Preparing your Boat for the Winter

If you are not going to use your boat this winter, taking protective measures before you store your boat away, will help to protect it from the elements of cold weather. Preparing your boat for the winter now, will also help to ensure that your boat is ready to get back in the water when you are.

There are many things to consider and what should be done really does depend on the type of boat you have, so the below should not be used as a recommendation. This is just some basic points which could help you judge the best process for winterising your boat.

It’s not just the winter that can affect the performance of your boat, but the fact it is not being used can accelerate wear and tear, which could contribute to breakdowns in the future. Your boat and engine owner’s manual can offer specific recommendations as there will be variations depending on the type of boat you own. Whether you choose to use a professional or not, winterising your boat could prove vitally important to reducing the need for expensive repairs in the future.

Clean your boat

  • Clean your boat thoroughly, this will help your boat to endure the winter months much better. This will also help reduce the preparation time spent when it comes to getting your boat back in the water.
  • Give the decks, upsides and topsides a thorough clean and wipe down all hardware with suitable products for your boat.
  • Check for any blistering or flaking on fiberglass hulls and panels being sure to repair anything that needs attention.
  • Remove residue salts from the canvas, spray hoods and windscreens and be sure to dry your boat completely before putting it into storage, to avoid causing any damp.
  • If there are any soft furnishings that can be removed from your boat, keep them somewhere cool and dry which will help to retain the quality and keep them clean.
  • If your boat is being stored outside try to use a suitable cover that will protect the boats deck and internals as well as the hull from cold, such as ice and snow.


Taking the time to treat your engine will help to remove any build up and protects internal engine components during storage. When your boat is out of the water, the engine is the more vulnerable and the most expensive part to repair, so it’s worth paying particular attention to it. It may be worthwhile employing a boat engineer who can winterise and service your boats engine for you. If you choose to do it yourself and you are familiar with what is required for your specific engine, the below is not to be used as a guide. Make sure you research the relevant method for your engine.

  • It is common to give the engine a good clean, taking notice of any parts or areas that may need attention.
  • Change the engine oil and replace the oil filter, remembering to flush out any left-over or contaminated oil, which can shorten the life of the engine.
  • Check your gearbox or outdrive oil and replace it if it looks cloudy or milky.
  • Drain and refresh the boat engine cooling system, remembering to run clean water through the system, topping up with high quality anti-freeze, diluted to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Loosen the drive belts, as high tension can cause cracking during storage, which can lead to costly repairs.
  • Grease the steering mechanisms deep into the joints so that they continue to move freely as obstructions can lead to cracking.


Disconnect the batteries and give them a good clean, greasing the terminals. If you remove the batteries during the winter, remember to store them somewhere which protects them from the cold and charge them regularly, as batteries uncharged for extended periods can shorten their lifespan. If you do not remove the batteries, secure them as best you can and keep them insulated.

Water Systems

The water system is different in every boat so please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for each appliance in your system. Draining down the entire water system could help to avoid frost damage and this includes the tank, pump, water filters, taps etc, looking for anywhere water could still be trapped inside.

This is not an exhaustive list and it’s general information which could help you prepare your boat for the winter. Please remember to always check your owner’s manual, which will give specific recommendations for your boat.

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