How To Winterize Your Boat In 7 Steps

During the colder months of the winter, you’ll need to ensure you take the right steps to prepare your boat for harsher climates. We’ll take you through a step by step on how to winterize your boat.

It doesn’t matter if you have an outboard or inboard motor, the general steps still apply regardless of whether the vessel is a pontoon, a yacht, a sailboat or anything in between. The majority of time spent winterizing your boat will be done tinkering with the boat but other importing areas include: 

  • Plumbing System
  • Fuel Systems
  • Any area that holds water

If any part of your boat can store water, that area should be a focus when winterizing the boat. Remove all the water that can build up and freeze and simply follow the step by step below.

Step 1: Remove Gear & Clean The Boat 

Boat’s get dirty. And a great way to make sure your boat doesn’t suffer any damage in storage due to the cold climate is to remove all the gear and give it a deep clean. Warm water and soap should do the trick. You can also check out our guide on cleaning a dirty boat for tips on doing this effectively. 

Step 2: Open Drain Plugs And Remove Water From Boat Engine 

Once you’ve cleaned out the boat, the second step is to ensure there isn’t a build up of water anywhere around the engine bay. (or anywhere on the boat for that matter) When water freezes, it can cause serious damage like cracks in pipes etc. so the first step in winterizing the boat is to remove the water. 

You can read our keeping boat engines from freezing guide for tips on how to do this but for specific advice related to your vessel, read the owner's manual of your boat for details. Also, ensure all drain plugs are opened and the water is cleared out. Make sure there is no standalone water anywhere around the vessel. 

Step 3: Change The Oil 

Before storing the boat away for winter, it’s best to change the oil. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines on oil changes and put a fresh container of oil  in right before storage.

Step 4: Add Marine Fuel Stabilizer

The fourth step is to add fuel stabilizer additive to the fuel and start the motor. This will ensure the stabilizer will spread deep into the fuel tank and also make sure the oil is flowing fine. (from step 3) This stabilizer is specifically designed to ensure the fuel is fine during storage. 

Step 4: Apply Corrosion Protection To Engine


The fourth step is to apply corrosion protection to the engine. This does exactly what it says, helps protect your engine against corrosion. You can pick up these products for under $50 on Amazon. 

Step 5: Drain Boats Plumbing Systems 

The fifth step is to drain the boat's plumbing systems of any build up of liquid. Plumbing systems to focus on: 

  • Sinks 
  • Tanks 
  • Heads 
  • Toilets 
  • Bilge Pumps

Typically, the owner manual will assist you on removing water or liquid from these areas. You’ll also want to pump out the boat to make sure everything is removed safely and so there are no nasty surprises in the spring and summer when you take the vessel out of storage again.

Don’t forget to check the bilge pumps too to ensure there is no build up of water around that area on your boat.   Once you’ve drained all the plumbing systems, you’ll want to add antifreeze to it. You can pick up antifreeze for boat plumbing at your local marine store or online. 

So there you have it. A simple step by step to get your boat ready for the winter months. You can also check out our guide on storing a boat in the winter for ideas on where you can actually store the boat (be it a boat yard, marina etc.) and the costs associated with each option. 

There are also some extra recommended products there to use to ensure your boat is ready for freezing temperatures. 

Step 6: Watch the Battery & Electronics

Your boat battery is also vulnerable during the winter months. You should test the battery a few times during the months your boat is in storage.  If it needs a charge, you can hook it up to a battery charger for the required amount of time.

It’s best to maintain this regularly over the course of the winter months rather than leave it for a longer period of time before charging it, mainly for the health of the battery itself. Again, your owner’s manual will most likely give you instructions on this. 

Step 7: Cover Your Boat 

In the seventh step, you’ll need to cover up your boat. You can get boat covers online or in a local store pretty easily so this shouldn’t be an issue. It’s important to get the right cover for your boat so it fits correctly. A good cover will protect your boat against the worst of the elements. 

If you have an outboard motorboat, you can actually get separate engine covers that protect from the climate. You can even get heated ones if you keep your boat stored near a power line. (Keep in mind that it can drive up your electricity costs) 

Winterizing A Boat (Video Example)

For those of you with an outboard motor, the video below is a great step by step of winterizing those types of boats. 


So there you have it. If you follow the above steps, you should be good to go with protecting your vessel this winter. 

Obviously, different size boats and types of boats may have some slightly different steps but if you focus on the winterizing  of the fuel system, the engine, the plumbing system and any area where water may build up, you should be okay. 

The goal is to prevent any freeze damage so hopefully these steps should do just that. If you aren’t that great at doing this stuff yourself, a useful tip is to contact your local marina or boat club. They might have a winterization service or could put you in contact with someone that could do just that for you.