For many boaters, “old man winter” completely halts open water excursions. And with your boat also home for the holidays, considerations need to be made to best protect your investment when storing a boat for the winter. If you get on the internet and look up “storing a boat outside in winter” or just something like, “boat storage tips winter,” you will find that advice can be grouped into two simple categories: indoors and outdoors.
Indoor Boat Storage
I am particularly defiant regarding Pennsylvania winters, doing my best to keep casting to the remaining open water. Even if it means rocking my boat to crunch through shelf ice, I’ll remain in denial, not even wanting to think about winter boat storage tips. But eventually the cold always wins with a temporary shutdown, and my boat and trailer must make a hasty retreat to our garage space. If you are storing a boat at home, it is best if you can find protection in a structure such as a garage, storage unit, barn, etc., where it is unlikely that any additional cover or storage equipment will be needed unless dust is an issue.
Outdoor Boat Storage
If indoors is not an option, outdoors will work, if extra precautions are taken while following the usual winter boat storage tips. Beyond standard winterizing, remove everything that you can such as electronics, fishing tackle, floatation devices, etc. Even if it is securely covered or wrapped, when storing a boat outside, water, sunlight, and pests are now an even greater threat to boat damage. Southern boats may have minimal coverage and can even stay on the water, especially if the boating/fishing action never really stops during winter. Northern boats, however, need to be stored out of the water, preferably on a trailer. A dry lift with a roof will offer a great deal of winter protection too, as long as it also has a tight and secured boat cover. It is during the too quiet, easily overlooked periods of dormancy, when we must remain vigilant and, especially after a winter storm’s wind and heavy snow load, check for fallen limbs, boat cover seal gaps, and signs of wildlife where it is not invited.
There are fortunate boaters, who live in warmer climates or head south with the geese to continue chasing little green fish, that may never need to look up words on the internet such as “boat storage tips winter.” However, in northern climates, storing a boat, even for a frigid month or three, often is just part of the process. Larger boats may require larger storage facilities but for those of us that like to keep our boats close to home, minimizing exposure to the elements, frequently peeking in on our resting watercraft, and keeping up-to-date with boat registration will help ensure a rapid return to open water when temperatures warm.