A family preparing to spend time on the lake.

Whether it’s for the winter or in between trips to the lake, successful boat storage is a key part of boat ownership. But it’s not enough to simply stash your boat in an outdoor parking space and call it done. Boats are valuable items. Whether it’s a modest fishing boat or a sizable pontoon boat, proper storage will go a long way toward helping your vessel maintain its value while in storage.

But what is “proper” boat storage? It starts with finding the right vehicle storage location; self-storage is great a solution for mariners seeking safe, convenient and affordable storage for their boat during the offseason. Smart boat storage also involves taking certain steps to ensure your boat is prepped for long-term or short-term storage so it’s ready to hit the water again when you are.

When you’re ready to dock for any length of time, use this guide to see how to store a boat in self-storage the right way, plus preparation tips and the right storage option for you.

Boat Storage Tips

Prepare the Interior

Boat interiors vary based on the size of the boat and the type. Not all boat storage prep will apply to you, but in general, you should look to treat vulnerable, exposed surfaces – like vinyl, fiberglass or metal – with a protective solution. Keep cabinets and drawers open to prevent musty odors and mildew from forming. If your boat has a fridge, be sure it’s empty before you dock the boat for storage.

Prepare the Exterior

We recommend cleaning the hull thoroughly with soap and water to remove any dirt or grime before placing it in storage. Although minor, these blemishes can settle into the finish over time and become very difficult to remove later. They also put your boat’s hull at risk for a corroded finish. You may also consider adding a layer of wax to the hull as well for added protection from rust and corrosion.

Perform Routine Maintenance

It’s no secret that routine maintenance is key to keeping your boat on the water for years to come. That goes for boat storage as well. It’s recommended you take these simple maintenance steps prior to placing your boat in storage – whether it’s short-term or long-term boat storage – to keep your boat in great condition:

  • Change the engine oil
  • Treat the fuel with fuel stabilizer
  • Drain and replace the antifreeze
  • Disconnect the battery
  • Apply fog oil to the engine

Cover Your Boat

Most boating experts recommend investing in a cover for your boat, even if you’re set on storing you boat indoors. A breathable, fitted cover will keep your boat protected from collecting dust over time. For mariners interested in outdoor storage, a cover is even more crucial, as it protects against harsh UV rays that crack rubber and wear out the finish. It also repels damaging moisture and dust.

Boat Storage Options

Before you settle on a certain type of boat storage, consider the climate in your location. High humidity, freezing temperatures and sweltering heat all can have a negative impact on a vessel. Boat storage facilities with covered or indoor spaces or climate control may be more beneficial for you in those instances. U-Haul has thousands of self-storage locations across the U.S. and Canada, many of which offer the following vehicle/boat storage options:

  • Outdoor Boat Storage – An open area on the storage facility property that is not covered or enclosed – similar to parking spaces. Your boat will be fully exposed, so consider using a boat cover and only storing a boat you’re comfortable keeping outdoors.
  • Covered Boat Storage – Outdoor, drive-up storage spaces that are covered by a canopy. This storage option provides partial coverage from the elements, but your boat may still be vulnerable to heavy winds, moisture and extreme climate.
  • Indoor Boat Storage – Located with other drive-up/outside access units or within a large, indoor vehicle storage facility. These spaces are closed-off to most elements. Some indoor vehicle/boat storage units can be climate controlled, depending on the location.

Can You Put a Boat in a Storage Unit?

In many cases, indoor boat storage means storing your boat in a large indoor facility that is shared by other boat storage customers. But depending on the location, you may find individual storage units large enough to accommodate your boat. Review our self-storage size guide to see what size units are commonly available at U-Haul locations and what items typically fit. Any indoor units that are capable of storing boats will be drive-up/outdoor access units, giving you easy access to your boat.

How Much Does it Cost to Store a Boat?

The type of boat storage you choose will have a large effect on the cost. For example, wet boat storage, like at a local marina, is typically more expensive than dry storage at a boat storage facility or dry stack storage. Other factors such as the size of your boat, indoor vs. outdoor, uncovered vs. covered and storage amenities will also influence the cost. In general, more protection and amenities will increase the cost, but also give you the best peace of mind if you’re looking for the utmost protection.

Boat Storage Requirements

To store a boat in self-storage, you will need the following:

  • Name of owner
  • Make of watercraft
  • Registration number
  • Trailer license plate number
  • Photo ID

No matter what type of boat you need to store or for how long, there is a U-Haul storage location near you that can accommodate your needs while providing a secure, convenient and affordable solution. Choose U-Haul as your Storage Place and find a boat storage location near you today.

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