At the end of summer it’s important to take steps to ensure any boat is protected from sun, moisture and freezing temperatures while it’s sitting still. Hiring a professional to winterize and/or store your boat is the easy way to go, but for do-it-yourselfers we’ve put together a checklist of tasks to complete before putting a pontoon away for the season.
Dry-docking is advised in regions where snow and ice are likely, because ice can crack the hull of the boat, but below are recommendations for all regions on how to winterize a pontoon:
- Clean the boat inside and out. Apply mildew and rust protection, and ensure the boat is completely dry before it’s covered.
- Remove accessories, water equipment, and fishing equipment to prevent moisture build-up.
- Use insect/rodent repellent to prevent mice from chewing through the canvas cover.
- Prepare the engine by spraying fogging oil into the carburetor and into the spark plug holes.
- Fill the gas tank to at least the 3/4 mark.
- Change and replace oil filters.
- Remove the battery, fully charge it, and store it somewhere cool.
- Drain engine coolant and replace it with a non-toxic, propylene glycol-based antifreeze (ethylene glycol base will release toxins into the water).
- Those who boat year-round should use a good boat lift and a quality enclosure to protect against wind and rain.
How to Cover a Pontoon Boat for Winter
- Cover the boat whether it’s kept inside or outside. Shrink-wrap the boat before you cover it, to lock out moisture and keep the cover from sagging even when rain or snow accumulates. If your boat is stored outside, be sure the cover is supported enough to shed water in the worst conditions. This is an especially important part of the process for pontoon owners, because the protective fabric of a pontoon cover is spread over a wide area and must be able to support the weight of rain or snow that might accumulate into a pool and potentially damage the railings or other parts of the boat. If the pontoon cover collapses it can be worse than not having a cover, because the cover will trap moisture into the deck and furniture.
Protecting boats from the worst of winter weather helps insure a hassle-free launch in the spring. More importantly, keeping a pontoon in top condition is an essential part of protecting your investment, saving money in repair costs over time, and adding years to its life on the water.