Winterizing Your Bass Boat
Do I need to tell you why winterizing your bass boat is a good idea?
Oh, you already know. Well, I am going to tell you why anyway.
Imagine this. It’s early spring on a nice Saturday morning.
One of your buddies calls you and says he caught a big bass the day before.
He says the bass are on the bed now.
You put a quick charge on the boat battery, hook to your bass boat sitting uncovered in your back yard and head to the lake.
On the way to the lake one of the trailer tires goes flat and you have to stop and change it.
Lucky for you the spare is still good. You get to the lake and put the boat in the water.
You can already feel the pull of the trophy bass waiting for you.
As you sit down in the seat to crank the motor, you hear a commotion across the cove and see that somebody has hung a big one.
With racing pulse you turn the key and....nothing.
(Winterizing my boat?...I don’t have time right now!...oops!)
You try everything you can think of but nothing cranks that motor.
You are floating in the water, what now?
You go to the trolling motor.
It does not work because the alligator clips are corroded.
You don’t carry a knife with you to clean the clips.
You find a coke can, along with a dead funky fish, in one of the live wells.
You take the pop top off and clean the clips with it.
Now the trolling motor works.
Now you are hungry and disgusted so you troll back to the ramp, load the boat up and go home.
Winterizing your bass boat will prevent this from happening to you!
But here is something to think about.
If you live in the northern part of the country this is pretty much a no brainer.
If you live in the southern part of the country then you probably have another option.
A person fishing in the South may not even put their boat up for the winter.
So instead of winterizing, just take your boat and motor into the local shop for a tune up.
You can do that on a cold rainy day.
Drop your boat off and then go home and reline your reels.
Or go after Christmas shopping with your wife.
But if you live in the North, let’s try winterizing your boat, motor and trailer to keep them running.
Always follow the owner’s manual. Unlike most men, I actually like to follow instructions.
Ok, let’s get started...
Clean the Boat
1.Clean your boat out. Take out all your fishing gear.
Take out all the coke cans and fishing line you have been tripping over.
Take out the depth finder, fish finder and GPS. Take out the fire extinguisher and the batteries.
Charge the batteries about once a month. Take the dead fish out of the live well.
2.Use an approved cleaning solution to clean the seats and carpet on the boat decks.
It would be a good idea to store the seats inside a clean dry place so they do not collect mold and mildew over the winter.
Wash out the live wells please.
Clean bilges with hot soapy water. If any water remains in the bilge, add antifreeze to prevent freezing.
Wash out cup holders and storage boxes. Mop the floor of the boat with approved cleaner.
3.Take the drain plug out. Take the water hose and spray everything down inside the boat.
Get out of the boat and raise the front of the trailer up to drain the water out.
Continue to spray the inside of the boat to wash all the funk out.
4.Get a 5 gallon bucket and a good scrub brush.
Use an approved cleaner and scrub all the black and green stuff off the outside of the boat.
Clean all the light lamps and replace the bulbs that have gone out.
5.Dry the boat hull and scan the surface for stress cracks and blisters.
Now is the time to repair any damages inside or out.
Winterizing your bass boat takes some work but it is worth all the time you put into it.
Maintain the Engine
Most boat shops sell winterizing kits for the engine.
1.Take the engine cover off and check for anything that looks damaged or worn. Hoses, clamps and filters may need to be adjusted or replaced.
2.Flush the engine with fresh water. Do this with a flushing attachment and a water hose. A 55 gallon drum of water also works.
3.The engine is running. Now disconnect the fuel lines.
Now it gets a little tricky.
I want you to fog the carburetor before the fuel runs out so the fog oil will get down into the fuel mechanisms.
As the engine is sputtering, fog the carburetors again to make sure all the moving parts get a good coat.
4.Drain all the water from the engine. No water in the engine! It could freeze during cold weather and cause cracks and other damage.
Crank the engine for a couple of seconds and open drain plugs if you have any to completely drain all water.
5.Remove the spark plugs and fog the cylinder walls.
Spray the visible linkage and power head with oil recommended in the owner’s manual.
6.Drain the lower unit gear oil.
If it is milky then you have a leaky seal and you need to have it repaired before spring.
If all is well, refill the gear oil.
7.The fuel tanks still have fuel because you disconnected the fuel line, I think.
Make sure the fuel line is closed. Replace the fuel filter.
Fill the fuel tanks and add fuel stabilizer.
A full tank will prevent moisture in the fuel and trouble in the spring.
Fuel stabilizer will keep the fuel usable until spring.
8.Take the prop off, check the shaft for wear and lubricate it. Check the prop for cracks.
Maintain the Trailer
1.Replace worn or broken electrical connections, bulbs and lamps.
Make sure the brake lights and signal lights and emergency flashers work.
2.Sand and repaint rusty places on the frame. Repair damaged parts of the frame.
Check for damaged coupling, connectors and safety chains.
3.Check tires for wear, cracks and proper inflation. Check wheel bearings and replace if needed.
4.Check the tag and bracket for wear and damage and to make sure it is up to date.
Winterizing your boat includes using a good cover.
You need a good boat cover if you store your boat inside a building, under a shed or out in the open.
For sure a cover will keep rain and snow out of the boat but it will also keep bird droppings and critters out.
But here is something to think about.
If the cover does not allow some air flow, condensation will form on the bottom side of the cover.
This will cause mold and mildew.
You will be an unhappy boat owner in the spring when you pull the cover off your bass boat.
A frame of some type should be placed under the cover to allow good air flow and to prevent rain or snow from piling up and damaging the cover.
If you are a first time boat owner read the owner's manual.
If you are not comfortable winterizing your boat, then pay a professional or a boat shop to winterize and store your boat.
Shop around and find the best price. Most shops will charge between $100 and $200.
The important thing is to get it done.
Now go buy a few fishing lures while your wife is Christmas shopping.
And don’t forget to clean all your gear and replace your lines.
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