We’ve already had some rain and a cold snap, and winter has officially just begun.
For many boaters, it means pulling their boat and trailer into the driveway and waiting for the first warm weather of spring.
If you plan to leave your boat and trailer outdoors, the Boat Owners Association of The United States has five tips to protect them from winter’s effects:
Ward off water: Keeping the boat and trailer rig in a slightly bow-up position will allow water to drain. Don’t forget to remove the drain plug and tie it to the ignition key, where you will find it in the spring. Don’t put the plug somewhere safe; will you remember that spot come spring? Make sure the boat’s cover is tight, and periodically check inside throughout the winter — just to make sure no water is accumulating and that no critters have moved in.
A little spray will do good: Spraying water-and-dirt displacing lubricants such as Boeshield T-9 on metal trailer roller assemblies, winch gears and electrical connections will keep moisture away and help avoid rust. Now might also be the time to take care of any rust spots on the metal trailer frame: Sand, prime and paint.
Prevent boat theft: If you’re storing your boat in the driveway, turn it around so the tongue faces the house. That will make it harder to steal the boat. And a lock on the trailer hitch improves the odds that a thief will look elsewhere.
Protect the trailer tires: In addition to being a theft deterrent, removing the tires and storing them in the garage will keep the weather from damaging them. With the tires off, this may also a good time to repack the bearings. Block the trailer’s frame and secure heavy plastic trash bags over the hubs and brakes to keep them dry. If tires won’t be removed, position the trailer so that the tires rest on a piece of plywood or plank to prevent dry rot.
Parking on grass can hasten a tire’s demise. Cover tires (again with plastic bags or covers) to keep the sun off and hubs and brakes dry. Avoid flat spots by periodically moving the trailer a few inches throughout the winter.
Don’t park under trees: Winds during winter storms can snap off tree limbs. Besides adding unsightly stains, falling leaves and needles can get inside, blocking transom drain holes, turning your boat into a bathtub.