6 Things Your Boat Needs This Fall

1. Freeze Protection

“At our latitude of 48 degrees north, every boat out there should have some level of freeze protection,” says James Barnhart, director of service for Hagadone Marine Center. “Anything that traps water needs to be emptied or treated including engine, exhaust, head and water ballast systems.”

What degree of cold will cause damage? “One or two overnights that dip below freezing is typically OK,” Barnhart says. “The damage occurs when it freezes and stays cold for 24-48 hours.”

“Fall service and freeze protection is a good job to leave to the pros,” says Eric O’Brien, business and service manager of The Resort Boat Shop. “The consequences for a bad job are high.”

What does his crew do to get a boat ready for winter storage? “We empty every boat completely of water,” O’Brien says. “We start by pulling the drain plug and draining everything, leaving the plug open. In areas such as water lines, sinks, hot water tanks and shower sumps, blowing dry with compressed air is the preferred method. We also use winterizing formulas for those areas that can’t be done with compressed air.”

“It’s very important to get all residual water out of a wood boat,” O’Brien says. “If not, mold starts to grow inside the wood and even work into the finish. It can be really problematic.”

For more information on fall service and freeze protection, visit our Services page. 

2. Indoor Storage

“These days we highly recommend indoor storage instead of shrink wrap,” Barnhart says. “With shrink wrapping, as the temperature goes up and down, you can get significant condensation inside the boat. Also, in wind, shrink wrap can really chafe the boat’s finish.”

Hagadone Boat Storage keeps boats dry, clean and secure, with 25 buildings providing secure indoor boat storage for 1,500 craft of every kind from all over the greater Inland Northwest, Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Western Montana. Indoor boat storage shelters the boat from sun, wind, rain, snow and dust, preserves the boat’s appearance, and adds to the boat’s life and resale value. The boat stays in excellent condition throughout winter or other storage periods, ready to go in the spring or whenever the owners decide to launch.

Hagadone Boat Storage is secured by an alarm system and protected by fire hydrants. Most significantly, along with the boat owner’s personal insurance protection comes the coverage that comes with Hagadone-insured buildings in case of force majeure circumstances.

“Many other storage options do not have this level of protection and coverage,” Barnhart says. “And remember, you should always insure your boat on a year-round basis, but know that many insurance companies will give you a discount for secure winter layup.”

Click here for more information about our indoor boat storage options

3. Professional Haul Out and Detailing

“With new customers, the first question I ask is do you want us to pick up the boat?” O’Brien says. “When I tell them they can schedule a pickup and we’ll do the rest, I often hear an audible sigh of relief. It makes things much simpler. We just need to have the trailer and a set of keys in the boat.”

“I often hear the question, should I detail in fall or spring?” Barnhart says. “If the boat is being stored indoors with us, I encourage people to order everything possible up front in the fall, so we can work through that detailing and other projects in December through February, and get their boat swiftly to them in the spring. Doing this can speed up your spring delivery by several weeks and get you boating that much sooner.”

Hagadone Marine Group schedules pickups seven days a week through the end of November, by water or by land, and can pick up boats from the Tri-Cities to Montana, and as far south as McCall.

They recommend that boat owners pump out the holding tank, and take all bottled or canned beverages off the boat. Those containers are likely to burst in dead of winter and then thaw out in the spring, potentially leaving a mess.

4. Fuel Treatment

“Another question we hear is: How much fuel do I need in my tank?” Barnhart says. “With most modern tanks and systems, you shouldn’t have to worry about topping off or emptying the tank.”

“We add a good fuel stabilizer when we do our fall service,” O’Brien says. “So don’t worry about filling up like the old days. Just leave us at least a quarter tank of fuel so we don’t run out while we have the boat.”

5. Preventative Maintenance

“There are two reasons to do your engine oil change and outdrive gear oil in the fall,” Barnhart says. “First, it’s a package deal, so you save some money. Second, we inspect the condition of that oil for water or shavings. If we discover those things now, we can repair the problem over the winter without any downtime. And keep in mind that marine engines run two or three times the price of a comparable car engine, so it’s important to keep them in top condition.”

“For example, we’ve seen an outdrive seal go bad, the water and oil separate, and water gets trapped and cracks the oil passage. We take a careful look for any sort of repairs or maintenance that should be done. Our philosophy is to help you take care of as much as possible, so when springtime comes, you’re ready to go. It’s all about preventative maintenance, which is so much better and cheaper than fixing the problem once it occurs.”

“Depending on the amount of hours in a summer on a boat, we are recommending a drive service every other year,” O’Brien says. “The outdrive needs to be pulled all the way off the boat, and the rubber bellows checked, along with engine alignment and gimbal bearing. In addition, impellers are a key component, and if not maintained can cause extreme damage and make a boat owner lose a lot of precious summer on the water.”

“Our goal at Hagadone Marine Group is to be the finest preventative maintenance shop possible, not just a break-and-fix shop. Boats are expensive assets, and as such they should be maintained to the high standards recommended by the manufacturers and engine makers.”

6. Winter Improvement Projects

“If there’s anything the customer is considering doing, such as canvas, carpeting, woodwork, bottom paint, drive train and propeller, gel coat repairs and upholstery, we always ask please let us know in the fall,” O’Brien says. “That way, we have the boat over the winter when the customer’s not using it. It’s the perfect time to do that stuff – much better than the middle of summer.”

Contact us if you have more questions, or to schedule your boat’s best fall service options.