Most Lake of the Ozarks boaters have winterized by this point in the year (though if you haven't, there's no time like the present!).
But whether you've winterized or not, here are some tips you might not have known about, from Scott “Sky” Smith, author of “Ultimate Boat Maintenance Projects” and a specialty insurance agent insuring boats, custom vehicles, drones and aircraft nationwide.
I went back to an outboard motor to eliminate a lot of the winterizing headaches. With an inboard engine you need to flush the cooling system and add anti-freeze to prevent any water from freezing and doing damage to the engine. With most outboards all you need to do is let the engine, well, “drip dry”, so to speak. When you pull the boat and the engine is in its run position, most of the water should drain out.
Additionally you need to drain and add anti-freeze to any of your water systems (head, fresh water, storage tanks, showers, etc.). Anything that can freeze will freeze and that makes a really big mess in the spring, so take care of it before you ever park the boat.
Now, when you store your boat (whatever the reason) you should always cover it to keep out the “riff raff” (bugs, dust, birds, small animals). But, just putting a tarp over it is not enough. Owners should make sure that they remove all the paper goods that can be damaged by moisture or mice. Don’t entice small rodents and bugs by leaving food or food scrap stored in the cabinets.
It’s also important to remove or rearrange the cushions, seat pads and flotation equipment. The best is to remove anything that can absorb moisture and smells and store the items in a secure dry location. Usually removing the cushion is not possible, so make sure that as much of the dirt and moisture is removed from the cushions and flotation equipment prior to covering the boat.
You will also want to put all the cushion or pads on their edges to reduce the amount of surface area that is in contact with another surface. To keep the cushions dry and free from mold and mildew you need to have as much airflow going around them as possible.
It's also very important to place some sort of moisture absorption packets or containers within the boat to reduce the moisture that will collect after the boat is stored.
Storing in a dry, climate control location is the best. But many owners don't have that option, so the next best thing is to cover the boat with a tarp or shrink-wrap. A tarp would probably be the second choice. A canvas cover or tarp will stop things from dropping into the boat and seal out the majority of the dirt and crud, but often they are not tight enough around the edges to prevent bugs, mice and moisture from entering. Additionally, canvas covers will leak if the moisture pools on the top surfaces. If you store the boat at an outside facility the wind can take any loose area of a tarp and start it flapping usually resulting in tears to the cover and damage to the boats surface.
A better system is to shrink wrap the boat with something like Dr. Shrink's shrink-wrap. www.dr-shrink.com. Dr. Shrink can provide a boat owner with a complete kit of materials and tools to shrink-wrap a boat of almost any size. Actually, they can provide the supplies to shrink-wrap almost anything you want.
The kits include material, tape, supports and vents. If needed, you can even get a propane powered heat gun to shrink the material. The shrink-wrap materials are waterproof and virtually tear proof. And if installed correctly should not be loose or susceptible to winds and flapping. The supports are used to keep the shrink-wrap from sagging and collection pools of moisture or snow.
Sounds simple enough, biggest thing, don’t forget to check on the boat once in a while. Many people park and forget the boat until the next season. Problem with that are often things happen over the winter (wind, water pooling, and mice) and if you can catch it and fix it early it will reduce the damage.