If you're lucky enough to live on a lake, you're lucky enough!
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Well fellow lakers, it's October, so if you live somewhere that has a winter like I do, you know that this means the end of boating season, and with that, lots of work and/or bills! Luckily, we've had some brilliant Fall weather, and as I happen to have a couple of days off work, I will get to enjoy it on the water, so I'm fairly pumped up about that. Hopefully I'll be able to capture some great Fall pictures from the lake, stay tuned to my Instagram for those. This is just a little icing on the cake though, as with boating season over(ish), there's a lot to get done around here, and at least one big check to write! If you're new to boat ownership and/or lake life, or thinking about getting into those things, here are some things you should consider. For all you experts, I'd love to hear your tips and tricks on the subject!
First and foremost in the Fall, I have to reserve my spot at the Marina for boat storage. Most of the people I know and live by on the lake know someone with a barn, and that's where they put their boat. Unfortunately for me, I don't know anyone with a barn, nor do I even have a boat trailer, nor do I have a car that could even pull a boat. Not having those things runs me about $1200/year, which covers picking my boat up at my dock, winterizing the motor, oil change, storing the boat inside, and starting it up and testing it in the Spring. The Marina does a fantastic job with these things, and I'm told that the price is "not bad." I'm not rich though, so dropping $1200 every October still sucks. However, I don't have too many other options other than to buy a trailer and a car to pull it, learn how to winterize the motor, and find a person with a large barn that will let me store it there. So, really, I don't have any other options. ALTHOUGH, many people on my lake keep their boats on their lifts over the winter. I considered this strongly but went with the inside storage for several reasons.
Reason #1: I don't know any reputable people that do the winterization or how much it costs (I assume less than $1200 or why would anyone do this?)
Reason #2: We've had two consecutive extremely mild winters due to The Blob and El Nino, and without those two things, I believe (as do my meteorologists at work) that we're in for a much more normal (read: cold, windy, snowy, awful) winter. One of the biggest concerns for leaving the boat on the lift is that heavy snowfall can tear your lift canopy and/or break the lift canopy frame. This means that whenever it snows, I'd have to go out to the dock and brush the snow off. Also, temperatures here can get into the -60s with wind chill. I don't want to be outside brushing snow off the lift, or outside at all really, during those types of weather events. Nor do I want my boat exposed to it.
Reason #3: Letting the Marina do all the work gives me a great deal of confidence that things will be done right and that my boat will be ready to go with no problems next year. You get what you pay for, so I suppose I'm OK forking over the money. Plus, once it's in your budget, it's pretty easy to save a $100/month to pay for it. But damn, over the life of your boat, that's a lot of $$$$$$.
Before I can put the boat in storage, I also need to give it a total scrub down. Last year I didn't have the boat on a lift, so the pontoons were covered in grime and algae and we paid to have them cleaned ($150). This year, the boat has been on the lift all summer, so the pontoons are relatively clean, however I will give them a scrub down with this ($17) just to get rid of any gunk on there. There's also mildew. There's always mildew. As late as I can get out on the boat before it goes into storage, I will park it in the sun and give the entire boat a scrub down. You're going to want to buy a professional mildew remover like this, and then use this to protect and revitalize your vinyl from all the damage that's been done to it over the Summer. I'll also get a scrub brush and clean the carpet. I'm using Simple Green for that this year as it's affordable ($12), effective, and environmentally safe, which is important because it's going to end up in the lake.
Once the boat is cleaned and taken away for storage, it's time to take the canopy off the lift. This absolutely sucks for one reason: spiders. Throughout the lake season, they have undoubtedly taken up residence in and around your dock, and especially under your canopy. I take a broom and sweep the bottom of the canopy, but you just can't get 'em all. The only solution is to deal with it. The actual process of removing the canopy is fairly simple and my wife and I get it done in about 15 minutes, then we hose it off, let it dry, fold it up and put into the attic. That part also sucks. As an aside, doesn't doing anything involving the attic suck? There have been years where we didn't put up decorations for a holiday just because getting things out of and/or putting things into the attic is just always terrible. AMIRIGHT?
By the time this is done, it's time for leaves! This is an almost never ending chore, and since this isn't a landscaping or lawn-mowing blog, I'm not going to go into all the crap that you have to get done in the Fall with regards to landscaping, leaves, sticks, weeds, pruning, over-seeding, fertilizing, aerating, re-raking the leaves after your neighbor's pile blows into your yard, etc.
Once the boat and canopy are cleaned and stored, and the yard work is done, it's time to reflect on all the great times you had on the lake this year! There's still time for kayaking, canoeing, and probably even some paddle-boarding, and if you've got a wet-suit, open water swimming. Many folks will still be out there getting a few last ski/tube/wakeboard/wake surfing sessions in, which is always great to see. Ultimately though, another season's ending is upon us, and weekends on the lake are traded in for weekends watching football and drinking Fall beers, plus starting the savings fund for next year's boat storage and the inevitable improvements/repairs/hidden costs of living on the lake, which like the winter, as any laker knows, is coming.
What are your Fall lake traditions? How do you winterize your boat? Leave a comment, send an email, and/or reach out on social media. With less lake time I have quite the to do list on the website starting with fixing my mobile issues on the lake store. Coming soon: Reviews for all the amazing and not-so-amazing products we tried out this summer. If you have an awesome lake product, let me know about it and/or send me one. I'll use it, I'll test it, and I'll write about it. If you've been reading the blog, you should know that I had hip surgery over the summer. I'm writing regularly about my recovery and comeback over on the Triathlon page if that is something you're interested in. Best of luck with your Fall chores!
-The King of The Lake
The "King" of the Lake
I'm Mike, I live on a lake in the Midwest. I boat, ski, swim, kayak, tube, float, drink, and everything else there is to do on the lake, and then I write about it! I have a Golden Lab named Murphy, and when not injured I compete in triathlons. Read More
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