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Winterizing Your Boat at Woodard vs. Doing It Yourself

Posted on: July 19, 2022

Getting your boat ready for winter is an important part of boat ownership, no matter where you live, but especially here in Vermont. Winterizing your boat before storing it for the off-season is critical to preventing damage to your boat’s engine or plumbing system while it sits idle in below-freezing conditions. 

But should you hire someone (such as our team at Woodard Marine) to winterize your boat or should you try to do it yourself? Let’s review what winterization involves, what we do for our customers at Woodard, and things to be careful about if you decide to go it alone. 

What’s winterization?

Winterization prevents your boat from damage due to freezing temperatures, corrosion, mold, and mildew. Just as you would drain the pipes in a camp you were closing it up for the winter, all water needs to be drained from your boat’s engine, plumbing system, and bilge. Any water that sits in your boat over the winter will expand as it freezes and can potentially create cracks in your boat’s components. 

Complete winterization usually involves:

  • Draining the cooling water from the engine and running antifreeze through it
  • Draining water from the plumbing system and bilge, and running winterizing (non-toxic) antifreeze through them
  • Cleaning your boat’s hull, propeller, shaft, and other components
  • Stabilizing the fuel
  • Changing the oil and filters
  • Removing drainage plugs to prevent water from collecting
  • Removing any accessories from the boat (fire extinguishers, floatation devices, and electronics)
  • Covering and storing for the winter

The risks of DIY winterization

Some boat owners would rather take it upon themselves to winterize their boats and save the cost of paying someone else to do it — but you can end up spending more in the long run if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Improper winterization can damage your engine and require you to make repairs to your boat before you can get it back on the water next year. 

You need to be sure that you’ve drained all components of the engine so they don’t freeze and develop cracks over the winter. Some types of boats are more difficult to winterize than others because they have more complex systems. Wake boats, for example, have a more complicated winterization process because there are more components involved. 

If your boat has heaters, ballast pumps, or water tanks for a bathroom or shower, you need to ensure that all of those components are completely drained as well. 

It’s also very important to use the correct type of antifreeze. The antifreeze you use in your engine is poisonous and can’t be used to winterize your plumbing or bilge systems because it can taint your running water and the lake. Instead, you’ll need to use special winterizing antifreeze that’s non-toxic. 

How we winterize your boat at Woodard Marine

At Woodard, we double winterize every engine by first manually draining the engine, then running it only on antifreeze, and then draining the antifreeze. 

As part of our winterization services, we fully prepare your boat for storage. We’ll inspect your battery, stabilize the fuel system and injectors, and check the gear lube and transmission fluid. We’ll then remove your boat’s propeller and inspect the shaft for debris, regrease it, and reinstall it. 

Upon request, we’ll also complete an oil and filter change — it’s an optional but highly recommended part of winterization. 

Then, if you choose to leave your boat with Woodard, we’ll also shrink wrap your boat to protect it from the elements (and moisture) and safely store it for the winter. 


Winterization is a complicated but crucial process to protect your boat from the elements during the winter months. Improper winterization can cause cracks, broken components, corrosion, mold, and mildew — so it’s important to make sure it’s done correctly. While you can attempt to do it on your own, it’s much simpler and safer to hire someone else to complete the process for you. 

At Woodard Marine, we provide our customers with complete winterization services, shrink wrapping, and storage to keep their boats safe all winter long — and ready to set sail first thing when warm weather returns. Call (802) 265-3690 to schedule your winterization today! 

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