How to Remove Boat Shrink Wrap and De-Winterize Your Boat

Get that Boat Shrink Wrap Off and Get Out on the Water!

It’s officially springtime, and boating season is coming fast. Soon, you’ll be out on the water, enjoying the breeze and the warm sun. Right now, though, your boat is still in storage, sealed tight in a protective cocoon of boat shrink wrap. Before you can go boating, you have to go through the process of de-winterization.

Not everyone is an expert boater, and even experienced sailors benefit from having a concrete checklist at hand, so here’s a rundown of everything you need to do to get your boat ready to go after winter. Follow these steps, and you can rest easy knowing your first voyage will be a success.

You can also click here for a complete guide to shrink wrapping your boat!

Removing Boat Shrink Wrap

The first thing to do before you can access your boat is to remove the boat shrink wrap—assuming, of course, that you gave yourremove boat shrink wrap boat shrink wrap to begin with.

Boat shrink wrap is a thick plastic material that is applied to a boat and then heated with a heat gun, which causes it to shrink and form a tight seal that keeps out moisture, dust, pests, and more. Many boaters use it for transporting their boat or storing it for the winter, and if you’re one of them you’ll have to remove it before you can do much else.

Start with the cockpit at the stern of the boat, to avoid scratching the paint. Pierce the wrap with a marlin spike, then use a rigger’s knife to cut from the rear to the front of the cockpit. From there, place the rigger’s knife so that the curved, unsharpened back of the knife maintains contact with the boat, as you move the edge forward and cut from back to front. Once you reach the front of the boat, return to the cockpit and repeat on the other side. Cut away one section at a time, and stay patient—the more carefully and neatly you cut away the boat shrink wrap, the less likely that you’ll nick your boat’s finish.

Batteries and Electrical

Since you removed, cleaned, and charged your battery for the winter, now you can put it back in the boat. Check to make sure it’s charged, and clean the terminals and cable ends beforehand. You may also want to take the opportunity to replace the wing nuts with stainless steel lock nuts that will keep the cables from loosening.

Next, inspect your electrical systems. Test all cabin and help switches to see what isn’t working, and turn off the battery switch to check that the automatic bilge pump float switch works. Look for corrosion you can remove with a wire brush, and replace any components that are too corroded.

Fuel and Fluids

Inspect the fuel system for damage or visible leaks, particularly around cracked fuel lines—they should be flexible, not brittle. If you have an electric fuel pump, prime the fuel system before you ever turn the key, to avoid dry running that can cause internal damage.

Next, check the power steering fluid, oil, and coolant levels and replace as needed.

Belts, Hoses, and Cables

These rubber parts can dry out and crack just like the fuel lines. Make sure they’re still flexible, and check that the belts are tight and the control cables aren’t cracked or swollen.

Starting the Engine and Stocking Up on Safety Gear

Now, you’re nearly ready. Start the engine, and shift through all gears. Check for any leaks, noises, or other signs that anything might be wrong.

Once you’re sure that everything works, all you have to do is make sure your boat is stocked with all the safety gear you need, including life vests, fire extinguishers, etc.

Have you found any damage, though? Maybe some scratches on your hull, corrosion in the electrical systems, or other wear and tear? If you didn’t use boat shrink wrap, maybe this will be your “ah-ha” moment.

Next year, give Unlimited Shrinkwrap a call at 815-759-8944—we’re the premier experts on boat shrink wrap in McHenry, IL and the surrounding Chicago area. Get your boat shrink wrapped, and make this process easier for yourself next year, so you can get out on the water and enjoy that lake breeze instead of spending your weekend on repairs!