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Repairs and Upgrades to Make in the Fall and Winter

If you live in colder parts of the country, it is important to prepare your boat for the chilly weather. By doing so, you'll save money and get rid of the stress associated with a poorly maintained boat, especially during the fall and winter. Here are a few things you might want to consider.
 
Winterize your boat.
 
This is one of the first things you would want to prepare for the cold season. If you have an inboard engine, you should run it to warm it up and change the oil while it is warm. This allows the oil to drain more completely. Remove the oil filter and properly dispose of it. Fill up the engine with oil, check the level, and inspect the engine for leaks.
 
Then, flush the engine with non-toxic antifreeze using an intake hose connected to the water pump and running the engine shortly so that it circulates through. This is also a good time to check your transmission fluids and spark plugs. Remove the spark plugs and use a fogging oil to spray into each cylinder. Finally, wipe down the engine with a shop towel sprayed with some fogging oil.
 
For outboard engines, you should check the remaining fuel in the tank and treat it with the right amount of fuel stabilizer. Flush the engine with fresh water. Start the engine and let it run for a few minutes and spray a fogging solution into the air intakes. Then, remove the fuel line and allow the engine to run off remaining fuel until it stalls out. Lastly, grease the propeller shaft and threads with water-resistant grease and change the gear oil in the lower unit. Finish by lightly lubricating the exterior of the engine or polish with wax.
 
At an approved facility, pump out the holding tank and while pumping, add fresh water to the bowl and flush for a few times. Add a manufacturer-approved antifreeze and pump through hoses, holding tank, macerator, y-valve, and discharge hose.
 
Upgrade your lights.
 
If you have old cabin lights, this is a great time to upgrade them to LED fixtures. Use a red light option to preserve your night vision if you are to use the boat at night during the next boating season. Also, use white LED lights to improve your cockpit's brightness. For added aesthetics, you may choose to add some underwater lights as well. 
 
Replace old parts.
 
If you have an old, faulty horn, replace it with a new, functional one. Old gaskets can cause leaks in your ports and hatches, so make sure to change those as well. Change the snaps that have pulled out of the sides of the cabin or hull. Clean your engine compartment, upgrade your worn out cushions and put in order loose items in your lockers by using plastic organizers. 
 
Repaint it.
 
Give your boat a vibrant appearance and extend its lifespan by simply protecting it with new paint. Prepare the hull's surface so the paint will stick properly. In order to do this, you will need a layer of industrial solvent. Dip a sponge into the solvent and apply it to the boat hull surface. Let it sit for a few minutes.
 
Then, clean the hull by using a revolving power sander, which will strip away previous traces of paint from your boat hull. Make sure to make any necessary repairs to the hull before applying the paint. Apply epoxy glue to abrasions or holes and get rid of lumps. Once the hull is prepared, apply primer by using a roller. Then, sand the hull again. Apply another coat of primer, which creates a stronger foundation for your paint job.
 
Finally, paint your hull with marine paint and let it dry for several hours. Make sure you have a smooth, even paint job. Redoing your boat's name won't hurt either. 
 
More Upgrades
 
To keep your batteries charged, invest in a solar panel. In addition, if you have old cockpit speakers, try to upgrade them. To improve your boat's ride, install trim tabs.
 
This may be a down time for boating, but it doesn't mean you have to wait till the boating season before you take care of your vessel. Preparing your boat for the cold weather is indeed a worthwhile investment of time and money that will give you peace of mind when it's time to put it back into the water.