A boat can provide you and your family and friends with days of nonstop fun during the summer. However, at some point after Labor Day you will need to place your boat into storage to protect it from the harsh forces of winter. What you do before you store your boat is important. If proper care is not taken, you can inadvertently cause significant damage that may not be covered by insurance.
Following are some boat storage preparation tips to help you prepare your boat for the long winter. Many of these same tips can also be adapted for jet ski storage.
1. Take Your Boat Out on the Water One More Time
The first tip you should certainly adhere to in regards to preparing for boat storage or jet ski storage is to take your craft out on the water one more time. While you should certainly savor your enjoyment of this last pleasure cruise, this shouldn't be your only objective. You should also be trying to observe your craft to discover if there's anything that needs to be fixed before you winterize. Getting necessary repairs done before you place your boat or Jet Ski into storage is important. Winter can certainly exacerbate many problems and make them worse.
2. Clean Your Boat
Once you have hauled your boat out of the water for the season, it's time to really get to work. First, remove your boat's bilge drain plug. After you've done that, give your boat's decks and hull a really good scrub. Try to remove as much of the slime, grime, barnacles and other nasty gunk as possible that have built up over the season. Clean the strainers and thru-hulls. Also, open and drain your boat's seacocks. Give the boat's interior a good cleaning as well. Make sure the refrigerator lockers are cleaned out and look for anything else that could spoil if left over the long winter.
3. Get It Dry
Once you have cleaned your vessel as thoroughly as possible, you need to get it dry before it can be placed into storage. This means draining all water away from the boat. To get the water to drain more efficiently, raise the bow. Make sure after the water has drained you give it enough time for any moisture that remains to evaporate before the boat finally goes into storage. Purchase mildew control bags and place them inside the cabin as well as any compartments to combat mildew.
4. Boat Storage Maintenance Musts
- Change the Oil
Maintenance should also be performed if you want to have safe boat storage or jet ski storage over the winter. Not doing so can result in damage due to how long the vehicle has to remain idle. One of these tasks is certainly performing an oil change. Oil changes are especially important for watercraft. There is a good chance some water or acid got into your oil over the summer. If it's not removed, it could corrode your engine. Replace the filter, flush out the oil, and then pour in new oil.
- Change the Antifreeze
Another maintenance task you should perform is refreshing your craft's coolant system. This will help stop components in your engine from freezing and corroding over the winter. First, drain out the coolant. Second, flush what's left out with water. Next, add the new antifreeze. However, make sure you don't forget to dilute it to the proper specifications of your vessel.
- Apply Fogging Oil
There's also additional maintenance you should perform to protect your engine. Without actually starting it, turn over your engine. While it's turning over, take a container of fogging oil and spray it either into the spark plug holes or onto the carburetor depending on the instructions in your owner's manual. This will preserve the moving parts of your engine during the cold winter.
- Protect the Drive Belts
You should either significantly loosening the drive belts or removing them entirely and placing them into storage until next spring. Not doing so will cause them to remain in tension during the long winter. With the freezing and thawing process, there is a strong likelihood that cracks will develop in the belts.
- Other Maintenance Tasks
The boat's steering and control mechanisms also need to be protected. You can do this with simple grease. Just make sure they can still move smoothly and all the joints are well greased before the boat is put into storage. The battery can also drain over the winter if it's left connected. Solve this problem by disconnecting it and topping it off with a bit of distilled water. Lastly, fill up the gas tank. An empty gas tank can collect condensation and slowly corrode.
5. Wax and Cover
Once you have finished all the above steps, give your boat a nice handsome wax job. Wax doesn't only look nice. It also stops rust and corrosion. Finally, cover your boat to prevent it from collecting any dust and grime while it remains in storage.