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A Quick Guide to Boat Storage

Storing your boat during the off season will prevent damage and protect your valuable watercraft. This is also a great option if you need to free up some space. Boats are often prohibited in residential areas, so most boat owners will need an alternative solution for the winter months. The available choices will depend on the size of your boat, your budget and other variables. Consider the following topics before you decide which storage option is right for your situation.

Why You Should Store Your Boat

Storing a boat in a self-storage facility can solve a few problems. The most common problem faced by boat owners is the issue of space. Boats will only be used on holidays or weekends in most cases, and the boat will remain in the same place for the rest of the time. Many boat owners also have multiple vehicles at the home, so it is easy to run out of space. In addition, the boat can either get in the way of other cars or trucks. It is also common for neighborhood associations to prohibit anyone from storing large vehicles like RVs or boats. 

Storing Your Boat 

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when considering how to store your boat. This information can help you to avoid the most common problems faced by new boat owners. It can also help you to properly maintain the boat, which decreases the wear and tear on your vehicle. Proper storage also saves you money in the long run. 

The storage decision you make will be influenced by the size of the boat and other variables that are unique to your situation. For example, if you are willing to spend a little more money, you can get higher-quality storage options. This can help you to maintain the longevity of the boat. Each storage business will offer different solutions. This can even include racks where boats of different sizes are stored vertically, for example.  

The most common types of boat storage solutions include the following: 

  • Outdoor storage 

  • Indoor storage

  • Stacked storage

  • Open lots

  • On-site storage options

  • Dock storage

  • Home storage

  • Garage storage 

Size Considerations 

The total cost of storage is closely related to the size of the boat. This one issue will determine many things about your storage options. You will want to be able to quickly retrieve your boat from the storage and hooked onto a vehicle hitch. Large boats will have fewer storage options than small boats. However, home storage will save the most money if there are no restrictions on the property in your neighborhood. 

Some boats are small enough to fit inside of a garage during the off-season. Small to medium sized boats can be stored at a self-storage facility that offers temperature controls. These sites can get crowded, but you get to drive up to your boat and access it at any time of the day or night. Security tends to be best at self-storage sites because of the locked gates and 24-hour guards. 

For additional options, consider the following:

  1. Wet marina storage: This is an option that is attractive to large boat owners, but the wet marinas also accommodate boats of any size. Many sites offer amenities like wet slips with power hook-ups, access to drinking water and dock customizing options. This could include hoists, deck build-outs, dock boxes and other amenities. 

  2. Dry marina storage: This option allows you to keep your boat near the water, which is convenient. The storage facility is on land, and there are services offered that are unique to each site. Some dry storage marinas offer, on-site repair services, additional security and other amenities.

  3. Boat docking storage: If you live near a dock, this is a great option for boats of any size. The fees required to dock the boat along a pier depend on the area, but the convenience of being able to hop into the boat for a quick trip anytime makes up for the daily rate schedule. Factors affecting the cost include the length of storage time, size of the boat and the location. Security also depends on the facility, so you will have to carefully weigh the risks against the convenience of this option.

  4. Covered boat storage: These options are important during the coldest months of the year. Boat covers are essential for protecting the boat against the elements. Always ask about boat cover options if you are storing during the winter.

  5. Garage storage: If you have access to a garage, this can be a great money-saving option for small or even mid-sized boats. However, the boat will take up most of the space and prevent you from using the garage for other things. 

Storage Insurance

Policies Boat insurance policies protect the boat when you are using it, but you should also consider a boat insurance policy that covers the vehicle during the off season as well. Boat storage facilities often have lower levels of security than other self storage sites, so there is always the risk that your boat could be stolen or vandalized. The added protection of a boat insurance policy can help you to enjoy peace of mind all year long. If your policy ends after the boating season ends, you could be liable for any damages that occur during the winter. Insurance policies for boats are separate from homeowner’s insurance.

Prepare Your Boat for Storage 

Prevent excessive wear and tear that comes from the harsh weather during the winter months. When boats are not used, the engine will get cold, and various parts of the boat are vulnerable to damage from extended periods of cold. Winterization is the process of preparing your boat to be stored for the off season. Additional precautions should be taken when your boat is located in an area where there are hurricanes or other extreme weather conditions. 

  • Consider the following preparation tips: 

  • Change the oil, and replace the filter. 

  • Drain the fluids, and flush the tank with plenty of water. 

  • Flush the lines with antifreeze. Lubricate all of the steering parts. 

  • Remove drive belts, or have them loosened to prevent stress damage. 

  • Disconnect the battery, and recharge it periodically during the winter. 

  • Fill the gas tank to prevent water from condensing. 

  • Cover the exhaust ports to prevent pest infestations. 

  • Wax the exterior if it will be stored outdoors. 

  • Always cover the boat to prevent damage. 

  • Follow any instructions from the manufacturer carefully. 

Accessibility is an important issue for boat owners. During the warm months of the year, you will want to be able to hook it up to your vehicle quickly and easily. Make sure to prepare the boat for use when summer arrives. Consider storing the boat in a unit that has temperature controls when the weather is cold. This protects the engine from the extreme conditions, but it also keeps your boat safe from thieves and vandals. Some campgrounds offer temporary storage facilities to boat owners. This is a great option to consider if you are taking an extended vacation in the area. Always check the website of your recreational authority, or visit a federal site for more general information.