When seadog Ermond Nathanson isn’t prepping his own boat for storage between trips to Lake Havasu, he’s repairing vessels for customers who didn’t know how to navigate safe boat storage.
“If you take care of your boat by servicing, cleaning, waxing and covering it, it will look and drive like new for longer,” said Nathanson of Ermond’s Boats.
So, if you are planning to shore up your watercraft in storage, just sit right back and read Nathanson’s tale as well as that of a captain who stores boats for clients around the world. The pair will help you chart a course to boat longevity!
Boat Storage Basics: Clean a Boat Inside and Out
Whether putting your boat in storage to keep it safe from a hurricane, or just to save money on a slip, you must learn the ropes to keep your repair costs from sinking you. And a thorough cleaning is a good first step.
Avoid tarnish, rust and mildew by thoroughly swabbing the deck – or just cleaning the boat meticulously — before storing.
“Clean the interior and exterior before putting a cover on the boat,” said Nathanson. “And make sure it’s dry before storing it, to avoid mildew. That smell is almost impossible to get rid of.”
And if you’re storing the boat outside, don’t forget to wash and wax it every few months, said Captain Elizabeth Shanahan, owner of E2 Yacht Services.
“If your boat gets dirty, the grime will ruin the gel coat and possibly the paint job,” said Shanahan.
Store a Boat with a Full Fuel Tank
Don’t cut and run when you store your boat. Make sure to pour in a fuel additive to the gas tank to avoid carbon and sludge buildup. And before you grab your koozie and put up your sea legs, also consider changing the boat’s oil, another trick to avoid carbon buildup in the engine.
“The biggest mistake people make before storing a boat is leaving it with dirty gas or old fuel,” said Nathanson.
And make sure the gas tank is full to avoid corrosion, said Shanahan.
“Condensation will form in the gas tank if it’s less than full,” she said. “You don’t want algae or anything else growing in there.”
Protect a Boat’s Engine and Battery in Storage
Avoid ending up dead in the water during your next excursion; either disconnect your boat’s battery or connect it to a trickle charger while it’s in storage.
“If your boat doesn’t already have a built-in trickle charger, you can have one installed,” said Nathanson.
It’s also important to flush any and all salt water residue from the engine block to avoid rust and damage.
“Flush it with fresh water, because any saltwater left behind will cause corrosion,” said Shanahan. “And if you’re storing your boat in a cold climate, you may want to run antifreeze through the entire water system to avoid anything freezing.”
Use a Good Cover When Storing a Boat
After applying a new coat of wax on a boat, place a protective cover on top.
“The first thing you should do when you own a boat that you plan to put in storage eventually is buy a good canvas cover,” said Nathanson.
Keep in mind that a towing cover differs from a storage cover, said Shanahan.
“You want to buy a good storage cover that is made of a thicker material than a typical towing cover,” she said. “A good cover is a great investment.”
Indoor Boat Storage Options are Ideal
Finding a dependable place to store your boat is very important to protect your investment. Shop around and choose an indoor boat storage unit, if possible, to shield the watercraft from the elements.
“The only way I would leave my boat in storage is if it was in a locked, indoor storage unit,” said Nathanson. “And I would check on it weekly. It’s an expensive investment that you want to keep an eye on.”
Indoor storage units are also better for the tires of boat trailers, since they’ll be shielded from the weather. Our experts recommend rotating those tires every month or so to avoid flat spots while the trailer is in storage.
Another advantage of an indoor boat storage unit is the reduced risk that a loose cannon -- aka a bad driver -- will damage your boat when parking nearby, said Shanahan.
“Do your research and find a trusted boat storage unit,” she said.
Some of our locations nationwide offer boat storage options to tide you over between adventures on the open sea. Head over to the Public Storage website to find one near you!