Is your pontoon boat winter-ready? Have you taken the necessary steps to prepare your boat for the coming cold season? If you are a newbie watercraft owner, you might be surprised about winterizing your pontoon boat. But yes, you need to do it if you want to keep your vessel in top shape after the winter months.
Many boat owners dread the winter season for two reasons. The first reason is that they won’t be able to enjoy some fun under the sun on their watercraft and the other one is that they need to winterize their boat, which is a lot of work and can be costly as well.
But if you want to save money on your investment and private property, you can always do it by yourself. Here are some basic guidelines on how you can winterize your pontoon and prepare it for the next season.
Clean your Pontoon Boat
The first step in winterizing your pontoon boat is to clean its interior and exterior. This is the step that you should never skip out. You wouldn’t want to set your vessel off after winter with all the grime and barnacle buildup still on it. These things will not only produce mould and mildew but can also cause serious damage to your craft when left for a long time.
Additionally, make sure to remove any stray food particles as they can attract rodents and other pests to your boat. It is also a must to remove any unmounted accessories and equipment like flotation devices, fishing equipment, ladders, depth finders, external audio players or anything that uses batteries. Save yourself from possible theft and damaged accessories once winter is over.
Once you’ve removed all equipment and gears, it would be easier to give the seat cushions and floors a meticulous cleaning. You can use a mild polish to clean them then allow them to dry completely. Applying some polish will minimize the growth of mildew and mold.
You may also want to leave some traps or mouse poison inside your boat to keep rodents away. However, be sure to clean and get rid of them once spring arrives so that kids or pets won’t accidentally play with them.
If you are into non-toxic pest repellents, you can try mixing a few drops of peppermint oil with water and put the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on corners and cracks or anywhere that you think mice can get through or make a nest.
Of course, it’s not only the interior that you need to clean but also the exterior of your pontoon boat. Once your boat is on a dry dock, check for any mussels, barnacles, and algae. Get rid of them before covering and storing your pontoon boat. It is recommended to apply a polish beneath and on the sides of the hull to prevent corrosion.
Winterize the Engine and Gas Tank
It’s not only the exterior and interior of the boat that you need to worry about. You also need to ensure that your engine and fuel tank will be protected in the months that you’ll not be using them. Before you do anything to your engine, check for any specific instructions on your owner’s manual on how to properly prepare your engine for storage.
There’s a big chance that there will be some water in your pontoon boat’s engine. So, once you’ve taken your boat from the water, you must drain the coolant and water out of your inboard or outboard motor.
Leaving water in your engine block may cause them to expand in freezing temperature which can cause damage and cracks. You may replace your coolant with a propylene glycol-based antifreeze. An ethylene glycol base product can release toxins in the water.
You will also need to lubricate your engine. Drain the old engine oil and put in some fresh oil. Of course change the oil filters, and switch off all the valves and seal exhaust ports. You can spray fogging oil into the spark plug holes and carburetors/throttle body. If you don’t know how spraying fogging oil works, you can simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions on its package.
Other things you need to do is to remove or disconnect the battery but be sure to fully charge it before removing it. Don’t forget to fill the gas tank with at least 3/4 full.
Check if your fuel contains ethanol, if there is, protect the fuel with a fuel stabilizer. If you don’t this may cause buildup in the fuel pickup. A fuel stabilizer will help prevent phase separation so you can start up your engine without causing damage or problems even after being dormant for a few months.
Cover your Boat
Now it is time to cover your pontoon boat. While a tarp or anything that you can use to cover it is better than leaving it exposed and uncovered, there are many options out there that are designed for this specific purpose.
If you have an existing pontoon cover, that’s great news. However, be sure to check it thoroughly for any holes or cracks. If there are holes, patch them up before using the cover so that mice or other pests won’t be able to get in. You can also spray some pest repellent on the covers to keep rodents away from coming near your boat.
Another concern pontoon owners worry about is leaving the boat out in the open to collect water on the covers. As the cover collects more water, it can cause damage and has a tendency for water to leak down the pontoon boat. When this happens, your vessel may suffer from mold and mildew and other serious damage.
There are pontoon boat covers that are designed to handle hot and cold temperatures. So, they can withstand extreme temperature changes. Some covers also have poles so that moisture will slide off of them. Many owners prefer shrink wrapping their boats.
By doing this, you can guarantee that there is no room for water to pool and seep in. You can be sure that your pontoon boat will be safe and free from damage. Shrink wrap kits can be bought online and in some marinas. But you can also hire a professional service to shrink wrap your vessel for you.
When choosing a pontoon boat cover, it is best to find something that fits the boat snugly. It should also have the capability to contract and expand a little bit as the temperature changes. This will prevent your cover from ripping apart.
How to Choose A Good Pontoon Boat Cover
If you are on the lookout for a good boat cover, you need to do some research since not all pontoon boats are built the same way. The same is true for pontoon covers, so best to check out all your options first before deciding which one to get. To help you out, here are some tips on how you can find the right and high-quality cover.
Go for Something a Bit Bigger
Now, we don’t mean getting something overly bigger than your pontoon boat. A cover that is at least 3 or 4 inches bigger will do the trick. This is because it would be easier for you to cover your boat completely without being worried that it may be ripped out. Plus, this ensures that all parts of your boat will be protected and covered.
Stay Away From Bright Colors
You may be tempted to get a cover that is brightly coloured just because it’s your favourite shade or you probably just want to attract attention. However, this is not a good idea as they can stain your boat’s upholstery when they get wet and bleed out in colour. This defeats the purpose of protecting your boat.
Waterproof is Different from Water-Resistant
A lot of boat covers are water-resistant but remember that they are not waterproof. This means water can still pool on your cover when left for a longer period of time. So, be sure to read the label properly and confirm that what you have is water-resistant or waterproof. In case it’s water-resistant, be sure to check your boat from time to time to remove the water that has pooled on the cover.
Know Every Type of Pontoon Cover
There are pontoon covers designed to withstand extreme temperatures, while there are also some that can sit in the water for long periods and there are also covers designed for boats that are trailered. Be sure that it goes well with your boat’s design and if the cover is made for an open or closed bow.
However, some covers are designed for both types of pontoon boats. Knowing what your boat needs will help you decide which is the right cover for you.
Secure Your Boat
Now that your boat has undergone a thorough cleaning inside out and is fully covered, it is time to secure it. As mentioned earlier, you need to remove all unmounted accessories inside your boat not just to create an empty space inside for easier cleaning but also to prevent theft.
Most boat owners have had a bad experience of leaving valuable items inside their boat like electronic items. So, to avoid that keep all your accessories, electronics, and gear out of the boat.
If your boat will not be stored indoors, you need to secure them properly to your trailer. You can remove the tires and get a tongue lock for your trailer. Read the basic property coverage plans and see if it covers not just theft of the watercraft but also other major parts and equipment such as engines, and fuel tank.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you dewinterize a pontoon boat?
Once winter months are over, you need to de-winterize your pontoon boat. Before setting out your watercraft back to the water, you need to check the batteries, test your boat and marine electronics, change your fluids and engine oil, inspect fuel lines and fuel tanks, check your motor belts and engine if there are any damages, and lastly, inspect your gear and safety equipment.
Do pontoon boats need to be winterized?
Yes, you need to winterize your pontoon boats to make sure they won’t get damaged during the winter season.
How do you Summerize a pontoon boat?
There are several steps to take to summerize your pontoon boat. Check if there’s water in the oil, then flush and fog your boat’s engine. Drain your carburetors and turn off your battery switches. Next is the boat’s cushions, either cover or remove them from the boat. Be sure to cover all gauges and electronic screens and don’t forget to tilt down the engine.
How much does it cost to winterize a pontoon boat?
It will depend on how big your pontoon boat is. A smaller vessel will cost around $150 or less, while a bigger boat can cost about $500.
Can you leave your battery in your boat during winter?
Yes, there are some who do that, especially those who leave their pontoon in the water. However, be sure to disconnect your battery and connect it to your trickle charger. Keep your battery charged so that your bilge pump will still function.
Do you think you can now properly winterize your pontoon boat by yourself? Or would you still need to hire a professional to do it for you? Whatever you prefer, keep in mind that pontoon ownership is not that easy and it can be a lot of work, especially when winter storage season is coming near.
So, to summarize, apart from the regular preventive maintenance you also need to protect your pontoon during freezing temperatures. To do this, you would want to avoid internal corrosion and you can only do this by cleaning your boat inside. Use a protective coating, spray fogging oil in the spark plugs, leave the fuel tank about three-quarters capacity, and find a good cover that can contract slightly.