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Should You Winterize Your Boat in Beaufort?

In many parts of the country, winterizing your boat may take on a more serious note than here in the mild Beaufort, North Carolina area. But regardless of the temperatures involved, winterizing your boat is an important part of your overall boat maintenance plan.

Granted, we may not see many "shrink-wrapped" boats and there's not a whole lot of climate-controlled dry dockage in these parts. In fact, most of our boats remain in the water, lying calmly to anchor or alongside quiet docks. And many of us sail throughout the entire year and our boats never really get "put to bed" for the season, since there are regattas and fishing nearly all year long here on the North Carolina coast.

So maybe we should consider calling it a "seasonal maintenance" ritual or perhaps a "wellness" checkup. Whatever we call it, having a regular, seasonal system of checking things over just might save you hundreds of dollars and lots of effort down the road. And since we don't use our boats as much during this season, it's as good a time as any to drag ourselves through those dreaded chores so that when the sun is finally shining full strength again we can devote our time to what matters most to us - being out on the water!

This is a great time to put together a checklist for your boat. Resources such as Boat US and West Marine offer maintenance checklists and one can even be printed out from West Marine, but you should consider incorporating their list into one you create that focuses specifically on your boats' electronics, plumbing, engines and other systems.

This is also the perfect time to do a thorough cleaning inside as well as out. If you're touching virtually every surface and every part, you're much more likely to notice problems in the making.

Besides all the routine chores like engine maintenance, pumping and cleaning the bilge and the head, this is a good time to think about next season.  Most boat yards have easier schedules in winter than in spring.

If you're strictly a fair weather sailor and know you won't be doing any boating until spring, you should take your cushions home for some much needed airing or at least store them on their edges to increase air flow. Clean out the freezer and/or refrigerator, turn them off and leave them propped open.

If you are pulling your boat out of the water for the winter, this is an excellent time to power wash your boat, check for blisters on the keel and wax the hull. Check your rudders, props and shafts as well as all strainers and through hull fittings. Check the stuffing box, shaft and all seacocks for potential leaks.

If the time comes that you decide to sell your boat, the fact that you have maintained it with regular, seasonal service will add up to more dollars in your pocket. And if you never decide to sell your boat, those regular "wellness" checkups will add up to peace of mind while you're out on that water.


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