Winter Boating Checklist: Cruising & Maintain - Hisedock

Winter Boating Checklist: Cruising & Maintain



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Getting on the water for a trip is usually fun, regardless of the seasons. The pleasure is even more when it is done during the winter season, which is why it is fundamental to undergo a basic winter boating checklist. Doing this brings about safety during and after a trip and if it is abided by appropriately, boating becomes more fun during this season. Thus, it is critical to scrutinize a few precautions before an adventure on a winter boat. 

As an illustration, going on a trip with warm extra clothes, gloves, plenty of warm beverage options and boat safety checks are steps to ensure the best trip. In this write-up, winter boating would be assessed. Also, what to check before winter boating to ensure safety, what to do on a winter boating trip, and how to internally and externally maintain boats in winter would be discussed.

A moving Winter Boat

2. What to Check Before Winter Boating to Ensure Safety

The primacy of boat safety cannot be overlooked. So, before embarking on a boat trip in winter, it is important to check specific things to stave off emergencies and ensure a safe trip. Here, these vital prerequisites would be talked about extensively. Mechanical preparations like charging batteries and filling gas tanks. Heating equipment, insulation, and general equipment checks would be discussed.

2.1 Mechanical Preparations

Here, mechanical preparations would be clarified to avoid any emergencies or problems during a trip. The following are modes to checklist a winter boat:

  • Add Antifreeze to Engine Coolant

One of the most vital things to do before venturing on any winter boat trip is to add antifreeze to the engine coolant. This is done to thwart the boat’s engine from freezing. Again, make sure it is fully topped up.

  • Charge Batteries

It is advisable to go on the trip with more than one battery and make sure the batteries are fully charged because Engines need more charge to start when it is cold. Weak batteries can easily freeze and it demolishes them.

Boat Battery
  • Fill The Gas Tank and Add an Ice – Preventing Stabiliser

When going on the trip, it is necessary to fill the gas tank and also add ice. This is done because it serves as a preventing stabilizer. If this is done, the mechanical preparations have been handled appropriately.

2.2 Heating Equipment

It is essential to move along with heating equipment to prevent unexpected freezing during the trip. The heating equipment can be engine-based or an additional heat source.

  • Engine-based Heating

Engine-based heating involves heating the engine naturally without any external source of heat. Yet, this method isn’t always safe, so it is advisable to always have an extra heat source during a trip.

  • Additional Heat Source

Additional heat sources include the following: Diesel furnace, Propane fireplace or heater, Diesel space heater, and extra electric space heater. All of these heat sources should be made available on a trip.

2.3 Insulate

Insulating something simply means separating a body or material from others, mostly by non-conductors to dissuade the transfer of electricity or heat.

  • Install Hull Insulation

To ensure a safe winter boat trip, it is basic to install hull insulation. This is done to provide adequate heat or prevent heat from evading the boat and to also provide warmth.

  • Window Coverings with Foam or Extra Insulation – When Moored or Anchored

Before going on the trip, it is important to create or buy authentic window coverings with foam or extra insulation. It should be used when moored or anchored.

  • Add a Cockpit Tent – Protect the Topside from The Element

It is important to equip the boat with a cockpit tent. This is done to protect the topside from the element. In addition to that, it creates a space to hang wet clothing and towels on the boat. 

2.4 Equipment Check

Before going on the boat trip, carrying out a thorough equipment check is important to prevent unexpected problems during the trip. The following are ways to carry out equipment checks on a boat:

  • First Aid Kit

Embarking on a winter boat trip without good first aid kits can be highly dangerous because unexpected injuries might be encountered. Hence, it is advisable to embark on the trip with a complete first aid kit.

Boat First Aid Kit
  • Buoyancy Aids

Buoyancy aids shouldn’t be left behind before embarking on a winter boat trip.

  • Equipment for Sweeping Ice from Decks

Since it is a boat trip during winter, it is expected that ice will fall on the decks. Therefore, it is advisable to keep on the boat, a piece of equipment that can be used to sweep ice from decks.

  • Ice-Breaker – Prevent Vessels Getting Ice in At Dock

Another important equipment check is an Ice breaker. Ice-breakers are highly useful to safeguard the boat in case the vessel gets iced in at the dock.

3. What to do on a Winter Boating Trip

In every winter boat trip, it is essential to checklist what to be done before and during the trip. Apart from heading out with the needed equipment, it is important to carry out basic things like observing the weather, checking local VHF weather channels, and so on. It is also meaningful to tell a few people about the route to be followed. The following are important things to do on a trip:

3.1 Keep Your Deck Ice Free

When embarking on a trip in a winter boat, one of the most important things to do is keep the deck ice-free. If this is done consistently, it prevents the boat from getting frozen and the boat can keep moving for a longer period. Failure to keep the boat deck ice-free results in more problems during the trip.

Whenever ice is discovered on the deck, it is advisable to use seawater and a solid brush to scrub ice from the deck. Likewise, the seawater can be used to prevent quick freezing. Hence, it is advisable to use seawater to liquefy ice on railings, lines, and hoses. The above process is one of the best ways of winterizing a boat and it has proven to be prolific over the years.

3.2 Watch for Ice on The Water

This procedure seems straightforward but it mandates extra awareness to preclude a disaster during the trip. When on water, the boat operator should check out for ice on the water. If this is done appropriately, it prolongs the warmth of the boat on the water. The following are extra tips on how to watch for ice on the water.

  • For most fiberglass boats, one inch of ice is safer.
  • Use Ice Pick or Ice Breaker If Necessary.
  • Aluminium Hulls – shouldn’t be taken through the ice.

If the above hints are taken into consideration and carried out appropriately, it guarantees a safe winter boat trip.

3.3 Keep an Eye on Gas, Water, and Battery Levels

Operating the boat during the trip demands extra alertness because it might be catastrophic if water, battery, or gas level are not properly checked. Accordingly, it is momentous to keep an eye on gas levels. Initially, it is needed to embark on the trip with enough extra gas to stave off unforeseen breakdowns. If the boat stops working on frozen water for a while, it effortlessly gets frozen before it is refueled. 

Similarly, the water level should be checked constantly to prevent an emergency. Battery levels should also be monitored constantly because battery breakdown can cause ample problems during the trip. The best way to bypass battery breakdown is by going on the trip with a fully charged battery and even an extra battery. If this is done appropriately, it assures a safe boat trip during winter.

3.4 Keep Track of the Weather

The most significant thing to do before embarking on a winter boat trip is to keep track of the weather appropriately. The weather should be checked before going on the trip. If the weather is too freezing cold, it is advisable to stay back and begin the trip when the weather is favorable. Weather forecast is highly useful for this purpose because it allows users to check the weather ahead of time.

Before going on the trip, it is crucial to check local VHF weather channels. This should be done to have a clue about the weather. Correspondingly, it is necessary to check local ocean lighthouses and buoy reports before leaving for the trip. In addition to this, before embarking on the trip, it is advisable to report to someone in the neighborhood about the trip and the route to follow.

boat in winter

4. How to Internally Maintain Boats in Winter When Stored

Hitherto, the internal maintenance of a winter boat would be elucidated. If the boat is stored after a trip during winter, there is certain internal maintenance to prevent the boat from freezing during the next trip. It is important to carry out these tips suitably to conserve the condition of the boat against another trip.

4.1 Drain Water from Engine – Move Down After Engine Operation

One of the best ways of maintaining boats after each use is by draining the water from the engine. Leaving water in the engine can cause more damage to the engine especially if it gets frozen. It doesn’t require any complex procedure, the water can be drained by running the engine for a few seconds, then moving to the down position. 

If this is done correctly, all the water in the engine has been removed successfully and it reduces the risk of the engine developing a fault in the future. This should be done immediately after a trip, leaving it for a while after a trip during winter might freeze the engine.

4.2 Turn off the water pump and clear lines to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting

Another way of internally maintaining boats in winter is by turning off water pumps and clear lines to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. Pipe freezing and bursting cannot be risked on a boat because they can cause extra damage to the boat. Hence, after a trip, it is crucial to always turn off the water pump. 

4.3 Tilt Outboard Engine Up and Out of Water

This simply means moving the part of the engine in water up and out of water. This is very significant because leaving it in the water at night gets it frozen for hours. So, it is better to avoid such, to prevent it from being stuck. Doing this regularly also prolongs the life of the engine and also maintains its strength.

No one relishes a damaged or frozen engine before using it. Thus, doing the right thing becomes a priority to prevent further damage to the engine. For instance, after a winter boating trip, the water is already freezing and if the outboard engine isn’t tilted up and out of the water, the engine gets frozen and unusable for the next trip.

winter boating

4.4 Charge Batteries

Having a charged battery should be the most important way to maintain a boat in winter. Normally, there should be more than one battery to prevent unexpected breakdowns during a trip. Each battery should be charged appropriately to maintain the battery and to even prolong the lifespan of the winter boat. 

Therefore, It is advisable to go on a trip with more than one battery. Also, make sure the batteries are fully charged because Engines need more charge to start when it is cold. Weak batteries can easily freeze and it demolishes them. If batteries are charged, it serves as an ideal way to maintain the boat.

4.5 Use an Engine Compartment Heater If It Drops Below Freezing Point

Engine compartment heaters are essential to maintain the boat internally. When it drops below freezing point, the engine compartment heater should be used to regulate the heat and cold. If it is not used, the cold can overwhelm the engine and leads to engine freeze and eventually engine damage. 

Engine compartment heaters are designed to keep the engine warm during a trip. Although, the cold can overpower the heat if the compartment heater isn’t turned on. Turning the compartment heater on regulates the temperature of the boat. 

5. How to Externally Maintain Boats in Winter When Stored

Hitherto, the internal procedures of maintaining a boat in winter have been explained. Now, the external procedures would be elucidated. There are extra things to do externally to maintain the boat and keep it safe for the next trip. The following are steps to preserve boats externally:

5.1 Select a Place to Store Your Boat

After every trip, the most important thing to do is find a place to store the boat. If the boat is stored in the right place, it keeps it in good condition for the next trip. For instance, if it is left in the open on a frozen dock, most parts of the boat get frozen and will not function properly on the next trip. Again, the boat can be stored under cover or stored out of the water. Some may choose to take it out of the water and make use of boat wrapping for winter technique. 

Furthermore, there is another way to store the boat, which is by using quality plastic docks for boats to store the boat. There are single-float, double-float, and long quad-floating docks to store boats and prevent them from freezing. These docks come with innumerable advantages that make them a top alternative for boat storage. Users have the liberty to select the size of decks, railings, levels, and other elements of various floating docks. Correspondingly, these docks come in dissimilar shapes to suit the boat and it is wholly up to the user to use the docks for anything.

Long Quad Floating Dock
Source: Hisea Docks.

Double Floating Dock
Source: Hisea Docks

5.2 Fitted Cover Over the Cockpit

Another procedure to externally maintain a boat during winter is via using a fitted cover over the cockpit. With this, it prevents cold or ice from getting into the cockpit and maintains its warmth. 

The cockpit is the compartment in a boat in which the driver sits, and from where the boat is controlled. If a fitted cover isn’t used, it might lead to complications in operating the boat. Again, since it is the driver’s compartment, there shouldn’t be much cold in this area. 

5.3 Ventilating & Dehumidifying Your Boat

Before and after a boat trip, it is necessary to ventilate and dehumidify the boat. Ventilation implies allowing natural air into the boat and this is done to keep it in a natural state and prevent over-freezing. On the other hand, dehumidifying a boat means to mitigate the humidity of the boat or to diminish the moisture in the boat. 

The sole reason for doing this is to prevent disproportionate cold in the boat and to conserve it for the next trip. If humidity and poor ventilation are permitted, it freezes the boat in no time and will need a complex solution to keep the boat warm for another trip.

5.4 Close All Thru-Hull Valves

After storing the craft precisely, utilizing a fitted cover over the cockpit, and ventilating and dehumidifying the boat, it is vital to also close all thru-hull valves of the boat. 

This is done to prevent water, ice, or excessive cold from entering the hull. If this isn’t done appropriately, it can effortlessly damage the hull and this will cause a bigger problem when operating the boat.

6. Learn About Hisea Docks Floating Docks to Winterise a Boat

Hisea Docks is one the most reliable manufacturer and supplier of water dock materials and these docks are the best for winterizing a boat during winter. These docks come in different shapes, heights, colors, and sizes which makes them fit into any function. The following are tips to consider when choosing Hisea Docks:

6.1 Get a Strong Dock That Can Endure All Weather Conditions

One of the most important things to do when selecting a dock from Hisea Dock is to choose a strong dock that can tolerate all weather conditions. Hisea Docks manufacture powerful docks, so choosing the one suitable for all weather conditions is the priority.

6.2 More Profitable and Cost-Effective

When Hisea Docks is preferred, it delivers more profitable transactions and every purchase is cost-effective. The company assures profit and extra gain when docks are paid for.

6.3 Provide Versatile Waterfront Solutions for Winterising a Boat

Hisea Docks provide versatile waterfront solutions for winterizing a boat because the docks are suitable for winter and can also be used during other seasons.

Hisea Dock Versatile Waterfront Dock
Source: Hisea Docks


In a nutshell, winter boating can be actualized by adhering to the checklist. What to check before winter boating to ensure safety, what to do on a winter boating trip, and how to internally and externally maintain boats in winter have been examined. Plus, choosing good dock solutions serves as an avenue for boat owners to embark on boat trips and have somewhere to store the boat on returning from the trip. 

If these docks are used, the boat owners relish the durability and quality of these docks. Before now, people tended to avoid boat trips during winter because of the excessive cold. However, if the boating checklists are adhered to, it makes every boat trip easy. Hisea Dock delivers superb services on floating docks to ensure efficiency and reliability on every purchase. To get more information on these boat docks, buyers can visit the official Hisea Dock website and get a quote immediately. 

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