean the refrigerator and freezer. Shrinkwrap is a good winterizing tool, both for in-water or onshore storage.
For in-water storage, be sure you close all seacocks and check rudder shafts and stuffing boxes for leaks, and tighten or repack as necessary.
Check your battery to make sure it is fully charged and your charging system is working. Bilge pumps need to be working and float switches must be debris-free. If the water ever freezes where you moor, you should have a de-icing device or bubbling system in place.
For onshore storage, be sure to pressure-wash the hull, cleaning barnacles and build-up off propellers and shafts, rudders, struts and trim tabs. Clean all your thru-hulls and strainers and open seacocks to allow any water to drain. Check the hull for blisters and if you find any that need repair you might want to open them to drain over the winter. Onshore storage demands attention for supporting the hull. Whether custom cradle, jack stands and blocks or on your trailer, placement of the hull supports is crucial to ensure the hull doesn't become distorted and compromised.
Critical areas to support include the engines, bulkheads and keel. A little expert advice and a close reading of your manual are a good idea here. If storing on a trailer, use jack stands under the axles to remove the load from the bearings and tires, and cover the tires to protect them from the sun. Place a plastic tarp over the boat cover to reduce stains from birds, leaves, etc. and to ease snow removal. Always read your Bayliner owner's manual and check with a Bayliner Certified Dealer Mechanic to ensure that you take the correct winterizing steps for the make and model of your boat.
Also see tips on spring commissioning