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Boat Maintenance / September 13, 2022

How to prepare your boat for winter storage in Canada

If you are a boater in Canada, you know the importance of taking time to prepare your boat for fall and winter storage. However, the options to winterize will be a very different decision depending on where you boat in Canada. In locations where the temperatures drop below freezing it is important to take the boat out of the water. Not winterizing at the correct time means you run the risk of  damage to the boat’s fibreglass and hull, a cracked engine block or gear case or worse. Instead of repairing the freeze damage in the spring, save time and money and winterize correctly in the fall. The many advantages of winterizing your boat include:

  • Longevity of the boat and its operating systems,
  • Winterizing will keep a vessel a sea-worthy,
  • Being a responsible environmentally conscious boater,
  • Provides an opportunity to update or do any repairs,
  • You will be ready to get back on the water when spring frosts disappear.

Prepare your boat for winter storage – benefits of DIY winterizing

The benefits of winterizing your boat yourself will require you to really get to know your boat. By learning the necessary steps to ensure your marine vessel is properly maintained, you will also become a more experienced and confident boater. However, it may not turn into any cost savings. You need to consider your skill level and how much time is required to complete the work to winterize. And if you miss an important step, it may be more costly in the long run. If you’re new to boating, it might be worth hiring a professional to complete all the important steps to winterize your boat.

Procedures to prepare your boat for winter storage 

The steps you take to winterize your boat will depend on the size of boat, the type of motor(s), and where you store your boat. Overall, there are some main tips to follow. The best place to start is the owner’s manual which will contain many tips and tricks to ensure your boat is well maintained and stored properly.

Taking care of fuel and water systems on your boat

The first steps are to prepare your boat for winter storage – and these steps are applicable for both on wet and dry storage. Making sure all fluids are taken care of will go a long way to keeping your boat well maintained:

  • flush and drain cooling water
  • replace engine oil and gear oil
  • stabilize the fuel
  • check and replace any old or leaky batteries
  • have your battery at full charge and disconnect the ground terminal
  • lubricate and grease engine fittings to protect against oxidation, rust and corrosion
  • winterize water and shower tanks
  • drain hoses, fish boxes, and pumps
  • remove the drain plug from the hull and leave the boat with the bow high
  • Remove mold and mildew – learn how to remove mildew on a boat from West Marine.

Environmentally friendly winterization

When removing boats, piers or docks from the water, make sure you clean and wash down the entire boat to prevent the the spread of invasive plants and animals. Follow the Clean, Drain, Dry program developed by the Invasive Species Council of BC. It’s also important to collect and properly dispose of any oil, fuels and bilge so that toxic chemicals don’t enter the waterways.

Winter storage solutions

Depending on where in Canada you boat, the weather will dictate storage. Storing a boat indoors is ideal to avoid damage from the elements or rodents. There are many secure boating and storage facilities across Canada. Many storage facilities will also be able to winterize your boat if you do not want to complete that task yourself.

If you’re leaving your boat outside during the winter months:

  • Remove all seat cushions to avoid vermin infestation.
  • Remove all electronics and valuables before storage such as sonar and GPS devices.
  • Ensure all openings are closed and consider a tarp or a shrink-wrap system.

Keep in mind that although a tarp will keep out the majority of water, more winter storms on the horizon make it advisable to have a custom-made canvas or synthetic cover. These are re-usable and allow for air circulation. For areas with an abundance of precipitation, a shrink-wrap cover will keep out snow and rain. It’s important to hire a professional to shrink-wrap your boat for optimum installation and proper air circulation. Regardless of the type of cover add in several mildew retardant bags to keep mildew from forming over the winter months.

Whether you store your boat inside or out this winter, taking the steps to winterize and store your boat properly will help to avoid any unnecessary insurance claims.

Resources to Winterize your boat:

Canadian Yachting:  Winterizing your boat 

And in the spring: Safe Harbour Insurance Blog  De Winterize your boat 

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