Winterizing Your Boat


As temperatures start to drop in the Northeast, all boat owners know it’s the sad time of year when you try to get that one last joy ride in before the boating season comes to a close. It’s also that time of year when you need start thinking about winterizing your boat. Boat Upstate NY wants to make sure you and you’re boat are ready for the long winter nights!

There are many steps you must take at the end of the season to ensure your boat is fully protected during the winter. There’s nothing worse than bringing your boat out of storage for the next year of boating, only to find it cracked or damaged from improper winterization. It’s important to build your own checklist during the years, to ensure you are not skipping over anything important. We’ve compiled five steps to include each year during your winterization process.

As boat owners, we all know the season isn’t over until the boats fully lifted into storage, so it’s important to take the proper steps after the sunny summer days have past and the chilly winter season rolls into town.

Step 1: Clean and Empty Your Boat

The first thing you want to do is give your boat a nice scrub down. This way you can get all the dirt and slime off the bottom and creases of your boat, plus you’ll be happy come summer when you unwrap it for the new season. Another thing to keep in mind when your washing your boat is to look under all the seat and clear out any items that were misplaced during summer. Towels, floaties, water toys and clothes are probably hiding out somewhere. If you have a cabin cruiser, make sure to check your cupboards and clear out any food and beverages that might of gotten left behind. There’s nothing worse than finding a opened bag of moldy Cheetos, six months later! The last item you may want to consider when cleaning your boat for the winter months is to remove and clean the terminals of your batteries. Store the battery in your garage where you can give it a few charges throughout the winter months to ensure it stays fully charged for the new season.

Winterizing_Your_BoatStep 2: Winterizing Your Boat Engine

Without the proper preparations to your engine, you risk the possibility of freezing or rust during storage. So, depending if you have an inboard or outboard boat engine, winterizing your boat engine is still one of the most important steps you should take when prepping your boat for storage. While these are some of our top steps, always consult your boat owner’s manual for your boat’s specific winterization instructions.

  • Run your engine to bring it to operating temperature
    • Preferable your boat will be out of the water during this step, so connect your boat to a hose to offer a full supply of water to the engine
  • Treat your fuel system
    • If storing your boat with fuel that doesn’t contain alcohol, top off the tanks with fresh fuel (not containing alcohol) and add fuel stabilizer to treat your fuel. The stabilizer keeps the gas fresh for the upcoming year
    • If storing your boat without fuel, completely empty your tanks but add stabilizer to any fuel that may remain in the tank
  • Check & replace fuel filter
    • Bring engine to operating temperature
    • Check fuel filter for leaks and make any necessary fixes
    • Run engine for 15 minutes to help fuel stabilizer enter engine’s fuel system
  • Replace oil & inspect sparkplugs
    • Give your engine an oil change
    • Check your sparkplugs and add lubrication. Replace if necessary
  • Drain tank and water lines
    • Inspect and replace any water lines
    • Add few ounces of antifreeze
  • Fog the engine
    • Fogging oil prevents corrosion of inboard and outboard engines that are stored for long periods of time

Step 3: Inspect Your Boat

Your boat has been taken out of the water and you’ve properly winterized your engine. Great! Now is the best time to give your boat a nice inspection and make notes of cracks, damage or minor fixes you may want to make during the offseason.

Check the underside of your boat for scrapes and dents, if you used your boat a lot this summer you might find something you don’t remember hitting, but hopefully not! Re-examine the side walls and all your joints to ensure there are not any major gaps or questionable spots you may want to ask your local boat shop about. Basically, this clears you of any liability if you find damage to your boat after a winter of storage.

Step 4: Shrink Wrap Your Boat

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer or have self-storage that is covered, you probably already know the necessary steps to protect your boat from snow and other water damage. However, it is always important to wrap your boat using shrink wrapping kits or a tarp system that is tight and elevated, keeping minimal snow buildup during winter. While tarps and self-storing systems may work, we always suggest having professional shrink wrapping done by your local boat service shop.

Step 5:  Store your boat

After you’ve gotten all the past steps completed, you’re going to want to store your boat for the winter, this is a big piece to fully winterizing your boat. When it comes to storing your boat, you have a few options. Boat storage is just another piece to boat ownership and is an important to take boat storage into consideration if you are a first-time boat owner or thinking about buying a boat for the first time. Marina’s and boat storage can fill fast, so please take the time to consider all available options to avoid stressful situations come fall.

  • Self-Storage: If you’re storing your boat yourself you are going to want to follow your boater’s owner’s manual, as well as the steps we’ve laid out in this blog to ensure you store your boat properly and out of a. Self-storage is a cheap alternative to professional storage, but please consider the following:
    • Clear the space and ensure it is on a level ground
    • Place blocks behind your trailer’s wheels, so it does not roll backwards
    • Check the area above. Tree limbs and branches love to fall and break because of the weight of the snow, so make sure no major tree limbs can fall and damage your boat
  • Professional Indoor or Outdoor Storage: Many marinas and boat dealers offer their customers the option for indoor & outdoor storage, at a cost … there’s always a cost! Anyway, there are many benefits to using a professional to store your boat, including:
    • Keeps your boat off your yard and your neighbors happy
    • Covered storage is normally available and offers the best way to keep your boat free of snow, water and other debris
    • Check with your local marina as they may offer discounts on storage if you dock your boat there during the summer
    • Boat winterization and other winter maintenance can be included with boat storage


Because winterizing your boat can be a difficult task, we recommend searching our list of local boat dealers, marinas and shops to find boat servicing near you. This way you can prevent liability from damage, including freezing water in the engine.