Having a boat is an excellent thing but also a great responsibility. Besides high expenses for buying and maintaining your vessel, you should think about winterizing it appropriately during the coldest period of the year. Without this protection, you can face severe problems in spring.
Once you understand the necessary precautions you need to take care of, the next question is what is the expected cost to winterize a boat. In most cases, the price of preparing your boat for the cold season will depend on the boat type and your location. Plus, it will be different when hiring a professional or organizing a DIY project.
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What Winterizing a Boat Includes?
Once the temperature falls under 32 F (0 C), it is time for winterizing your boat to protect it. As you can guess, this process will be more costly when you have a larger vessel, especially a model with:
- Water system
- Water pump
- Inboard power plant
- Kitchen faucets
- Toilets faucets
- Water pipes
The whole process typically includes preparing:
The first thing to consider is whether you have:
- Inboard engine
- Outboard engine
- Sterndrive (inboard/outboard) engine
Storing the motor for the winter won’t vary much despite different designs, but the preparation complexity will vary. So, you should check the to-do list:
Discharge the water from the engine – The crucial thing is to get rid of water. Otherwise, the liquid left inside the engine will freeze and cause a block crack at low temperatures. Since replacing a motor typically costs at least $10,000, you can conclude why this step is crucial.
Change the oil in an engine – Always replace the oil you have used all season. It will cost you $50 to $100 if you do it yourself, depending on the engine size. The price will reach $200 to $300 when you have it professionally done.
Engine fogging – This process will protect the interior engine parts by coating them with light oil to prevent corrosion. Keep in mind that each manufacturer recommends the particular fogging aerosol brand and requires a specific application method.
If you have a boat with a pump, water holding tank, and lines for the bathroom and kitchen, it will be necessary to drain them. That way, you will prevent bursting the pipes and potential boat interior flooding. The whole job will cost you at least $200.
The next step is preventing moisture from accumulating in the fuel system by adding a fuel stabilizer to the engine fuel tank. This task will cost you $5 to $15 if you do it on your own, while a mechanic will charge about $250. The final price will depend on the engine number and size.
If you use your boat for fishing, you probably have a livewell. In that case, you should get rid of water from it and the pumps.
It will prevent freezing and cracking the pump casing and cost you nothing if you do it yourself. A professional will charge $70 and $120 per hour, depending on the boat type.
Clean the boat interior and exterior
It is recommended to clean the entire boat interior and exterior at least once a year. It is practical to sweep and mop the cabin floors, upper deck, and cockpit when winterizing the vessel. Plus, you should wash boat covers and Biminis.
The next step is to clean and polish the boat hull to preserve the gel coat. You can do this job on your own and pay only about $100 for cleaning preparations. Another option is to pay $10 to $50 per 1 foot (0.3 m) for professional cleaning.
Shrink-wrapping – You will need shrink-wrapping for a boat kept outside during the winter. The average price for this service is $8 to $18 per 1 foot (0.3 m).
Indoor storing – Keeping your boat inside is pricey, and you need to pay approximately $30 to $500 per month for it, depending on location. In most cases, this service will cost $1,500 to $2,500 per season.
Pickup and delivery – Transportation of the boat will cost you $125 to $200. Plus, you should pay an additional $5 per 1 mile (1.6 km) to travel and $8 per 1 foot (0.3 m) to haul.
Professional vs. DIY Boat Winterizing Costs
It is tricky to estimate the exact winterizing costs since they depend on numerous factors, like:
- The boat type and size
- The engine type, size, and number
- The professional you hire
- Your location
You will probably need to set aside approximately $300 to $700 for basic winterizing a boat under 40 feet (12 m). However, this price doesn’t include shrink-wrapping and storage.
Remember that hiring a mechanic to do the job will always cost you more than the DIY project. However, the final bill will differ, depending on the professionals you choose.
Winterizing the boat by a marina
Even though indoor heated storage is the best option to keep your boat safe during winter, you can also leave it in the water. In that case, having your vessel winterized by the same marina makes sense.
Most full-service marinas will charge winterizing $500, but the overall costs include shrink-wrapping and de-winterization once the temperatures increase in spring.
Winterizing the boat by a boat shop
Typically, you should pay about $300 and $400 to a shop to winterize your boat. However, you can be sure that these professionals will use top-quality equipment and provide a guarantee and insurance.
Winterizing the boat by a boat mechanic
Reliable, independent boat mechanics typically charge $150 for winterizing, plus material. Keep in mind that you also need to pay an additional $50 or $100 for their travel time.
DIY winterizing a boat
The DIY winterizing will save you some money and time. Since you need approximately an hour to finish this job, it will take less than driving the boat to the shop and back.
DIY wintering is a cheap solution that will cost you $70 to $150, but you should be skillful and know the winterizing procedure. Otherwise, you can cause damage to the engine, which will cost you a few thousand dollars.
Always complete a to-do list before starting the job not to miss a single step. If you are unsure what to do, you can watch one of the tutorials available on YouTube before beginning the process.
Before starting winterizing your boat, you need to purchase a few necessary winterizing supplies, including:
- Camco DIY boat winterizer will cost you about $40 to $60, but you can use it for years.
- A bottle of 10 fluid ounces (0.3 l) fuel stabilizer will cost less than $15.
- The average price of one can of 12 fluid ounces (0.35 l) fogging oil is approximately $5 to $15.
- You need to pay $7.5 to $8 for a 128 fluid ounces (3.8 l) marine antifreeze
- The filters price is about $40, but you should change them only when needed.
As I have already mentioned, a DIY winterizing will take only an hour, but you may need more time when doing it for the first time. There is no need to bother since this period will reduce with practice.
The cost of not winterizing
If you fail to winterize your boat on time and leave it unprotected during the winter, you will probably face expensive damages, including:
- Freezing water in the engine
- Rust in cylinders
- Mold development inside the boat
- Hull cracks and corrosion
Any of those things can cost you a lot. For instance, you will need to pay $2,000 to 6,000 for repair after forgetting the lubricant in the gear case. Replacing engine expenses will be even higher.
Ways to Save Money While Winterizing the Boat
As always, you can find a few ways to save some money when winterizing your boat, including:
Oil changing – Changing the oil while the engine is still warm. That way, removing old oil will be more effortless, plus the new oil can coat the engine inside quicker. As a result, you will prolong the boat’s motor longevity.
Remove the battery – Always disconnect the boat’s battery and store it appropriately. Otherwise, you will probably need to replace it in spring.
Marine antifreeze – A quality product will prevent fluids from freezing and protect the piping. Alternatively, you can buy less expensive but fully effective RV antifreeze concentrate.
Custom fabric cover – High-quality boat cover protects the boat hull from low temperatures. The best option is to find a custom cover or reusable tarp.
It is always better to do this job on your own. It will be cheaper, plus you will get some experience. Thanks to numerous tutorials, it is not a too complicated task nowadays.
It is crucial to winterize your boat since it is cheaper than repairs you will probably face after winter. Most owners wonder how much money they need to set aside for this work, and the vital part is to find a way to save some money.
The best option to cut expenses is to do the job yourself or hire an independent mechanic instead of costly professionals from a marina or boat shop.