If you own a boat, you need somewhere to store it. Maybe winter is coming, or you’ll be traveling and unable to use it, but you will need to keep it in storage at some point.
Key Point Module
- 1 Dry stack storage (stacking the boat inside a warehouse) is an option as well, offering excellent year-round protection.
- 2 Excellent protection and amenities come with a heftier price tag than the other options we’ve discussed so far. But keep in mind – repairs are costly too, and storing your boat indoors is one of the best ways to prevent long-term damage (and expensive repairs).
- 3 Even if you choose to store your boat indoors, you should invest in a boat cover specifically designed to fit your boat. A boat cover helps prevent low areas from collecting moisture, but still allows enough air circulation to minimize mold and mildew.
- 4 If you’re storing your boat or other watercraft for more than two months, remove the battery and store it in a cool, dry location. If you’re storing for more than six months, use a battery tender (also called a battery maintainer or charger) to make sure the battery will have enough charge to run when you finally take the boat out of storage.
Keeping your boat at the marina is definitely convenient, but it can be quite expensive. On the other hand, taking it home can be a big hassle, and the boat will take up quite a bit of space, not to mention the exposure to the elements, which can lead to costly repairs in the future.
If you’re stuck and not sure what to do, you’ll be relieved to know that there are a variety of boat storage options available, and SpareFoot can help you find exactly what you need. We’ve created a guide that will help you determine what type of boat storage is best for your craft. Once you’ve figured out what you need, you can simply enter your city or ZIP code into our search bar to find boat storage, or browse through the links below.
You can choose from storage units at self-storage facilities, outdoor boat storage spaces at storage facilities, indoor boat storage facilities, boatyards that store boats on racks, and more. All of these options fit somewhere between keeping your boat in a marina or at home for convenience, and each have perks and disadvantages you will need to consider.
Boat storage options
Boat storage units
Did you know you can keep your boat in a regular storage unit? It’s often the most cost-effective way to protect your boat from the elements when it’s not being used. Storage units are not only inexpensive, especially compared to other options, but there are also tons of locations – you can find one almost anywhere, including nearby waterways, to make it easier to get your boat from storage to water fast.
Of course, even boats on the smaller side take up quite a bit of space. You will likely require a 10×15 self-storage unit for your boat at the very least. Beyond that, your options will be 10×20 and 10×30 storage units. Always make sure you measure carefully: if your boat is 10 feet wide and 30 feet long, it won’t fit in even the largest standard size unit. Of course, height matters too: most storage units are usually between 8 and 10 feet high. If your boat is taller than that, then it won’t fit height-wise.
Outdoor boat storage at a self-storage facility
You don’t have to give up on using a storage facility if your boat doesn’t fit in an indoor unit. Some storage facilities make outdoor lots available, where you keep your boat on a trailer. It’s not much different than a parking spot for your boat, but it may include a roof to keep your boat safe from the rain, and is a great option for the budget-conscious. Look for outdoor boat storage at facilities located near bodies of water, as they are more likely to offer it to the public. Amenities can vary – ask the facility you’re interested in using if they offer any perks, such as boat transportation and light maintenance, as some do to compete with more specialized boat storage companies.
Stack storage and dry stack storage
When it comes to storage geared toward boats and other watercrafts, a common method is keeping them on a lift, sometimes located right at the marina dock. This is a great short-term option if you use your boat frequently, but it does come with exposure to the elements, especially the danger of changing sea levels during storms. You can also opt for stacked boat storage, where the boat is stacked on a large rack with other boats, as opposed to resting on its own lift.
Generally speaking, a storage rack offers better protection from the elements and is less expensive than using a lift at the dock. Dry stack storage (stacking the boat inside a warehouse) is an option as well, offering excellent year-round protection. However, it does make for a longer and more complicated process when it’s time to get your boat back into the water.
As mentioned previously, you should always keep your boat’s measurements in mind when going over the storage options, and stack storage is no exception: not every size boat can fit in a rack, and many dry rack facilities cannot accommodate boats longer than 35 feet.
Indoor boat storage
We mentioned before that boat sizes often go beyond what can be accommodated by a typical storage unit, even the largest size. This is where specialized boat storage comes in, with facilities designed to fit a variety of boat sizes and heights. If you live in an area that frequently experiences extreme weather, long winters, and/or extended periods of precipitation, indoor storage is ideal for protecting your boat. Snow and ice put quite a bit of wear and tear on your boat, especially in the northern United States.
Indoor boat storage facilities typically consist of a single large, warehouse-like room where multiple boats are stored together. Many facilities offer special services and perks, such as free transport to and from the facility, and winterization services, including greasing external fittings, winterizing air conditioners, pumping out head and water tanks, stabilizing your gas tank, changing gear lube, and adding antifreeze to the engine and water systems. Some will even store your boat trailer for free during the summer while your boat is in the water.
Most indoor boat storage facilities cannot fit very large vessels into their warehouses and usually limit boats to 50 feet. Sorry, yacht owners!
You may be thinking that indoor boat storage is obviously the way to go. Unfortunately, the excellent protection and amenities come with a heftier price tag than the other options we’ve discussed so far. But keep in mind – repairs are costly too, and storing your boat indoors is one of the best ways to prevent long-term damage (and expensive repairs). Ultimately, it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons carefully against your budget and long-term goals to decide what type of storage will work best.
Jet Ski Storage
Storing a Jet Ski or other personal watercraft is essentially the same as storing a full-scale boat, but with one difference that can make finding storage much easier: they’re smaller. This makes it much easier for people to store a Jet Ski in their garage or driveway. But what if you don’t have any room, and want to keep it from being damaged by weather?
A basic 10×10 storage unit will provide the perfect holding space for your personal watercraft. It will have plenty of space, meaning you might be able to store additional water/summer gear if needed, and a roof that protects everything from the elements, all while staying cheaper than the marina.
Most Jet Skis should fit inside a 10×10 storage unit, but you can go with a 10×15 if you’re worried or want to store additional summer fun stuff.
Preparing Your Boat For Storage
Utilizing storage, particularly indoor storage, clearly helps keep your boat clean and secure. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect routine maintenance and winterization for longer periods of storage. The last thing you want is to stop in to pick up your boat, excited to hit the water, only to find you need to make last-minute repairs or deal with other hassles that could have been prevented by proper maintenance and storage prep.
Thankfully, basic boat maintenance is pretty simple. Start by topping off your gas tank. (Consider using a fuel stabilizer if you’re storing the boat for a longer period of time.) Then change the oil and remove any batteries powering the boat’s electrical equipment. It’s generally a good idea to go ahead and remove the boat’s battery, especially if you’ll be storing the boat for a while.
It probably goes without saying, but you shouldn’t wait to make any repairs – take it into the shop before you put it away in storage. Small cracks and dings can worsen over the winter. If you address it right away, before storing the boat, you will have peace of mind and keep your repair costs down.
Even if you choose to store your boat indoors, you should invest in a boat cover specifically designed to fit your boat. A boat cover helps prevent low areas from collecting moisture, but still allows enough air circulation to minimize mold and mildew.
Before covering the boat, clean it thoroughly. Make sure to remove any organic material or water from the inside in particular. Moisture can cause rot or mold, which can significantly damage the boat. Make sure the propeller shaft is well-lubricated.
After taking care of the exterior, you can undertake mechanical preparations before putting your boat into storage. Depending on your skill level and mechanical confidence, you might be able to handle this yourself, and we can help walk you through what to focus on in the following paragraphs. If you have any misgivings, though, it’s best to obtain the services of a mechanic.
Next, you turn your attention to the engine – get it up and running, and make sure everything is working together smoothly. Tighten up anything that is loose or wobbly. Then you can disconnect the fuel line, and let it run out. Next, flush the system out with the correct flush (consult your owner’s manual for information on which kit to use for your model of watercraft). Don’t forget that you will also need to flush your cooling system. When you’re done, make sure to drain your engine of any water.
Then, you can treat your carburetors and spark plug cylinders with fogging oil. Most boats have fittings where you add the oil, but some models require you to remove the carburetor’s cover. To apply fogging oil to your cylinders, remove the spark plugs and spray the cylinders. (This is a good time to inspect your spark plugs, replace them as needed, and spray the electrical connections with anti-corrosion spray.)
Clean out the gear case by unhooking the flusher and draining the gear case, then refilling it with lubricant. Inspect and clean the steering column and cables – you can use anti-corrosion spray after cleaning here as well.
Disconnect your battery and spray down its terminals with the anti-corrosion treatment. To finish, return your motor to its running position and cover it with a canvas or other cloth cover. Use a breathable material and avoid plastic, which traps moisture.
Preparing your boat trailer for storage
Typically, boats are stored on their trailers, so don’t neglect your boat trailer – prepping it is just as important as getting the boat ready.
To prepare your trailer for storage, check tire pressure and tighten all the lug nuts on the wheels. Make sure all of your lights are in working order. If you are opting for outdoor boat storage, use an outboard motor lock for security. If you plan to store the boat outside long-term, make sure you cover your tires to minimize sun damage such as cracking. When you’re done, you can chock the wheels and secure your boat to a large sturdy object with a trailer lock.
- Keep track of your boat’s registration including its expiration date. You don’t want to have to go through the renewal process at the last minute, especially if it’s summertime and you are eager to hit the water!
- You may want to keep a notebook with your registration paperwork and any other identification numbers for your watercraft and its trailer. Take photos of your boat and any associated valuables prior to placing it in storage.
- If you’re storing your boat or other watercraft for more than two months, remove the battery and store it in a cool, dry location. If you’re storing for more than six months, use a battery tender (also called a battery maintainer or charger) to make sure the battery will have enough charge to run when you finally take the boat out of storage.
- Stay familiar with your boat’s owner’s manual, which will walk you through the mechanics of boat storage and towing, and list all the safety rules you’ll need to remember as you go through the process. Keep the manual at home rather than in storage, so you can refer to it whenever you need.