Trailering Magazine Archives - Trailering Maintenance
In the North, the Time has Come (or is about to arrive)
It's a word never uttered with a smile. Not even a grin. But if it isn't done properly, it can ruin that first boat trip of the new year...and possibly all of them.
Putting a boat and trailer away for "a long winter's nap" as the fairy tale goes, requires time and thought and the ability to deal with something unexpected.
Here are ten observations about putting away your boat and trailer. They won't make you smile...until next year:
(1) Where to Park the Trailer (and boat)? Don't park the trailer under a tree thinking it will be protected from heavy snow or bright winter sunshine. Winter storms (and heavy snow) can break tree limbs and if the trailer is beneath-well, you may be cleaning up more than just broken branches. Parking the trailer on cement is always preferable to parking it on a lawn or dirt. Why? Keep reading. And park the trailer facing away from the street so it becomes difficult for potential thieves to pull up and take it away. Have a lock for the trailer hitch. BoatU.S. Insurance records show a boat on a trailer is more likely to be stolen than a boat in a slip.
(2) Trailer Tires--- If your trailer is stored outside on a lawn, take the time and remove the wheels. Store them inside if possible. If the tires must remain on the trailer, position the trailer so each tire rests on a piece of plywood (if the trailer is sitting on the lawn. This is done to avoid dry rot which can occur when tires remain in the same place over a long period of time. Cover each tire with a heavy plastic garbage bag to prevent exposure to the sun. Block each tire to keep the trailer from moving. If you remove the tires, block the hubs so they sit off the ground. Cover the hubs with thick plastic-like the garbage bag referred to earlier-and secure it tightly. This is done to protect both bearings and brakes from moisture.
(3) Fuel-Top off the fuel tanks so that water can't appear and corrode the fuel tank's interior. Add stabilizer if recommended by the boat's manufacturer.
(4) The Plug-While you want the drain plug attached while on the water, you don't want it attached during the winter. Rainwater and melting snow can't run out if the plug is attached. Some boat owners take the plug off the boat completely but many have told stories about not being able to find it when the season is about to begin. Others will attach it to the steering wheel or the throttle. It's your call. Just remove it when winterizing.
(5) Bimini? (not the island, the other one)-BoatU.S. Insurance files are filled with claims from Members who found bent aluminum support frames or torn canvas because a bimini or dodger was left open. Remove it and place a cover over your boat instead (just be sure to have supports situated so that melting snow and rain can run off).
(6) Access the Accessories-Unhook your fishfinder-GPS-VHF and bring them inside. Unhook the battery and bring it inside. Bring your boat registration inside.
(7) Expiration Inspection-Now is a good moment to take a look at the expiration date of your fire extinguisher, at the condition of bandages-expiration dates of aspirin and so on in your medicine kit and at the expiration dates of flares. If they are out of date-or about to be out of date now, then they'll be out of date next year when the Coast Guard or Marine Police come along side to do a safety inspection is overlooked. BoatU.S. Insurance claims include a number of live wells that went undrained on a boat that sat outside during a deep freeze. Fiberglass usually doesn't crack but the operative word here is "usually."
(9) Cabin To Do-If possible, remove all the cushions. If they must stay on board, turn them on their edges so air can circulate around both sides more freely. Hang a mildew or moisture collector bag inside and open all cabinet and locker doors.
(10) The Engine-If you have an outboard, first read the owners manual for winterizing instructions. Change the lower unit oil. If possible, bring the outboard inside and store it upright. If you have access to a garden hose, attach it to the water intake and run the engine. Now fog the carburetor (if applicable) so that the engine parts are coated with a protecting oil. If applicable, drain the engine block and the sea strainer. Inspect the petcocks that drain water from the engine to make certain there in no clogging.