Even if you live in an area that enjoys a warm climate all year round, you’ll want to download our Spring Start-Up Checklist before the next boating season begins. It lists out all the chores that need to take place, from fuel systems to safety gear inspections, which should happen on an annual basis whether you winterize your boat or not.

For those of us who do winterize, however, spring commissioning requires a number of additional actions to reverse the process.

De-Winterizing Your Boat for Spring

The major systems that need de-winterizing include:


  • Plumbing Systems
  • Batteries and Electrical Systems

In addition to de-winterizing systems, other spring commissioning tasks may include:

  • Removing a Winter Cover
  • Cleaning and Waxing
  • Painting the Bottom
  • Taking Care of Teak

De-Winterizing Your Boat’s Engine

The exact process you follow to de-winterize any marine engine will be different depending on the type of engine, the manufacturer, and the model. The biggest differences are between outboard engines, and inboards or stern drives.

In the case of outboards, the main task is generally giving them a water supply, starting them up, and burning away the fogging oil you (hopefully!) used to ease its winter slumber. That fogging oil usually makes some smoke and the engine may not run as smoothly as usual, but don’t let this worry you. And as soon as the smoke’s cleared out, you’re ready to do the annual maintenance and inspection chores listed out in that Spring Start-up Checklist.

Inboard engines, including sterndrives, have a different winterization process, and will probably take a bit more work to prep for the season. There may be drain plugs you removed which need to be put back in, cooling systems may need to be flushed, and seacocks may need to be opened back up. This can vary quite a bit from engine model to engine model, so either make sure you have the owner’s manual handy or consider taking the boat to a pro for its spring commissioning. 

Spring Commissioning for Plumbing Systems

Boats that have freshwater systems, heads with holding tanks, sinks, and showers, should have been treated with antifreeze in the fall. This means that now you’ll need to flush these hoses and lines with freshwater, until you’re absolutely sure all the antifreeze has been washed away.

  1. Fill all the tanks up.
  2. Open all the faucets and showers.
  3. Let them run until you stop seeing any discoloration from the pink, non-toxic, propylene glycol antifreeze.
  4. Then let them run for a minute or two more, just to be sure the lines are completely flushed out.

Spring Commissioning for Batteries & Electrical Systems

In most cases, the only thing you’ll need to do to get your boat’s marine battery ready for the new season is make sure it’s in place, hooked up properly, and fully charged. Many people remove the batteries from the boat and put them on a maintenance-charger over the winter, so in this case they’ll need to be put back into the boat with the leads properly connected. Even if your batteries stayed aboard, however, don’t neglect to hook up a charger before you try launching the boat—the number-one problem boaters report encountering on a spring shake-down cruise is a low or dead battery.

Additional Steps for Spring Commissioning Your Boat

You’ve gone through the Spring Start-Up Checklist and de-winterized your boat? Excellent—but there are a few other spring commissioning chores that may be in order.

Winter Cover

  • First off, you’ll want to remove that winter cover.
  • If you used a tarp or canvass cover, wash it and then allow it to sun-dry, before folding it up and stowing it away for the season.
  • If you used shrink-wrap, remember that it’s recyclable. Many marinas collect it and there are also some state and/or regional services, so do a little searching to find the best way to recycle shrink wrap near you (and read our Clean Boating Guide to learn about other environmentally-friendly boating practices).

Cleaning & Waxing

  • Then, give your boat a good cleaning and waxing. This isn’t just a matter of making the boat look good, either. Wax helps seal the pores in the hull’s gel coat, which protects it from oxidation and makes it easier to clean later on.
  • Cleaning vinyls and canvas is also very important, since it helps keep mold and mildew at bay. Refer to our guide on How to Clean a Boat to get the scoop on how to best clean all the different pieces and parts of your pride and joy.


  • If you keep your boat in a wet slip, you may need to paint the bottom before launching it for the spring. This depends to some degree on where you do your boating and what type of bottom paint is on the boat.
  • Some paints need to be refreshed annually, while some others are good for multiple seasons.
  • Take a look at Antifouling Paints: Which Paint is Best for Your Boat to learn more about the different options, and if a paint job is in order, visit our How to Paint a Boat Guide.


Teak is another item that requires some spring care.

  • Even if the teak is untreated it should be cleaned with a gentle cleaner (made specifically for teak) and a soft brush.
  • Special Note: Never use a pressure-washer or a strong stiff-bristle brush on teak, as it can chew soft parts out of the wood and leave divots and ridges behind.
  • After cleaning the teak some people like to oil or varnish it, which can give the wood a beautiful look. However, be forewarned that once teak is treated it will require additional maintenance through the years. Most oils and varnishes only last for a matter of months, and require regular re-application to continue looking good.

Ready to Hit the Water?

Okay: so you’ve now completed the de-winterization and spring commissioning process. Next comes the fun part—it’s time for a shake-down cruise. This is an important “chore,” if you want to call it that, because this initial cruise will give you the chance to discover any issues that may have arisen over the winter.

Now’s the chance to find out about them so there aren’t any unexpected surprises that put a damper on the fun days of boating to come, which makes the shake-down cruise a critical part of the process of getting your boat ready for the season. Yes, let’s call it a chore, even though for the first time in months you’re about to feel the wind whipping through your hair, the sunshine and spray on your skin, and your very own boat underfoot. Somehow, we think you’ll manage to suffer through this one.

Many thanks to our friends at DISCOVER BOATING for this article.

Eventually the gray days of February will mellow into spring-like temps and it’ll soon be time to bring your boat out of storage and prep for use in the summer. Just as it’s recommended that boat owners winterize their boat before putting it into storage, it’s also necessary to de-winterize it. That means carefully inspecting it and making any repairs after bringing it out of winter boat storage. Here’s how to get started on the process of getting a boat ready for the summer.


After spending months in winter boat storage, the engine might need some attention.

  • First, add fresh fuel to the tank–make sure to add a fuel additive to keep your fuel fresh if this wasn’t done for winter storage.
  • Then check the battery. It could likely use some charging–or even a replacement–if the boat has been in storage for longer than just the winter.
  • Once the engine is going, listen to make sure it doesn’t sound like it’s running rougher than it did before it was put into boat storage.
  • Be sure to check the oil, filters, power steering fluid, coolant and spark plugs in the boat, too. And if the oil wasn’t changed just prior to winter boat storage, now is a good time to change it to ensure the boat is ready to be out on the water all summer.


It’s common for hoses, cables and belts to become brittle when the boat has been in winter storage for months. This is why part of de-winterizing the boat is checking all these components to make sure they’re not too hard, cracked or frayed. Also, ensure all belts in the boat still have a tight fit around pulleys and are not too worn, and check to make sure none of the steering cables are corroded. If they are, it’s time to replace them.


Another part of bringing a boat out of storage after winter is over is ensuring the propellers are still in good shape. They should be free of any dings, cracks or dents, and they shouldn’t be bent. Otherwise, they could vibrate the whole boat or even damage other parts. It’s also important to look over the entire hull, making sure all screws are still tight and there are no cracks in the surface. Replace any drain plugs, as well. If the hull looks good, it’s time to clean it to make it look even better now that winter boat storage is over.


Finally, it’s important to make sure the boat is well stocked with safety essentials.

  • There should be enough life jackets on board for the number of passengers the boat can carry, and it’s good to restock the first-aid kit if necessary.
  • In addition, the boat should have at least one fire extinguisher, as well as a carbon monoxide detector in any enclosed areas.
  • This is a good time to check the GPS, radio, compass and any other potentially life-saving electronics on the boat, as they need to be in good working order for ultimate safety.

The final step to de-winterizing the boat is to clean the interior and exterior before bringing it out on the water.

Thanks to our friends at GoldEagle marine products for this article.

Decommissioning a yacht for winter involves several important steps to protect the vessel from the harsh weather conditions and ensure that it remains in good condition during the off-season. Below is an article to guide you through the decommissioning process. By following this comprehensive checklist, you’ll help protect your yacht from the winter elements and ensure that it’s ready when the warmer weather returns. Keep in mind that specific requirements may vary based on the type of yacht, its construction, and the local climate, so consult your yacht’s manual and consider seeking professional advice if needed.

“Decommissioning Checklist” ~ By Charles Mason, SAIL Magazine 


By Bob Marston
Partner, Wellington Yacht Partners

When surveying a sailing yacht for purchase, the condition of the standing rigging is always inspected closely. After all, it serves one of the most important functions onboard, keeping the mast up!  It is therefore imperative when marketing your boat for sale that the rigging is in good working condition.

There are many factors that can determine the life expectancy of standing rigging. Fortunately there are some great industry guidelines that all rigging companies refer to, for both wire and rod rigging condition.

Most surveyors will tell you standing rigging is considered to have a 10 year or 40,000 nm lifespan. Other factors such as environment, amount of usage, application (i.e. cruising yacht or racing yacht, offshore vs. coastal usage) and maintenance can have a great impact on the standing rigging condition and increase or decrease its useful lifespan.

For seasonally-used yachts such as those in New England, the amount of real time on the standing rigging is considerably less than that of a yacht used in the Caribbean. For yachts with masts removed for storage each winter the rigging is inspected easily, whereas a cruising yacht being used 12 months a year may only have the mast out every five years, so rigging inspections are done with the mast in place.

I advise my seasonal New England clients who store their boats “mast-in” to have the standing rigging inspected every spring and to keep the report handy for any potential Buyer to view. For cruising yachts that travel north/south for winters in the tropics, it is prudent to have the rig and rigging inspected before going offshore and to keep records available.

The good news is, for most yachts a thorough rigging inspection is not expensive. It is often just an hour or two of labor by a rigging company, plus the time it takes to create a report. This is a small price to pay to ensure a yacht’s rigging is fit for purpose. Knowing your mast and rigging is sound will not only give you confidence each time you head out for a sail, but it will assure a future potential Buyer your boat has been cared for professionally.

By Bob Marston
Partner, Wellington Yacht Partners

Is hiring professional crew right for you?

Any boat, no matter how big, is going to require maintenance and care. For most owners this is something they either take on themselves or engage a professional boatyard to do. Others will often consider the options of either a shore-based care service or hiring full-time crew.

Shore-based care has become a very popular option, especially as yachts are becoming easier for consumers to operate on their own. With this service you are essentially hiring the skills of a professional captain on a part time basis.  Maintenance and care levels can be ordered “a la carte,” based on need. Most shore-based yacht care professionals tend to be ex-crew. They look after a couple of clients’ yachts, sharing their hours between each customer. Examples of different levels of care can be something as simple as weekly cleaning, to delivering the yacht south to the Caribbean for a season. Many of our clients choose this option, and you will find that wherever there are yachts, there is shore-based care.

For owners who require a higher level of service, there is the option of hiring full-time crew. As one would expect, the number of crew a client may require is often directly related to boat size. The owner of a 56-footer may only need a single captain, whereas the owner of a 100-footer may require as many as five full-time crew.

There are many qualified candidates available who can take excellent care of your yacht. The real success in hiring crew is making sure they get along well with your family and are a proper fit for your personality. A good crew can cater to just about anyone, and they will ensure you have a great time while aboard your yacht.

Finding the right crew is much like hiring a manager for your business. Candidates need to be vetted and references checked. The marine industry is relatively small, so referrals and networking go a long way.

At Wellington Yacht Partners we keep in touch with professional crew and shore-based yacht care services all over the world. We have great success assisting our owners in finding the right people to match their needs.