Your Boat Inspection Checklist for Winter Boat Storage

Ready or not, winter is here. Depending on your region, quality boating time may be harshly reduced or completely shut down. If it is the somber time of winter boat storage, a boat inspection checklist is a good way to make sure you don’t overlook something that may prolong downtime in spring.

It may seem a bit ironic for a vessel built to be on the water, but a critical part of any winter boat storage is to protect it and all of its components and accessories from water.  There are several methods how to cover a boat for winter. Some boats get completely shrink wrapped. You can do it yourself by ordering the rolls and a heat gun from a shipping supply company but boat yards or marinas probably offer this service and have more experience with winter boat storage.

Many boats have a cover made for it that snuggly fits the gunwale like a fitted sheet.  If outdoor winter storage is involved, during your boat inspection checklist it is important to remember to have some sort of support in the middle so the water, snow, and leaves don’t pile up on it. Some boat owners just use a tarp for water protection cover. I’ve even seen filled water jugs tied at intervals used to secured boat tarps against wind and snow.

Or, some, like local river angler Dave Sherman, can just flip their boat for winter boat storage. Prior to wrestling his 14 foot john boat upside down on his trailer, he works through his own boat inspection checklist and removes everything he can. The seats, motor, gas tank, battery, even the boat plug get removed so the rubber gasket doesn’t crack.  Although his boat is ready for winter, I gathered Dave was not ready to put his boat away. “It was a sad day.

And then there are some, like me, who stubbornly try to keep their boat ready at all times. As long as there is still room in the garage, which is always under the threat of being overrun by bicycles, lawn chairs, and gardening tools, I cling to the hope of a warm spell and a little open water.  If the weather forecast truly looks like I’ll need to be drilling holes in ice for a couple of months, I’ll go through my abbreviated boat inspection checklist for how to store a boat for winter in the garage which mostly involves blocking up the trailer tires and making sure random garage stuff doesn’t get piled up on it.

Water protection should be at the top of a boat inspection checklist for winter boat storage.  Although boats are made to be on water, if water remains too long or gets in the wrong places, your spring boat inspection probably will reveal more repair work than just renewing your boat registration.


Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to www.takemefishing.org since 2011.