How to maintain a fishing boat in winter

Many boaters never inspect their ships after their outboards have winterized, the electronics have been removed, and the shrink wrap is tight. It is not easy to maintain a fishing boat in winter, and regular inspection makes a lot of sense. Here are 4 winter boat maintenance tips that will make your spring start a lot easier.

1. Check your trailer. Leaves can collect under your trailer. They get wet, they are covered in snow and ice, and that moisture will rust roll and floor mounts. Rake them out before it’s too late.

2. Check your shrink wrap. Maintaining a fishing boat in winter can be as simple as checking that your cover is in good condition. Shrink wrap is difficult to pierce, but branches tossed around in strong winds can pierce a hole in the plastic that allows water to penetrate. A more common problem concerns tarpaulins that are not securely attached. They blow around in strong winds and rain and collapse under the weight of the snow. Check your coverage, mend any holes, and keep the water at bay.

3. Tire pressure. If you haven’t put your trailer on blocks, check your tire pressures. Two additional tips for maintaining winter boats. If you store your trailer for more than a month, inflate the tires to maximum pressure. Avoid long-term storage on soft surfaces such as grass or dirt. Trailer plus boat weight plus water-filled soil can equally cause problems. Be careful not to let your trailer sink in.

4th Take advantage of the winter months. There are a few things you can work on during the winter while your boat is in dry dock. Cleaning the bottom of the boat is time consuming. So if you can take advantage of the downtime in winter to scrape and wash your hull, all you have to do is sand and paint the floor when the weather is warm. If you can access the cockpit, drill holes for new electronics, route the converter cables, and replace any corroded components. It’s also a good time for new hubs.

The more you service a fishing boat in winter, the easier it is to splash around in spring. Finally the fun begins.

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a contributing writer for Covey Rise magazine, a contributing editor for Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Take Me Fishing program of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. Keer is a regular contributor to over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics including fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor activities. When not fishing, Keer and his family hunt highland birds over their three English setters. His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast, was published in January 2011. Visit him at or

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