When the colder weather arrives, many boaters will put the cover over their boat and forget about it until summer returns. But before you put your boat away for winter, consider carrying out some basic maintenance so that you can maximise your time on the water come summer. If you tend to fish right through the year, winter is as good a time as any to fix any issues you may have been putting off over summer.
Make a plan
First thing to do is make up a list of things that broke, came loose, stopped working or caused issues over the summer. Divide this list up into things that you can do yourself and things that will require professional attention. Include on this list anything to do with the boat and trailer. Often the best list will be made while you actually sit on the boat, so if you come to a mental blank spend a bit of time on the boat (even if it is in the driveway) to jog your memory.
Book in for a service
Next, call your service center and see what items on the list they can do for you and when they can do it. Service centers get fairly busy over summer so now is a good time to get your boat serviced to avoid the summer rush.
If you leave it until later chances are it will be summer before you even think about it again and you’ll probably have to wait a few weeks to get in for a service.
Once all of the major things are done you are almost ready for next season. All you have to do now is finish off all the jobs you can do yourself.
If you’re putting your boat into hibernation over winter you should remove your batteries and keep them in the shed.
Every couple of months put the charger on them and keep them topped up.
The biggest killer of batteries is being discharged or drained and being allowed to sit in a discharged condition for any period of time.
Come the beginning of the season, put the batteries back in and that’s one less thing that you’ll have to worry about.
Don’t forget about the trailer! Change the wheel bearings, ensuring the plug is not corroded and give them a squirt with a water displacing spray like CRC to hold back the corrosion. Fix any lights, replace worn or cracked rollers and basically give the trailer a bit of love so that it is ready to go when you are.
Another thing to check is flares and other safety gear. Make sure everything is dry and check the expiry dates of extinguishers and flares. While you are at it, punch the expiry dates into your mobile phone calendar and set an alert to notify you when their time is up. Also check if your life jackets are due for a service. While most manufacturers allow you to service your life jackets yourself, some do not so you may need to get this done professionally. Life jackets should be serviced once a year so if you can’t remember the last time you serviced yours, it’s best to do it now. It is not a bad idea to take all of your safety gear out of the boat over a winter lay up as well. Clean and repack and keep in a place close to your batteries so you don’t forget to put them back in the boat on the first trip out next season.
While you may have a long list of things that need your attention, boating provides so much enjoyment it makes all of the preventative and regular maintenance worthwhile. Putting so much time and effort into looking after your boat might seem tedious but remember, every time you go out you are putting your life and the lives of others at risk if things are not working correctly.
If enough people get into this program of winter upkeep and servicing, when you have an issue with your engine over summer, hopefully there will be less of a wait at the service center and you can get back on the water faster!