It’s about this time of year when I start thinking about where and how I’m going to store my boat(s) for the winter. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got some stuff planned, but winter can come literally any day now in my neck of the woods and seeing as climate controlled storage space is at a ridiculous premium here, I’ve gotten creative with how and where I store my boats outside. Some of these ideas are better for hard boats, some for the rubber, and a few work for both. If you like these or have any others I’m forgetting please do share!
- Wash your boat very well before putting it away for the winter with soap and water. Simple Green is a safe bet and shouldn’t hurt any boat I can think of. Dry boat completely before putting it away. Any dirt, sand or other debris can hold moisture. I know it’s a boat, but moisture plus cold equals bad.
- Spray and rub in 303 UV Protectant for all rafts before you store them. Top and bottom. Besides being like 3000 SPF for your boat it also helps keep everything hydrated. Pro tip: Fill each valve with 303 and close it. This helps prevent leaks by keeping the seals and plastic hydrated, thus preventing shrinking and leakage.
- Double check your raft frame pipes for water. Ever seen what water does when it freezes? Expanding frozen water is bad for metal pipes.
- If possible get a dedicated kick stand for your drift boat or dory. Consider this an insurance policy. Should your cover rip and snow melts into your boat, it’ll all drain out the plug. Pro tip No. 1: remove drain plug and place thick wire mesh in hole, so water can get through but rodents can’t. Pro tip No. 2: use a couple of 2×4’ in place of an expensive trailer-attached version.
- Keeping your boat outside on a trailer fully covered with a UV tarp is arguably the easiest solution, and it’s better for the boat. Just make sure the tarp is held down securely with bungee cords top and bottom. Pro tip: attach bungee cords on the grommets underneath the boat to help with heavy wind.
- If you store your boat where there is the possibility of damage from mice or other rodents, rolling up your boat and standing it in a large plastic garbage can will provide better protection than simply wrapping it in a tarp.
- If you keep your boat on the trailer, remove the frame and use a tarp or something heavier for coverage. Even with the frame, you should always pitch a high point in the center of the boat to promote drainage off the tarp from rain and melting springtime snow. Poking a hole in the center of the low point of the tarp will allow the snowmelt to escape. (Do not follow this last suggestion if your boat is not self bailing) Pro tip: after many years of the wind ripping holes where my oar locks and towers are, I finally started taking them off for the season when I store my boats. Not only does it help with wear and tear, it lets water and snow drain more easily.