Towards the end of the boating season, it is wise to map out options for storing your boat-RV during winter. Preventive measures are keys to protecting your investment in this recreational vehicle. Do not be complacent even if you have an insurance policy, or if you live in a state with a more temperate climate. Unexpected cold spells have been known to happen even in states that are considered warmer than the northern climes. If your boat sustains any damage due to neglect or improper winterization, you could have a steep expense to deal with come spring. Thus, it would be best for you to anticipate the possible cold spells in your area and schedule your boat-RV winterization well before that. You can actually check out your local gardening websites to find out when the first freeze is expected.

Here are some quick tips on how you can get your RV for the colder winter months:

Tip #1: Decide where it’s best to store your boat. Some boat owners prefer to dock their RVs in the water during winter, so they can take advantage of a couple of mild winter days and easily take their boats out in the water. There are others who prefer to store their boats in their own garages or storage facilities.

If you own a big boat, then it’s probably best to have your boat stored in your local Marina, where they’re bound to have a winterization service to offer. Alternatively, you may opt to shrink-wrap your boat to ensure it is safely sealed against possible cracks, condensation, and other damage usually brought on by deep freezes.

For those on a budget, marina storage and shrink-wrapping are costlier ways of keeping your boat safe during the winter. You may opt to keep your boat on land – on your trailer, in your garage, in a boatyard, or storage facility. Just keep in mind that having boats on dry land during winter is actually a riskier undertaking. The boat will be more exposed to freezing temperatures all around, without the moderating effect of water temperatures to keep the boat relatively safer from hard freezes.

Tip #2: If you do decide to keep your boat on land, make sure you winterize it properly before keeping it under a dry, secure cover, and storing it inside a climate-controlled boat storage facility.

Tip #3: First check your boat’s manual for specific instructions on how to winterize your boat or for where to find certain valves and other parts. You may have to move around your boat to have a visual check before you start working on your RV.

Tip #4: Prepare all the materials you will need in winterizing your RV. You will need:

Battery charger – You can charge your battery while you are winterizing the boat. Be sure to disconnect your charger after your winterizing is done.
Oil-changing kit – Prepare an oil pan, a funnel, a 12-volt charger to help pump the oil out, and some hand towels.
Storage fogger or fogging oil
Seafoam – This is your fuel stabilizer, and you can buy it by the gallon.
Motor oil
Lower unit oil
Grease gun
Anti-freeze with an optional dispenser (attached to a hose with hose adaptor) for hard-to-reach valves or pipes – It is advisable to use non-toxic anti-freeze so that when spring arrives, you can just fire up your boat and you’re good to go.
Tip #5: Stabilize your fuel for long storage. Check your seafoam container for instructions on mixing (example = 1 ounce of sea foam:1 gallon fuel). Not only will the stabilizer prep your boat for winter storage, but it will also preserve fuel for several months to a year, prevent fuel system deposits, and even help prevent corrosion.

Run your engine, bringing the temperature up to operating temperature in order to run the fuel that was just treated, and get the engine hot enough to facilitate oil flow during the oil change. For safety, always remove the propeller before running your engine. Then clean the prop shaft and grease it adequately. Finally, put the propeller back on, making sure to lock it tightly.

Tip #6: Drain oil from the engine, then change the oil filter according to your boat model. Have an oil diaper handy to catch any residual oil. Before replacing the filter, coat the seal and threads of the filter with engine oil, and pour a little bit of it into prime the filter as well. Then screw the new filter in place.

Refill your engine with new oil. Just as a little side note: remove the cap foil completely so there’s no risk of it falling into the engine.

You also have to check that the splines and O-rings are properly oiled and lubricated. Drain and refill the lower unit of your overdrive with gear lubricant. Always remember to have water running through the lower unit while replacing the oil. The internal impeller is made of rubber. If it is not wet, it will be damaged. Hook up a water muff so the water pump impeller won’t be ruined. Do not forget to top up the gear lube monitor bottle.

Tip #7: Fog your engine and drain cooling water. Run your engine to fog it. Remove the spark arrestor and spray the fogging oil into your carburetor, with the engine RPM slightly up. After fogging, change the fuel filter in anticipation of your spring crank up.

Drain the block and manifolds of all cooling water. Again, be sure to check your owner’s manual to locate all of your boat’s drains. It’s vital to open all of them. After draining, fill the block and manifolds with anti-freeze. Any residual water will be treated to prevent any water freezing and pipe corrosion during winter.

It is always best to check the condition of your outdrive at least once a year. When you disconnect and reconnect your drive, put it in forwarding gear for alignment when sliding it on or off the shift coupling. Before you store your boat RV for the winter season, remember to fully charge its battery and then remove and store it separately. It is also advisable to wash and wax your boat before covering it with a tarp. If this is your first time to winterize a boat, have an experienced friend help you or get a professional to do the job.