Most boating in the Northwest takes place during the summer months. But a boat needs care and attention throughout the year. Here are some tips you can use in the off-season to ensure you get the most out of your summertime boating fun.
After the season ends, you’ll need to prepare your boat for the harsh winter months ahead.
Store your boat out of water and under cover...if possible.
Change all fluids, and watch for metal shavings
If you have an outdrive, look for discolored outdrive fluids. If you find either, take your boat to a repair shop for analysis right away.
Drain everything:Freshwater pump, block, manifolds, tanks, hoses, etc. On yachts, drain the hot water heater, oil cooler, heat exchanges, and the head. Close seacocks and clean the bilge.
Flush the engine and disconnect the battery
Don’t seal cabins so they’re airtight – that invites mold and mildew. Instead, crack the door or window slightly so air can circulate.
Replace zinc anodes as necessary
Remove and store electronic gear
Lube and pack your trailer’s wheel bearings ...and check the tires for air.
On sailboats, you’re better off to remove and store the sailsMake sure rigging isn’t too tight on wooden masts, which can warp. Spray turnbuckles with a light lubricant, such as WD-40.
Attach extra lines ...to secure your boat during winter storms.
With warmer days ahead, make sure your boat is ready to go when you are. Now’s a good time to check your boat and engine service manual for specifics. If you’re uncertain what to do, get professional assistance.
Check the general condition of the hull ...and apply a coat of wax. If the boat is moored year-round, recoat the bottom paint if necessary.
Lubricate steering and shift linkage
Tune the engine – change oil and filters.
Check the coolant level ...in freshwater-cooled motors and test for proper mixture.
Flush the potable water system
Check all ignition and secondary wiring for wear
Check all safety equipment and life vests
Ensure all electronic equipment is operating properly
Check mooring lines
If you don’t already have a carbon monoxide (CO) detector on your boat, get one – especially if your boat has an enclosed cabin. Inspect the exhaust system for leaks. CO, a byproduct of incomplete fuel combustion, is one of the most common causes of fatal poisoning.
With just a little preventive care, your boat can weather the seasons and provide you and your family with months of enjoyment.