Even as I look for fair days to eke the last out of the fishing season here in Boston, I’m looking ahead to winter. And with a boat in a slip that means two things: haul out and winterizing.

“Haul out” is the day the boat needs to be gone from its slip. The Point of Pines Yacht Club has decreed that to be this Saturday. Given the screwy and limited access to usable boat ramps around here, haul out means first driving the trailer down to the Nahant Town Wharf, then hitching a ride over to the POPYC six miles away by car, and finally running the boat three miles across Broad Sound to the trailer. The many rocks and shoals between Point of Pines and Nahant make that journey a lot safer to undertake when the tide is high. Unfortunately this Saturday high tide is at 6 a.m. :-(

Winterizing of course is the process of getting the boat ready for winter storage; basically six months of sitting. The goals of winterizing are pretty simple but worth listing out:

  • Protect the boat, trailer, and engine from rust and corrosion
  • Protect the boat from incursions of water, that can cause mold, mildew, rust, and freeze and expand causing breakage
  • Ensure the fuel system is protected from moisture and breakdown of the fuel (which can gum up the lines and engine)
  • Protect the boat from leaves, animals, birds, and other things that can damage or dirty it
  • Remove any marine growth from the hull before it hardens
  • Ensure the boat is fully serviced and ready to go in the spring

There is a lot that goes into winterizing,  which is why many boat owners pay a boatyard to do it for them. My boat is small enough and I’m frugal enough to want to do it myself. So I’ve put together the checklist below. (Tell me if you think I’ve left anything off.) Not everything on the list absolutely has to get done now. Some tasks, like checking out the electrical system and accessories could wait until spring. But it would just be better to get it done prior to winter storage if possible: spring is a busy time. Also, it would have been a lot better to done the trailer work over the summer when the boat wasn’t sitting on it. Some of those tasks, like servicing the springs, will have to wait.

Several things I’ve explicitly left out:

  • With the exception of pressure washing the hull, I haven’t addressed any tasks related to bottom-painting. With everything else that needs doing, bottom painting, if needed, will have to wait until spring. I did bottom paint this past spring so I’m probably OK.
  • Many experts also recommend that you change the water pump impeller every year. That means ordering a new kit and changing a number of gaskets (and the lower unit oil at the same time). For this year I’m going to let it go–it was replaced at the beginning of this season and the water pump is working fine.

The process looks something like this:

Washing and Drying

  • Pressure wash the hull exterior
  • Wash the hull interior, including bilges, basins, compartments and other areas
  • Remove and store seat cushions
  • Drain the hull
  • Air out all compartments
  • Flush the engine in fresh water
  • Wash the engine exterior

Prepping the Fuel System

  • Fill the fuel tank
  • Add stabilizer
  • Run the engine dry of fuel
  • Fog the carbs and cylinders
  • Replace the spark plugs (clean the old ones and save as spares)

Lubrication and Fluids

  • Replace lower unit (gear case) oil
  • Remove prop and grease prop and splines
  • Grease steering, pivot points, hinge points, and throttle
  • Check the hydraulic fluid the power tilt/trim unit and top off if necessary

Prepping the Electrical System

  • Check all lights to make sure they’re functioning. Replace if necessary.
  • Inspect connections for corrosion and correct as necessary
  • Remove battery and store, hooked up to charger/maintainer

Prepping the Trailer

  • Inspect the tires and replace if necessary
  • Inspect lights and other parts of the electrical system and replace if necessary
  • Remove wheels and grease wheel bearings
  • Clean and service springs
  • Service winch and straps
  • Inspect and repair bunks as necessary
  • Grease rollers, gears, and telescoping tubes


Inspect, and as necessary repair or replace:

  • Hardware including chocks, clamps, cleats, screws, bolts
  • Lines, bumpers, and anchor
  • Safety equipment including vests, cushions, extinguishers, signaling devices, first aid, and man overboard devices
  • Tool kit and other on-board necessities
  • Communication and navigation devices including radio, GPS, fish or depth finder

Covering the boat

Finally, cover the boat to keep out rain, snow, and leaves. I don’t have a garage to store it in, so the boat will stay outside in the elements.

  • Remove stern light and cap hole
  • Store engine vertically (to enure water drains)
  • Place wood across gunnels (to prevent snow from collapsing cover into boat
  • Install boat cover and secure it

Winterizing Supplies

At a minimum to perform winterizing I’ll need:

  • Pressure washer + cleaning fluid
  • Fuel stabilizer
  • Fogging Oil
  • Grease for steering/pivot points and prop
  • Wheel bearing grease
  • Lower unit lube
  • New spark plugs


More reading:


I’ll update this list as I think of things I left out.