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How to Winterize a Boat

Winterizing the Hull and Interior of a Boat

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Although winterizing the hull and interior of your boat is as important as winterizing the engine and drive system, many boat owners skip this vital step in their winter maintenance plan. Before your boat goes into hibernation, be sure to winterize the drive system and follow these steps to readying the hull and interior for the deep freeze.

1. Check the Hull for Blisters, Stress Cracks and Barnacles

Do a thorough examination of the hull, keeping a careful lookout for blisters in the gelcoat. Blisters indicate the integrity of the gelcoat has been compromised by water intrusion, and if not taken care of promptly, can lead to serious problems later. Also check for stress cracks which most often occur near the bow. If stress cracks are present, you may want to contact a professional. Finally, pressure wash the hull to remove dirt and debris. If barnacles are present, scrape them off and then sand.

2. Follow a Gelcoat Maintenance Plan

Fall/Winter is a perfect time to put the shine to your boat's gelcoat by following these simple steps to restoring or maintaining your boat's shiny finish. By washing and waxing the boat before it goes into storage, you will have less work to do when spring arrives.

3. Prepare the Interior

Clean the interior thoroughly including vacuuming and shining the brightwork. Both dry and moist air will cause problems for your boat's interior. Too much moisture may collect if a covered boat is not well-ventilated, causing mold and mildew to grow. Ventilate the boat well and spray vinyl with a mildew inhibitor. If dry air is a problem, use a gel or spray protectant on the vinyl. Remove all the electronics, and the head if it is portable.

4. Choose a Boat Storage Method

Storing your boat outdoors, in shrink-wrap at a boat yard, or indoors each has their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Determine which boat storage method you prefer and make the arrangements. If you store your boat outdoors, be sure to choose a sturdy boat cover and support structure to withstand heavy snow.
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