Winterize your boat – part 2

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Last week’s column started a good discussion on steps to take to winterize your boat. I received a few e-mails over the past week that actually helped me frame the items for this week that will continue preps for the winter. Specifically, based on those e-mails, I am going to offer some additional suggestions focusing on the propulsion system, including stern drive systems, outboard engines, oils and lubricants.

In all cases however, I talking with certified marine mechanics – they are the ultimate experts!

First off, regarding stern drive boats, meticulously inspecting, and then ensuring all the fittings are greased are an important part of the winterization process. Why, because a cracked fitting could potentially cause problems.


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Equally important, is the need to look at your shaft seals for damage. It is amazing the amount of wear and tear the boot can receive, especially if you are operating your boot in salt water. This may be a circumstance where hiring a certified marine mechanic is the best way to go.

The second item I want to discuss in the winterization process involves outboard engines. I did a quick look around a few neighborhoods, here in Driver where I live, and there were six individuals that had small boats alongside their homes with the outboards detached.

These were smaller John boats used for fishing.

In many ways preparing an outboard engine for the winter is like shipping an automobile overseas, something I have had the pleasure of doing twice while on active duty with the Coast Guard. Additionally, be careful how you store an outboard. Out at my mother-in-law’s cabin, located in Indiana lake country, we always make sure that the outboards, on her fishing/water ski boat are always stored in the upright position. By storing in the upright position you prevent a host of potential problems when you fire the engine up in the spring.

Completely flushing an outboard engine is the absolute key to the successful removal of all the crude and &uot;biologics&uot; that have built up. (I recently heard the term biologics referring to everything from dead fish to other sea &uot;life&uot;.) Remember as you flush to capture this water, for proper disposal, as it is illegal to dump it into the marine system on both state and federal waterways.

As you inspect the engine, look for seals that have cracked, advanced evidence of moisture, while also ensuring that all the cylinders get lubed. I found multiple sites on the web that walked you through the winterization of an outboard engine, there are also several good manuals that discuss this process. Again, as with the stern drive, strongly consider hiring a professional marine mechanic to do this. It is worth the money to have a professional do this work – and it saves on the hassle factor!

The final item I want to highlight regarding the winterization of your boat comes curiosity of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, watercraft division’s web site

(, which we spotlighted last week. The two key points the Ohio web site recommends which I can’t re-enforce strongly enough are these key points:

Replace the oil and oil filter on inboard and inboard outdrive engines. Be sure to dispose of the used oil at an authorized recycling center.

Change the lower unit gearcase lubricant on outboards and inboard/outdrive engines. Even a little water trapped in the gearcase can cause damage, especially if allowed to freeze.

The Ohio site further recommends all boaters do the following, &uot;Check the props for nicks. Even slight damage can hinder performance. Worse yet, blade damage can cause vibration, damaging other engine parts and the drive system. Some damaged props can be repaired by marine dealers for a fraction of the cost of a new one. &uot;

Until next week, boat safe, boat smart!!!