A Quick Guide to Boat Storage

indoor boat storage in a "boatel"

A Quick Guide to Boat Storage

If you are a boat owner or you are thinking about buying a boat, it is exciting to get your boat out on the water and have fun. But if you haven’t already thought about it, boat storage is an important thing to consider. 

What To Consider When Looking for Boat Parking and Storage

Boat storage has many options. Depending on a few variables, you should be able to find the storage option that is right for you. Here are a few things to consider:

  • The size of the boat: The bigger the boat, the more limited the storage options available.
  • Location: Boat storage in milder climates is so much easier and more readily available than in areas with severe winters. Why is winter weather bad for boats? Water can freeze and damage the exterior or internal pipes and parts.
  • How often you will be using the boat: If you will be on the lake every weekend or if you only take the boat out once per year for a week’s vacation, that will make a difference in the kind of accessibility that you will require.
  • Your budget: Are you willing to do a bit more work and pay less? If you are already paying slip fees, you may not need additional storage. You can store the boat there and maintain it on-site. This is a great option if you have a boathouse or slip on your coastal property. Alternatively, you can park it in your yard for free. 

How to Winterize a Boat

Winterizing your boat is an essential step in good boat storage. The exact steps will vary depending on the type of storage you choose, the amount of moisture and temperature exposure, and the amenities on the boat. Refer to your owner’s manual for specifics.

What’s the biggest risk to your boat during winter storage? The number one enemy of cold storage, ironically, is water. Make sure that all of the water has been drained from every area in the boat. This includes plumbing, freshwater systems, live wells, or anything that water can accumulate in. Once the boat is drained, leave the drain plugs removed and add antifreeze to plumbing systems.

How can you winterize a boat’s fuel system? Protect your fuel system by using a fuel stabilizing additive. Fuel can deteriorate in as little as 60 days if it’s left untreated, and adding a stabilizer will prevent varnish buildup in your engine.

Even if you choose indoor storage, it is often a good idea to shrink-wrap or cover your boat. This will protect it against insects, rodents, and other intruders. It is also a necessity for outdoor storage. 

Types Of Boat Storage

Storage can basically be broken into two types of storage: indoor boat storage and outdoor boat storage. But there are many kinds of storage within these two types. They include:

  • Lifts
  • Slips
  • Storage units
  • Self-storage
  • Boatyard storage

To find out which is right for you, we need to drill down into the pros and cons of each.

What Is Indoor Boat Storage?

Indoor storage is available in every form, from storage in your own garage to stacked storage. Stacked storage is also known as the “boatel.” Of course, in addition to the considerations listed at the top of the article, you will need to determine the availability, security, and amenities that you are looking for. For example, is your proximity to your boat more important than the boat’s proximity to the water?

Self-Storage for Boats

This can either be at home in your garage or at a self-storage facility that offers indoor boat storage. Storing your boat at home is, of course, the least expensive since you already own the property. Your boat will be close so that you can keep an eye on it. Also, you’ll have no access restrictions if you want to take it out or do repairs and maintenance. But boat storage can take up space needed for another vehicle, and it often needs HOA approval. 

While they’re not as inexpensive, self-storage facilities usually have excellent security systems. Many have 24-hour access, so you can come and go as needed. Normally, however, indoor storage at self-storage locations is limited to small boats.

Dry Stacked Storage for Boats

This is a storage option where boats are stored in a warehouse on racks. The boats are handled with forklifts and are taken in and out by trained personnel. Some boat owners use this storage to avoid slip costs; they can call ahead and take their boat out only when they are ready to use it. Since it is in a warehouse, your boat is not exposed to the elements (such as UV rays and storms). Dry boat storage options also protect your boat from the water.

These facilities will normally have security measures in place to avoid theft and vandalism. However, you are at the mercy of the attendants to have your boat taken in and out of the water. Some facilities limit the number of times you can take down your boat without incurring additional fees. If your boat is unusually large, or if you live somewhere other than a coastal location, this might not be a storage option. 

Most stacked storage facilities do not offer power options. So if battery charging is a necessity, then check with the facility ahead of time. You also may want to remove the batteries before storage. 

What About Outdoor Boat Storage?

outdoor boat storage of a partially covered boat

Outdoor storage may be less expensive than storage with a controlled climate and has greater availability. It does require planning and winterizing, however, and it may shorten the lifespan of your vessel. Your boat will need to either have a canopy, be shrink-wrapped, or use a protective cover to keep it out of the elements. There are three main types of outdoor boat storage:

1. Outdoor Self-Storage for Boats

Whether on your own property or at a self-storage facility, outdoor self-storage is an inexpensive way to store your boat. Some people have a boat “pad” poured next to their driveway to store their boat. If you decide on this mode of storage, be sure you check local regulations or HOA guidelines first. 

Be aware that, even if the boat is at your house, the chance of burglary increases if the boat is stored outdoors. Also, as with any outdoor storage, be mindful of rodents getting into your boat and nesting. 

If you don’t have room at home, another inexpensive option is a self-storage facility. There are fewer size restrictions than indoor storage, and the same security protection exists. You will still have easy access and retrieval. The drawbacks are the same as any outdoor storage: no protection from the elements and require some degree of winterizing. 

2. Boat Storage Yards

What are boat storage yards? They are simply fenced-in outdoor storage areas for boats. You will see these around areas where there is heavy boat traffic. They are inexpensive but offer no protection against outdoor elements, such as sun, wind, and hail. If you are looking at a boatyard for storage, you will need to winterize your boat and provide a covering. You will also want to investigate the security that is offered by the location. Though it’s convenient for frequent useage, storing your boat outdoors will shorten its life.

3. Marina Boat Storage Options

Slips, or locations along a pier where you can moor your boat, are favored for their convenience and for being relatively inexpensive. They are most often used for year-round storage, though winterization is a must. Also, while they are easily accessible for use, repairs and maintenance may need to be done elsewhere. Since the boat is on the water, there is no need for the trailer or transport vehicle to be available each time you use it. 

There are usually two types of marine storage: wet slips and lift slips

Wet slips are the least expensive option, and they work well in milder climates. However, if you’re storing your boat in a wet slip, you will probably need to install an agitator or “ice eater” to keep any ice from building up on it and causing damage. 

A lift slip option is available at some marinas/ It is more expensive but keeps the boat out of the water. This reduces the risk of damage and the chance of algae or barnacles forming on the bottom of the boat.

Many people prefer marina slips because of the ease of use, convenience, and social aspects. Many marinas include certain amenities in the cost of a slip rental. They can include access to a clubhouse, pool, and wi-fi. If you’re considering a marina slip, one thing to ask yourself is: What would be what is the plan if there is a power outage? Losing power could result in ice buildup on your boat. Ask the marina about their insurance and backup plans.

What To Look For in Boat Storage Facilities

In addition to cost, location, accessibility, and security, take a look around the location. See if it is well-lit, if the fencing is in good condition, and if the buildings and landscaping are well-maintained. Also, find out about their payment options, security systems, and procedures during a storm.

Ask the manager if there are additional amenities available such as a clubhouse, if you can get price breaks for referrals or prepayment, and if they are insured and bonded. Costs will differ depending on the size of your boat, the type of storage, and even the local economy. You may get storage for less in a more economically depressed area or pay more for storage at the coastline. 

Indoor storage offers the most protection. Outdoor storage is less expensive. Essentially, you get what you pay for. But to get the best value, do your research and check out all the options that are most important to your storage needs. Regardless of your choice, you will need to store your boat and protect it. By following this boat storage guide, your boat should offer you pleasure and fun outings for many years to come. 

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