Winterizing Your Boat

Many people might assume that colder states would have the most insurance claims for freeze damage, but according to GEICO | BoatUS Marine Insurance claims, Texas has the highest number of freeze-damage claims, over seven times more than Minnesota. Surprisingly, even Florida has more claims than Minnesota. Why is this the case? It’s likely because boaters in the colder northern states are aware of the need to winterize their boats. So, their freeze-related claims usually involve problems with how the boat was winterized or owners waiting too long. In the warmer southern states, there are more claims where boats weren’t winterized at all, or boaters relied on heaters to prevent freezing, but power outages caused issues. Let’s reduce freeze damage claims for our clients on Lake Lanier!


What is Winterizing?

Before the temperature drops below freezing, you should get your boat ready for the upcoming winter. Winterizing, in its simplest form, means removing any water from your boat or replacing it with the right type of antifreeze to shield against the coldest temperatures your boat might face. When freshwater freezes, it expands by about 9% and can exert tremendous force. This expansion can lead to problems like cracking an engine block, damaging fiberglass, splitting hoses, or ruining a refrigeration system in just one night.

Many people who skip winterizing or don’t do it properly only discover problems in the spring. They may notice brown foam coming from a crack in the engine block or a strange, chocolatey liquid on the dipstick. Fixing freeze damage is time-consuming and often requires replacing the entire engine. By the time the boat is ready to go, a big part of the boating season is gone. Winterizing most boats usually takes from an hour to a day. So, unless you’re boating in Hawaii, we recommend winterizing your boat if there’s a chance it might freeze, to reduce the risk of it being out of commission next season.


Here are a few easy ways to protect your boat against the cold weather.


Drain Water System

Empty all water tanks, hoses, and plumbing systems to prevent freezing and damage. Use compressed air to blow out the remaining water

Fuel System

Add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank to prevent fuel degradation. Run the engine for a few minutes to ensure the stabilized fuel circulates through the system

Flush the Cooling System

Flush the engine’s cooling system with antifreeze to prevent freezing and corrosion. Check the owner’s manual for specific instructions

Disconnect Batteries

Remove the boat’s batteries and store them in a cool, dry place. Charge them periodically during the winter to maintain their health

Remove Electronics

Remove sensitive electronics, like fishfinders, or GPS units, and store them indoors to prevent moisture damage

Consult the Manual

Always refer to your boat’s owner’s manual for manufacturer-specific winterization guidelines and recommendations.


By following these steps and being careful, you can make sure your boat stays in good shape and works safely when you’re ready to use it on Lake Lanier next year! Also, don’t forget about your dock too! Read our blog on how to keep your dock in shipshape condition!

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