Before you get your vessel shrink wrapped, tarped, up on stands or some combination of the three, think ahead to what might happen when the snow falls. There are a few common boat winterizing mistakes that can lead to heartbreak, just when you think it’s time to unwrap and get that boat back in the water for spring.
Bad tarps and DIY shrink wrap. Now is not the time to dig deep into the garage, pulling out tarps that have seen better days. The best bet is a custom cover or having the boat shrink wrapped by a pro. That said, if you do use a tarp, make sure it is in good shape and protect your paint job with a blanket or sheet before tarping. Pad any sharp edges or protrusions too, like antenna mounts, or that nice new tarp will be looking (and acting!) ratty in no time at all.
Unstable boat stands. Your boat might look secure on its stands now, but what happens if there’s wind or heavy snow adding to the weight? One wrong move and the jack stands will fail, dropping your boat. Avoid this issue with jack stands set up as far out from the boat as possible, ensuring you’ve got at least three stands per side and more for any overhangs. Pay attention to where the stands are set up, too: how will the ground hold up through winter, and through the spring thaw? A sturdy plywood base and safety chains can go a long way in securing your beloved boat.
Relying on a space heater. At first glance, it might seem like a good idea: keep a space heater running in your boat and you won’t have to worry about freezing temperatures wreaking havoc. Unfortunately, the space heater itself can wreak more havoc than chilly air! This equipment is not meant to be left unattended. If you do use one, make sure your electrical system is properly set up and can handle the load, and ensure the space heater is safely positioned so as not to catch fire.
A note for those who are able to leave their boats in the water year-round — you still need to check on that vessel! Nobody wants to arrive to find a submerged boat. You should also keep an eye on potential winter storms and be prepared to pull your boat out as needed.