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How to winterize and decommission your Sailfish like a pro

by Sailfish Boats 3 Nov 2021 19:32 UTC
Winterize and decommission your sailfish like a pro © Sailfish Boats

Lots of Sailfish owners go through the process of putting their boat up for a winter's nap. Denny Warren, Sales and Transportation Manager for Sailfish Boats, knows a thing or two about decommissioning - because he has seen a thing or two over the years.

"When it comes to powering down and preparing for the next season, there are specific tasks that Sailfish owners need to follow," he notes. Outboard fishing vessels have unique needs, and Sailfish is no exception.

In addition, Denny adds some advice and a caveat: "If you don't feel confident with do-it-yourself jobs, leave the process to a professional marine boat mechanic at your local dealer."

When starting the process, Denny recommends first adding a good stabilizer to the fuel tank. "A fuel stabilizer will remove water, prevent corrosion and clean the entire system and the fuel injectors. It will protect your engine from gumming up and prevent varnish, rust, and corrosion. After adding the correct amount of fuel stabilizer to your fuel system, you will need to attach a set of earmuffs to the lower unit to supply the outboard motor with fresh water to run the motors to get the fuel stabilizer from the fuel tank and into the outboard's fuel system. I highly recommend our owners hire a marine mechanic to fog the outboard motor(s) and to check the lower units for water in the gear case. In extremely cold areas, the water intrusion in the lower units can expand enough to split them open."

After you have completed the fuel stabilizer and outboard process, you can move on to other tasks. Below is an easy checklist to follow this season:

Freshwater system and tanks

Find a supply store that sales RV winterizing water antifreeze to add to your freshwater tank. Follow the instructions on the bottle to how much to add to your water tank. Be sure to run your freshwater washdown pump long enough to push out the clean water and run it until you see the RV water antifreeze coming out of all your freshwater faucets and washdowns.

Raw water washdown system

Open all livewell drain valves; open the seacock to the position used to fill up baitwells. Locate the raw water washdown pump in the bilge. Refer to the online owner manuals for location specifics. Once located, remove the clear strainer cup to allow the raw water to backflow into the bilge area.

In-floor fish boxes

Mix SuperTech RV and Marine Antifreeze and water (follow instructions on bottle) and pour into fish box(es). Turn on the fish box pump-out switch to eliminate the solution completely overboard. This will winterize the hoses and the pump-out pump sufficiently.

Optional freshwater flushing head

Empty the holding tank at a pump-out station. Next, flush the head several times until the freshwater tank has cycled through the head and over into the holding tank (you will see the antifreeze mixture in the toilet cycle through).

Drain plug

Remove the drain plug from the hull, and place in a convenient place for use next season. Drain all water in the boat overboard. Tilt your outboard engines down as low as possible to allow the water to flow down and out using the force of gravity.


Turn all battery switches to the 'off' position. This should be done wearing safety goggles. It is best to remove the batteries and store them in a climate-controlled building with a charger that can maintain a charge while not in use. However, if is not an option, take the following steps: Disconnect all battery leads and label each with its correlating post. Clean the top of the battery terminals using a wire brush and a mixture of baking soda and water. Dry the batteries and apply some petroleum jelly to all of the battery terminal posts. Check water levels and fill up as necessary with distilled water. Batteries should be fully charged at the outset and be periodically charged throughout the winter months.

And finally...

Make sure your boat has been washed, dried, waxed and polished, including all hardware. Remove all loose items, like PFDs and vests, towels and fishing gear, etc. This will prevent items from getting mildewed and ruined over the winter. It will also reduce the chance of animal intrusion and nest building. To take it a step further, place mothballs throughout the boat and into its compartments to help protect against infestation. Have a long winter's nap!

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