If you're like many of us, the weather is quickly getting colder and we don't have many more days left that we can spend out on the water. As you are preparing to get your boat ready for the winter there are a few things in particular to take care of to make sure that your boat is ready for the cold weather.
Rodents will often find a boat to be an excellent place to burrow down for the winter, which often results in chewed out seats, damaged wires and cables, and a nasty mess for you to clean up in the spring. Make sure that you vacuum or sweep the interior of your boat properly and make sure there isn't any food crumbs left behind. Getting a boat cover that doesn't leave any cracks or holes is particularly important, but rodents will often find a way to chew through a boat cover if they can smell food on the other side. You can also lay out rodent poison or traps on your boat, but be mindful of where you leave your poison or traps so you can clean them up before taking your boat out in the spring.
Check The Exterior
If your boat has any mussels or aquatic plants on the outside, now would be a good time to wash them off. A pressure washer works well to do this job quickly. Do a check of the exterior of the boat for any cracks or visible damages to the boat's exterior. Depending on the type of hull of your boat, you may need to take it in to a professional before storing it for the winter. A crack in your boat's hull will only get worse through the winter and should be taken care of before storing it away. If you have boat polish, now would be a great time to apply it.
It is especially important that you make sure that there are no liquids on your boat, as water will freeze, expand, and cause expensive damages to your boat. There are several locations in particular on your boat that you should pay close attention to:
- Engine - Whether or not you have an inboard or outboard motor, you should follow the manufacturer's instructions to make sure it won't get damaged throughout the winter. Many motors should be properly drained of any remaining water and antifreeze should be added.
- Hull - Depending on the type of boat you have, you may need to drain the hull of your boat before putting it away. Even if there is plenty of space in your hull for water to expand, it can still cause cracking and damages - especially if you have a boat with a fiberglass hull. Check with your boat manufacturer, as some damages to hulls like aluminum pontoon boats can be do it yourself fixes.
- Interior - After washing and cleaning your boat, it is important to let the boat air dry for a few hours before putting a cover on. Damp carpets and cushions can lead to mildew and mold in the spring.
While a tarp may cover your boat from the majority of elements, it is important to get a good boat cover that will last through the winter and is designed for your boat. As we mentioned before, a good cover withe no holes or cracks will help prevent rodents from making your boat home for the winter. It is particularly important to get a cover that fits your boat correctly, as any large spaces will fill with snow and water. This will weigh down the cover, and may lead to stretching or cracking in the cover, and the cover won't last as long as it should. Additionally, railings or seats may be damaged from supporting the weight of the water throughout the winter. A good boat cover will come equipped with poles or some sort of propping system to ensure that water and snow will slide off and not collect on the cover.
About the Author: Mike Hall is a boating enthusiast who still needs to get his boat out of water and into storage. Mike works with Manitou Pontoon Boats, a leading manufactuter of performance and luxury pontoon boats.