Did you know that about 100 million Americans go boating every year? Boating has increasingly become an economic driver and an avenue for people to come together and create lasting memories. In 2020 alone, Americans spent a staggering $47 billion on boats and marine products and services.
Now, if you own a boat, you must know that once the boating season is over, you have to store it safely for winter using the best storage tips. Winter can take a considerable toll on your boat because of the extended inactivity that can easily accelerate wear and tear. You have to think about things like corrosion, frozen moisture, and congealed lubrication.
Case in point, you have to get your boat ready for storage to avoid major repairs come springtime. That said, we're going to help you get your boat ready with some of the best storage tips in the boating industry.
You'll have the best winter boat storage solution by the time you're done, and your boat will be safe until boating season again. Keep reading to find out how to protect your boat with the best winter storage tips.
Clean your boat before storing it. You can't properly protect your boat if there is dirt or grime on both the interior and exterior. Start at the bow and work toward the stern, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies where dirt likes to hide.
A mild soap and water solution will do the trick, but be sure you rinse it well. You also want to give everything a good wipe down because all those winter salt stains left behind will be even more noticeable once the boat starts to dry again after storage.
Next, inspect your rigging for any signs of wear or damage from being in storage. You'll also need to check around your cleats and hooks for corrosion, which can eat away at ropes and wires over time.
A good cleaning with a mixture of hot soapy water should do the trick here too. Lastly, inspect any part that is covered in fuel or oil. If there are leaks, you'll have to clean them up before storing your boat again. However, if everything looks good with no leaks in sight, then go ahead and roll up your hoses.
Next, check for any dents or cracks in the fiberglass or gel coat. Repair as needed using quality marine-grade epoxy resin filler followed by a skim coat of high-bond primer surfacer to fair out imperfections.
The next winter storage tip involves properly securing and removing your batteries. Make sure the terminals are clean from corrosion, which can damage their ability to hold a charge post storage. Next, check all cables for any signs of wear or damage from storage as well, such as frayed wires or burned insulation.
The storage area will be extremely hot during storage season, so monitoring battery temperature before storage is important. This way, you can measure how much energy they have lost over that time frame and replace them if needed before taking them out again in the spring. If everything looks good, then disconnect your battery cables and place them on a storage rack in the storage area, prepped and ready for when it's time to hit the water again.
Moisture can be one of your biggest threats when it comes to getting your boat ready for storage, especially during the cold season. You need to make sure that all moisture is removed before putting your boat away for the winter. When you use a hose to clean out your engine compartment, be sure you also open up all the compartments.
Pay close attention to places like behind bulkheads or lockers where water can get trapped. Afterward, take all drain plugs out, so they are completely drained by morning. Make sure to use a dry cloth or towel to absorb any moisture inside. If you have an onboard freshwater system, open the faucets too so they can drain fully.
The best way to protect your boat from the harsh winter elements is to use a quality storage cover. Not only will it keep the dust and dirt off, but it'll also help prevent fading and sun damage. Be sure to get a cover that is made specifically for boats, as they are designed to resist water, weather, and UV damage.
When choosing a storage cover, make sure you get the right size. It should be big enough to completely cover your boat, yet not so large that it becomes difficult to manage.
Furthermore, in order to keep your boat stationary while in storage, you'll need to use proper tie-downs. This is especially important if you live in an area with high winds and/or a lot of precipitation.
Whether you're using storage moorings or regular tie-downs, you need to make sure your boat is attached securely to protect it during storage and transport. This may seem like an obvious step, but it's surprisingly common for people to skip this essential step when preparing their boats for storage.
Corrosion is one of the biggest enemies of boat winter storage. While your boat is in storage, salt can accumulate on its exterior and cause serious damages. To prevent rust from forming, you need to give it some kind of protection.
A premium boating spray will do the trick here. Just make sure to brush off any dirt or salt first, then wipe the whole surface down with a slightly damp cloth before applying the corrosion prevention spray. Make sure to completely coat all metal surfaces, paying special attention to areas that are prone to corrosion, like trim tabs, rudders, and engine brackets.
Furthermore, the best way to protect your hull from corrosion is to use good-quality, moisture-cured polyurethane paint. You can also protect all battery terminals with an anti-corrosive agent like vaseline or WD-40.
This is especially important if you are using lead-acid batteries that are prone to corrosion around terminal posts once their protective coatings wear away too much. Also, you should always store your boat on a storage rack to keep it out of the water.
It is best to store it in an enclosed storage unit that has already gone through some kind of dehumidification process. If you are storing your boat outside, make sure there isn't any standing water surrounding it. This is one of those storage tips you should not overlook because it'll cost you hefty repairs come boating season again.
Gasoline is another major factor to consider when getting your boat ready for storage. It's important to store your boat in a well-ventilated area, especially if you have a gas-powered engine. If you can, try and siphon out all the gasoline from the tank before storage.
This will help to prevent any moisture or condensation from building up inside and causing corrosion. If you can't siphon it all out, then be sure to add a fuel stabilizer to the tank. This will keep the gasoline fresh and help to prevent any build-up over time.
One of the most important things you can do before storage is to properly maintain your engine. This means removing all the water by hosing it down and then using compressed air to blow out any remaining water. You also want to clean off any salt or dirt that may have built up.
Be sure to use an appropriate lubricant on all moving parts and apply a rust inhibitor to any metal surfaces. If you are not able to do this yourself, take your boat to a reputable marine service center for a full engine tune-up.
You may not think much about caring for the wood on board your boat when it comes time for storage, but you definitely should. All the moisture from winter can cause the wood to swell and then shrink again when it dries out. This can lead to warping, cracking, and other types of damage.
A simple way to protect your wood is by using a penetrating sealant. This will help to keep out any moisture while also providing a barrier against UV rays. Applying a coat of varnish or paint before storage can also help to add an extra layer of protection.
Before storing your boat, you'll want to drain all of the fluids from the engine, transmission, gearbox, and outdrive. Draining these fluids will help reduce the risk of corrosion. If you're storing your boat outside, it's a good idea to either remove the plugs from those same ports or place some kind of sealant in them. You can use wax or an adhesive product.
Don't forget to properly lubricate all moving parts before you store your boat. It is very important that you use a marine-grade lubricant for this step because most automotive oils will turn into a solid wax after being exposed to water and colder temperatures. Now, there are three things that need to be done.
The first is to lubricate the propeller shaft through the stuffing box with a good water-resistant grease or petroleum jelly. Next, spray all around the propeller shaft at the cutlass bearing and rudder post, as well as the rudder stock itself with a marine-grade lubricant. Finally, make sure to spray all moving parts on your outboard motors, such as the outdrive and its bushings.
Other moving parts include cables and pulleys, shackles and cleats, springs, turnbuckles. If needed, replace any items that are corroded or damaged beyond repair. It's also a good idea to collect any trash. If you have a stove or fireplace, make sure it is safe and empty before storage.
You might not think about boat pests as a problem when preparing your boat for storage, but they can pose a serious threat during the winter months. You see, their body temperatures decrease as the temperature drops outside. This means that rats and mice will become even more active looking for food sources inside your boat at night, making your vessel their new home.
One simple way to prevent this is by putting dryer sheets behind all storage compartments or in the bilge area, so they don't become infested during cold weather months. You can also ensure that your storage facility is safe from pests and vermin that could harm your boat.
One of the best storage tips involves having your boat winterized for storage. Since you're storing your boat in a colder climate, it's important to winterize the engine to protect it from freezing.
This typically involves adding a special antifreeze mixture to the cooling system and then running the engine for a few minutes. If you're not comfortable doing this yourself, there are many marine mechanics who can do this for you. If all this sounds like too much work, consider joining a boating club and they’ll take care of everything.
Choosing where to store your boat is one of the most important things you need to do before winter storage. You want to choose a storage location with moderate humidity levels and temperatures between 10°C (50°F) and 32°C (90°F). However, avoid storage locations directly exposed to sunlight or extreme cold.
If available, you want to use a storage rack for your boat, so it is not directly touching the ground and will stay free of moisture. Ensure you inspect the storage location before winter storage to ensure your boat will be safe and secure. If you don't have self-storage, compare several storage facilities and choose the best one for your boat.
Before storage, make sure you have a proper maintenance schedule for after storage as well. Write down a list of all necessary tools or equipment required to fix anything on board come your next boating trip. This includes things like spare propellers, filters, belts, hoses, and anything else that is specific to your make and model of boat.
Make sure you have all of your supplies ready to go before storage so that when the time comes to take your boat out of storage, you can hit the water as soon as possible. This is one of the most overlooked storage tips, as most people don't think this far ahead. Still, it's crucial if you want a seamless transition in spring.
If you're new to boating, you may not know how to prepare your boat for storage. With these storage tips, you can formulate the best winter boat storage solution that will ensure your boat is safe and still intact come boating season again.
They'll help you protect your boat during winter storage, and you can avoid hefty repair fees when you finally take it out again. That said, if all this sounds too involving and you’d like to join a boating club, please get in touch with us today.