Put your boat to bed right

This time of year always is a little bit depressing for me.
I love being in the boat and enjoy every minute of our short summer. But now that another open-water season is nearing its end, it’s time once again to put your boat away.
When it comes to winterizing your rig, doing it properly is important if you want to keep it in good condition so it’s ready to roll again in the spring.
If you are anything like me, you should leave the winterizing to the experts. There are great marine service shops located around Sunset Country that can look after your boat quickly and easily, as well as shrink wrap and store it.
Not only will experienced mechanics know what needs to be done, they’ll also be able to diagnose any potential problems so they can be fixed before spring.
I recently caught up with my pal, Reese Wickham, in Kenora to get the lowdown on what needs to be done to boats to prepare them for winter. He said the first thing they do with motors is drain and refill the oil in the lower unit.
“You cannot leave the lower unit empty because there will be no oil on the gears and the air can—and will—cause them to rust over the winter months, which will cause problems in the spring,” he warned.
Wickham said people also should try to run fuel stabilizer through their motor on their last outing (if you forget, service shops can do this for you).
If you bring your boat into a dealership, they also will drain the carburetor and filter of fuel. They also fog two-stroke engines with fogging oil or change the engine oil and filter on four-stroke models to ensure there is no contaminated oil in the engine so boaters can start fresh the next season.
“If you put quite a few hours on your motor, bring it in to a dealership and get it looked after,” stressed Wickham. “We will check the engine oil and filter, change the lower unit oil, check the spark plugs and fuel filter.
“If something needs to be replaced, we can do it.
“Do this and you can be rest assured your rig will be ready come spring,” added Wickham.
Inboard motors are more complicated, so I’m not even going to get into them. Bring them into someone who knows what they’re doing.
All of the batteries in your boat also need to be maintained. They should be charged and then disconnected (this includes trolling motor batteries, as well).
Leave them connected and the slight draw on them over the winter months will kill the battery.
A problem that many people experience, says Wickham, is that they leave water in the livewell lines, which can freeze and cause the lines to split.
Usually water left in these lines is not intentional but if these lines split, they will fill your boat with water whenever you use your livewell the following year.
A simple solution is to use plumber’s antifreeze, which should be pumped through the livewell system to flush out any water.
For those who leave their boats in the water for an entire season, it’s important to wash the hull when you pull it out to clean off all the algae that grows on it over the course of a season.
Wickham told me the hull should be washed with a mild solution, and that it is much easier to clean as soon as it is pulled from the water. If it is left to dry for a week or two, you may need some major elbow grease to clean the hull.
Give your boat the love it deserves now and you’ll be ready to get back on the water and catch fish as soon as the ice goes out in the spring.