Boat Storage: A Comprehensive Guide

While every boat owner loves the experience of being out on the water, most boat owners also dread the logistical efforts and headaches that go into safely storing a boat when the seasons change, or when anticipating a long period without use. While there are plenty of boat storage solutions available, depending on the size of your boat, your budget, and the particular weather of your area, finding the right boat storage yard for your purposes can be a hassle.

 

With this in mind, this guide is designed to help you answer the primary questions and concerns you may have while sorting through boat storage options.

 

Why opt for Boat Storage? 

While some boat owners are lucky to live in areas with year-round weather conditions that allow for boating throughout the year, most owners face long periods during the fall, winter, and early spring where below-freezing temperatures and inclement weather necessitate protecting your boat from exposure and dangerous conditions. If you are not one of the fortunate few with a safe docking facility or private boathouse, boat storage is critical to maintaining the physical structure and condition of your boat until the weather allows for returning it to the water. Here are a few more key reasons why boat storage for winter is not just a good idea, but absolutely necessary for most boat owners:

 
  • Without covered boat storage, you may be forced to move your boat several times if weather conditions change (as they often do in most places with harsh winter weather)

  • Boat storage also saves you paying docking fees at an outdoor or waterfront facility, which can often be more expensive

  • If you are relocating or moving, securing your boat at a storage facility takes a major headache off your plate. This way, you can retrieve your boat when it is convenient for you.

 

Like any storage facility, the primary benefits of both indoor and outdoor boat storage options is the ability to leave your boat in a safe and convenient place until you are ready to retrieve it. While boat storage rates can certainly vary depending on the size of your boat and the length of storage needed, the costs are often well-justified in savings on long-term boat wear and tear, or potentially catastrophic damage from the elements if your boat isn’t stored properly.

 

Indoor Boat Storage vs Outdoor Boat Storage 

So now that you’ve realized boat storage is necessary for your vehicle, the next step is to consider whether indoor boat storage or outdoor boat storage facilities are right for your needs. There are some clear positives and negatives to either choice - here are some of the main considerations when deciding which option is best for you:

Indoor Boat Storage 

PROS

  • Protection from all forms of inclement weather

  • Removing the boat from water can protect your hull long-term, and increase the life of your boat’s physical exterior

  • Indoor boat storage facilities often feature modern safety features

  • For longer duration storage needs, indoor boat storage removes any concerns of seasonal changes, or the need to rush to retrieve your boat

CONS

  • Indoor boat storage is often more expensive, given the facility requirements and overhead for elements like staffing and maintenance

  • Moving your boat into and out of indoor storage facilities can be more time-consuming and tedious than retrieval from an outdoor boat yard

  • Indoor boat storage yards are often not as plentiful as outdoor options, meaning you may have to transport your boat significant distances to/from the facility

  • Depending on storage space availability, some indoor boat storage locations may not be able to handle larger-size craft

Outdoor Boat Storage

PROS

  • Outdoor boat storage is often significantly easier to drop off and retrieve your boat from, especially for larger boats

  • Outdoor facilities are often cheaper, due to less requirements for facility staffing and infrastructure

  • Outdoor boat storage yards are often more plentiful, especially in areas close to major bodies of water with large populations of boat owners

  • Outdoor facilities often offer spaces for craft of any size, which is especially key for owners of larger boats which may not be easy to store indoors

CONS

  • While things like boat covers and protected harbors can still ensure outdoor storage protected from the worst of the weather, leaving boats exposed or in water can still lead to long-term repair needs and damage, especially if particularly bad weather hits

  • Outdoor facilities cannot offer the same type of climate control technology that many indoor facilities can offer

Preparing your Boat For Storage

Once you have decided which facility and set of options is best for you, the next step is to ensure your boat is prepared for storage before transporting it to the facility itself. While indoor and outdoor storage facilities both have their own set of general requirements and best practices to ensure the safety and integrity of your boat, there are some common tips and good ideas for any boat owner getting ready to store their craft for an extended period of time. Here are some of the most important storage preparation steps and ideas:

 
  • Change your boat’s oil - this helps remove salt water, acids, or other materials which may have gotten mixed in with the oil and could cause long-term engine wear

  • Disconnect the battery - this ensures that your battery doesn’t drain and die over a long period of storage

  • Remove or loosen driving belts - if your driving belts are kept under tension for extended periods of time during storage, they may strain or crack

  • Fill the gas tank - keeping your tank full helps to avoid condensation or other fluids from building up inside the tank and corroding the interior

  • Clean both the interior and exterior thoroughly - not only does this remove any fluids or dirt that may lead to rust or corrosion over extended periods of time, but it also prevents any rotting or mold from spreading

  • Wax the exterior - this adds an extra layer of protection that offers the same benefits as the extensive cleaning step

  • Use a boat cover - even for interior storage, a boat cover can prevent any dust or dirt from settling on the boat exterior and leading to long term damage

  • Finally, contact your chosen storage facility and confirm whether they have any additional requirements or suggested steps for storage preparation - depending on the area of the country and particular weather patterns, there may be additional steps to take to further protect your boat’s exterior or interior during extended storage.

 

No matter what storage option or location you choose, going the extra step to protect and prepare your boat for long-term storage can save you thousands of dollars and oodles of time and stress when you eventually retrieve your boat.