Florida boating is a year-round endeavor, but even Sunshine State captains can benefit from following a few cold-weather boat maintenance tips. After all, a year-long season demands even more attention to upkeep. Crafts north of the Mason-Dixon line are often stored away in lay-up or completely winterized; Florida boats are instead often exposed to the elements year-round. This demands some special attention.
Use this time of year as a catalyst for general upkeep. We’ve included some of the must-dos below, as well as what to do if that mercury does dip close to freezing. Boat maintenance tips for a Florida winter include:
Fuel system inspection
Inspect the fuel system and deal with any issues. Saltwater corrosion can do a number on these. Take a look at the vent fittings and replace if need be.
How are the propellers performing? If a cold front is about to come through and you’re taking a break from boating, turn your attention to the props. Whether they require a simple cleaning or a rehab, this is the time to get it done.
Prime the hull
The timing is great to handle waxing and compounding the hull and topsides. Basically, your goal during the winter season is to prime that craft so that when the weather is absolutely perfect, your boat is, too.
If a Florida miracle occurs and a freeze warning is issued, layer up and prepare to engage in that rare Florida boating occurrence: winterizing. Take any loose equipment off board and give the craft a thorough cleaning.
Consider adding a fuel stabilizer to the engine fuel; this will help prevent varnish from building up. An aerosol fog solution is simple to employ and protects the engine. Drain any water from the engine for obvious reasons. If it freezes and expands, your engine may bend under the strain.
Protect your vessel this winter
Whether you choose to winterize your boat yourself or have someone else do the honors, look at the expense as an opportunity to protect this investment that brings you so much joy. After the near-freezes are over and the sun returns to warm the Florida waters, your craft will be truly ship-shape. And you’ll no doubt have enjoyed plenty of hot chocolate during your brief sojourn from boating.