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Winterizing your boat
By John Campbell
To many of us fall marks the beginning of getting that boat ready for the long cold winter. Soon the ice will be too thick to get the boat in the water and all of us who own boats need to get them winterized.
Winterization of a boat is not a complicated task, but you should take precautions to make sure all the things that might be in your boat that would freeze are stored in a warm place. Don’t forget items like the suntan lotion and the half-empty bottled water that ended up in your storage compartment.
These are the obvious things to remember, but many people forget food items and when winter is over they discover that items have exploded or you might have had a visitor from the rodent family that could not resist that Snickers bar and decided that it would be a good place to stay and rear their young.
Of course fogging your engine is necessary and I like to change my lower unit oil and put in a new set of spark plugs for the up coming year. I make sure that all my live wells are drained and that the bilge area is free from any water. To most of us that is the complete list of getting our boat ready for winter. Oh you might tarp the boat down and find that secluded spot in the backyard for the boat, but for most of us that is all there is to winterizing the boat.
Some words of caution before you put “old blue” away. Have you checked your batteries or your trailer? These are the two most over looked parts of the boat.
Often forgotten items to check before storing your boat is the condition of your trailer. The first place I start to check are the connections. Does the trailer rest on the hitch ball correctly? Can my safety chains cross and do they have any weak links? What condition are my electrical connections in? As I go along the frame of the trailer I also check to see that the boat is resting on the keel rollers or skid plates. I inspect the winch and strap to see if they are in need of repair. Finally, I spend a great deal of time on the tire and axle area. If my trailer is sitting outside all winter I want to make an inspection of the tires, check to see if they are weather checked or if they need inflation.
Probably the most important area to check and maintain is your bearings. So many anglers assume that if the trailer has grease in the bearing area they should be all right. Again, this is an area that is just as important as the hitch and the hookups. In fact, the leading causes of breakdowns are the bearings. If you have bearing buddies installed on your trailer you have an advantage. You can easily use a grease gun and check to see if the bearings are properly lubricated. If you don't have the spring-loaded device, it might be something that you should check into. If not, you have to remove the dust cover on your bearings and check the amount of grease on your bearings. A word of caution if you do this, is make sure that you get your dust covers back on properly and don't smash the bearings as you reattach the cover.
Don't forget to check out the lights on the trailer. Check brake lights, signal lights, brightness and don't forget when you arrive at the lake it might help if you unplug those lights. Most new trailers have the lights sealed, but they do get cracks in the housing and they can get a cold blast of water on a hot bulb.
Yet another area that is commonly overlooked when winterizing are the batteries. I know professional fisherman who carry extra batteries with them all the time and at the end of the year they are purchasing new batteries to replace ones that they either left in the boat or simply ones that did not hold their charge during the winter.
When you start to winterize your boat this fall keep these things in mind and don’t forget the Snickers bar or you might be replacing more than bearing and batteries. You might need a new interior for your boat.
Storage of your boat is critical for the long winter months and if you want more information on winter fishing contact me on the web at http://www.walleye.info/. Hope to hear from you soon!

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