Fall is here in Buford, Georgia, which may be exciting if you’ve been anxiously waiting for campfire weather and an excuse to break out your favorite fuzzy sweater, but for most of us Lake Lanier boating enthusiasts, it’s a time of summertime sadness as we know we have just a mere few weeks left to enjoy our boats on the lake (if we’re lucky) before having to go through the daunting process of performing needed boat maintenance, winterizing our boats, and saying our goodbyes till next season.
Even in Georgia, winter weather can undoubtedly wreak havoc on a boat that is not fully prepared for its season of hibernation. While Lake Lanier is known for its beautiful summers and falls with gorgeous weather, it can be a cold and dangerous place for any boat that is ill-equipped or left to face the elements that come along with the winter months.
That is why for this blog post, we want to help our fellow Lake Lanier boaters be prepared for the upcoming winter by providing our tips for boat winterization in order to make sure all boats stay safe and ready to get back into action next Lake Lanier boating season.
Despite the common beliefs held by many boat owners, boat winterization involves much more than simply sloshing in some fuel stabilizer, draining the engine, and adding some antifreeze. While these are certainly important, there are other procedures to perform to your boat to ensure it is fully protected throughout the entire winter season so that it’s ready to go when you are once springtime rolls back around.
When it’s time to begin your boat’s winterization, follow this checklist compiled by the team at Freedom Boat Club to make sure everything goes smoothly and you don’t miss any important steps in the process! While not every item on this list may be a requirement, if you want to ensure your boat is in its best condition when you break it out next season ready to hit the water again, we highly recommend following them to a T as this is what is done with all our boats at Freedom Boat Club on Lake Lanier.
If you love boating on Lake Lanier, but you’re tired of keeping up with the maintenance of your boat or don’t want to buy your own, then reach out to Freedom Boat Club to become a member, and get access to all our lake boats and speed boats for next season!
The best place for your boat to be during the winter months is out of the lake, under a protective cover, and in a climate-controlled boat storage area. We know this can be an expensive option for some, but, if all else fails, our recommendation for home storage is to consider shrink-wrapping your boat. Short of these two options, you should ensure that your boat is well-covered with a tarp or another form of a sturdy cover so that it is not coming into direct contact with the elements.
The Hull Story
Thoroughly cleaning the boat hull is an overlooked step in the boat winterization process for one reason or another, but it is crucial! Barnacles and any other unwelcome guests tagging along on your boat hull should have their free-ride privileges revoked by scraping them away and then sanding away any residue. A good pressure wash is likely in order as well to remove dirt and dreaded sea scum from your boat’s exterior.
Outside of cleaning your boat hull, you should also give it a thorough inspection for stress cracks (common around the bow eye) and gel coat blisters. Stress cracks can indicate some serious structural damage that requires the attention of a professional, so if you stumble upon some, don’t put them off until next boating season, giving mother nature an opportunity to make them even worse.
Dealing with gel coat blisters involves puncturing, draining, drying and patching them with an epoxy-based filler made for this specific use. If your boat has an aluminum hull, bang the drum slowly with a rubber mallet to knock out blisters and dents.
The biggest impending dangers winter can bring about to your boat engine are freezing, corrosion, and fuel degradation. When performing maintenance to your boat engine, you should pull back the engine cover and fully inspect all wiring for anything that appears loose or frayed. Give the hoses an inspection as well for any that are deflated or show cracks. Also, check the tension of the belts and adjust them if necessary. Then you’re ready to get the engine cranked and warmed up to change out the oil and filter.
After doing an oil change, flush out your boat’s engine with fresh water. Keep the engine in idle while flushing, making sure the engine doesn’t overheat, until all the water begins to flush out clean. Be sure you drain the water completely out after getting the engine cleaned out as the last thing you want is the potential for ice to form inside. You are then ready to add your fuel stabilizer to prevent corrosion during your boat’s dormant months.
From all of us at Freedom Boat Club, we hope these tips help you to have a more simplified and successful time performing your boat’s maintenance and preparing your vessel for its winter hibernation. Don’t want to deal with boat maintenance? Join the club! No literally, there’s a club for that. Contact Freedom Boat Club today for all the joys of boating on Lake Lanier with none of the hassles!