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For boaters to whom the coming of cold weather means a seasonal reduction or hiatus in the activities they love, there are few less happy words than "winterize." But conversely, there is no better way to protect an investment or assure a trouble-free return to the water when the calendar swings back toward sunshine.

The following checklists are adapted from the maintenance manuals of Nauset Marine on Cape Cod, a part of the world where summer boating conditions are widely regarded as idyllic, and in a bad winter the Bay can freeze all the way to the horizon.

All lists end with the admonition: LEAVE YOUR BOAT CLEAN!


  • Gear Oil: change; double check sealing washers & replace if necessary
  • Prop: r&r as needed; regrease shaft
  • Teleflex: pull out tilt tube and grease
  • Grease Fittings: grease
  • Compression: note test result on storage card
  • Cylinders: check balance; pull plug wires
  • Fuel tank: use fog-mix; don't run dry; add stabilizer; tape caps; fill (but do not overfill) built-ins; drain six-gallon tanks if less than half full; don't fuel rusty tanks; double check gauge when filling tanks
  • Fresh water systems: add antifreeze or drain
  • Salt water systems: drain
  • Overall: spray engine with lubricant


  • All systems: check functions
  • Heads: empty porta-potty; drain water
  • AC/Generator: disconnect
  • Batteries: disconnect; fill/recharge if low; protect terminals
  • Electronics: remove and tag all modular instruments, stereo, speakers, power supplies
  • Hull: remove drain plugs; tie in plastic bag to helm
  • Valuables: remove for safe storage


  • Run on fresh water until warm; note running condition, abnormal noises
  • Change: oil; filter
  • Gauges: check for fuel and engine
  • Compression: note test result on storage card
  • Leaks: check oil, fuel, coolant
  • Rust: check exhaust manifold, risers, drive pulleys
  • Drain: block, exhaust manifold, risers, seawater pump, oil coolers, sea strainers
  • Antifreeze/Lube: Circulate 50/50 antifreeze mix while fogging engine with + 8 oz. rislone
    (FWC Engines: check antifreeze for age and corrosion protection, change every 2 years)
  • Exhaust pipes: cover
  • Stern drive: remove units
  • Fuel System: inspect fill hoses, tanks, vent hoses, supply lines, filters; top off with fuel and conditioner; don't overfill; don't fuel an unsafe system


  • Domestic Water: drain water tank and accum- ulator tank; bypass heater; run non-toxic anti- freeze through system until solid color appears at each faucet; dockside water pressure check
  • AC: disconnect inlet to pump and run through until solid color appears
  • Waste Systems: flush overboard discharge with saltwater; disconnect inlet hose at seacock or head, pump through one gallon 50/50 anti- freeze mix; same with saltwater holding tank, then pump (Lectra San: flush with freshwater, then pump 2 gallons straight antifreeze thru head; run non-toxic antifreeze thru freshwater system)
  • Cabin: mildew-proof
  • Haulout Inspection Reports: update
  • Underwater Running Gear: check struts, shafts, cutlass bearings; r&r damaged props
  • Electronics: remove and tag all modular instruments, stereo, speakers, power supplies
  • Valuables: remove for safe storage
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