Winter Storage: What are your options?
Your boat faces a real risk of damage when exposed over time to harsh weather conditions. And winter weather is relentless, especially in the northern states. This exposure isn’t just unpleasant, it affects your boat’s performance and ultimately costs a pirate’s ransom in repairs. Avoid any risk of damage and keep your beloved vessel looking and running its best by properly storing it for the winter.
Fortunately, you have several good options for winter storage. There’s in-water storage, slip lift, dry outdoor storage, and indoor boat storage. Each option has pros and cons in the form of costs, availability, and convenience. So, how do you choose? It’s not difficult when you know your options.
First, winterize your boat
Before you can even think of storing your boat for winter, you need to winterize it properly. This annual process may sound daunting at first, but it’s really smooth sailing when you know what to do. Learn just what needs to be done, and how to get it done, by checking out our informative blog right here.
Your winter boat storage choices depend on where you are
How do you know which winter boat storage options are best for you and your boat? It depends on the temperature. If you’re a northerner living in a colder region where you see snow and ice for most of the winter, inside storage is your smartest option. On the other hand, if you’re a southerner in a typically no-freeze area, you can comfortably store your boat outside, even in the water.
How do you choose the best facility to store your boat for the winter?
When you’re on the lookout for where to store your boat for the winter, it’s natural to seek a facility in a convenient location. However, it might not be the most prudent move. Choosing one based solely on whether it’s close to home, or located at a popular lake or coastal area, can be a mistake. Here’s what you should take into consideration when a facility for winter storage:
If your boat is under 30 feet, accommodating it shouldn’t be an issue for the majority of facilities, because most dry racks can handle that size vessel. However, not all facilities can handle boats over 30 feet. Their dry racks may be too small, or your boat’s weight may exceed their lifting capability or maximum stored weight limit. Make sure the facility you choose actually has the storage capabilities to handle your boat.
You need to choose the storage option that’s best for your boat’s size and your geographic area and climate. Here’s what you have to choose from:
In-water storage is just what it sounds like, storing your boat in your own slip, in the water, throughout the winter season. This is a very common and acceptable practice in temperate areas where winters are relatively mild. But it becomes more of a risk as you move farther north, where winter can pack a wallop. Exposing your boat to harsh winter weather is definitely not a good idea. The hull could become trapped in ice and be damaged. Simply exposing your boat to winter weather could even cause it to sink if you don’t keep a close and frequent eye on it. And, there is always the fact that quiet marinas during the off-season could expose your boat to theft.
A slip lift is a sort of hybrid option. It allows you to keep your boat in your own slip but out of the water. The lift is a device that raises your boat above water level like a hammock. It can be easily installed if your marina doesn’t already have one available. It’s the option that combines some advantages of storing your boat out of the water, and still provides the convenience of easy access to both your boat and the water.
Dry outdoor boat storage is an option that traditionally has proved relatively safe and protective for your boat. It’s also fairly inexpensive compared to other options. Most marinas and boat yards offer it, as do many commercial storage facilities. Most of the time your shrink-wrapped boat is taken to safe, high ground and placed on boat stands. It may even be strapped down to anchor it, keeping it from toppling in high winds or a storm. Many facilities have covered storage, either on one level or stacked (known as high and dry racks). This adds a level of protection from the elements. High and dry racks also offer added protection from rising water.
Just like in-water storage, dry outdoor storage does have a potential downside, namely security. Be sure to choose a facility that’s fenced, locked, and has some type of security system or video surveillance.
Indoor Boat Storage is the gold standard, but also the most expensive option. It does, of course, offer you the greatest level of protection for your boat. However, it can be very challenging to find a marina with indoor boat storage services. The benefits are that your boat is completely protected from the elements and secure. The only drawback to storing your boat inside is that you have to put more work into getting it back out again in the spring.
What’s the winter boat storage verdict?
Should you store your boat inside or outside, in the water or cradled above it, during the winter? It’s a question boaters have debated for ages. The fact is that the right answer depends on many variables. Only you know what’s best for you, your boat, your budget, your climate, and your risk tolerance. The most important thing is to know your options so you can make an educated decision.
Check out some of our locations that offer various boat storage options:
A glimpse into the future of boat storage
The future of boat storage is really quite exciting. In the not-so-distant future, we’ll see state-of-the-art vertical yacht facilities that utilize storage bridge cranes. They’ll be able to handle any boat all the way up to 80 feet or weighing 100,000 pounds. These facilities will cradle your boat in a climate-controlled, dust-free building that can withstand up to 140 mile-per-hour winds. Best of all, haul and launch times can be as short as six minutes. The brains and muscle behind all this is the overhead electric bridge crane that picks up boats in a cradle, utilizing a computer with photo eyes, lasers, and proximity switches. We think it’s very sci-fi!
Written by: Jo Montgomery