If you love boating, you’re not alone: an estimated 100 million people in the United States do it yearly. So, it’s also no wonder that recreational boating in the U.S. has become a $170 billion industry.
However, it’s not just the number of boaters rising; so are the sales of marine vessels and products. That goes for both brand-new and pre-owned boats. In 2021 alone, previous owners sold approximately 1.15 million recreational boats.
If you’re one of those new owners, one of the most crucial things you need to know is how to store a boat come winter. After all, the last thing you want is to see your pricey investment corroded and messed up.
To that end, we created this guide on properly storing a boat in winter. Read on to discover how to keep your vessel in tip-top shape.
Decide on a Storage Method
If you live somewhere with a warm climate and your boat is in calm waters, you can keep it there. However, you should still visit and inspect it for problems like leaks at least once a week.
Also, make it a habit to check the weather forecast for possible winter storms. Even if you live somewhere with mild winters, it’s still possible for the weather to turn for the worse. So before it does, get your boat out of the water before it sinks or gets carried away.
While the above is the cheapest storage option, it’s also the riskiest. A more secure method is to store your boat at an outdoor boatyard. Of course, it will cost more, but it’s still an affordable strategy to safeguard your vessel.
Another option is to trailer your boat and drive it to a nearby secure covered storage facility. This is often pricier than boatyard storage, as it’s indoors and monitored. Still, it’s a price you may want to pay if you want more security and access to your watercraft all winter.
If, like 60% of U.S. houses, yours have a 2-car garage with available space, you can keep your boat in it. This still depends on the size of your vessel, though; if it’s too big, it might not fit in your garage.
Thoroughly Clean Your Boat
Whichever storage option you choose, you must still winterize your boat. The first step is to clean it; eliminate all dirt and grime covering the vessel. If you don’t, it can become infested by molds or pests.
Before you begin washing up your boat, remove all loose items first. These include life jackets, towels, bags, containers, and other porous materials.
Next, mix some mild soap with water. Use this solution to clean and scrub your boat, starting from the bow and making your way toward the stern. Ensure you go through all the nooks and crannies.
Rinse the solution with plain water and wipe all the surfaces dry. Then, treat the seats and wood trim with a waterproofing material. This can help prevent moisture from intruding and causing ice build-up and rot in the winter.
Drain the Engine Block
Proper winter boat care and storage requires draining the engine block of water. If you don’t, the water can freeze and expand. That can result in the block developing cracks and damaging the motor.
So before you store your boat, remove all the water from its engine block first. Then, as an extra safety measure, add some marine antifreeze to your engine.
Fill Your Tank Up
Your first thought might be, “Why would I need to fill it up if I’m not going to use it?”
One reason is that the unoccupied space in a tank contains air. That air then expands and contracts in the winter.
Additionally, vents draw moisture into the tank. So if you store your boat in the winter with its tank only half-full, that space can fill with condensation. From there, the water can freeze, turn into ice, and damage the tank.
To avoid those problems, fill your tank until only a tiny space remains. That gap will allow the air to expand and contract but not so much that it will collect water.
Finally, top your tank with a fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from oxidizing during storage. It can also help keep your gas fresh and ready come spring.
Take the Battery With You
Please don’t leave the battery in your boat while it’s in storage. If you do, the cold winter temperatures can batter and damage it.
Instead, get the battery out and take it back home with you. Charge it to 100% before storing it. Then, do the same at least once a month afterward while it’s in storage.
Get a Quality Boat Cover
Whether you choose a boatyard or a storage facility, cover your boat before leaving it there. This will help prevent pest and vermin infestation.
You have many options, from tarps to shrink wraps and custom covers.
Tarps are the cheapest but not 100% pest- and waterproof. You must also tie and secure them in place via their grommets. If you choose this option, inspect your boat at least once every week or two.
Shrink wraps cost more than tarps but offer better protection and waterproofing. They also cover the entire boat and provide a tight seal. The biggest drawback, however, is that they’re often only good for one year.
Custom covers are the most expensive option but better for protecting your boat. They match your vessel’s specific dimensions. They’re also for the long-term, as high-quality ones can last at least ten years or so.
That’s How You Store a Boat Like a Pro
With boats being far more expensive than cars, it makes sense that they require more care.
That’s why you must learn how to store a boat during winter. That way, you can expect it to be ready for use as soon as spring comes. Most importantly, you can worry less about it getting damaged or, even worse, sinking.
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