Captain’s Test: Winterizing

Do you know how to properly winterize your boat?

The North Pole may be melting, but your marina will soon be on ice. Before you roast chestnuts and hibernate for the winter, you need to pay your boat some attention. Do you know how to help your boat survive the cold?

1. What’s a good indication that it’s time to winterize your boat?
A. Small icebergs have replaced all the other boats at the marina.
B. Air temperatures hover around the freezing mark.
C. Thanksgiving.
D. Icicles hanging from your boat’s faucets.

2. Before stabilizing your fuel, you should:
A. make sure the gas tank is full to avoid condensation.
B. run your tank or tanks as empty as possible.
C. leave the tanks half full.
D. stabilize yourself.


3. You’ve hauled your boat out of the water and there are barnacles and green slime all over the bottom. The easiest way to remove these is:
A. to let them dry until next spring when they can be chiseled off.
B. with a toothbrush.
C. by doing nothing. You put a new coat of bottom paint on this past spring, so there’s no need to clean the bottom.
D. by applying a commercial boat bottom cleaner and pressure washing the bottom.

4. To avoid mildew in the cabin, you should:
A. strip the cabin bare, including the cushions.
B. place a mildew-retardant chemical in the cabin.
C. leave doors and windows open for air circulation.
D. All of the above.

5. To protect the freshwater system during the cold winter months, you should:
A. flush boiling water through it twice a day.
B. add a cup of nontoxic antifreeze for each gallon of water in the tank.
C. drain the system, add nontoxic antifreeze, and then run the system until antifreeze comes out the faucets.
D. drain the system, then blow it out with compressed air.
E. C. or D


6. Your outboards are going to be stored in a heated garage. To prepare, you should:
A. ask your wife if it’s okay.
B. run the engines until they’re empty of fuel.
C. run the engines empty and fog them.
D. start the engines every week to keep them lubricated.

7. Having completed fogging your new four-stroke, what’s your next winterizing step?
A. Add antifreeze to the engine’s cooling system and store it in a tilted position.
B. Store your engine in an upright position so your block will drain.
C. Run the engine without a cooling supply to drain all the water.
D. None of the above.

8. To winterize your saltwater-cooled I/O engine, you should:
A. freeze it in your icebox.
B. stop the engine, open the engine’s water drains, close the drains, then fill them with antifreeze.
C. stop the engine and fill it with distilled water.
D. drain the engine block-no antifreeze is needed.


9. How do you winterize your boat’s batteries?
A. Do nothing; they don’t need to be winterized.
B. Leave them onboard and charge them every two weeks.
C. Turn on all electronics and appliances in your boat to keep the batteries warm.
D. Store them in a place that affords protection from freezing.

10. The best way to protect the boat from the harsh winter elements is to:
A. store the boat indoors.
B. shrink-wrap the entire boat.
C. tie a tarp over the cabin.
D. A. or B

11. Your I/O or inboard’s engine oil should be:
A. topped off to the full mark.
B. changed at the same time as the filter.
C. allowed to sit for the winter so that it drains down.
D. left alone – oil is multiseason certified.


12. Your boat’s zinc anodes appear to be about a third of their original size.
A. Add at least one more to the lower unit.
B. Replace them with stainless-steel anodes, which last longer.
C. This is a normal condition. Replace them in the spring.
D. Don’t change them. You have two more seasons before they are completely gone.

Bonus: The lower unit gear oil on your boat’s outboard should be: A. left alone.
B. drained now and refilled in spring.
C. drained and refilled now.
D. drained and refilled in 20 years.

1: b. 2: b. This is especially important in areas of the country using oxygenated gas. A fuel/water filter will take care of any condensation within the tank. 3: d. 4: d. 5: e. 6: c. Fogging oil coats the engine and prevents rust and corrosion during periods of storage. 7: b. 8: b. 9: d. 10: d. 11: b. 12: c. Bonus: c. The gear oil should be checked for water contamination during the winterization process.

9+ Gather your tools and wools, grab a hot toddy, and meet me in front of the fireplace, you’re ready for winter. 7-8 You can join me at the fireplace after you finish reading that winterization manual. 3-6 You’d better stick to tropical locales. 0-2 I hear there’s a boat in Siberia that needs some work.