When storing your boat, there are several things that must be taken into consideration. Many of them are dependent on the place that the boat will be stored and how much protection it affords from the weather (rain, wind, snow, hail, etc) as well as from extreme temperatures.
Marina Dry Storage – A very convenient place to store your boat may be within a dry storage facility at a marina close to where you use your boat. Many such facilities are called ‘Dry Stack Storage” facilities since the boats stored there are stored on racks and stacked as many as five or six high. They are placed on the racks with a huge marina forklift. The most convenient feature of this type of storage is the ability to call and request your boat to be launched and then to have it in the water a ready for a voyage on very short notice. Of course, since no trailers are involved in this operation, you won’t even need to purchase a trailer at all if you store your boat in a Dry Stack Storage (DSS). Boats stored in a DSS are protected from the elements and may even be heated to protect your boat from freezing in the winter. Boaters are normally charged by the foot for DSS so that you pay only for what you need.
Wetslip Storage – Usually reserved only for craft larger than 25 feet, the ability to have your boat in the water and ready to go at all times can be very convenient. Normally, wetslips tend to be covered to prevent rain from getting directly into the boats and to protect the boats from direct sunlight. For larger boats equipped with air conditioning and galleys, electrical ‘shorepower’ service and water are many time offered on wetslips. Most states now require marinas to have sanitary pump out stations for disposal of sewage holding tanks on board boats with marine sanitation devices. If your boat is docked in an uncovered wetslip, you must ensure that water does not get into the bilge and/or that continuous electri is supplied to keep your battery charged to pump the bilge out automatically.
Trailered Dry Storage – Found near marinas, these facilities allow you to store your boat in a ‘garage’, out of the elements and privately locked. They are convenient in that you no longer will have to trailer your boat to and from the water, but you will still have to launch and retrieve the boat for your voyage. This type of storage is dramtically less expensive than either Dry Stack or Wetslip storage.
Home Garage Storage – Many boaters with extra garage space choose to keep their boats at their homes and out of the elements. This is usually the lowest cost storage possible, if your boat and trailer will fit into the garage.
Outdoor Yard Storage – The worst of all boat storage is to leave the boat outdoors in the weather. Without the protection of a building, boats tend to get weather beaten, the fiberglass gets sun-faded, and there is always the potential of the boat filling with water.
Considerations when Storing your Boat – Wherever your boat is stored, you will need to be aware of the following issues:
Insurance. Wherever your boat is stored, your insurance will cover your boat, damage to it, and losses resulting from theft, etc. If the boat is stored in a commercial storage facility (DSS, Wetslip, or Trailered Storage), the marina is responsible for any damage they inflict on your boat through their fault or negligence, but not for acts of God such as hurricanes, tornados, fire, flood, etc. Your insurance must provide coverage for these perils. (Many boaters lost their boats to hurricane Katrina only to find out, after the fact, that the marina’s insurance does not cover acts of God.
Protection from the Weather – If the boat is exposed to wind, rain, snow, and sun, you must cover it with tarpaulins or shrink wrap to keep the passenger spaces dry and free from dirt and clutter. If an open boat is exposed to rainfall, a working bilge pump must be present, with a charged battery, to keep water evacuated from the boat.
Winterization – If the boat is stored in climates wher there is a chance that the temperature inside the storage facility gets below 32 degrees (freezing) for any prolonged time, you must ensure that the water jacket of your marine engine is drained of water or pumped full of potable antifreeze to protect it.
Time – If your boat is to be stored for any period of time greater than a month, your engine should be protected by fogging the engine intakes and placing some fuel system stabilizer in the fuel tank. It is also a good idea to disconnect the battery to prevent battery drainage over the storage period.
If you will spend a little time to take care of these few considerations when storing your boat, your whole boating experience will be improved. Have a great cruise!