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How to Store a Boat for Winter and Summer

Canoes and kayaks stored on racks

Who doesn't love spending time out on the water? Wind in your face, sun shining, the gentle lap of waves against the hull of your boat—a perfect day.

As a boater, you know your vessel is an investment into years of future enjoyment with your friends and family. And just like any other big ticket item, such as your home and car, you want to make sure it's protected.

That starts with good storage practices, especially during the winter and summer seasons. Read on to learn how to best store your boat and why storage maintenance matters.

Why Boat Storage Is Important

For all your boat can withstand out on the water, it's still very much prone to damage from accidents or general use.

Having your boat constantly in contact with the water or cold weather can potentially cause hull damage, as well as rust, discoloring and wear and tear.Properly storing your boat—both in the summer and when it's not in use during harsh winters—can help keep your boat protected and extend its use.

How to Store a Boat for Winter

To prep your boat for the winter—also called "winterizing" your boat—here are some steps to take:

  • Give it a final run just to check everything is in working order
  • Drain any fluids in your oil, water and bilge tanks, so hoses don't freeze or crack
  • Winterize the engine, drain it of old gas, and refill the tank and add stabilizer so you're sure no unwanted impurities or water is present which can damage the engine
  • Dismantle any electronics on board and remove the battery, plus any loose gear on-board that could get damaged
  • Give your boat a final cleaning
  • Perform one last inspection, checking for any cracks, damage or rust spots
  • Once everything looks good, cover your boat and store

How to Store a Boat for Summer

While you might not think about storing a boat during the summer, many people tow their boats to the waterfront during the weekends or on days off. That means the rest of the time the boat isn't in use, so storing it correctly is important.

Here are some steps to consider for summer storage:

  • Make sure your boat trailer is in good shape, that means the tires are properly inflated and the safety lights and wires work
  • Clean up the inside and wash off the outside of the boat—using a garden hose or sprayer will work just fine
  • Do a quick look for any damage, especially around the hull and motor
  • Make sure all your gear is properly stowed
  • Keep your boat covered

Indoor or Outdoor Storage Storage Tips

Depending on your budget, you can choose between indoor and outdoor storage.

Indoor storage options can range, from a dry dock warehouse to a personal storage unit or even your garage. Storing your boat indoors has the primary benefit of protecting it from the elements.

When storing your boat outdoors, both in the summer and the winter, there are a handful of important things to remember.

Make sure your boat rests on solid flat ground. If it's in your yard, avoid keeping it under sloped roofs where it could get hit with extra snow or rain, and trees where branches might fall and damage it. If you keep it stored at a marina or in a covered outdoor space, make sure you take all valuables with you and lock everything up every time you come and go.

How Insurance Can Help Protect Your Boat

Insurance can help keep your boat protected, both in and out of the water. You might think your homeowner's policy covers your boat. However, homeowner policies limit the amount of coverage and the type of covered damages, including damages incurred while your boat is on or off your property, leaving it potentially unprotected regardless of where it is stored or when you're on the water. Double-check so you don't get hit with any unexpected surprises if your boat ends up damaged while it's being stored at your home.

To go the extra step, you can also consider boat insurance. This type of insurance can help cover your boat, personal gear, towing assistance and medical expenses if there's an accident (up to the stated limit), among other benefits. Boat insurance helps address limitations and coverage gaps that you may not have on your homeowners insurance.

If you want to enjoy your time out on the water with a little more peace of mind, boat insurance might be a good option to help protect you and your family.