De-Winterize Your Boat

Spring Boat Prep to Get Your Boat Ready for Spring Commissioning

Get ready for the spring commissioning of your boat by following these simple tips to de-winterize it after a long, hard winter. If you did winterize your boat, you saved yourself some spring boat prep time and possible headaches now, which means the road between your boat and the water is shorter! Although it is always best to winterize a boat before putting it into storage, if you didn't, don't worry. You can perform those tasks now for the spring commissioning. Here's how:

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Have Your Manufacturer's Manual Handy

Grandson and grandfather rolling sail on harbor jetty
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If you have a copy, great. If you don't, it would be a good idea to get one. You'll need it to replace fluids and parts properly. Never take apart anything without consulting the manual first.

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De-winterizing Your Engine

The engine is the heart of the boat, and since it will most likely take the greatest amount of time and be the messiest, start here. If you didn't change the oil at the end of last season, do so now. After running your boat all summer, it's likely that water, acids and other byproducts have built up. It's important to change the oil to prevent corrosion and excessive wear which can lead to loss of power, poor fuel economy or engine failure. At the same time that you change the oil, be sure to change the oil filter. Change the oil in transmission or the outboard's lower unit as well.

Next, flush the cooling system and replace the antifreeze with a 50/50 ratio of water to coolant.

Finally, replace the batteries and perform a thorough engine test.

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Inspect the Canvas and Vinyl

Check your bimini top, seats, covers, and other vinyl and canvas items for tears, mildew, and dirt. Repairs tears and holes, and then clean with the proper cleaner for canvas and vinyl.

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Inspect the Hull

Carefully inspect the hull for blisters or other chips and cracks as well as for chalky residue. If you find blisters, repair them. If the boat's hull is chalky, it could indicate oxidation. Determine the level of oxidation, and then restore the boat's gelcoat to its original luster. Then, throughout the summer, follow the gelcoat maintenance plan to keep oxidation at bay.

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Clean and Wax the Hull

First, clean your boat's exterior using a marine safe cleaner from a marine supply store. Then, apply a fresh coat of wax according to the instructions in the gelcoat maintenance plan.

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Inspect the Windshield Wipers

Inspect and replace windshield wipers if necessary. If the wipers are in good condition, apply a rubber lubricant to protect them from the harsh marine environment. Some experts recommend stowing wipers until you need them to keep them in good condition longer.

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Polish the Metal and Teak

Known as brightwork, metal, and teak enhance the look of your boat. If it's dull, your boat will not have the same visual appeal as it might otherwise have. Also, prolonged neglect of metal and teak can result in pitting and eventually compromise the integrity of the materials and their intended use. To protect the metal, use metal polisher like Never Dull. For teak, it is usually recommended that you sand it and then apply stain and varnish.

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Replace and Test all Electronics

Bring all the electronics back on board and do a thorough test to be sure they are working properly. Test the radio, GPS, compass, depth finder, and any other marine electronics.

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Clean the Interior

Whether you have an open deck or cabin with full galley, clean the area thoroughly to remove dirt and debris.