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How to Properly Store Your Boat for Winter

When the temperature begins to drop, it’s time to get your boat out of the water and into storage. Unfortunately, you can’t just take your boat out and leave it in the backyard though. Before you put it away and store your boat for the cold winter months, there are steps you need to take so that it will be ready for action when springtime comes around again.

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

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 during the past season on the water.

Listen for engine problems and 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 and essentially out of commission for the next several months. Doing so prevents you from losing any time on the water when the weather warms up again.

If everything looks good, great! Fill up the gas tank and add in some fuel stabilizers. Then run the boat for another 15 minutes or so. By doing this, you ensure the stabilizer can make its way through the entire fuel system and hopefully prevent any issues come springtime.

After adding in the fuel stabilizer, check all of the boat’s other fluids and filters. Replace them as necessary.

With all of those tasks checked off the list, 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. Mold and mildew are never a welcoming sight when boating season comes around again.

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 water from your 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 completely. 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 Storage Location

If you can store your boat in a clean, climate-controlled building, do so. However, most folks don’t have a large empty garage space sitting around so you may have to pay for this type of space. There are plenty of boat storage facilities near lakes, rivers, and beaches, where you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one for use.

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, although it will 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. Dry rack storage 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. It isn’t as good as an indoor storage facility, but any protection is better than no protection.

Lastly, if you must store your boat outdoors get a good boat 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 which minimizes clean-up when spring has finally sprung again.

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 universal fit cover or a semi-custom cover, or get one specifically designed and custom fit for your boat.

If you’re able, it’s recommended to go with either a shrink-wrap cover or one designed specifically for your boat. Those two options ultimately do 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.

Regardless of what you choose, make sure it’s anchored down well and covers your boat 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.

Chill While Your Boat is Stored for the Winter

Store Your Boat with a Boat Cover
Image: Shutterstock

Whether you’re storing the boat your father passed down or your new pontoon for the winter, there’s nothing left to do but wait until the season passes. Unless of course, you want to plan ahead and start stocking up on boat fenders, pool floats, towable tubes, wetsuits or drysuitsinflatable docks, and even marine grills.

Yes, you can chill knowing warmer days are ahead!

Do you have any winter storage tips for boat owners? How do you prep your own boat for winter? Tell us in the comments below.

How to properly store your boat for winter


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