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Everything You Need to Know About Dewinterizing a Boat

A person sits on the edge of a red boat and cleans it with a yellow sponge and white bucket

Days are growing longer, the weather is warming, swimsuits are making their way out the closet, and the countdown is on until you can hit the water and spend your summer days out on the lake. While you’re waiting to fill up the cooler and grab your towels, there are a few things still left to take care of, including dewinterizing your boat and other water-related gear.

If your boat has been idle for a while packed away in vehicle storage, it needs some love and attention before it’s ready to hit the waves. But how do you dewinterize a boat if you’ve never done it before? Do you have to dewinterize a boat, even if it’s a shiny, new model with only a little action?

Don’t worry, Advantage Storage is here for you, because we want this process to feel as stress-free as possible. After all, summer is supposed to be fun, so kicking it off with frustration should be avoided as much as possible.

Fortunately, learning how to dewinterize a boat is easy and we’re here to help you along the way.

When to Dewinterize a Boat

When do you dewinterize a boat? That question can be tricky because the answer is pretty subjective.

The timing for dewinterizing your boat largely depends on the weather and water conditions in your area. Typically, boat owners start dewinterizing their boats in early spring when the temperatures start to rise, and the threat of freezing has passed.

However, it’s essential to check the local weather forecast and water conditions before dewinterizing your boat to ensure that there is no risk of freezing temperatures or other adverse weather conditions that could potentially damage your boat. It would be immensely frustrating to go through all the work of dewinterizing your boat prematurely and then need to winterize it again, and then dewinterize it once more later once the weather had finally come around.

Best to wait and get it right the first time.

How to Dewinterize a Boat Like a Pro

Do you have to dewinterize a boat? We hate to break it to you, but yes you do, and it does take a bit of time. Here’s the good news though: it doesn’t have to be difficult, nor should it take forever. And at the end of the process, the outcome will be rewarding. You can knock out the whole process in one afternoon if you follow the next five steps.

Tip #1: Conduct a Thorough Inspection

Your boat has been stored up for a while. If you left it alone for the whole winter or longer, it’s time to check some boxes and make sure everything is looking good.

  • Check the hull for any cracks, blisters, or damage caused by freezing temperatures.
  • Inspect the propeller, rudder, and other underwater components for any signs of damage or debris.
  • Check the fuel system, electrical system, and batteries for any signs of corrosion or damage. We’ll come back to this bullet in more detail later.
  • Inspect the safety equipment, such as life jackets, fire extinguishers, and distress signals, to ensure they are in good working condition. If they aren’t, replace them before going out on the water.

If you notice any issues, address them promptly to avoid further damage and ensure the safety of your boat. We don’t need to tell you that a single crack can compromise the longevity of the craft and result in immense damage when out on the water (possibly costing you the entire boat), but overlooking this development could also lead to a dangerous situation for your friends and loved ones. Be meticulous and diligent. Check it in different levels of lighting, just to be safe.

Tip #2: Clean and Lubricate Until It Shines!

After a long winter, your boat may have accumulated dirt, dust, and grime, especially if it wasn’t dressed with a tarp or other boat-friendly cover (which it should have been, if winterized properly). But how does cleaning factor into dewinterizing your boat?

Thoroughly clean the interior and exterior of your boat, including the hull, deck, cockpit, and engine compartment. Wash or wipe down the upholstery, carpets, and other interior surfaces, as appropriate. Use a marine-specific cleaner to avoid damage to the boat’s finish, such as Star Brite Instant Hull Cleaner, or Meguiar’s M43 Boat Wash.

Top off your cleaning process by lubricating all moving parts, including hinges, locks, and cables, with a marine-grade lubricant to ensure smooth operation and prevent corrosion. A can of WD-40 works well to accomplish this.

Tip #3: Top Off Fluids and Clean Filters

Before heading off on your seafaring voyage (or river, or lake), inspect all fluid levels in your boat, including oil, fuel, coolant, and hydraulic fluids. If needed, top off or replace fluids as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

If you come across any filters in need of replacement, such as oil filters, fuel filters, and air filters, swap them for something new to ensure optimal performance of your boat’s engine and other systems. If you added antifreeze to the engine during winterization, flush it out thoroughly to prevent any residual antifreeze from circulating in the engine.

The last thing you want is for your engine to overwork itself and clock out in the middle of a large body of water. That can make for a very long and stressful development for everyone aboard.

Tip #4: Ensure Electrical System Integrity

When you dewinterize a boat, check all electronics and electrical systems on your boat, including the navigation system, lights, bilge pumps, and battery charger. Test the battery to ensure it is holding a charge and replace it as needed.

All wiring connections should be fully operational and free of any signs of damage or corrosion. Repair or replace them as needed to ensure safe and reliable operation of your boat’s electrical systems. On the surface, this may not seem as significant as some of the other things we’ve addressed, but much like cars, nowadays boats are more like computers than anything. If something electrical fizzles out you may not be able to turn the boat on or off when needed, or you won’t receive the right informational feedback from its systems.

Really there’s a thousand ways something could go wrong here, so don’t neglect it.

Tip #5: Check the Engine

Once everything else has been done, it’s time to test the old ticker.

Ignite your boat’s engine and let it run for a while to ensure that it starts easily and runs smoothly. Listen for any unusual noises or vibrations that may indicate a problem, and let it run for up to ten minutes to make sure it doesn’t spontaneously shut off unexpectedly.

Once you’re confident the engine can perform up to expectation, you can confidently take it out to the water. At last, the fun may begin!

Find Your Advantage with Advantage Storage

Welcome back, we hope your boat ride was all you hoped for and more. Do a status check: does the boat still look good? No new dings or dents? How well did you dewinterize your boat, on a score of 1-5? Be honest.

We hope you’re proud of your efforts and established a successful process with this guide. Now who are you going to trust to store it in the interim between now and your next outing?

Advantage Storage offers car, boat, and RV storage that includes outdoor, covered, and indoor storage units to accommodate all of your needs. Need help preparing your camper for storage? We can help with that too! If you’re on the market for a new home for your boat between your calls to nature, we’d like to throw our hat in the ring.

You can reach out to a facility near you with any questions about the storage rental process and more information about vehicle storage. Find a storage facility near you and create the space you need to make all of your summer plans a reality!

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