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Boat and motor wintering : learn how to do it right

Hivernage de bateau et moteur

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We would all like to be able to sail throughout the year, but we have to admit it navigate in boat is more pleasant in summer than in winter. During these few months when your boat is alone in the harbor or in your garden it is crucial to protect him so that his condition does not does not degrade and avoid any risk to the next season.

Winterizing your boat and motor is the solution. Indeed, whether your boat stays afloat or is in dry dock, there are actions to take. So, how to correctly winterize my boat and my engine ?

When to winterize your boat ?

Boat winterization is a preventive operation against potential damage caused by sea water and weather conditions during the winter months.

For the vast majority of boaters, winterization of a boat is carried out around All Saints' Day. However, this may depend on your frequency of use, your region and the weather.

In general, it is advisable to winterize your boat and its engine after 3 consecutive months of downtime.

Table of contents

Is a boat designed to stay afloat even in winter ?

Before talking more specifically about the winterization of your boat and engine, it is important to mention the different solutions available to you for its storage during the winter months.

Dry winterization.

Winterization is regularly associated with taking the boat out of the water and storing it on a trailer, at home or in a professional dry port. This solution offers the advantage of not leaving the hull of the boat in contact with sea water and of avoiding the salty environment of the ports. Moreover, depending on the wintering contract you have with the dry port or the shipyard, This solution can be more economical than leaving your boat afloat and paying the harbor fee.

Afloat winterization.

however, your boat is well designed to stay afloat throughout the winter, with special precautions to ensure that its condition does not deteriorate prematurely. We will go into detail about these precautions later. Keeping your boat afloat requires a minimum of surveillance to check the condition of the mooring lines and other items after each winter storm. If your boat is located far from your main residence, boat storage solutions can be interesting. Wintering afloat is rarely the most economical solution, but it still has some advantages :

First of all, keeping your boat on the water during the winter allows you to have it on hand when the good weather arrives. You can simply decide to take it out of winter storage to enjoy the first beautiful seasonal outings.

Then, keeping your boat in port during the low season and the winter months allows you to secure your place with an annual contract. This way, you are sure to have a place in the harbor that you want. If you don't live near your boat, a guarding contract with a professional will allow you to have a regular link and to protect you from any risk on your boat thanks to the frequent passage of the professional on your boat.

As is often the case, the best option will depend on your personal preferences. There is no contraindication to winterizing a boat afloat, as long as you follow good practices. It is recommended to take your boat out of the water at least once a year, to perform the necessary maintenance operations, check the engine condition, check the propeller, inspect and clean the hull.

Exterior and interior winterization of your boat.

We can now go into detail about the various operations to be carried out to ensure the proper winterization of your boat, both inside and out.

The exterior winterization of your boat.

  • Cleaning of the deck, the lockers, the bilge, the anchor locker... Take the opportunity to check the watertightness of the seals
  • Greasing / lubrication of locks, windlass head, valves, cleats and other metallic parts.
  • Polishing of stainless steel with a suitable paste. 
  • Cleaning, drying and storage of exterior saddlery, awnings, bimini, in a moisture-free area
  • Verification of safety equipment.
  • Installation of protective tarpaulins


For all owners of houseboats, winterization of the interior space is essential to avoid unpleasant surprises after the winter months - mold caused by humidity, for example.

The interior winterization of your boat.

  • Drainage of grey, black and soft water tanks in the areas reserved for this purpose.
  • Verification of the watertightness of the portholes.
  • Secure the batteries, disconnect the terminals to grease them, recharge the batteries every 2/3 months to avoid any degradation
  • Ventilation of the passenger compartment and provision of moisture absorbers (replace the rollers regularly).
  • Winterization of the WC
  • Protection of electrical circuits.
  • Securing of the water inlets.

All these operations are essential so that your boat does not suffer the hard winter months, keeps its good general condition and is safe. These missions can be carried out without much difficulty by the owner or delegated to a competent professional.

Engine winterization.

Winterizing your engine(s) is essential to avoid any premature deterioration. Indeed, whether your equipment is an outboard, 2-stroke, 4-stroke, inboard, diesel or gasoline engine, stopping its use for more than three consecutive months requires winterizing. The objective is to carry out a light maintenance of the parts to be changed and to avoid that the salt of the sea water crystallizes and involves a degradation of the engine body by the cooling circuit.

These operations can be performed by the boater, but the expertise of a professional mechanic is highly recommended. Indeed, the expert eye will allow to simultaneously carry out a diagnosis that could detect any anomaly that could worsen the condition of your engine without adequate repair.

Request a quote in 3 clicks to hire a professional mechanic.

How to winterize an outboard engine ?

  • Run the engine for 30 minutes to an hour in fresh water to flush the cooling system. Usually a basin is used, but it is better to use flushing ears to avoid having a closed water circuit.
  • Turn off the fuel supply and let the engine run until it stops completely to drain the fuel
  • Drain and replace the baseplate oil.
  • Change the engine oil, oil filter and timing belt (4-stroke engine).
  • Insert a stabilizer into the gasoline to prevent condensation and/or moisture.
  • Change the press anode if necessary.
  • Grease the engine block and propeller to prevent corrosion

How to winterize an inboard engine ?

  • Fill your fuel tank to avoid condensation, moisture and water mixing with your fuel. This could lead to serious engine complications.
  • Add fuel stabilizer.
  • Warm up the engine 
  • Flush the seawater system with a soft water hose.
  • Fill the water filter with coolant.
  • Add antifreeze to the engine.
  • Change the engine oil
  • Change the oil and fuel filters.
  • Lubricate the linkages.

Now you know the different steps to winterize your boat and your engine so that the harsh winter months do not affect their condition. Now you have the choice of doing the above yourself or using Boatngo's network of qualified professionals to do the following these technical services.

It is important to remember that a boat that is regularly maintained and correctly accompanied by a specialized professional, is a boat that will extend its life expectancy, will cost less and will allow you to better enjoy your beautiful days at sea.

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