Safety: Five Midwinter Checkup Tips for Boat Owners

winterizing, maintenance, DIY project, off-season care

Don't just forget about your boat during the winter months. 

Storms have hammered the country big time this winter so many recreational boats are sleeping away the winter under a layer of ice and snow. If you store your boat outside and haven’t checked up on her lately, The folks at Boat Owners Association of The United States offers five tips for a midwinter checkup that apply nicely in Canada, too. They could help prevent an insurance claim, help keep you safe, and also make spring commissioning easier.


If your boat is stored in the water over the winter, never visit alone. Also, let the yard know you’re there. If the boat is stored on land, ensure the ladder (if required to board) is on a solid footing clear of ice, and have a friend hold it while you’re ascending/descending. Securely tie it off at the top.

winterizing, maintenance, DIY project, off-season care

Always visit the boat yard with at least one other person and inform the yard that you're there.


When aboard, remember the mantra “one hand for yourself” – keeping one hand securely attached to the boat to steady yourself and prevent a fall. Decks may be extremely slippery. Bring a soft broom to help you remove snow.


Tarps and covers put on months ago have had a chance to sag or loosen, potentially allowing moisture aboard. Keeping a tight lid is critical to a smooth spring commissioning and preventing water damage. In a worst-case scenario, mama raccoon can sneak under a loose cover and may be dining on your upholstery.

winterizing, maintenance, DIY project, off-season care

Ensure that your boat is tightly covered as to keep out vermin. 

Most insurance policies do not cover vermin damage. For those who DIY cover their boats, ice and snow need to shed easily and not add tremendous weight that can damage stanchions, windscreens or trailers.


Go under the winter cover and check enclosed spaces. Replace desiccants with fresh material. Keep lockers and compartments open to reduce mold. Ensure any scuppers and drains remain clear – if your tarp or cover does get damaged by storms, water needs a way out. Using an electric heater in winter can present a significant fire hazard.


If you notice that any jackstands have settled, call the yard or marina. Don’t attempt to move or adjust them yourself. Also ensure winter cover lines are not tied off to the jackstands as they could be pulled out from under the boat during high winds.

winterizing, maintenance, DIY project, off-season care

Don't attempt to fix settled jackstands alone. Inform the marina or boat yard.