5 Mistakes People Make When Storing A Boat Over The Winter

14 July 2015
 Categories: , Articles


Nearly 12 million people in the United States own a recreational boating vessel. While many of those owners use their boats throughout the year, a lot of people restrict the time they spend on water to the warmer, summer months. As such, a lot of people have to store their boats over their winter, but a few simple mistakes can quickly cause unnecessary damage and repair bills. Prepare your vessel for winter storage effectively, and avoid the five following costly mistakes.

Overlooking minor maintenance jobs

It's easy to underestimate the effect winter storage can have on a boat, especially if there are niggling faults and problems when you lock the craft away. Overlooked maintenance issues can quickly go from minor to major over the winter months, leaving you with a large repair bill as soon as you want to start using your boat again.

Typical things to check include:

  • Worn cables
  • Broken cable insulation
  • Worn rubber bellows on your outdrive
  • Corroded or loose hose clamps
  • Loose wiring connections

Before you put your boat into storage, scour the craft for top to bottom looking for any niggling issues. Something that costs a few dollars to fix now could easily become a bigger problem during damp, cold weather.

Leaving standing water anywhere on the craft

Most boat owners have to deal with an outbreak of mold or mildew from time to time. Mildew enjoys damp, dark growing conditions, and your boat has plenty of places that meet this description. If you allow mildew to develop, you may need to spend a lot of money on cleaning materials, and you may even need to replace certain parts.

Check the bilge for standing water, as well as any other compartments where water may collect. Clean these spaces thoroughly, and remove upholstery cushions that may harbor damp air. You can also buy small moisture absorbers that you can place strategically around the boat while it is in storage.

Leaving the battery connected

Some people mistakenly believe that you don't need to worry about the battery while the boat is not in use. True enough, the engine isn't running, but that doesn't mean you cannot get problems with the battery.

Even when you aren't using the battery, the unit will self-discharge. Over time, as the battery discharges, it will become harder to restart and, eventually, you'll need a replacement. Some batteries can cope during cold weather, but other types (like flooded lead acid batteries) need regularly charging. As such, it's generally a good idea to remove the battery and store it somewhere cool and dry while the boat is in storage. You should also consider a portable battery charger that you can use to recharge the unit every few weeks.

Storing the boat with an empty fuel tank

When people store boats for long periods, they sometimes decide to empty the fuel tank. Some people believe this is good security (and makes the boat harder to steal), while others may believe this is safer than having fuel sitting in the tank. In fact, you should always fill up the fuel tank.

A half-empty tank can increase the risk of fuel condensation, which, in turn, can cause corrosive damage throughout the engine. In serious cases, this process could ruin the engine. Top up the tank and add a gas stabilizer to the fuel, which cuts down on condensation. It's also a good idea to run the engine for a short time, to make sure the additive in the gas gets right into the fuel line and engine.

Sealing the boat in wrap

It's always a good idea to store your boat in a secure indoor unit, away from rain, snow and ice, but some owners decide to take a cheaper option. Unfortunately, home-made boat covers often create more problems than they avoid.

If you wrap the boat in plastic and then seal with tape, you will generally trap moisture under the cover. Unwanted moisture can quickly lead to corrosion almost anywhere on the boat, and your home-made cover will probably create the ideal conditions for this problem. It's always better to move your boat into a professional storage unit with carefully controlled air humidity and temperature.

If you don't intend to use your boat over the winter, it's a good idea to move your craft into storage. Unfortunately, some innocent storage mistakes can quickly cause damage, so it's a good idea to speak to a storage company for more advice.

If you want more information, you can also check it out on websites of local storage companies.