Boat Winterization

Boat Winterization of your fishing and sailing boats and boating equipment will save you money and a lot of it. Winter is coming as one John Snow has been known to say in Game of Thrones, and the time has come and it is time to secure your boat ashore or at the marina or pull it out and take it home or park on a hardstand.

What are you going to do? Your next seasons fun starts with proper boat winterization.

Do it right and you get afloat or out of the marina fast come the spring. Do it wrong and it will cost you a lot of money, late getting out there, breakdowns afloat and way too much money. Proper winterization means minimal effort in the spring when it’s time to go fishing again.

Boat Winterization

Where you have your home hot water system located in a closet, I would suggest removing them from the boat, and then storing the electronics on the shelf above the hot water system where it is warm all the time. You can also place the gear in zip-lock plastic bags with a dessicant crystal sachet. This is a lot better than leaving them aboard your boat either at home or at the marina

Equipment Manuals - Remove off the boat to a warm place and when dry store in a plastic ziplock bag. Read through during the winter with a glass of wine or a nice Scotch next to a really warm open fire.

Trolling Motor – Remove them off the boat, clean them, then dry and store inside in a warm place. Wrap connectors and foot switches in plastic and tape up. Tape over any power supply sockets.

Outboard Engine - After completing all those water system flushing tasks, and any mechanical tasks, check and dry wiring, check and tighten connections. Apply Boeshield-19 or WD40. Store it or if not possible store the whole bat under cover.

Trim Tabs - Clean and wrap the trim tabs in plastic or kitchen plastic cling wrap. Check oil reservoir is full. Apply WD40 if required. If the boat stays tied up in your marina slip, then close up rams, or coat same with grease.


Depth Sounders & Fish finders - Remove inside to a warm place. Wrap connectors in plastic and tape up.

Lights - Check they are dry, and wrap each in plastic and tape up.

Electrical Wiring & Connections - Check and tighten and apply Boeshield-19 or WD40 to exposed terminal blocks. Cover terminals where possible.

Radar - Remove, clean and dry and store inside in a warm place. Wrap scanner unit with plastic. Wrap connectors in plastic.

So now your boat winterization is complete, and don't forget to do this with anything else I have forgotten to include here. 

Boat Winterization

Electric Downriggers - Remove, clean and dry and store inside in a warm place. Wrap connectors in plastic and tape up.

Batteries – Remove off the boat to a warm location, clean, dry, and fully charge. Check and charge monthly or more frequently. You may need a marina trolley to cart them to your vehicle, but worth the effort.

Battery Cables - Clean and wrap the terminal ends in a plastic bag.

Switches/Fuses - Wrap exposed switches and panels with plastic. Remove each fuse is you have them instead of circuit breakers and place in ziplock bag. Why you ask, often fuses get moisture and salt air in the socket ends so this is a precaution.

GPS - Remove inside to a warm place. Wrap connectors in plastic and tape up. If you need to upgrade the software then winter is a good opportunity.

VHF Radios - Remove inside to warm place. Remove radio aerial if possible and store inside, wrap connectors in plastic and tape up. Check license expiry dates and renew if required,

Handheld Radios (VHF) - Remove radios to a warm place. Charge batteries. Recharge batteries monthly.

Boat Winterization

Autopilot - Remove, clean and dry and store inside in a warm place. Wrap connectors in plastic. If possible remove actuators, or spray with WD40 and cover. Remove or wrap fluxgate compass.

Bilge Pumps - Remove all bilge water and ensure dry to prevent freezing. Apply WD40 to impeller shaft area and float switch to reduce corrosion. Wrap float switches with plastic. If you stay at the marina and leave all connected and running in auto make sure the bilges are clean of oil so the marina doesn't get oil pumped overboard.

Bait Pumps & Aerators - Remove all tank water and ensure dry to prevent freezing. Apply WD40 to impeller shaft area to reduce corrosion. Make sure all water is drained out to prevent freezing.

Water System - Drain down water system. Remove and clean filters and strainers. Freeze damage is a killer.

Boat Trailer - Check all lights are functioning, wrap in plastic. Wrap vehicle connection plug in plastic. Lubricate rollers, apply WD40 as required to all moving parts.

Safety Equipment - Remove life preservers, flares and safety equipment to a warm place. Check flare expiry dates. Wrap magnetic compass in plastic. Remove flashlight batteries or recharge if they can be. Check and store life jackets. Check your First Aid Kit. Check your EPIRB Expiry date.

More great fishing boat advice and more about fishing boats.