Preparing Your Boat for Winter Self-Storage

Is there really anything better to do in the summer than leaning back in the sunshine, wind in your hair, waves splashing around you, mimosa or mojito cradled in your hand as you lounge back on the deck of your boat? We didn’t think so either.

We also didn’t think it would be wise not to mention that fall is upon us, and the boating season is (unfortunately) almost over. As one of Canada’s largest self-storage companies, we would be skirting our responsibilities of giving our tenants the head’s up about this if we didn’t mention it.

Unfortunately, the season is upon us where we must start arranging storage for our boats for the winter. With this in mind, we’ve compiled the following tips to help you prepare your boat for its stay in storage. Follow these, and your boat will come out of storage in the same way it went into storage.

The circle check

Before putting your boat in storage, take it out for one last journey. Here, ensure that everything is working properly. If you find any issues, now is the time to get them remedied. Leaving things for the winter could cause them to become worse. Moreover, at the end of the season, you may be able to find some good deals – come spring time, those deals won’t be around anymore.

Once you’ve got it out of the water, though, you should give the boat a proper inspection. Walk around the exterior carefully, looking for any cracks or damages. Talk a walk through the interior as well, looking for similar issues. Get everything up to its optimal condition before storing your boat for the winter.

Prepare the mechanics

Once your boat is running in optimal condition, you need to shut the boat down properly for the winter, and this means preparing the mechanics of the boat for storage.

Fill or change all of the liquids. Top up the gas and coolant. Add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel, and allow it to run for 10 minutes to circulate the stabilizer properly.

Check the oil, and be sure that it is clean. Change the oil entirely if it is even just slightly dirty. Stagnant, dirty oil will clog your lines after extended periods, so the change is necessary to avoid this.

Clean, clean, clean

Cleaning both the interior and exterior of your boat before storing it for the winter is important. Be sure to unplug the bilge drain and empty it. Drain the seacocks.

Clean everything you can here, including thru-hulls, strainers, hull, and decks. Vacuum any carpets. Clear fridges of food, and clean their interiors.

The idea here is that any mould, food, or grime can lead to more mould or odors, or could leave stains on surfaces if they are left for long periods. The idea, also, is to ensure that when the spring arrives your boat is ready to perform, rather than provide you with a number of headaches that have gotten worse throughout the winter. Whatever time you spend in the autumn now, will likely be twice the time in the spring.

No standing water

To keep mildew from growing, ensuring your boat is entirely dry is the key to success. After cleaning, be sure to allow the boat to dry properly before putting it into storage. Give your boat sometime in the open air. Set up a fan (or two) inside the boat to help the process along.

While you don’t necessarily want to leave doors and windows open while your boat is in storage, any vents should be left open to aid in airflow. Certainly, any fridges should be left open as well.

We might also suggest utilizing a drying agent, like silica gel (the same little packets you find in a box of new shoes), to help absorb any moisture. Leave a number of these packets in corners of interior of the cabin, and this will be a huge help in preventing mould growth.

Turn your boat off

Electronics continue to drain power even when they are turned off. For this reason, it can be a good idea to disconnect your boat’s battery during its stay in storage. Leaving it connected could find it drained by the time you take the boat back out on the water.

Disconnect the battery, and attach it to a battery tender or maintainer. This will keep the battery charged without over charging it. Store the battery in a cool, dry place.

Alternatively, if removing the battery is not an option, then disconnect the electronics you are able to disconnect (such as a fridge, microwave, or radio). We would then say to check on the boat, powering it up and letting it run every so often, to keep the battery in working condition.

Give your boat a coat

Finally, now that your boat is in optimal condition, cleaned, dried, and properly turned off, now is the time to give your boat a coat for the winter.

Wax your boat. Waxing your boat does not merely make it look nice, it provides an added layer of protection, and prevents the exterior of your boat from the possibility of corrosion or rust.

And then give it a second coat. Cover your boat with, preferably, a breathable cover that does not prevent airflow. Find a soft cover that does not leave any marks, but one that is also durable enough to withstand most weather conditions. Even if you are storing your boat in an enclosed, private space, we still suggest covering it to keep it from getting dusty (a good way to avoid some spring cleaning).

Not only is your boat now prepped for life in storage, it’s now also prepped for next season on the water. How happy are you going to be when you take your boat out of storage next year and not have a wack of maintenance chores to attend to? Like super-happy, we’d guess!

Real Storage offers spaces of all types and sizes, and is sure to accommodate your boat. If you have any further questions about boat storage, or any self-storage questions whatsoever, speak with your Real Storage agent today.