When the temperature begins to drop, it’s time to get your boat out of the water and into storage. You can’t just take your boat out and leave it in the backyard, though. Before you put it away for the cold winter months there are steps you need to take so that it will be ready for action come springtime.
Here ‘s what you need to do to ensure your boat withstands the winter and is ready for fun next year.
Prep and Clean Your Boat
The first thing you should do before putting your boat away is to take it out on the water one last time. When you do, pay attention to any issues the boat may have developed.
Listen for engine problems, look for lighting and electrical issues. or any other signs of wear or disrepair. You want to catch any problems and fix them while the boat’s out of the water.
If everything looks good, fill up the gas tank and add in some fuel stabilizer. Then run the boat for another 15 minutes or so. That way the stabilizer can make its way through the entire fuel system and hopefully prevent any issues come springtime. After adding in fuel stabilizer, check all of the boat’s other fluids and filters. Replace them as necessary.
With all that done, disconnect the battery. You should store the battery in a climate-controlled environment even if you can’t do the same for the whole boat. Consider hooking it up to a battery charger to ensure that it doesn’t die while it’s not being used.
With the boat on dry land, you need to drain any and all water from it, especially if it will be stored outside or in a non-climate-controlled area.
Empty the bilge or any tanks or ballasts your boat has. Get rid of all water around the engine block, exhaust system, sea-pump, hoses, or cooling system. Your owner’s manual will give you specifics on how to properly drain any water from you boat.
You should also clean all areas of the boat, inside and out. This will help keep your paint nice and prevent corrosion. There are many commercial boat cleaning products out there, but most of the time you can get by with a mild detergent, plenty of water, and a little elbow grease. A powerful pressure washer doesn’t hurt either.
After you’ve removed most of the grime from the boat, it’s time to dry everything down. Park your boat in a sunny spot and get out some old towels. Moisture is not your friend and you want to eliminate it as much as possible before you put the boat away.
Select a Good Location
If you can store your boat in a clean, climate-controlled building, do so. Most folks don’t have an empty garage space sitting around so you may have to pay for this space. There are plenty of boat storage facilities near lakes, rivers, and beaches, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one.
If you can’t or don’t want to store your boat in that kind of facility, the next best option is inside a non-climate-controlled building. This will keep your boat safe from the elements, but still leave it susceptible to cold temperatures. Again, you can rent space from storage facilities or marinas if need be.
Many boat storage facilities offer dry rack storage for boat owners. This is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a large rack that stores dozens of boats in a dry environment all winter long. Some are housed indoors, and others have a roof but no walls. This provides some protection from the elements but isn’t as good as an indoor storage facility.
Lastly, if you must store your boat outdoors get a good cover. A quality boat cover is essential if you will store the boat outdoors because it helps keep UV rays, precipitation, and animals out of the boat. You should put a cover on your boat even if you store it indoors. It will keep dust, dirt and other unwanted material out.
There are a variety of covers available from shrink-wrap-style covers to your typical, old-school fabric or synthetic material cover. You can go with a general fit cover or get one specifically designed for your boat.
I recommend either a shrink-wrap cover or one designed specifically for your boat. Those two options doe the best job of protecting your boat from the elements and can help deter pests and small animals from taking up residence inside your boat.
No matter what you choose. Make sure it’s anchored down well and covers everything completely. Excessive sunlight, rain, and snow are not your friends when it comes to storage and you want to ensure your boat isn’t exposed to the elements.
Do you have any storage tips for boat owners? How do you prep your boat for winter? Leave a comment below.