Autumn and Winter Marine Care

blog post, boat care, marine care, Seasonal Boat Maintenance -

Autumn and Winter Marine Care


For most boaters, autumn is a time when boating activity starts to wind down and folks begin to prepare their boats for the long cold winter, especially if they live in areas where freezing temperatures approach. Obviously, the main goal of winterization is to prevent freeze damage in engines and their components, as well as in water and waste systems. It’s also an important time to guard your boat from the icy elements, which can ruin the glossy shine on your hull, damage bright work, and more. That being said, here are some essentials to take note of, when things start to turn cold and it’s time to put your boat to bed.

  1. Arrange to have boat hauled, or put it on a trailer if you plan on storing it out of the water. Make special preparations (see below) if your boat is to be kept in the water over the winter.
  2. Winterize all mechanical systems such as plumbing, sanitation, and engine(s).
  3. Clean, remove, and stow canvas and Eisenglass panels at home.
  4. Remove tackle and gear from boat if it’s better suited for indoor storage.
  5. Clean the decks and topsides, and cover your boat or have a pro shrink-wrap it.
  6. Consider removing batteries from the boat—if feasible—and storing them at home on a trickle charger to keep them topped off all winter. Check electrolyte levels if you have lead-acid batteries.
  7. Change engine oil and filters, lower unit oil, and primary fuel filters as needed.
  8. Fill fuel tanks at least 90-percent full and stabilize with an appropriate fuel additive.
  9. Perform an end-of-season trailer check, if you’re a trailer boater.


Lots of boaters who winterize and stow their boats away for the winter think that there’s nothing that can be done to their boats during the cold months, but that’s not entirely true. Winter actually is a great time to take advantage of the fact that your vessel is decommissioned by tackling projects that might otherwise render it unusable during the boating season—you know, when you’d rather be fishing or relaxing. Here are some things boaters in seasonal climes can do to be productive in the maintenance scheme of things during winter.

Though the boat may be packed up tight, there are still plenty of jobs you can get done over the winter.

Though the boat may be packed up tight, there are still plenty of jobs you can get done over the winter.

  1. Consider winter projects that involve upgrading mechanical elements, such as plumbing and electrical systems. Winter is a great time to install new electronics, replace old, smelly sanitation hose, or replace that nasty old bilge pump you’ve been meaning to work on for ages.
  2. Have routine scheduled maintenance performed on your engines now, when marine mechanics are typically slow, versus in the spring when they’re booked solid.
  3. Whittle down your “fix it” list by repairing or upgrading pesky items that you’ve long procrastinated mending.
  4. Brightwork and trim that can be removed and taken home is a great target for winter spruce-up projects.
  5. Limit work that requires the use of caulk, sealants, or other compounds that require warmer temperatures to cure.

    Southern boaters might consider using the winter months—especially those times when wind and rain keep most folks off the water—to do maintenance that northern boaters can’t do until spring.

    1. If you keep your boat in the water, this is a great time to do any haul-out maintenance that’s needed, such as bottom painting and maintaining running gear and underwater appendages.
    2. The cooler weather often provides the perfect opportunity to prep and touch up brightwork on wood trim, handrails, etc. that would otherwise be difficult to apply in hot weather.
    3. More pleasant temperatures also make work that requires a lot of elbow grease much more tolerable. It’s a great time to schedule tasks such as polishing and waxing decks and topsides, cleaning and polishing metalwork, and detailing bilges, fish boxes, and other stowage areas.


    Taken from an article on
    By Gary Reich

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