How To Winterize A Pontoon Boat

Boating is one of the most famous recreational activities during the summer, and for good reason. Sunshine, cool drinks, a few fishing rods, and great company are all the advantages of owning a pontoon boat. The rest and recreation these vessels can provide are second to none.

But as winter approaches, so does the worry about preparing your boat for storage during the harsh, cold season. The article below aims to advise you on how to winterize your pontoon boat properly. 

Boat Storage: An Overview

It is absolutely vital to winterize your boat during the frost to protect it from being damaged before the season ahead. There are a couple of ways you can do this. First, you could always opt for a commercial storage facility, which is a much easier method as they will ensure that your boat is well looked after and ready for the new season. Even then, dedicated services will come to your residence and prepare your boat on site. However, these services are quite expensive, and they can be rendered unnecessary if you take the proper steps for home storage. If you still choose to go for a complete DIY, the steps below provide an outline of the process:

  • Clean the Boat
  • Prepare the Engine
  • Remove the Battery
  • Cover the Boat
  • Secure the Boat

Once again, it is advised to have experienced professionals winterize your boat, especially if this is your first winter. It may take a little practice to do it perfectly. Remember to thoroughly read the manufacturer's manual that is specific to your boat, as well.

Clean The Boat

Before you can even begin to think about storage, you need to think about cleanliness. It is extremely vital for you to thoroughly clean your pontoon boat inside and out before it goes into storage. Not only will dirt create space for moisture and eventually rust to build, but it will also be tough to remove after months of being “baked” onto your boat. Once the exterior is cleaned and dry, it is best to apply polish or wax as a protective layer in preparation for its long idling period.

Similarly, you want to carry out detailed cleaning for the interior, including everything from the boat itself to the equipment attached. Be mindful to remove excess food and other consumables as they may attract insects, rodents, and other small animals. In short, leave no stone unturned. Make sure to remove any equipment that isn't necessary for storage. For example, fishing rods, floatation devices, towels, extra clothes, and other objects that can trap moisture should be removed. Additionally, any extra electronic equipment such as speakers and TVs that can be unmounted should be stored indoors to protect them from harsh conditions and theft.

Prepare The Engine

Before you begin, please bear in mind that the following are general instructions. Ensure that you diligently read your owner’s manual and follow the specific guidelines for the make and model of your boat. Generally, the steps are as follows:

  • Drain the engine block as suggested by the manufacturer. In addition, you may want to use a fogging spray to lubricate the inside of the engine.
  • Remove the spark plugs, use the fogging as instructed, and replace them without connecting the spark plug wires.
  • Fill up your gas tank. An empty tank allows for condensation due to the drastic temperature change outside. So, make sure to fill up your gas tank at least 3/4 of the way up before putting it in storage.
  • Use antifreeze. Drain the coolant and replace it with non-toxic antifreeze, preferably one with a Propylene Glycol base, as they do not release toxins into the water.

Remove The Battery

Of course, this depends entirely on how you choose to stow your boat. If you plan to store your boat on the water, then keep the battery connected and charged for the bilge pump to function if needed. However, if your preferred method is out of the water, make sure to disconnect the battery from your pontoon boat and store it in a cool, dry place. Make sure the battery is fully charged before you remove it, and maintain its charge until you are ready to sail again. A trickle charger can help during these situations.

Cover The Boat

A boat should never be left uncovered during the winter, especially if you plan to store it out in the water. If left uncovered, rain and snow could get inside your pontoon and cause pooling, which could have catastrophic effects on your boat if left unattended. Cover the boat from end to end and secure it properly to prevent the cover from flying off due to the harsh winter gust. If you are storing your boat outside, make sure to use a durable quality cover or tarp with no damage that could cause leaking. For indoor storage, the quality of the cover is not as important, but a high-quality boat cover is always a good investment.

Secure The Boat

Once again, this primarily relates to those who are planning to store their pontoon boats outdoors. Make sure to take proper security measures when your boat is idling for long periods. Dismount any electronic items and other valuable goods from your boat. Ensure you have gone through your boat's insurance policy to understand the proceedings in the event of damages due to theft.

Summary

The steps mentioned above should cover the basics of how to store your pontoon boat during the winter effectively. As mentioned before, it is highly recommended that you hire professionals if you want peace of mind for your investment. Small mistakes can have massive repercussions, and you don't want that to occur with your beloved possession. If you still insist on doing it yourself, consider having someone on hand with experience to help provide guidance and assistance.