It’s Time To De-Winterize Your Boat for Smooth Sailing

It’s finally warming up outside, which means it’s sailing season yet again. That means you’ll need to de-winterize your boat for smooth sailing once your put it in the water. While routine maintenance checks on all the moving parts of your boat are important year-round, it’s a bit more work to de-winterize your boat in the spring. In fact, the life of your boat depends on proper winterization and de-winterization. Your owner’s manual will have instructions that are specific to your boat’s make and model. Make sure to override all other tips that conflict with those in your manual.

How To De-Winterize Your Boat

There are several steps you need to take to de-winterize your boat before you can enjoy it for the spring and summer. If you’re de-winterizing it yourself, it’s important you do it correctly to avoid expensive repairs. Of course, if you’re not comfortable with some of the steps, you can always go to a professional technician. Read through the steps below to see if this is DIY project or not.

Washing Your Boat

Before you wash your boat, first inspect the entire vehicle for cracks and damages. Also check for loose rivets, which you’ll need to repair right away. You can wipe down the interior and power wash the exterior of your boat. Use a scrub brush with medium to soft bristles and a mild soap that is still tough enough to remove salt water. Dry the boat completely with towels before waxing. Waxing will give your boat a layer of protection during your new adventures.

Your Boat Batteries

de-winterize your boatNext, refill your boat’s battery with distilled water. Check to see how strong the charge is. The shelf-life of a typical boat battery is four to five years. If your battery doesn’t have a strong charge, it may be time to replace it. If your battery is working fine, remove the wires from the charger posts and clean them thoroughly using a wire brush. Then, use lithium grease to coat and protect the posts.

Spark Plugs & Caps

Make sure your boat’s spark plugs and caps are in good shape. It’s a good idea to change these out once a year, especially if your motor is not oil injected. Clean the distributor cap or change it if it looks worn or damaged.

Preventing Corrosion

Replace your zincs now and again mid-season to prevent corrosion. Corrosion is the worst kind of damage to a boat.

Electrical Equipment

The next step to de-winterize your boat is checking all the electrical equipment. Turn all the knobs and switches on to see if they are working properly. Since everything is connected to one system, be sure to check every single switch throughout the boat. If everything is working fine, turn off the battery and check if the automatic bilge pump float switch works. Does everything work? Then you can move onto the next steps.

Boat Engine Oil & Fluids

First, see if your boat is low on oil. Unless you changed the oil and filter before you stored your boat, change them now. Also, make sure to check the outdrive oil, as well. You’ll also want to make sure you have the right levels of power steering fluid and coolant.

Do you see what looks like a leak beneath the boat’s engine or any cracks in the fuel lines? Then it’s best to have a professional technician take a look at your boat before you use it. However, if everything seems fine, you may want to start the engine and let it run in neutral for a few minutes. This will burn off any fogger that you may have used when winterizing your boat.

Cooling System, Gas Tank & Fuel Lines

de-winterize your boatWhen you winterized your boat, you hopefully emptied out the cooling system. So, don’t forget to fill it up with water and antifreeze now. If you didn’t drain the cooling system before storing your boat, do it now and refill it. Check the entire area around the cooling system for cracks, leaks and worn parts. Does it look like a mess? Then have it looked at by a professional technician before you get stranded in the water with a faulty boat. Also, make sure the gas tank and fuel lines have not rusted over during the winter months. If moisture is settled and froze, the fuel lines may be cracked or damaged, so they’ll need to be replaced.

Your Boat Belts

Again, go back into your engine and check the connecting belts. If they feel worn to the touch, you’ll need to replace them. You may also need to replace them if they give too much. You can check by pushing down on the belt. It should be pretty resistant. If it’s not, then replace it. Also, you’ll need a new belt if you find black dust or soot near the engine.

Safety Equipment

Lastly, make sure that all your boat’s safety equipment is not damaged and has not expired. Check fire extinguishers for their expiration dates, as well as horns and whistles for damage. Check that your flares still work and that you have enough flotation devices in good condition.

Boat Insurance

Boat accidents probably happen more often than you think. Chances are that you’re required to carry Boat Insurance if you’re financing your boat. Even if you own your boat and insurance is not required in your state, it’s still a very smart idea to buy a policy. If you cause a collision, you can easily be sued for damages worth thousands of dollars. If your boat is stolen, you’ll be left with nothing. And if you’re caught in a storm, you’ll have to pay for any repairs out of your own pocket. It doesn’t make sense to set sail without the right protection. Call (866) 501-7335 to speak with a knowledgeable Insurance Specialist about the Boat Insurance options available to you.


The information in this article is obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms, and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here. Such policy will be governed by the language contained therein, and no warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

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