How to Winterize Your Boat’s Electronics

Sadly for many of us, the time has come — temperatures are dropping, vacation time is cashed out and it’s time for the boat to retire to its annual winter hibernation spot. Before you put your boat up for the year, though, there are a few things you’ll want to do to prepare your onboard marine electronics for the upcoming inactivity.

1. Check cables/wiring.

Check any exposed cables or wiring for corrosion or worn spots before storing your boat. This is critical to avoid any potential damage to your boat during its winter rest. Be sure to cover any electronic contact points and, if desired, apply dielectric grease to the ends of plugs.

2. Clean electronics.

It’s also wise to clean electronics before being away from your boat for an extended period. Simply use a microfiber cloth to clean the screen and any buttons that may have some open exposure. If there’s any saltwater built up on the screen, you can use bottled water to clean it off.

3. Remove electronics.

If possible, remove your electronics. That’s not an option for everyone but if it is, it’s ideal to bring your marine electronics inside for the winter. Although Garmin chartplotters are tested to withstand extremely cold temperatures, being in a controlled climate and environment may be preferable.

If you choose this route, it’s a good idea to document the wiring setup so you feel confident about reinstalling in the spring. Our units are intuitive and use color coding for installation, but it’s never a bad idea to write it down just in case.

4. Cover everything that remains on board.

If your electronics can’t be removed, make sure to cover them up. This applies to any other instruments on board, as well as the cockpit. If snow melts and refreezes, it expands again and could cause damage. Securely cover anything that can’t be removed with canvas and be sure to tie it down well.

By sticking to just a few best practices, you’re more likely to be able to hit the water quickly as soon as the temperatures begin to rise again in a few months. And if you live in a place where your boat doesn’t have to go into hiding during the colder months? Lucky you! Here are some Garmin marine electronics you’ll want to play with while the rest of us are stuck indoors.