How To Prepare Your Boat For Winter

Your boat is a major asset, so preparing it for the harsher winter conditions is something to be taken seriously.


Why Winterise Your Boat?

While there are usually plenty of great days to be had on the water around New Zealand even in the colder months, there are those who would rather wait until the weather warms up again before getting back out there. Autumn is the perfect time to carry out the important process of winterising your boat. These steps will ensure that when it comes to spring, you're back on the water with the minimum expense, stress and repair work:


There really is nothing worse than coming back to a yacht, launch or tinnie which is filthy or still needs repairs when all you want to do get under sail or put the fishing lines in the water. Check out Burnsco's full range of cleaners, sealers, waxes and polishes and make sure all your fibreglass or wooden finishes are treated. This is also the time to make sure all canvas covers are waterproofed and windows and hatches are checked and caulked. Make sure there's no blistering on fibreglass. If possible, store all canvas indoors and make sure it's completely dry before folding it away.


Clean and drain your bilge completely, inspect and lubricate all seacocks and secure hatches and ports. Clean out the refrigerator and freezer, and wedge the door open. An open tub of baking soda inside will help absorb odours. Check and clean all storage compartments and remove fabrics (such as cushions and curtains) so they can be stored in a warm, dry place. Check ventilators are working and use dehumidifying devices to stop the build-up of condensation and mould. Make sure all gas valves are turned off at the cylinder and check filaments on stoves for corrosion.


If your boat is going to stand idle on dry land until the weather improves it's important to add a fuel stabiliser and top diesel levels up to reduce the amount of air (and hence water vapour) sitting in the tank. Run petrol levels down to minimal levels because modern fuels can cause engine damage when they are stored. Now's not a bad time to check or replace your fuel filter too. Make sure your outboard motors are thoroughly flushed and you change the lubricant in the lower unit. Inboard and stern-drive boats with raw water cooling systems will also need their engines flushed to remove salt, corrosion and dirt. Fogging or rubbing rust-preventative oil over all exposed parts of the motor will also help prevent corrosion. Remove and inspect spark plugs.


Remove all electronic equipment and store in a warm, dry place. Clean all electrical connections and terminals and protect. Make sure you inspect and check all external outlets, such as the AC shore power socket.


If you're storing your boat on land, top batteries up before storing them in a cool, dry place. Make sure they're charged every month or so. If your boat is to remain in the water, it's worth keeping the battery on board to ensure the bilge pump is operational.

Water and wastewater

Empty your waste holding tank at an approved station and rinse thoroughly. Lubricate gaskets and seacocks and check hoses and hose clamps for signs of wear. Remember, before you start using your freshwater system again, you'll want to add water freshener or purifier tablets to the tank.

Spars, rigging and deck hardware

Wash all blocks, and disassemble and clean all rigging where possible (hot water and vinegar removes stubborn salt) before lubricating and re-assembling. Wash synthetic lines with a mild detergent. Wash all spars and inspect for corrosion, crazing or hairline cracks. Strip down, clean and lubricate all winches and windlasses, remove the rope drum to lubricate the clutches and shafts, and check fasteners on all deck hardware.

Roller reefing gear

Flush all open bearings with warm, fresh water and lubricate. Wash and wax extrusions. Don't leave any sails on the boat, store them indoors.

Remove and store

Anything stored on your boat while you're not using it regularly is simply bad news. As well as contributing to the build-up of dirt and moisture in storage areas (which isn't going to help the boat), they're also just inviting damage or theft. Things such as lifejackets, fenders, lines, fire extinguishers and flares, as well as all the fun stuff like skis, biscuits and tow-ropes are going to be much better off in a dry garage or spare room over the off-season. Of course, anything of value such as GPS/chart plotters, radar displays, radios and bracket-mounted electronics like fish-finders are also best kept safe indoors. And if you're storing your boat on its trailer, block up the axles and remove the tyres to prevent flat-spots and sidewall cracking.

The final check over

Whether you're taking your boat out of the water or leaving it on a mooring, now is the time to check her over from bow to stern to make sure any small problems don't snowball by the time you want to get back on the water. It's the little things that count. For example, steering cables, hydraulics, fuses & wiring, hose clamps and engine belts. Check your sacrificial zinc anodes and pay attention to the rubber boots on your outdrive and rigging tubes. Now it's time to get your vessel under a heavy duty cover and sheltered as best you can from the elements. Just make sure to keep an eye on it and check regularly to make sure the cover stays tightened down.

Do you have any questions?

Please, contact our friendly team on 0800 102041 or email: website@burnsco.co.nz

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We provide general information on products, not personal advice.  Always seek the help of a relevant tradesperson if you have a technical query.