Your Boat Storage Guide: Tips, Tricks and How to Prepare
January 20th, 2022
Boating Storage Made Simple
Recreational boating has been booming, with about 100 million Americans boating each year. More and more people have been reassessing how they spend quality family time, and boating seems like one of the best activities out there. If you’re a part of this group and new to this, chances are, you have no idea what goes into boat storage for winter.
Unlike a car, you can’t just park your boat for a few months then pick it up where you left off. Boats are a little more sensitive and need more care if they’re going to run efficiently come spring. With that in mind, keep reading to find all the boat storage tips and tricks you need to know.
Clean Your Boat Before Storage
A little elbow grease goes a long way, and this is especially true when cleaning your boat before storage. This will help protect the finish while in storage and make it easier when you take it out of storage.
Make sure to clean all surfaces of your boat- the hull, decks, gunwales, transom, etc. Use a mild detergent or boat soap and plenty of water to get the job done. Be sure to rinse off all the suds as well. If there’s any build-up of dirt or grime on any surface, use a brush or scouring pad to scrub it off.
Disconnect the Battery
If you’re storing your boat for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to disconnect the battery. This will help prevent any corrosion from happening while the battery is sitting idle.
To disconnect the battery, remove the positive and negative cables from the terminals. Be sure to store the cables in a safe place where they won’t come into contact with anything metal, which could create a spark and start a fire.
You can also invest in a battery tender to keep the battery fully charged while it’s in storage. This will help prolong its life span. If you have an onboard generator, be sure to turn it off before disconnecting the batteries.
Eliminate the Chances of Frozen Moisture
Frozen moisture can damage your boat’s hull and equipment, so it’s important to get rid of any frozen water before storage. Start by removing all the drain plugs on your boat and letting them dry out for a few hours or overnight. The same goes with scuppers — remove them from the deck drains and let them dry completely before putting them back in place.
You should also open up hatches if you have any that lead into tight spots. Think of bilge areas or engine compartments where they could potentially collect condensation while closed, which can cause rusting when stored over time. The same applies to walkways, rails, etc.
Just be sure to leave these components free of ice build-up beforehand. You can also use a dehumidifier on your boat before putting it into winter storage to help prevent moisture and condensation from building up.
You’ll want to put a corrosion prevention product on all the metal parts of your boat before putting it into boat storage. This will help keep them from rusting over time, which can damage both other equipment and appearance. Use an oil-based anti-corrosion treatment that you can spray or paint onto exterior surfaces such as rudders.
You can also use it on propellers, helm hardware/steering systems, struts/shafts, wiring harnesses (be sure to disconnect first), thru-hull fittings, and anchor chains. Make sure not to get any anti-corrosion product on the screens themselves as this can damage them.
You can also rub anti-corrosion paste onto small metal hardware like screws, bolts, and nuts before putting them away in storage. This will help prevent rusting when they’re not being used.
Before storing your boat for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to do some basic engine maintenance. This includes draining the gas tank and adding a stabilizer.
You can also take this opportunity to check over other major components such as starter batteries and rubber impellers on lower units. These should be replaced every few years anyway during regular use, depending on how often you use them. If you have an onboard fuel filter, replacing the filter element before winter storage is also a good idea.
If your boat has wood surfaces like decking or trim, it’s best to clean and varnish (or oil) them before putting it away for storage.
Use a product that contains teak oil as this is a good choice since it won’t leave any film on the surface, which can become slippery when wet. You want to avoid using anything containing silicone as these tend to dry out over time. They cause problems if you ever have to re-apply them down the road, so they don’t peel off from exposure in sunlight after being applied too thickly at first go-around.
Lubricate All Moving Parts
While you have everything open and accessible, it’s a good time to lubricate all moving parts — such as hinges, latches, locks, tracks for sliding windows/doors. Apply a light coat of oil or silicone spray to these areas, and they should work smoothly again the next time you need them.
You can also apply a light coat of Vaseline or WD-40 to the rubber o-rings on deck fittings — like dock lines, fenders, mooring lines. This will help keep them from drying out and cracking over time.
Cover Your Boat
Last but not least, it’s always a good idea to cover your boat when putting it into boat storage - even if it’s in a heated garage. This will protect it from dust, dirt, UV damage, and accidental damage while it’s not in use. You also want to ensure you put your boat in a dry boat storage unit to avoid water damage.
There are many types of boat covers available on the market today, so be sure to get a waterproof cover that’s made specifically for your type/size of boat. If you’re unsure of the type needed, most boating supply stores or marinas can provide some guidance on what size cover would be appropriate for your boat.
Another thing to consider before storing your boat is the possibility of pests — such as mice, rats, or snakes. If you’re storing your boat in an open area like a dock or marina, be sure to take some preventative steps against these unwelcome guests by using traps, bait, or snake repellent.
If you’re storing your boat indoors in a garage or shed, make sure that these areas are also free from rodents and other pests before closing everything up for the winter.
One way to do this is to inspect the premises closely for any holes or cracks where they could gain entry and seal them off with caulk or expanding foam insulation.
Winterizing Your Boat: The Best Boat Storage Tips
There is so much that goes into boat storage than putting it in a winter storage facility. Ensure you follow all these boat storage tips so it can be safe before the next boating season. If you’re currently wondering where to store your boat, get in touch with us as we have safe and secure boat storage units.
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