While the weather is still ideal for Florida boaters and winter boat storage is far out of mind, it is important to plan ahead and understand how to properly store your boat to ensure its sea (or lake) worthiness.
Since your boat will sitting unused for a few months of off-season in Florida, you should flush the oil system to prevent any corrosion of your engine caused by water or acid that may have corrupted the oil. If you are doing this yourself, be sure to also change the oil filter and drain the old oil before adding in new oil.
Applying fogging oil before storing your boat for the winter will help to protect the engine and its moving parts while left dormant.
While freezing isn’t a concern for most Florida boat owners, flushing your coolant system can help prolong the life of the system and reduce corrosion. To do this, drain the current coolant and flush with water. Add new antifreeze—and dilute per the manufacture’s instruction.
If the drive belts are stored in their usually set-up—taught, then they may break under extended period of non-use and stress. It is important to loosen or remove these belts prior to storage to prevent from having to replace them come spring.
Moving parts should be greased prior to storage to reduce the risk of getting stuck, rusted, corroded, or damaged from lack of use.
By doing so, you reduce the likelihood of your battery draining over the next few months. For extended storage, top off the battery with distilled water and before reconnecting, check the charge and charge it up if necessary.
If your gas tank is left empty during storage, condensation can build up inside of the tank, leading to corrosion. Fill it up and add a gasoline stabilizer come spring.
If you have an inboard powered boat, this tip is just for you. Some of these types of vessels have large exhaust port openings that leave your boat susceptible to little critters, even in an indoor storage lot. No fancy cover needed—feel free to make your own with duct tape.
You can take it to a marine detailer or DIY—whichever you choose, be sure to wash and wax the exterior and care for the interior of the boat. Boats are susceptible to mold and mildew growth during the winter storage months with cooler temperatures causing condensation, so remove electronics, cloth or leather seats, and anything else made from an organic material.
Even if you are opting for indoor storage, a boat cover will minimize dust and dirt buildup and reduce the effects of ant condensation that could occur.
The last tip is to review your boater’s insurance and make sure the current coverage levels you have are enough for the amount of time you spend on the boat and make adjustments when needed. Some carriers may offer discounts if you can provide proof of indoor boat storage as it shows an unlikely occurrence of theft or damage during the off season. Contact an independent insurance agent to discuss your boat insurance needs.