Protecting your boat during Winter

Outdoor boat storage and winter lay-up requires special preparation to prevent damage to the boat.

When winter approaches it's time to put the boat away and begin the wait for the next season.

There is a lot of information on how to prepare a boat for winter storage with some slightly different approaches and varying degrees of details. Below are guidelines straight from the experts at MasterCraft Boat Company.

Mark McLemore, of MasterCraft's Warranty and Technical department offers the following recommendations to help keep your boat's mechanical systems in tip-top condition throughout the winter.

Because of the complexity of preparing your boat for proper winter storage, as well as the possibility of extreme damage to the engine if a preparation error was made during the winterization, it is recommended you see your dealer and let the dealer perform the winterization procedures.

1…..Fill the fuel tank and add 1 once of STA-BIL® gas stabilizer for each 5 quarts of gasoline (4 oz per 5 gallons).

2…..Operate the boat for at least 15 minutes in water or using a flush system to enable the treated fuel to reach the engine.

3…..Remove the bilge drain plug immediately after taking the boat out of the water. After a general bow to stern washing, raise the bow of the boat higher to allow as much water as possible to drain while performing other storage preparations.

4…..Thoroughly clean the hull, deck and interior of the boat as soon as it is removed from the water. Cleaning at this time is easier because any marine growth is still wet. Be sure to allow a few days of air drying to prevent mildew that result from trapped moisture.

5…..Remove the attaching hardware from the propeller shaft coupling. Separate the flanges and coat the flange surface with waterproof marine multipurpose grease.

6…..Flush the engine cooling system with clean water. Do NOT exceed 1500 RPM's while flushing for 5-10 minutes.

7…..Add a lightweight engine oil (SAE-10- commonly referred to as fogging oil--or Marvel Mystery Oil) slowly into the engine while the engine is slightly above idle. Cut the engine off.

"Carbureted engines are actually a little less complex than our modern day EFI's.  Parts are more recognizable for most people simply due to the amount of years they have been in use.  The process however will really remain the same." 

8…..Turn the fuel supply line On-Off valve to Off. Perform all scheduled maintenance. Of special importance is tuning the engine and changing the oil and fuel filters.

9…..Remove the exhaust manifold's drain plugs. Refer to your owners manual for assistance in determining the location.

10…..The use of automotive-type ethylene glycol antifreeze is not recommended unless you have facilities to properly re-cycle this compound. The use of environmentally-safe anti-freeze and propylene glycol-type is preferred. Remove the petcock or drain plug at the lower side of the engine block. An engine drain is located on both sides of the engine. 

Some models have a knock sensor located in the drain location. The knock sensor must be carefully removed to allow the engine to drain.

Do Not mix ethylene-glycol and propylene-glycol antifreeze formulas as they have different freeze and boiling points. Thoroughly flush one before using the other. Following specific winterization procedures is very important. Damage that may occur to your boat and engine because of improper winterization can be costly and void the manufacturers warranty.

11…..Remove both hoses from the raw water pump. Remove the hose running from the thermostat housing to the circulation pump (at the pump). 

Also remove the hose from the lower end of the transmission cooler. Leave all hoses disconnected during transportation or storage. Bend/Shake hoses as necessary to remove water droplets. Remove trash and debris from filter screen as shown.

"Both carbureted and EFI systems are the same when it comes to the way water is distributed through the engine.  Although we have terminology such as reverse cooling with certain engines, nothing really changes with regards to winterization."

12…..Remove the ignition safety switch and spin the engine over for a few seconds to remove excess water found in pump bodies.

13…..Remove the negative battery cable from the battery. Charge the battery to full-charge or remove completely. Never store batteries close to heat, spark or flame-producing devices.

14…..Clean all traces of dirt, oil, grime and grease from the engine, transmission and bilge. Touch up areas of the engine and transmission where paint has been removed.

15…..If the boat is to be stored for more than two months in a high-moisture environment, in temperature extreme's or outdoors, fog the engine with rust-preventative fogging oil.

16…..Coat the entire length of the propeller shaft (inside and outside the boat) with corrosion-resistant metal protectant.

17…..Use duct tape to seal the exhaust flaps to prevent dirt and nesting rodents from entering.

18…..Check to see if the speedometer pick-ups in the rear of the boat are clogged. If so, damage can occur to the speedometer ballast tubes.

19…..If your boat is equipped with an optional heater or shower, remove both hoses and blow through a hose to remove all water.

20…..Cover the boat with a boat cover or tarp.

If the boat is to be stored outside and subject to accumulations of snow, water and ice, a support should be made for the boat cover so that it will not sag, rip or tear, thereby allowing water to enter the boat. Two-inch PVC plumbing pipe is ideal for this purpose. It is readily available at local hardware stores, and it is easy to work with. Also, its rounded shape will prevent damage to the canvas.


Re-activating the Boat after storage

1.....Remove the duct tape from the exhaust flaps.

2.....Charge and install the battery in the boat, following all safety precautions associated with charging batteries.

3.....Re-connect the composite plastic manifold exhaust drain hoses. * See Note below *

4.....Close the engine drain petcocks or re-install the drain plugs on each side of the block.  All EFI engines have a knock sensor located in one of the drain holes.  This unit must be re-installed in the drain hole.  Carefully install this unit without using any additional thread sealant.  Be careful to avoid over tightening this unit.  Torque specifications for installation of the knock sensor is 14-16 ft-lbs. * See Note below *

* Manufacturers and models may vary.  Consult with your dealer when in doubt.

5.....Check the propeller shaft coupling alignment.  Install and tighten the coupling hardware.

6.....Check the engine compartment and bilge for signs of nesting animals.  Clean as necessary.

7.....Check the entire engine for cracks or leaks caused by freeze damage.

8.....Check all hose clamps for tightness.  Install the bilge drain plug.

9.....Grease the propeller shaft taper and install the propeller.

10.....Perform the daily maintenance.  If not performed during storage, perform the annual maintenance.

11.....If the boat is equipped with the optional fresh-water cooling system and was drained for storage, fill the system with fresh coolant solution.

12.....Turn the fuel line ON-OFF valve to the ON position in models that do not have in-tank fuel pumps.  With the boat in the water, cycle the key ON and then OFF 2-3 times, allowing 10 seconds between key cycles, before cranking the engine.  This allows the fuel pump to prime the fuel lines; then start the engine.  In the event the engine does not respond, allow a two-minute cool-down period for every 30 seconds of cranking.  When the engine fires, keep a close watch over the gauge readings and check for leakage and abnormal noises.  Keep speeds low for the first 15 minutes to allow the engine to reach normal operating temperature.




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