Photo: Yamaha Watercraft Group
Unless you live in an especially mild climate, you probably aren’t using your boat year round. Rather than leaving your boat in the water, where it is exposed to the elements and could sustain damage during the off-season, it is wise to store it on land. However, it isn’t as simple as pulling your boat out and parking it in your driveway. Whether you use outdoor or indoor boat storage, perform a series of maintenance tasks to prepare your vessel. This will help keep it in seaworthy condition so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises when boat season comes around again.
Note and Repair Damage
There are a couple things on your boat you have been meaning to fix but haven’t gotten around to yet. It’s important to get repairs completed before storing your boat. The last time you go out during boat season, jot down the repairs that you need to make. Then when you take your boat out of the water, inspect it to identify any additional problems that should be fixed. Don’t delay in making these repairs because problems can worsen over time, especially when it comes to cracks in the hull.
Add Fuel Stabilizer
The last time you take your boat out before storing it, add fuel stabilizer to your gas tank. This helps prevent fuel from separating into ethanol and gasoline, which could damage the inner workings of your boat. Running the boat with the stabilizer already added will ensure that the stabilized fuel ends up in all the important places, including the feed lines, fuel injectors, and your engine. Then fill your fuel tank completely and add additional stabilizer to that fuel. Keeping the tank full reduces the chance for condensation, which can damage your boat.
Fog the Engine
Every part of your boat’s engine should be lubricated to prevent rust and corrosion from damaging your engine while the boat is in storage. The easiest way to fog the engine is to direct the lubricating oil into the carburetors while the engine is running. This floods the engine with oil that then moves through all the components and coats them evenly. It is normal for the engine to smoke while you are fogging it, so keep going until the engine stalls. If you are unsure of how to complete this process on your particular boat, check the owner’s manual for specific directions.
Give your boat an oil change and a new filter to remove any sediment that might be in your engine oil. After that, flush out all other fluids so you don’t have grime settling into the inner workings of your boat while it’s being stored. In addition, remember that water expands in freezing temperatures, and trapped water can break components of your boat when the water expands into ice. In a worst case scenario, you could return to your boat in the spring to discover a cracked engine block. Release trapped water in every area of your boat. Then add antifreeze to any water-based systems and run it through all the tubes before heading over to your boat storage facility.
Clean the Boat
Just like food hardens onto plates if you let them sit on the counter for days, all sorts of grime will end up glued onto your boat unless you clean it before storing it. After taking your boat out of the water, thoroughly scrub down the exterior of your boat to get rid of debris that has built up during boat season. Clean the inside as well, including the deck, the upholstery, the refrigerator, and other areas. Leave closed areas open to allow them to air out and prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
The sensitive electronics in your boat should not be exposed to freezing temperatures, especially if there might be moisture present as well. Unless you are using climate controlled boat storage, remove the battery and other electronics and store them in your home. This also gives you a chance to clean any corrosion present on the battery terminals. Just remember to charge up your battery with a portable charger so it is ready to go when the weather warms up.
Photo: Shane Desloges
Support the Hull
When your boat is resting in the water, it settles into the optimal position with pressure evenly distributed across the entire hull of the boat. However, when you are storing it on land, you need to pay special attention to supporting the hull gently and evenly. The best way to do this is with a custom built boat cradle or trailer designed specifically for your model of boat. If you use jack stands, you must also support the boat with blocks or large timbers to ensure an even distribution of its weight so it is not resting on just one or two spots that become damaged. Check your boat a week after storing it to ensure there aren’t any problem spots developing due to a lack of support. Once your boat is adequately supported, you can safely leave it in storage until boat season comes around again.