Now that the weather’s cooling down, if you own a boat you have likely pulled it out of the water and parked it at home or in some other dry dock.

Just like you, we’re already looking forward to next year when it’s time to get back on the boat. For now, it’s important to make sure to keep your boat primed and protected by properly preparing for fall and winter.

In addition to the following tips, make sure to read your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations for keeping your boat protected during the colder months.

  • The engine. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when winterizing the engine, but be sure to flush it with fresh water and drain fuel from the carburetor to prevent buildup of deposits. Use fogging oil in the cylinders to lubricate cylinder walls and pistons.
  • The stern drive. Do a thorough inspection, and remove plant life or barnacles from the lower unit. Drain the gear case, and clean the lower unit with soap and water.
  • The fuel tanks. Fill the fuel tanks to avoid a buildup of condensation, and add a fuel stabilizer, following the product instructions.
  • The freshwater system. Drain the freshwater tank and water heater, and pump a nontoxic antifreeze into the system. Turn on all faucets until you see the antifreeze coming out.
  • The interior. Remove all valuables from your boat. Clean drawers thoroughly, and turn cushions on their edges to allow air to circulate. Clean the refrigerator and freezer. 
  • The whole boat. A cover will keep your boat clean and also protect it from water and UV rays, which can break down hoses and fade upholstery.

It’s also a good idea to check your insurance coverage. Even out of the water and not in use, a boat can be damaged. Often, damage from fire or theft isn’t covered unless you have a watercraft policy. Also, if the weather suddenly turns beautiful in November and you can’t resist the urge to hit the water, you will want that coverage in place.

If you have a small boat with limited power, you may have some coverage under your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. Larger and faster boats, along with personal watercraft, require their own policies.
If you want to save money on your coverage, talk with your agent to see if one of the following could help reduce your costs:

  • Taking a boating safety course, as some policies offer discounts for taking these classes
  • Increasing your deductible
  • Bundling your policies with one insurance company

Stay safe, and happy boating!

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