Preparing for Winter Boat Storage


Protecting your boat while out of commission during the winter comes down to simple maintenance and security strategies. Preparing for winter boat storage and addressing potential problems early on could be the difference between your boat sustaining catastrophic damage, versus being in tip-top shape come season. 

Have a Plan 

You should have a comprehensive winter storage plan that outlines how you will secure your boat, whether in the water or ashore. Make these plans before freezing temperatures arrive. You’ll be glad to have planned ahead of those inevitable harsh winter conditions.  

Where To Keep Your Boat:  

  • Floating Docks: These generally have pilings tall enough to protect from strong winds and high waves. 
  • Fixed Docks: These should be sturdy enough to also protect from strong winds and high waves. This means no loose pilings or rotting wood. 
  • Haul-Out Facilities: Watercraft can be safer when secured ashore. Consider having your boat hauled by a marina or boatyard.  

Secure Loose Equipment 

Before winterizing, strip all loose gear and unsecured objects (Bimini tops, canvas covers, outriggers, antennas, anchors, dinghies, and so on). Anything on the deck that isn’t permanently attached should be removed and stored. The objective is to reduce and/or eliminate exposure to hazardous conditions.

Unsecured items can cause damage to the vessel. These items should always be identified and either secured or removed prior to winterization. For small items that remain on board, there are various securing and stowage methods available such as straps, ropes, or lockable storage areas. 

Theft Prevention

Electronics and other valuable items should also be removed. Not only are these items vulnerable to theft during the off-season but leaving them aboard also risks damage from the weather. Bring home any devices that can be removed easily. For permanently installed electronics, record model/serial numbers and take pictures in case these items are stolen and you need to file an insurance claim or police report.

For additional protection against theft, consider an anti-theft device. Securing your watercraft with an appropriately configured and installed anti-theft device will deter thieves, increase security, and reduce the likelihood of stolen items. 

Recommended Anti-Theft Devices:

  • Spot Trace: Features top-notch satellite technology, GPS tracking via Google Maps, and notifications of motion detection
  • GOST Global: Features satellite-based GPS tracking, video surveillance, wireless sensors, and an acoustic sound barrier 
  • Siren Marine: Features GPS tracking and geofence, arm/disarm options, and bilge and temperate alerts 

» MORE: Does Boat Insurance Cover Theft?

Water Damage Prevention

Freezing temperatures can cause significant damage to your boat if water has not been flushed out of its pipes, plumbing lines, holding lines, and sewage tanks. The engine has the potential to freeze, expand, and ultimately result in thousands of dollars of damages. So, ensure all water is drained from the vessel when winterizing your boat.  

Seal all openings, including hatches, ports and gauges, to prevent water damage. If the vessel is being stored ashore for the winter, remove the drain plug so any water that gets in can get out. Sitting water has the potential to freeze and cause significant damage. Plus, the weight of the water could pop the trailer tires or damage the trailer axles. Just remember to plug the drain back in before you launch back into the water. 

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