For most of us, we’ve put away our swim trunks and sun screen and have our winter gear ready for a cold winter. Like winterizing your home, you should have a check list for taking care of your pontoon boat for the winter to make sure that your investment is well protected and so you won’t run into any issues once the weather starts getting warmer. We’ve put together a list of items you should take of before putting your pontoon away.
Get The Boat Out of the Water
Seems obvious, but figuring out the easiest and safest way to get you boat out of water and into storage can be a challenge. For smaller and lighter boats like one or two crew sailboats, a boat trailer may be all that you need. Boat trailers are typically manufactured to the size and shape of your boat, and you likely already have one when you purchased the boat. Boat lifts may be a better option if you if you have a larger boat, such as a pontoon boat. You will have to know the measurements of your pontoon and how much your it weighs to determine the boat lift model that you would need. Gear unit manufacturers like Boat Lift World are great in that they offer boat lift kits, which are easy to install and can be used throughout the year.
Clean Inside & Outside
Once the interior of your pontoon boat is completely dry, thoroughly clean the floor and cushions of any dust, dirt and food crumbs. This will reduce the chances of any mold or mildew growing in the dark and damp interior of your boat and will make your pontoon less inviting for any rodents looking for a place to call home during the winter. You can leave a few mouse traps, poison and mothballs out to make sure of that, but be sure to clean them up in the spring so any children or pets are not the first ones to find them. You can also add a few drops of peppermint oil to a water spray bottle and spray the cracks and corners of the boat where rodents might make their nests. Take out any valuables or electronics like mp3 players or batteries that could be damaged from the cold winter weather. It may be good to also store items like furniture, ladders and other accessories in room temperature storage environments.
After taking your pontoon boat out of the water, check the exterior for any plants or mussels attached to your boat, as they will be much easier to remove now than in the spring. Hose your boat off and let it dry before putting a cover on. You can also apply a polish to the sides and underneath your pontoon boat to reduce the chances of any rusting and so your pontoon will look great when you unveil it in the spring.
Drain & Antifreeze
Once your boat is out of the water, you will likely need to drain all water and the coolant from your outboard or inboard engine and replace it with an antifreeze product that is propylene glycol based. Any lingering water in your motor engine will expand in a very small space, resulting in cracking and damage to your pontoon boat’s motor. Follow the manufacturers instructions for draining water and adding antifreeze.
Use The Right Cover
Putting a tarp over your pontoon boat is better than having no cover at all, but there are many pontoon boat covers designed specifically for handling extreme temperature changes and lasting throughout a harsh winter. A good cover should be able to fit your boat snugly and should have the ability to expand and contract slightly to avoid ripping from temperature changes. Also, be sure that you cover any cracks or holes in the cover to prevent rodents from calling your pontoon boat home for the winter. Mice love to make nests in seat cushions on pontoon boats, which typically results in damaged seat cushions and a nasty mess for you to clean up.
The biggest thing that you have to worry about if your boat will be left out in the open is a pooling effect on the cover. If water has the ability to collect on your cover, it can weigh down on the cover and damage it, or leak through to your pontoon boat. You want all moisture to slide right off, which is why many covers come with poles to prop the cover up. Throughout the winter, check to make sure there isn’t any pooling on your cover, and tend to it the best that you can if there is.
Another option that works just as well, if not better, than a pontoon cover is to shrink wrap the pontoon. That ensures that there is no space for water to pool or leak in, and you don’t have to worry about damage to your pontoon cover that you may use throughout the year. Shrink wrap kits can be purchased at marinas and online, but many pontoon boat owners choose to just have a professional do it for them.
If you plan on taking your pontoon boat out of the water, it is good for your battery to store it in a dry and close to room temperature environment like your basement or storage closet. Just make sure the battery is fully charged before you store it away. You can take it to a marina or sometimes an auto center for them to test the battery and charge it up fully if it needs to be charged.
This post was put together by Mike Hall, a boating enthusiast.