Can you feel it in the air? Winter’s just around the corner, and for most powerboat owners, that means winterizing their boat before freezing temperatures set in. Deciding on a boat storage option for your M3800, M4200, or C4000 is just the first step in preparing your Mystic powerboat for its winter hibernation.
Even if you use your boat all winter long, which many boaters do, some systems and items likely need attention as the colder season sets in. To ensure your luxury boat is ready to hit the water running come spring, here are our favorite tips for helping you manage the task.
Why Winter Prep For Your Mystic Powerboat Is a Must
Whether it’s a job you’ve done countless times or you’re new to the process, the sign of a successful winterizing for your powerboat is that it’s ready to launch the following spring. Proper winter care extends the life and guarantees the performance of your boat by:
- Protecting its engines.
- Preventing potable water or other systems from freezing and causing expensive loss.
- Ensuring exposed components don’t corrode.
Boaters who live or store craft in areas of the country with moderate climates, such as Florida, Georgia, and Texas don’t get a pass just because it’s warmer. According to marine insurers, these states file the highest number of freeze-related insurance claims! That’s because boaters in locations with milder weather sometimes choose to take a chance on their boat making it unscathed through the occasional cold snap.
Instead of taking a gamble with such a significant investment as a luxury powerboat, spend some time, effort, and money on the routine winter maintenance that’s needed to keep your center console or catamaran in top shape.
Storing Your Mystic Powerboat: Inside or Out?
If you don’t have indoor storage, winter boat storage can be tedious and expensive. But while just keeping your boat on the water or outdoors is tempting, it can be hugely problematic. For instance, if you leave the boat in the water over the colder months, it’s exposed to harsh winter conditions and has a greater possibility of sinking not to mention being more vulnerable to theft. The goal is to store your boat in a location that minimizes exposure to weather, wind, sunlight, and falling leaves.
Other options for storing your boat in winter are indoor storage, boat storage units, and dry stack storage, which range in availability, price, and convenience. Keeping your boat in an enclosed, climate-controlled facility is ideal, but we know that isn’t always workable or practical. If you must store outdoors, be sure to get a good quality cover. Many owners choose to professionally shrink-wrap their vessels, but most handle winter prep themselves.
Whichever route you choose, you’ll need to perform a few tasks before storing your powerboat.
Clean Your Machine
Just like a summer vacation house, you won’t be using anytime soon, your Mystic powerboat also needs to be tidied up pre-storage. Besides, a clean boat now reduces the work required when it’s time to take it out again.
Organize any items left on your deck and keep only the ones you’ll still be able to use next season. Then place them below the deck and make sure they’re dry and safely stored.
Wash the topsides, bottom, and deck, and apply a coat of wax on the topside, too. Clean all trim and hardware and check for and repair any blistering. Don’t forget to clean things like your windshield, and to use the right materials to clean everything at the helm and in the cockpit too.
Keep Covers Protected
If you fail to protect your covers, don’t be surprised if they’ve turned an unsightly green when you unpack your boat for spring! The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should never store your boat’s covers wet. If possible, take the covers to a laundry service that specializes in cleaning and drying them. If that’s not an option, keep them outdoors until they’re fully dry. Then store them in a safe and dry place where they aren’t exposed to water.
Flush the Engine
If you’ve ever stored a liquid in your home freezer, you know that liquids expand as they become solid. Proactive care for your boat’s engines means fewer headaches and repair bills. Flushing a boat engine reduces the corrosive effect of saltwater during the boating season and keeps the engine block from freezing and cracking during winter storage.
The trick to avoiding a dead engine come spring is to run something through the cooling system that can’t freeze—like antifreeze!
To prevent deposit buildup clogging internal water passages, Mercury recommends flushing the internal water passage of its 450R engines with fresh water after each use in salt, muddy, or polluted water. You should perform one last flush before placing your Mystic powerboat in winter storage.
- Keep the engine running during flushing so water can circulate through the water passages. IMPORTANT: Do not run the engine above idling when flushing.
- Place the outboard in either the (vertical) operating position or in a tilted position.
- Remove the propeller.
- Thread a water hose into the rear fitting.
- Partially open the water tap (no more than halfway max). Opening it all the way allows too high of a water pressure flow.
- Shift the outboard into neutral.
- Start the engine and flush the cooling system for at least 5 minutes, keeping the engine speed at idle.
- Stop the engine.
- Turn the water off and remove the hose.
- Reinstall the propeller. You might want to coat the propeller shaft with quality water-resistant grease before replacing it.
Prepare Fuel System
To avoid condensation build-up, top off your fuel tank. Be sure to change the fuel filter at the end of the season and consider installing a fuel stabilizer to reduce gum and varnish build-up and keep the fuel and entire fuel system clean during storage.
Oil Keeps Things Running Smoothly
Every winter storage checklist should include applying healthy doses of lubrication.
- Change the engine oil and oil filter. This should be done after the engine’s slightly warmed up to help flush out sediment and impurities with the discarded oil. Refill the engine with the manufacturer’s recommended oil.
- Drain and refill the engine’s gearcase or lower unit, as water impurities can freeze and expand in cold weather, causing damage. If the gear oil has a milky appearance, you could have a case of leaking seals. Inspect them and repair, if necessary.
- Lubricate the “little things” like fittings on the engine coupler, steering tilt tube, and engine trim mechanism. Walk around the entire boat and apply a light layer of moisture-displacing lubricant to components like latches, hinges, linkages, push-pull switches, and the like.
A Final Once-Over
Now’s the time to catch any minor problems before they manifest as major ones come spring.
- Visually inspect things like the mechanical steering and controls for signs of worn cables, corrosion, and broken cable insulation.
- Check fluid levels on hydraulic steering and replace as needed. Keep an eye out for leaks around fittings and seals.
- Inspect fuses, wiring connections, cooling hoses, and fuel lines.
- Check all engine belts and replace them if there’s excessive wear or cracking.
Remember, winter can be rough on your boat, no matter which part of the country you store it in. As the saying goes, rust never sleeps and it’s particularly active during colder, wetter months!
Tips & Tricks for Boating in Cold Weather
There are luxury powerboat owners who love picking up and going whenever the mood strikes, even if it’s during the coldest months of the year. The good news for these hardy souls is that boating in the wintertime is entirely possible—as long as the conditions are right.
Benefits of winter boating include:
- Peaceful cruising grounds with more room to maneuver.
- Off-season rates for moorage.
- More opportunities for brushing up on your night cruising skills.
- Satisfying your boating urge until warmer weather comes again.
- Keeping your boat in a usable condition so there’s less to do come summer.
Here are our top tips for winter boating.
- Keep fuel and water tanks topped up every chance you get, as fuel berth operating hours are typically reduced in the off-season, and water supplies could be turned off completely to protect pipes during cold snaps.
- Up the antifreeze, especially if a cold snap is in the forecast. If needed, consider adding some antifreeze through your raw water system as well.
- Keep batteries charged at all times, as starting a cold engine in frigid temperatures uses more power than it does in the summer.
- Stow cushions, linens, and bedding properly so they don’t get damp; a vacuum-sealed bag is your best bet. Prop fabric cushions on their sides or place them in slatted storage to maintain airflow around them.
- Keep decks ice-free by pouring buckets of salt water and then lightly scrubbing them.
- Avoid storing anything against the hull to prevent mildew from forming inside your accommodation level. If boxes, clothing, gear, sporting equipment, etc., get moisture trapped between them and the hull, mold, and mildew will develop.
- Plan on short trips only. Winter days have less sunlight and ensuring it’s still light when you return to the dock is safer and likely more enjoyable for your guests.
- Bring plenty of hot drinks and warm meals like coffee, tea, hot apple cider, hot chocolate, soup, and chili. There’s no such thing as too many tummy warmers when it’s cold outside!
- Dress for success by packing plenty of warm clothing. If you get wet, you’ll be glad you have something dry to change into. If it’s colder out on the water than you expected, you’ll be happy to have the extra layers. Bring spare hats, gloves, scarves, face masks, thick socks, and windbreakers. When possible, waterproof everything. And don’t forget to bring extra sunglasses as the glare from the winter sun can be blinding.
- Keep dry lifejackets close. They’re just as essential during winter runs as they are in the summer. Make sure all spare lifejackets are dry and ensure everyone on board has one that fits them.
- Invest in cozy cabin comforts like space heaters and oil-filled radiators. Some die-hard winter boaters add extra hull insulation, which can also help with climate control in the summer months. Others add higher-quality window coverings or cut-to-size insulating board or old foam camping mats. Cockpit tents or enclosures add a bit more protection from the elements and help reduce cabin condensation in your cabin. They’re also great for storing wet clothing, as they keep it away from living spaces.
If you live in an area where brackish water is common, you know it can freeze in cold water. Keep a boathook handy to break any ice at the marina. Lastly, double-check your insurance to make sure your boat’s insured year-round.
Is Your Mystic Powerboat Ready For Winter?
A boat that starts its winter holiday clean, flushed, and adequately covered will be much quicker to get ready in the spring. If you want to learn more about preparing your Mystic M3800 or M4200 center console or C4000 luxury catamaran for winter storage, or to get information on any of our high-performance boats, contact us online today to schedule a one-to-one meeting.