Time has come to winterize your rig

Unfortunately for Sunset Country anglers, it’s getting to be that time of year—time to put away our boats as another open water season has come and gone.
When it comes to winterizing your boat, doing it properly is important if you want to keep your rig in good shape so it’s ready to roll again in the spring when the ice goes out.
If you are anything like me, you should leave the winterizing to the experts. There are great marine service shops located around the region that can look after your boat quickly and easily, as well as shrink wrap and store your rig.
Not only will experienced mechanics know what needs to be done, they also will be able to diagnose any potential problems so they can be fixed before spring.
I recently caught up with my pal, Reese Wickham, from K-Sports Marine in Kenora, to get the lowdown on what needs to be done to boats to prepare them for winter.
He explained 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, rust them over the winter months, which will cause problems in the spring,” he stressed.
Wickham explained folks also should try to run fuel stabilizer through their motor on their last outing. If they forget, service shops can do this for you.
If you bring your boat into an area dealership, they also will drain the carburetor and filter of fuel. As well, they fog two-stroke engines with fogging oil or change the engine oil and filter on four-stroke engines to ensure there is no contaminated oil in the engine and you can start the next season fresh.
“If you put quite a few hours on your motor, bring it in to a dealership and get it looked after,” Wickham said. “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 to roll come spring,” Wickham added.
I will not even get into in-board motors, they are more complicated. Bring them into someone that knows what they are 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.
Wickham said a problem many people experience is that they leave water in the livewell lines, which can freeze and cause splitting. 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 boaters 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.
Take your boat in for some love now and you will be ready to get back on the water to catch some fish as soon as the ice goes out in the spring.

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