Winter storage tips that'll float your boat
Your boat was a big investment that pays dividends in good times spent on the water with family and friends. But as Canadians, we only get so much boating weather, and winter always comes around faster than we’d like. Storing your boat properly not only protects your investment, but it also gets you back out there quickly when spring finally rolls around.
Don't miss the boat
Winterizing your boat and choosing a storage option are vitally important. If you don’t take the right precautions, you run the risk of having parts freeze, burst, crack and corrode, among other things.
Regardless of how you store your boat, there are some fundamental steps to take before saying so long until next year:
Remove all valuables from the boat, such as GPS devices, other electronics, seat cushions, and life jackets, to avoid vermin as well as help prevent mold and mildew. If something isn’t affixed to the interior, remove it.
Clean the boat thoroughly. Any dirt and grime left behind can attract pests or turn into mold. Check for any signs of damage and have them rectified sooner rather than later—before it becomes a bigger problem. Give everything you can a fresh coat of wax to help your boat resist the elements.
Winterize the engine by changing the oil and oil filters. Be sure to use marine oil and not the kind you’d use for your car, which is less resistant to water and wear. Make sure the engine block is drained of water and protect the motor with marine antifreeze, which is made from propylene glycol and is less toxic to the environment.
Fill up the fuel tank to prevent condensation from building up, and add a fuel stabilizer to keep the fuel fresh and ready for next season.
Disconnect the battery after fully charging it, and if you can, remove it from the boat and store it in a cool, dry place, like your basement or garage.
Change the gear lube before winter storage so that gears and bearings are protected from rust that could cause damage.
Cover your boat. The best option is to have it professionally shrink-wrapped or to use a custom cover made specifically to your boat’s dimensions. The cover protects your boat from moisture and the outdoor elements, and keeps critters out. It’s good to cover your boat even if it’s in an indoor storage facility to protect it from dust and sprinkler systems.
Boat storage options
You’ve prepped your boat for winter, now where are you going to put it? Leaving your boat in the water isn’t recommended. In Canada, we experience such extreme changes in temperature, and all that freezing and thawing can take a toll on the condition of your boat. There’s also a greater risk of it sinking. What’s more, since you’re not visiting it as often, it’s more vulnerable to theft.
The first thing to decide is whether to store it indoors or outdoors, and there are pros and cons associated with each.
- Your yard or driveway: inexpensive, but not as much protection as other options
- Your garage: inexpensive, but probably lacks the climate control of a boat storage facility
- Dry stack: boats are stacked on vertical racks either indoors or outdoors
- Indoor storage facility: offers the most protection and security, but is also the most expensive
Insuring your boat
It’s important to have your boat covered year-round to protect it in winter. Even if you’re not using your boat, it’s still at risk for things like fire, damage, vandalism and theft. Talk to an Intact broker for advice on coverage for the type of boat you have.
When you take the time to winterize and store your boat properly, it’ll be smooth sailing come spring.