Winter isn’t the boater’s friend and it’s not because no one braves the winds of winter to sail, but because that winter can mar his boating in spring! Reason number 1 why winterizing your pontoon boat is super important.
When you winterize your pontoon boat properly, it not only prolongs the boat’s life but prepares you for the next boating season. There are usually professionals who offer services that can help you winterize for a fee, it’s a far easier option than a DIY but can be pricey.
So if you’re a pontoon boat owner looking for a less expensive way to winterize your boat, the tips shared here on how to winterize a pontoon boat are for you.
Whether you’re going to be storing your pontoon boat indoors or outdoors, the basics are the same and will be addressed here to help make the seemingly tedious process of winterizing easy for you. Be sure to save this so you can come back as often as you need.
Table of Contents
Tools Needed To Winterize A Pontoon Boat
For every task that needs to be done, there are required tools to ensure not just ease of carrying out the task but its success as well. On this list, you’ll find the tools needed to winterize your pontoon boat successfully.
Be sure to gather your tools and have them organized where you’ll be carrying out the winterizing of the pontoon boat even before you start. This will eliminate the need to run back and forth once you’ve started the task. Go through the list below and make sure you get familiar with it
- Boat Cover
- Boat Cover Support System (optional)
- Boat Surface Polish
- Cleaning agents such as soap
- Cleaning equipment such as brushes
- Fogging oil spray
- Fuel stabilizer
- Gear oil pump
- Marine gear oil
- Outboard motor flusher – also known as muffs
- Replacement fuel/water separator
- Spark plugs
- Torque wrench
- Vacuum cleaner
- Water hose
10 Easy Steps To Winterize A Pontoon Boat
Now that you have your toolbox, let’s get to work! The steps outlined below will serve as a guide for you and answer all your questions on how to winterize your pontoon boat. Here are the necessary steps required;
1. Read the owner’s manual for the boat
This is the first and non-negotiable step; it is in reading the winterizing section of the manual that you get to understand the peculiarities of your pontoon boat and if there are any special instructions you need to adhere to. Are there cleaning agents you have to avoid? Does your pontoon boat keep better on the ground or on a boat stand?
2. Connect the boat’s motor to a water source
Your pontoon boat’s engine is going to be running but you can’t do this without water, so you have to connect it to a water source and make sure that the water is flowing properly.
3. Gas tank check
At this point, fill your gas tank till it’s almost entirely full with a little space left in for expansion due to temperature changes. While filling the gas tank, be sure to add the stabilizer according to the required quantity needed (this can be done before or after filling).
Another thing to do is change whatever needs changing. You can use this time to change the separator.
4. Gear oil check
Here you get to change the gear oil by draining out that which was there beforehand, cleaning the seals, and pumping in the new gear oil. Making this a regular practice makes it less cumbersome for you when winterizing your pontoon boat.
5. Carburetor check
For the carburetor, you’re going to spray in fogging oil a little at a time while the motor is on. Do this and allow for a few seconds in order to prevent the motor from cutting off.
6. Spark Plugs & Sockets Check
You need your torque wrench for this part and have to keep the motor running. Remove the spark plugs using the torque wrench, apply fog oil into the spark plug holes, and on the socket points as well. If you need to, this is the time to replace the spark plugs with new ones and once you’re done, spray anti-corrosive spray on all unpainted areas.
7. Engine & Electronics Check
At this point, disconnect and remove the battery after fully charging it as well as any electronics that can be stored indoors from the pontoon boat.
8. Cleaning & Repairs
Clean the boat by first cleaning everything in it before proceeding to clean the exterior of the boat. This is a particularly important step you should never skip as dirt build-up over the window is a nightmare you do not want to experience.
Now is also the time to get any necessary repairs you need to be done so they don’t get worse over the winter. Be sure to also polish any surfaces that require polishing
9. Cover the boat
When everything is in order and your checklist is complete, the next thing to do is cover up your pontoon boat. You have to be sure, however, that the pontoon boat is completely dry from the cleaning before you cover it. This is to help prevent dampness.
Your pontoon boat cover should be durable, of good quality, and a good or perfect fit for your boat. You can also use shrink wrap and tarps. A boat cover is needed whether you’re storing the pontoon boat indoor or outdoor.
10. Secure the boat
This is the final step in how to winterize your pontoon boat. It is required for the security of your boat if you’re storing it outdoors and should be high on your priorities.
Other helpful tips:
- Empty your storage space of everything in it e.g. fishing equipment, boating equipment, etc.
- Always store the pontoon boat motor in an upright position
- Prevent rodent and insect infestation by using repellents like mothballs.
- Remove your tires if stored outdoors to prevent theft.
Mistakes To Avoid When Winterizing A Pontoon Boat
If there are things to do, there are definitely things to avoid, so here are some common mistakes to avoid when winterizing your pontoon boat.
1. Storing your pontoon boat indoors without using a boat cover
What this does is invite dust and debris as well as small rodents or birds that may be indoors to take over your pontoon boat; all of which can damage your boat’s upholstery and leave the place a mess by spring.
2. Carelessness with upholstery
Sometimes, we truly are our biggest enemy. You can protect your upholstery perfectly all winter round but it means nothing if you’re just going to step on it while getting into the boat and crack it all up. Remember that the winter temperatures freeze your upholstery and handle them with care.
3. Not covering the pontoon boat on time
Lateness is not always better than never in some cases and this is one of them. Waiting too long before you cover up your pontoon boat leaves your upholstery open to damage. It is also almost impossible to dry them out before covering at this point, so you’re sure to be combating mildew, mold, and every other child of dampness.
4. Using travel boat covers instead of those for winter storage
Although both are covers, the two are not the same. Travel boat covers are not designed to withstand the snow, wind, or water build-up that comes with winter storage. Thus, to use one for outdoor storage would be inviting disaster.
5. Using boat covers that don’t fit your pontoon boat
Avoid ‘one size fits all at all cost. To get the best out of your boat cover you have to invest in one that is the size and fit of your boat, preferably custom made if you have the funds to make it happen. An oversized boat cover will flap open and expose your boat to the elements while an undersized one will not even cover it completely, to begin with.
Winterizing your pontoon boat is non negotiable if you intend to have it up and running by the next boating season and though it can be a daunting experience on the first try, it is definitely worth it and a great experience to have personally.
See it not just as a way to save cost or get handier, but as a way to feel closer to your boat, getting to know it in and out even as you take all the steps I’ve made clear on how to winterize your pontoon boat.
Take note especially to always invest in a good boat cover, use one regardless of if you’re storing indoor or outdoor for the winter, and avoid the common mistakes made by most when winterizing.