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How You Should Store Your Boat In The Winter

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 8 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Boat Storage In Winter Storing Your Boat

There are two aspects to storing your boat in the winter if you are not intending to live on it once the cold weather comes around. Firstly, there’s the issue of whether you intend to leave it in the water or you’re going to take it out and store it externally in a protected environment.

Then there is also the actual preparation and maintenance you’ll need to carry out before ‘putting it to bed’ for the winter months. This process is often tedious and messy but is absolutely crucial for the maintenance of your boat and this procedure is commonly referred to as ‘winterizing’ your boat and this is discussed in more detail on another article contained on this website.

This article will, however, be focused on the final preparations depending upon whether your boat is staying in the water or coming ashore for the winter.

Storing Your Boat Ashore

It is obviously more beneficial if you are going to store your boat ashore and indoors in a suitable storage facility for the winter because it will be protected from the harshest elements of the weather and it also prevents blisters from developing around the hull area as the result of water soaking into any laminated area beneath the waterline.

It’s also an advantage to take your boat out of the water as you’ll be able to power wash it in its entirety getting rid of all the stains and sea or water build-up and you’ll be able to check the entire craft for any damage and look for areas that might need to be resealed, varnished or painted.

There are no disadvantages whatsoever in taking your boat ashore and storing it in a protected environment but, unlike where the boat is staying in the water, you should disconnect its battery and keep that at home for ease of maintenance and for prevention against theft. However, the reasons some boat owners leave their boats in the water over the winter is simply because the cost of storing it ashore in a secure facility can be just too expensive.

Leaving Your Boat In The Water

There are some final things you must do if you intend leaving your boat in the water over the winter. You’ll need to keep the battery running so that the bilge pump can continue to function if required. However, the first priority is to make sure that any valves and seacocks have been firmly closed to protect the thru-hulls.

If you fail to do this, not only will your boat possibly sink but you’ll incur major additional costs for repairs and, perhaps most ominously, it will possibly invalidate your insurance or, at the very least, your premiums will increase significantly. The only thru-hull which should be kept open is the cockpit drain but you must clamp this with a hose made of stainless steel.

If your boat is located in waters which are likely to be subject to occasional or regular freezing over the winter, you’ll also need to use some kind of de-icing system or make or install some kind of bubble system. It’s also important that you have your boat checked over every few weeks or so over the winter months so if you’re not going to be around, you’ll need to arrange someone to do that for you.

Whether In or Out of The Water

Regardless of whether you’re keeping your boat in the water or bringing it ashore, you should cover it completely with a proper boat canvas cover making sure that the cover fits snugly and is well maintained. Also, you can buy special mould and mildew bags which you can situate around the interior of the boat which will prevent the boat from acquiring an unpleasant smell and will also reduce the time you’ll need to spend cleaning the boat in the springtime or whenever you intend using it again.

All these things, in addition to the article on winterizing your boat, are essential if you want your boat to remain seaworthy for many years to come and if it’s the first time you’ve had to do this, then it’s always useful to seek the advice and help from an expert. Even if this costs you additional money, it’s worth it in the long run as once you’ve had one winter of watching and/or helping a professional see how it’s done properly, then you’ll know what to do by yourself in future winters.

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