Pontoons in Winter: A Short Guide for Boaters

I’m gonna be honest with you – it’s super hard to find anything to write about boating in the dead of winter. We are all looking forward to better times – when the sun finally comes out and the weather heats up and the wind slows down so we can take our good ol’ toons for a ride again.

Right now, the only boating related activity I will be caught doing is online shopping – a new towable tube for the upcoming summer (as I suspect the old one is leaking air at the seams after 3 years of use), a mini fridge, and maybe another fishing rod holder. But there’s still at least three months until I’m able to actually use these things! Awful, right? My boat is currently docked at a nearby lake, all muffled up in her winter cover… Wait, have I ever talked abouthow to take care of your pontoon in winter?

Don’t end up like this guy, winterize your pontoon!

The answer is no, so I’m gonna go ahead and do it now – although we are already halfway into the cold season, you might be able to pick up some useful tips for winterizing your pontoon – be that now or next year. Here’s what you wanna do to prepare your pontoon for the winter:

Table of Contents

Clean It Thoroughly Inside and Out

This goes without saying, but whenever you’ve leaving your boat unsupervised for longer periods of time, you need to give it a good scrubbing before. Remove everything from the deck – your fishing tools, any flotation/safety devices and check the fridge/minibar for leftover food or drinks. The chance of rats nesting during the winter is rather low, but make sure you vacuum and get rid of any crumbs anyway – better safe than sorry. Also, make sure to dry the deck thoroughly before putting on the winter cover – as the tiniest amount of water will lead to mold formation.

For the outside of the boat, check for any plants or debris stuck to the pontoons. It’s best to get rid of those now and not leave it until spring – believe me, theywill be much harder to remove then. You also want to hose the exterior and letit dry completely before putting on the cover.

Winterize the Engine

You know the drill – when the engine is not in use for a long period of time, you have to make sure it’s completely safeguarded. Empty your pipes first and then drain the coolant from your angine and replace it with propylene glycol based antifreeze.

Get a Winter Cover

While any boat cover might do the trick, especially if you live somewhere not very cold,I recommend getting a winter ‘coat’ for your pontoon, just to make sure it’sall safe and snug in the cold season. I recommend high-density polyethylenecovers for the winter, and make sure it’s got sturdy buckles, especially if itgets extremely cold in your area. Weak buckles can easily snap under harshtemperature changes, and you don’t want to find your cover half blow away bythe wind.

This would be all you need to do to prepare your boat for the winter – again, if you have any other tips and tricks, feel free to add in the comments below.

Jerry Brookes

Hi I'm Jerry, founder of PontoonHelper.com. I've been pontooning for over 30 years believe it or not and have learned a thing or two about pontoons. As my passion project Pontoon Helper is aimed at educating any reader on all the different things you need to know before pontooning. I consider myself somewhat of an expert in this industry as it has become my life since retirement. Feel free to submit a comment or question on the website and I'll try to get back to you.

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Tyler Johnson

I’m glad that you mentioned that covering your boat in a simple boat cover might not be the best option. I don’t want my boat to be damaged at all by the winter, so I could see how it would be worth paying a bit more in order to protect it. I should consider getting a heavy-duty cover, or even a storage unit to put it in for the winter so I could ensure that it is in perfect condition when summer rolls around again.


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