Unless you’re lucky enough to live in sunny climes all year round, you will probably need to store your boat during periods of inactivity. While it may seem that anything in storage is safe and sound until you need it again, this is not the case for boats. Storage can cause accelerated wear and tear and may present issues further down the line.
If not appropriately prepared before storage, several issues can occur. For example, if left, corrosion can spread quickly, and moisture build-up can freeze and intrude. Other aspects include ensuring the engine and systems are checked, so lubricants don’t thicken and potentially cause hefty repair bills when you come to start it up again.
If you are considering boat storage as a short or long-term solution, it’s best to prepare your vessel for this period of inactivity. Below we highlight, some of the main areas to consider when prepping your boat before putting it in storage.
Empty the bilge
If your boat has been standing in water or is used regularly, water may have built up in the bilge. It’s vital to remove this excess water before placing it in storage. Cleaning this area with a wire brush and spray will ensure water is not left to freeze while in storage. It will also prevent corrosion.
Clean your boat inside and out
One of the first steps to take is giving your boat a thorough clean. Start by cleaning from top to bottom, including the hardware, and make sure to wax the topsides too. Giving your boat a clean before storage will highlight any areas that need attention, such as blisters or corrosion. Don’t forget the little details such as the windscreen, bimini tops, sprayhoods, etc. If you have a canvas, it’s best to store this in a dry space. Once you’ve completed the big clean, be sure to allow the boat to dry before placing it in storage. By taking these small steps, it will avoid corrosion setting it.
Take care of the engine and systems
Boat engines are designed to be robust, but they do need care and maintenance, especially before periods of inactivity. Rust, congealed lubricants, and old fuel can cause issues for engines. Before placing in storage, there are a few checks and maintenance areas to take care of, including:
- Check all hosting and electrical wiring
- Change the oil and fit a new oil filter
- Drain down water filter and water separator
There are many online resources detailing how to prepare the engine before storage. However, if you’re unsure where to start, seek professional assistance to keep your boat in top condition.
Disconnect the battery
If you’re storing your boat for a prolonged period, it’s best to disconnect the battery. Unused batteries can drain quickly while still connected and may be flat by the time you come to use them again. There is the option of using a smart charger while it is disconnected to keep it in optimum condition.
Cleaning and protecting the upholstery
If you have a small cruiser, protecting the upholstery is important if using outdoor storage. While a boat cover will protect it from the elements, condensation may build up and cause issues such as mold. Before covering and storing the boat, clean the seating and use a protective spray to reduce moisture build-up. This is not as prevalent for indoor storage spaces. However, well-ventilated areas will prevent any mold issues.
Remove whatever you can
If possible, remove any items off the boat during storage to prevent wear and tear. For example, it’s best to store lifejackets, flares, ropes, and dock lines in a dry place while they’re not in use. It’s also worth considering removing any expensive equipment such as radios, chart plotters, and GPS systems in case of theft or weather damage.
Protect your boat with a high-quality cover
A good quality cover for your boat is ideal for long periods of storage. However, it’s essential to use one after you’ve cleaned and prepped the boat; otherwise, it will mask the issues. There are several boat covers on the market that cater to all boat sizes. Reputable brands design these products so that you can protect your boat in all types of weather conditions, but they can be used for inside storage too. If storing your boat in a yard, be sure to fasten the cover securely in case of high winds.
Prepare the trailer
Your boat trailer is another vital aspect to consider during storage. Clean the trailer before placing it in storage and carry out maintenance, including checking tire pressures. If you’re storing your boat indoors, use wooden blocks to keep the tires off the floor. For boats stored in a yard, move the trailer every now and then, and this will help to prevent flat spots in the tires.
Insure your boat
Most boat owners have appropriate insurance to cover most eventualities. However, be sure to check your policy covers any storage options you choose. Some storage spaces require you to take out insurance with them. Plus, check everything on the boat is protected against theft, loss, and natural disasters should the worst happen. If you have valuable equipment on board, check this is covered up to the replaceable value or, if in doubt, remove it for the storage season.
Remember every boat is different
The list above is a handy starting point for boat owners looking to store a vessel safely and securely. However, every boat is different, and it’s best to tailor the process with a thorough maintenance plan. Don’t forget to check your owner’s manual if you’re unsure of the best steps. If you have access to your boat, it’s also a great idea to check it every now and then to make sure it all looks shipshape, and there is no moisture build-up or corrosion setting in.
Prepping your boat for storage whatever the time of year ensures you have a well-maintained and functioning boat when you come to enjoy your time on the water, so bear in mind the above tips for the best results.