Skip to content

How to Store a Boat for Winter

A boat travels through water.

You’ve likely had an exciting summer on the water, but now boating season has come to a close. With the chilly days of winter fast approaching, it’s time to think about how best to store your boat.

Taking the proper steps to store a boat is important, as improper storage could leave it vulnerable to damage. To help make sure your seagoing vessel is good to go next time summer rolls around, here’s some guidance on how to store a boat for winter.

This task can take an hour or more and has a moderate degree of difficulty.

Step 1: Drain the Boat

  • If you’re storing the boat on land, drain its bilge, water tanks and pipes. You can speed up this process by elevating the bow.
  • To ward off mildew, coat the bilge with a moisture-displacing lubricant.
  • To prevent freezing, add antifreeze to the bilge and water tanks.

Step 2: Prepare the Hull

  • Winter’s cold temperatures can worsen stress cracks on a fiberglass hull. Inspect the hull for cracks and blisters, and make the necessary repairs before putting the boat into storage.
  • It’s also a good idea to remove barnacles and residue from the hull. You can accomplish this by using a scraper or a hose with a pressurized nozzle.
  • After the hull has been cleaned, finish up by applying a coat of wax. The wax will offer some protection from the elements and make it easier to clean the hull the next time around.

Step 3: Get the Engine Ready for Winter

  • Inspect the wires and hoses connected to the engine to make sure they’re in good shape. If these components are damaged, cold weather and disuse can worsen the problem, so replace worn parts as necessary.
  • Get rid of caked-on salt and dirt by flushing the engine, including the cooling system. If this debris isn’t cleared away, it may lead to corrosion that can damage the engine while the boat is in storage.
  • Refill the coolant system using antifreeze.
  • Run the engine for a few minutes to loosen impurities, and then replace the oil and filters.
  • Top off the engine to prevent water vapors from entering. Use a mixture of gas and fuel stabilizer. The stabilizer should prevent the fuel from degrading during winter storage.

Step 4: Remove the Battery

  • Remove the battery.
  • Clean the battery terminals, and apply a light coating of grease.
  • Store the battery in a cool, dry place, and connect it to a charger.

Step 5: Prepare the Interior

  • Remove everything that isn’t attached to the boat, including items such as fire extinguishers and life jackets. Electronics could freeze if the temperature drops, so remove those as well.
  • If interior components feature organic materials, such as leather and fabric, remove these from the boat and place them in storage. Doing so can prevent mildew from forming.

Step 6: Cover the Boat

  • Install a boat cover. Doing so should help ward off dust, dirt and moisture.

Now your boat is ready for storage. You have the option of storing it in the water or on land. Water storage at a marina is convenient but expensive. If you’re storing your boat on land, it can be kept in an indoor or outdoor storage facility, at a boatyard, or in your own yard or driveway. If you’re storing it at home, check with your homeowner’s association to make sure this type of storage is allowed.

Check out all the boat covers available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to store a boat for winter, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *