How to winterize and protect your boat

Winter’s coming. And for our clients fortunate enough to own a watercraft, it’s time to put baby to bed for a few months.

Before we get into the proper winterizing steps, it’s important to know your boat still needs insurance protection — even when inactive or stored. But more on that later.

Preparing your boat for winter takes energy and commitment. A properly winterized motor-driven boat can save you thousands of dollars in repair fees and hundreds of hours in the shop. Not winterizing your boat can result in a motor ruined by the expansion of frozen fluids, the interior contaminated by mold and mildew, the plugs and wiring corroded by rust. And those cracks in the hull will only get worse.

While there are a number of winterizing guides and techniques on the web and YouTube, we’ve done the research and filtering for you. Montgomery Insurance Services created this summary with an eye on your time, expense and efficiency. Whether you are a DIY owner or pay a professional, here are some key guidelines to follow:

Prepare your motor.

First, fill your gas tank and add a bottle of stabilizer to prevent fuel deterioration. Distribute the fuel stabilizer by running the motor up to 20 minutes. Then remove the air filter and spray fogging oil into the air intake of each cylinder — this will protect most moving parts against corrosion. Change the oil and drain the engine. Then flush the cooling system and add non-toxic marine antifreeze for additional winter-long protection.

Protect your battery.

Fully charge your boat’s battery and then disconnect it. Store it in a warm space. If you prefer, connect a trickle-charge device to your battery to keep it powered in place.

Clean the hull.

First, make sure the hull is free of stress cracks. Pop, drain, dry and reseal any gelcoat blisters you find.  Pressure wash the surfaces to clean off any dirt and sea muck. If necessary, mix together some water and soap — but not bleach — and use a soft scrub brush to remove stubborn stains. Then rinse the hull with fresh water.

Freshen the interior.

Remove anything that will hold moisture or attract insects or mice. Remove and store your electronics and electrical devices to protect against freezing and corrosion. Treat vinyl interior spaces with protectant gels to prevent drying and cracking. Clean and dry all surfaces in the galley and head.Drain sinks and showers and pour antifreeze down the drains. If located in the interior, remove the bilge drain plug, wash out the bilge and let it drain during winter.

Cover and store.

Outdoor boat storage requires a cover that protects the waterline, keeps water and snow out and still allows for airflow to minimize mildew growth. Popular options include poly tarp and polyvinyl covers, as well as shrink wrapping. If you don’t have a marina slip or a personal dock, and if you have the space, you can park your boat at home. Just be sure your boat is parked on a flat, paved surface away from the street. Some communities have sightline restrictions for boats— always best to check first. 

While only Arkansas and Utah require owners to have boat insurance, there are still insurance requirements mandated by agencies and state marine boards in the Delaware Valley. Montgomery takes the guesswork out of your need for insurance protection. Once we review your local requirements, we’ll determine whether your craft can be covered under your homeowner’s policy OR with an independent policy that offers comprehensive, collision and personal injury protection.

Whether you are an accomplished skipper or a first-time boat owner, call Montgomery today at 610-565-8280 for a quote on boat insurance. We’ll help you design a policy that offers valuable protection on lakes, rivers and oceans — and on your driveway — all year long.

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From the start of your relationship with a Montgomery agent, your insurance strategy is always monitored, always evaluated for efficiency and always subject to a cost-effective adjustment when needed.  It’s why our clients — our friends and neighbors in the Delaware Valley — have invested their trust and faith in us for more than 75 years.

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