As temperatures get colder, the day must come when you need to come up with some ideas to store your boat for the season.
Whether it’s your first time storing your boat or if you’re an experienced boat owner, you’ve probably asked yourself these questions before:
Where do I store my boat? What options are available? Will it be safe? Will it be weather-controlled?
There are plenty of options available, but before you store your boat it’s a good idea to do your homework and make sure your boat is ready to be stored.
Before You Store Your Boat
We’ve mentioned many of these points in our article on boat maintenance, but here are a few key tasks to take care of when preparing your boat for the winter.
1. Take One Last Trip
Your last trip of the season should be one to enjoy, at the same time you should also take advantage of the opportunity observe your boat while it’s in motion to see if anything could stand to be repaired or replaced before you commit to your boat to winter storage.
Even if a problem seems small, cold winter temperatures can exacerbate many small problems and make them worse by winter. Getting necessary repairs done before you place your boat or Jet Ski into storage is important.
2. Spit and Polish
Once you have hauled your boat out of the water for the season, make sure that you give it a thorough cleaning.
While every boat has different needs, the following are some good first steps:
- Remove your boat's bilge drain plug.
- Scrub your decks and hull to remove slime, grime, barnacles and other gunk that has built up over the season.
- Clean the strainers and thru-hulls
- Drain your boat's seacocks
- Give your boat a thorough internal cleaning, and check your refrigerators, nobody wants to start the season with the smell of something that has spoiled over several months.
3. Keep Your Boat is Covered in Storage
No matter how you prepare your boat or where you choose to store it. One of the most important things you can do to store your boat for the winter is to keep it covered with a high-quality boat cover.
Whether you’re looking for a standard boat, pontoon boat cover or bass boat cover, if you’re storing your boat outdoors, make sure that your cover is strong enough to protect it from all the elements. This doesn’t just include wind and rain but also fading from the sun and exposure to environmental pollutants such as pollen, tree sap, leaves, bird droppings and more. Ideally having a cover that can keep out insects, rodents and other pests is also a plus.
Covers should also be designed so that the inner layer doesn’t scratch or damage your boat’s finish. They should also be designed to promote air flow to keep moisture from accumulating. This can help prevent the build-up of mold and mildew and also prevent rust and corrosion.
Of course, a cover is only effective if it stays securely connected to your boat. Having a cover with tie down straps, grommets for cables and/or an elastic hem can keep your cover in place even in the windiest conditions.
Even if you store your boat in a garage or indoor storage facility, putting on an indoor cover can help protect your boat from grit, dust and other pollutants that can build-up in closed spaces.
In addition to covering the boat, consider separate covers for your outboard motors and even for your seats. Every bit of coverage contributes to a boat that will be ready for you when it’s time to take your boat out again.
4. Go High and Dry
Once your boat is clean, you need to get it as dry as possible before it can be stored. This means draining all water away from the boat. To do this, raise the bow to drain out all the water.
Once that’s been done, allow time for any additional moisture to evaporate before you put your boat into storage. Otherwise, you run the risk of mold and mildew.
5. Wax On
Once you have finished all the above steps, give your boat thorough waxing. It will protect your finish and also help prevent rust and corrosion.
Ready, Set, Store Your Boat
Once your boat is ready there are many options available, both for outdoor boat storage and inside boat storage. In either case, options will vary based on location.
1. Park your boat in the Driveway
The most cost-effective place to store your boat is your own driveway. Before you settle for this option, check to see if there are any neighborhood restrictions that may result in fees or fines.
Once you’ve parked your boat, you’ll need to make sure it stays protected from the elements and from environmental pollutants such as pollen, tree sap, dust and leaves.
2. Store your boat in the garage
If you have a garage that is large enough to fit your boat, that’s obviously a great low-cost solution. While you won’t have to worry about protecting your boat from the elements, there is still a risk of your boat getting scratched or damaged by insects, rodents, dust or other potential hazards in the garage. It also means less room to store your car.
3. Dock your boat for the winter
This may only be an option in warmer climates, but if you can keep your boat in the water year round, then you can access it at any time without going to the trouble of transferring it from dry land to water.
On the other hand, boat owners should factor in docking fees and security into their decision. Also, having a boat in the water means that, in addition to sun, weather and environmental pollutants, boat owners need to remember that long-term exposure to water can erode their paint and contribute to rust and corrosion. It can also cause blistering and warping of the hull. Of course, your boat will also be susceptible to barnacles, slime and everything else in the water that can stick to your hull.
4. Dry Rack Boat Storage
Another popular option in coastal areas are dry rack storage facilities. These indoor and outdoor facilities use forklifts to stack multiple boats on top of enormous racks.
The benefits are that by keeping your boat off the ground, you can protect it from the elements and by keeping in near the water you have easy access. In addition, there is added security in the fact that it’s harder to steal a boat from these facilities without a forklift.
However, boat winter storage costs can equal hundreds of dollars a month and demand for spaces can make it hard to find. It’s also important to remember that if you want to retrieve your boat, you’re at the mercy of the storage staff.
Also, every boat is different, so before you store your boat make sure the available racks can support the weight and shape of your boat.
If rack storage isn’t available in your area, there are many self-storage facilities that can accommodate boats as well as other large vehicles.
One of the big questions to ask at a self-storage facility is the level of security. Does the facility offer gated entry? What kind of onsite management and security coverage can the facility offer? Are alarms or other security measures in place?
Like a rack storage facility, you also need to make sure that your boat rack can handle the weight and shape of your boat, especially when the weather changes.
Keep Your Boat Protected with these Winter Storage Tips
The winter can be tough on your boat, but by preparing and storing it properly, you can ensure that your boat will be ship shape and ready to enjoy when the weather gets warmer.