If you haven’t winterized your boat yet, and you do not plan on getting out on the open water again this season, now is the time to get it done: We will have well-below freezing overnight temps several times in the next week to 10 days.
The easiest way to take care of your winterization is to make an appointment with one of the many marine mechanics in our area. If you do it yourself, make sure you take care of preparing the boat and trailer and not just your marine motor for the winter.
Empty and dry out compartments, stow gear, and mouse-proof your boat. Charge batteries and/or charge and store batteries. If you leave them in the boat, make sure you top them off several times throughout the winter. Add stabile/seafoam to your gas (and run it through the fuel system).
If your boat motor has carburetors, make sure you fog them to prevent varnishing. Drain and change lower unit oil. If you had water in the lower unit when you drained it, you have a bad seal and need to take care of that before next boating season.
Trailer tires will get low in the cold, so air them up to proper inflation to make sure you don’t lose a bead and end up with a flat. Repacking wheel bearings now will save time, effort, and problems in the spring.
If you still plan on getting out for some of the late fall fishing—good for you! Make sure you take care of business when you are done for the season.
It is a good idea to warm up motors well before throttling up to top RPM’s when heading out in cold weather. Fuel additives are still a good idea now. When done for the day, you of course will trim your motor down as you are always supposed to, but a quick dry start and shut off will clear the water system and water impeller housing.
If you have water freeze in the system and start in below freezing temps, you can take the impeller out and lose your water cooling. If you plan on using live wells and baitwells during freezing temps, leave then ajar and don’t close them down solid at night—you may not be able to open them as they can freeze shut. I have forgot myself before and pounded on openings or poured water on them to try to get them open—then you have other problems as it continues to freeze.
Today’s electronics are amazing and continue to perform in the worst conditions. Can you imagine taking your home computer out in rough lake conditions, bouncing around hard and submitting it to wind, waves, spray, rain, heat, humidity, sunshine, cold, freezing, and temperature extremes, and expecting it to work all the time? That is what today’s boat electronics are able to do.
Help them out a little and take time to take care of them. Put your covers on them to protect the screens. Clean them, and it helps to take them inside and reinstall them when the temps drop to the 20s during the overnights. You don’t realize how much you take them for granted or miss them until they give you a problem.
Maintenance for all your outdoor gear will save you in the long run and is worth the time and trouble.