Your boat is an investment, which means you want to keep it safe when it is out of the water for winter. The following four pointers can help you ensure your boat survives the cold season unscathed.
#1: Make sure everything is dry
The first step to successful winterization is ensuring the boat is dry. Moisture left in upholstery, on the deck of the boat, in hoses, or really in any part of the boat can freeze during winter. The expansion of this freezing moisture can cause major damage to your boat. Even in areas where freezing isn't an issue, moisture can still lead to mold, mildew, and bacterial growth, so you still need to make sure everything is dry.
#2: Remove any electronics
Navigation systems and other electronics should also be removed from the boat in most cases. Not only is it necessary to ensure that no weather damage occurs, but you also don't want any expensive electronics stolen off the boat. This is especially the case if you store it outdoors in a boatyard or on a trailer next to your home. The only exception is if you have private indoor storage where theft and winter damage won't be a concern.
#3: Winterize the motor
Your boat motor is going to be sitting idle for a few months, so it's vital that you take the proper steps to have it winterized. This means flushing water out of the ports in the motor, adding a fuel stabilizer, fogging the fuel lines to prevent evaporation, and lubricating the entire unit. Lubrication, cleaning, and inspections should also be done on any other mechanical components of your boat, such as bilge pumps. Failure to do so can result in major repairs or even replacement needs when you go to relaunch your boat next summer.
#4: Be careful with the tarp
A cover is a necessity when storing a boat outside for winter. An actual boat cover, designed to fit your boat snugly so that it doesn't blow off or collapse under snow, is the best option if you are storing the boat outside. You can use a tarp, but you will need to use a sheet or some sort of padding where it touches the boat. Tarps are rough, so they can scrape the finish off a boat if allowed to rub against it, which can happen due to winter winds. The other alternative is to invest in covered boat storage so that you don't have to worry about weather exposure.
Contact a boat storage facility for more help.