While many Northerners use their boats to take in fall colors and enjoy seasonal fishing as the summer waters cool, it’s also time to think about putting your boat away for the winter. Whether you have your boat professionally winterized, or “do it yourself,” Nationwide boat claims expert Lenny Richileau offers these tips:
– For outboards and inboards, make sure all of the water is out of the engine and exhaust manifolds. Water left in pockets in the engine
cooling system can freeze and crack vital areas of the engine block.
Don’t forget about removing water from your fresh water systems and
live bait wells, too. Winterize the cooling system using ethyl-glycol
antifreeze (pink RV-type). If water is left behind, it will mix with the antifreeze, which will keep it from freezing. If you’re inexperienced, have a qualified shop do it for you.
– Add fuel stabilizer to your fuel tank using a high-quality fuel
stabilizer designed for the type of fuel you use (gasoline or diesel). If you have a two-cycle engine, make sure it’s safe for that as well. Without stabilizer, the fuel begins to degrade over the long winter
– Change the lower unit lubrication. This ensures there is no water or contaminants that could harm the unit over the long winter. It’s also a great opportunity to check for leaks and the condition of your propeller.
– To prevent theft, remove your electronics, fishing gear and personal items. You should also consider locks on your outboard or outdrive if you’ll be storing the boat in an outside storage yard.
Now that you’ve taken care of the boat, it’s time to look at the trailer
it might be sitting on. Even if you’re using buddy bearings, take the wheels off and inspect the bearings and braces. If the bearings are rusted or pitted, throw them away and replace them. Also replace the bearing seals and make sure all are well-greased. While they’re off, check the tires for wear and dry rot, and replace if necessary.
If you have trailer brakes, make sure they operate and aren’t worn
excessively. If you’re unfamiliar with completing trailer maintenance
yourself, have a qualified shop perform it for you.
The fall is also a good time to make sure your insurance policy is ready for winter. Ask yourself:
– Have you added equipment or made changes to the boat? Did you buy a new outboard or a kicker motor? Make sure your boat and its equipment are insured for the proper value by contacting your agent. You’ll also want to pass along the equipment serial numbers to your agent.
– Have you changed the storage location? Let your agent know where your boat is being stored for the winter.
– Are you planning a winter trip with the boat? Make sure your insurance coverage extends to where you’re going.
– Are you taking advantage of eligible policy discounts? Check to see if your insurance company offers premium discounts for boat safety courses, multiple policies and diesel fuel use.
One final tip – if you’re planning on winterizing your boat on your own,
remember most insurance policies don’t cover damage caused by freezing, even if you did your best to winterize the boat yourself. Having a high-quality, qualified repair shop winterize your boat limits your responsibility if freezing damage occurs. It’s good peace of mind and can keep you from making costly repairs.
So, put that line in the water one last time and enjoy those fall colors.
When you get home, be thoughtful of the long winter’s rest coming.
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