Finding a place to store your boat in your garage or driveway is hard, especially when you have other vehicles that need to get in and out. On top of that, many neighborhood covenants restrict boats from being stored in driveways. Fortunately, a self storage facility with boat storage can provide enough space and protection for your boat when it’s not speeding across the water.
Research Boat Storage Facilities Before Renting
Typically, self storage facilities will offer three types of boat storage: indoor, outdoor, and covered. Outdoor storage is obviously the most affordable, but it provides the least amount of protection. Indoor storage offers more security since the boat is kept behind a locked door and out of the elements, but the cost per month is higher. Covered storage, however, falls somewhere between the two. Though it offers slightly less protection than an indoor space, a covered storage spot has some protection at a cheaper price.
Doug Logan, Senior Editor of Boats.com, says that outdoor storage under shrink-wrap or a secure cover—or better yet, in a covered facility—will be fine for most boat owners. “If the boat is winterized properly before it goes [to storage], you’re done,” says Logan. “You don’t really need a climate-controlled unit because you’ve taken care of all three threats: frozen water, exposure to the sun, and exposure to airborne debris.”
When choosing the right storage facility for your speed boat, the seasons in your area are also factors.
If you live in a region where the climate is mild and sunny for most of the year, an outdoor storage space will be fine. All you’d need is a good boat cover to protect the internal components of your speed boat from rain and debris. If, however, you live in a region with all four seasons—from muggy summers to winters with heavy snowfall—indoor boat storage might be worth protecting your speed boat.
Winterize Your Speed Boat Before Storing It
“As the leaves fall and temperatures dip in the Kansas City area, we take care to remind and assist our clients with safeguarding their expensive stored personal property,” says Cara Massie, owner of Paradise Boat & RV Storage in Missouri, which has fully-enclosed units and outdoor parking spaces for boats.
Though Massie usually recommends indoor boat storage to renters, she understands budgets often dictate how much protection renters can afford. That’s why Paradise Boat & RV Storage encourages renters to visit their on-site marine technician, Chris Oliver, who knows how to properly winterize boats for long-term storage.
“Even in a facility that offers a climate-controlled storage space, we still recommend winterizing your boat during the off-season,” says Oliver. “A marine engine block is constructed of cast iron. If any water is left in the engine block while sitting in a climate-controlled facility for months, the interior of the engine block will begin to corrode and rust.”
Oliver suggests consulting with a marine technician prior to storage to schedule maintenance. Even if you plan to winterize your speed boat on your own, it helps to have someone who’s knowledgeable in boat winterization walk you through the necessary steps.
When it comes to preparing your boat for the winter, Oliver says these steps should be included:
- Fill the fuel tanks and add fuel stabilizer to prevent any condensation from freezing and cracking the plastic or aluminum fuel tanks in the fluctuating temperatures.
- Drain the boat, engine, and all lines of water, then flush the engine block with a high-quality, non-toxic marine antifreeze to prevent the engine block from cracking due to freezing temperatures.
- Check the drive oil, engine oil, fluids in the lower gear shaft, and all other fluids for any remaining water that could expand over the winter.
- If applicable, winterize all freshwater and wastewater holding tanks, as well generators and air conditioning systems.
For those who plan to winterize a boat themselves, Oliver says the most common mistake is forgetting to pull the bilge plug and leaving it out to drain the boat. This one mistake can create a nasty surprise in the spring, as any remaining water will expand and bust lines and components, meaning expensive repairs.
Another important thing Oliver focuses on is taking precautions for storing a boat’s battery. While many newer batteries are designed to hold up against winter temperatures, he says they should always be disconnected. Additionally, if possible, he says you should remove the battery and store it safely on a wooden surface at home.
Once a thorough winterization process has been completed, Massie says it’s a good idea to dry and remove cushions and place a dehumidifying product inside the boat. “This will help diminish the risk of mold or mildew on the boat upholstery or carpeting.”
Use a Boat Cover to Prevent Damage
While your speed boat is in storage, you need to protect it from exposure to the sun, airborne debris, and mildew, depending on the type of boat storage you chose. These risks can cause costly damage to your boat—from soiled cushions to cracked electronics—before you get the chance to take it out on the water again.
“Preventing damage from sunlight and most airborne debris is simple—cover the boat,” Logan says. “Today, many boats are shrink-wrapped in plastic sheeting. But tarpaulins, either the cheap blue kind or better quality, will work fine, and some larger boats will be covered in custom-made, vented canvas enclosures.”
The most cost-effective method is tying a plastic tarp to the boat, jack stands, or cradle. A tarp prevents mildew because it provides airflow and ventilation. However, tarp ties could cause chafing, and this method will only last through one off-season.
While the boat is in storage, Massie suggests boat owners check in from time to time. “You’ll want to ensure that tarps haven’t come unsnapped and snow hasn’t drifted into your boat if storing outdoors.”
Moving a speed boat into storage, winterizing it, and finding a good boat cover may seem like a hassle upfront, but it will protect your boat when you’re not using it.