Storage Ahoy! Helpful Tips For Prepping Your Boat For Winter Storage

Winter's fast approaching and chances are you're looking forward to stowing away one of your most prized possessions. In many cases, leaving your boat in the water isn't an option. Dry storage on land is the next best option, but it's also one that you'll want to be well-prepared for. The following offers plenty of tips and tricks you can use to keep your boat in great shape while it's in storage.

Cradles or Jack Stands?

Boat cradles provide excellent support for your boat while it's laid up in storage. Most cradles are custom-made to fit a specific boat and come in wooden and steel variants. Cradles do a better job at supporting critical boat structures, such as the keel, bulkhead and engine areas, but they're also rather expensive in comparison to jack stands and hard timber.

Jack stands are usually the most affordable solution for keeping your boat upright and off the ground. Unlike custom cradles, they work with pretty much any boat. With the help of wide timbers and blocks for proper keel support, you can keep your boat high and dry without much issue.

However, there are a few things you should look out for when storing a boat this way:

  • Always place plywood under the jack stands, as the full weight of the boat can cause the jacks to sink into asphalt, as well as soft ground.
  • Make sure the jack stands are spaced out enough on each side to provide proper support against high winds.
  • Areas where inboard engines and fuel tanks are located should have additional support.
  • Leave a copy or two of your boat's graving plan with your storage facility manager. It's a diagram of where the boat's keel blocks, jack stands and support timbers should go in order to hold the boat upright, along with any special instructions.

Dealing with Batteries

Since your boat's out of the water, you won't need to keep your marine batteries in place. Instead, it's a good idea to bring them home with you and connect them to a float charger designed for marine battery use. The float charger will deliver just enough voltage to keep the batteries from self-discharging completely during storage. This prevents the batteries from being damaged after a long period of non-use.

If you do decide to leave your batteries where they are, you'll have to make a few important preparations to prevent problems from occurring:

  • Give those battery cable connections a good cleaning. A little baking soda, some water and a stiff brush can go a long way towards removing corrosive buildup on the terminals and connectors.
  • If you're using wet-cell batteries, make sure they're topped up to the recommended fill line with electrolyte. This prevents the plates within the battery from being completely exposed, which could cause charging issues later on.
  • Make sure all battery connections are snug and secure. Readjust or replace the connectors, if necessary.
  • Don't forget to connect the float charger to the batteries, otherwise you may come back to a completely discharged battery.

Other Tips

There are plenty of other helpful tips to consider as you work to winterize and store your boat:

  • Change the oil and oil filter before you leave. This will ensure that your engine contains fresh oil throughout the storage period. It's also good idea to drain the water from your engine and leave it dry or circulate antifreeze throughout the cooling system.
  • Change your fuel filters and then fill your fuel tank to approximately 95 percent. Nearly topping off your tank prevents the ethanol in the fuel from absorbing excess moisture. As far as ethanol goes, make sure your gasoline contains less than 10 percent ethanol or source your fuel from a service station that offers ethanol-free fuel. Don't forget to add fuel stabilizer to the tank.
  • When winterizing pump plumbing systems, use antifreeze that contains non-toxic propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol.
  • Always use a high-quality custom-made canvas or synthetic cover when covering your boat. Simply stitching a few tarps together won't provide adequate protection against high winds, freezing rain and heavy snowfall.

With these tips in mind, it becomes that much easier to store your boat on dry land. For more information look at sites like