Worried for the Winter?

By Patrick Farrell October 7, 2010

Boat Safety

It is officially Fall, and you know what that means: it’s almost Winter. This season is predicted to see temperatures below average, and winter storms with significant snowfall. While you’re dreading the cold and all that comes with it, your boat is in need of your protection. By winterizing your boat, you are preventing potential damage or loss that would need to be taken up with your insurance provider. Don’t allow weather conditions to harm your investment! Even if you have experience winterizing your vessel, it is imperative that you consider all aspects of this process. Don’t fret, though, everything you need to know is right here.

Before you haul out, fill the fuel tanks and add both fungicide as well as stabilizer. Open taps and allow them to run dry from the fresh-water system, and be sure to dehydrate any portion or appliance on your boat that holds water (such as the refrigerator or air conditioner). Remove all personal and perishable items from the interior of your boat, including bedding, cushions and electronics and designate an on-shore storage space for these items: this is not only to ward off damage, but winter is a prime season for thieves in marinas.  Remove all canvas and sails. Use a cloth with vinegar and water, and polish all wood surfaces to decrease the chance of mildew.

Following your haul out, power wash the bottom of your boat and remove all debris and obstruction from each orifice. Make sure all bilge pumps and float switches are in good condition and that all seacocks are closed. Leaving them open could cause a hose to split, or a strainer to crack. Although you will not see the effects of this damage in January, once the weather warms, your boat will sink! Another threat: accumulated leaves and snow could clog the cockpit drains and weigh down the stern, enabling the entrance of water onboard, forcing the craft below sea level. Check electrical cords for corrosion and purchase a lubricant for moisture-displacement. Leave hatches and ports open just a crack to enable the inflow of air, as well as refrigerator doors and floorboards.

Conclude by covering the boat  with a sturdy, fastening tarp, lubricate all moving parts to discourage rusting, either have your sails professionally cleaned or hand-wash and store in a dry and cool place.  

Some tips for staying safe include: making regular trips to your vessel, posting an emergency phone number on one of the windows facing the dock, remembering to charge your batteries and remove them from the vessel and making sure the mast and engine vents are completely covered to prevent small animals from nesting.

By following these steps, you have minimized your chance of obstruction. Whether your boat remains in the water, is stored in the marina, or on a trailer, the above steps are absolutely necessary for the safety and longevity of your craft.

You might be wondering, “Should I discontinue my insurance plan during these non-usage months?” You would be surprised the number of insurance claims during the winter months: on average, 20% of the year’s total claims are during the season when practically no boat is in the water. Fire, theft, vandalism and flooding, the leading claims, are present each of the 365 days of the year. Throw into the mix that boaters can be held responsible for injuries on or around their boats, even if the injured is illegally present. Without liability coverage, damages/ medical bills are the responsibility of the boat owner. In most cases, an insurance company is less likely to resume coverage if you cancel your policy, and often you will have to wait a certain amount of time before being picked up again. In addition, if you have financed your boat, most lenders require that you possess year-round coverage. Consider all of the losses that could incur: by cancelling your insurance coverage, you are likely to lose more money than had you continued payments.

NBOA understands winterizing your boat can be a meticulous process. But taking the appropraite steps now will prevent a lot of heartache in the Spring. For more boating information and safety tips, or to receive a free boat insurance quote, visit or call 1-800-248-3512 to speak to an agent directly.

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