By Logan Livers,

Now that we’re right in the heat of summer, you’ve undoubtedly taken your jet ski out on the water for a couple of joy rides. Whether you’re a lake-goer or a beach bum, jet skis can contribute endless hours of fun in the sun and are a great way to enjoy the open water. But when your jet ski isn’t in the water, what do you do with it.

For some, there’s no choice but to park them on a trailer behind the garage, which is both unsightly for your neighbors and hazardous for your jet ski. Whether you just don’t have room in your garage or you can’t afford a spot at the marina, self storage can be the perfect solution to your jet ski storage woes.

Before moving your jet ski into storage, however, there are several steps you must take, including draining fuel and disconnecting the battery, winterizing and servicing, deciding on indoor storage or dry stack storage, and finding the right unit size and amenities.

Draining Fuel and Disconnecting the Battery

John Salvatore, general manager of Watercraft Superstore, which sells a wide variety of watercraft and watercraft parts out of Clearwater, Fla., is an expert on taking care of jet skis. According to Salvatore, you don’t need to worry about preparation for short-term storage; however, there are a number of things to consider when placing a jet ski in storage for long periods of time.

“The [first] issue would be fuel, which needs to be drained or stabilized with a fuel stabilizer,” says Salvatore, noting that the popular ethanol-blended fuels don’t keep as well, so you should be conscious about that when storing. “The second issue would be the battery, which would need to be disconnected or removed altogether and connected to a battery maintainer or triple charger.”

If the storage unit you end up renting has electrical outlets, Salvatore says you can leave the battery in the jet ski disconnected and simply hook it up to a battery maintainer. If the storage unit doesn’t have electrical outlets, it’s better to take the battery home.


Winterizing and Servicing Your Jet Ski

Long-term jet ski storage often requires winterizing, particularly for jet ski owners who don’t live in the South. “If you’re in the middle of the Midwest, like Wisconsin, freezing would crack and ruin the engine,” explains Salvatore. “It’s important to winterize so you don’t freeze or crack the block.”

Salvatore says that the steps to winterize your jet ski can vary depending on the model you own, so be sure to do your research before you get started. “Winterizing is a do-it-yourself type of thing, if you’re a do-it-yourself type of person,” he adds.

If you’re uncomfortable with winterizing your jet ski on your own, you can always have a professional do it for you. In fact, this can be done at the same time as getting your jet ski serviced, which is another crucial step to take before moving your watercraft into long-term storage.

“If you get your jet ski serviced before you place it in storage, it will make it that much easier once you get it back out,” says Salvatore.

With a newer 4-stroke engine, which is basically the standard for any model made after 2005, Salvatore says an oil change is necessary. Servicing will vary yet again by particular model—for example, a 2-stroke engine won’t even have oil—but servicing could include lubricating cables and performing jet pump maintenance.

Using Indoor or Dry Stack Storage

When it comes to long-term jet ski storage, Salvatore believes indoor storage is the best option. “Sun is horrible on paint, seats, and traction mats,” he says. “Whenever your jet ski is not in use, it ought to be covered or indoors to protect it from UV rays, bird droppings, or anything else.”

Salvatore mentioned that seats and traction mats could deteriorate from prolonged UV exposure, so if you can’t store your jet ski inside, you need to buy a cover to protect it.

Another great indoor option is dry stack storage, which Shelia McKay, office manager for Lighthouse Marina and Pirate’s Cove Marina in Panama City, Fla., recommends for most watercraft on the coast.

What is dry stack storage? Picture a warehouse where boats and jet skis are stacked on giant shelves. For a jet ski owner who uses this type of storage, it’s as simple as dropping off their watercraft with the dry stack storage provider, and from there, the storage provider does the heavy lifting…literally.

There’s one thing to remember when opting for indoor or dry stack storage, however, and it’s something that both Salvatore and McKay stress—cleaning and drying the jet ski before storage.

“Clean and dry your jet ski before you put it away so it doesn’t grow mildew or get crummy in storage,” says Salvatore. “Open any storage hatches and lift the seat so air can flow. Basically, make sure nothing that can be sealed is sealed so it can all dry out while in indoor storage.”

“If left wet, the paint will oxidize and get dull, and you’ll have to polish it to get the shine back,” McKay adds.

Finding a Storage Unit Size and Amenities

Depending on where you’re located, you might not have a dry stack storage facility nearby, which means you’ll need to look for indoor storage units at a self storage facility.

Michelle Jackson, site manager of AAA Storage in Osage Beach, Mo., says that she sees plenty of jet skis stored at their storage facility near Lake of the Ozarks because the area is a popular vacation spot.

“There are a lot of second and third homes here,” says Jackson. “People can store their jet skis here instead of hauling them back to Illinois or Kansas City or wherever they’re from.” Also, Jackson mentions that many of the condos and homes in the area have covenants that don’t allow tenants to park jet skis on the property.

When it comes to indoor jet ski storage, Jackson says a 10×10 unit works best. It’s big enough to fit the jet ski and its trailer yet small enough that space isn’t wasted.

Keep in mind, too, that there are usually great storage facility amenities that can improve your jet ski storage experience. For example, facilities with drive-up access allow you to pull a car or truck up to your unit to hitch your jet ski’s trailer. And, of course, as mentioned earlier, storage units with electrical outlets make it easy for you to charge your jet ski’s battery while it’s being stored. But for most jet ski owners, having extra security is a bonus.

One of the main reasons people prefer AAA Storage for storing jet skis is their top-notch security. “Our storage facility is very safe,” says Jackson. “We have a fence, a gate with a personal code, and video surveillance.”

If you’re storing your jet ski in a place where you often vacation but don’t live—which is the case for most jet ski owners at Lake of the Ozarks—security is crucial. After all, you want to be sure that your jet ski is safe when you’re not using it, as well as when you’re hundreds of miles away.

When moving a jet ski into storage, whether it’s an indoor self storage unit or a dry stack storage warehouse, be sure to prepare it properly and get the right unit size and amenities for your needs. That way, your personal watercraft will be in good shape for whenever you’re ready to head out to the water again.

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