Protecting a boat for the off-season is a difficult process. A well-protected boat has the potential to last longer, not only in relation to its mechanical components, but also aesthetically. Boat storage options are wide-ranging and each comes with its plus and minus points.
1 – Establish the Type of Storage Facility
A storage facility based outside results in lower monthly fees, but the vessel will be totally exposed to the elements. A heavy down-pouring of rain, ultraviolet sunlight, heavy winds, and prolonged snowfall, has the potential to cause significant damage. An indoor based facility on the other hand will make sure the vessel is fully protected from the ever-changing climate conditions. Some facilities even feature climate control to make sure the vessel is stored at a constant temperature. It helps to research the potential rental fees to decide which option will be most beneficial to your situation.
- Dry Storage. Many of the boat yards and marinas offer dry storage facilities. In general these dry storage facilities are secure and enclosed parking lots where a number of boats are parked up for the off-season. While the dry storage facilities can be a low-cost option to store a vessel, they are generally exposed to the elements and might be valuable to attacks of theft / vandalism. If leaving a boat in one of these facilities it is often recommended to fit a high-quality cover to give a higher degree of protection. Rates charged vary significantly, even for facilities located within the same region.
- Boat Slip. A boat slip at a marina is a further storage option. If able to book a boat slip in the area of your choice, you can avoid the need to haul and launch each time you plan on going to sea. Popular marinas often have a long waiting list. A very long wait for available space is often inevitable. Rates charged for the boat slips often vary by region and time of season.
- Storage Units. If a boat owner uses a trailerable model, it is can be stored for the winter layout period in a garage, car port, or alongside a property. However, in certain areas there are restrictions in place as to where a recreational vehicle can be parked in visible sight. If it is clear that it isn’t possible to store a boat on your property for the off-season, it might be necessary to hire a storage unit. A fully enclosed building offers a high level of protection for a boat, not just from the environment, but also from acts of theft or vandalism. Many of these complexes are situated close to bodies of water that are used for the recreational activities.
- Professional Concierge Storage. In many boating areas, professional storage facilities are available for either exposed or dry storage. Many of these storage facilities offer a type of concierge service, which means the facility, will take the necessary steps to launch the vessel as and when required, and later return it back to its place in the storage facility. Other services offered might relate to maintenance, watercraft repair, and washing and cleaning service.
- Marina. A marina offers a perfect storage facility for boats at any time of the season. A boat might be kept in a marina throughout the season and lifted ashore at the end of the season. A rack styled storage facility might be used for the period laid-up ashore. Basing a boat in one of the more popular marinas year-round is often very expensive, although it does offer the convenience of being able to use the craft at any time.
2 – Inspect the Location
Use a storage facility that gives quick and easy access to the vessel. Space to carry out routine maintenance should be available. In an initial examination of a storage facility, it is necessary to determine that the craft will be properly cared for and protected. It often benefits to comparison shop several boat storage facilities to determine the quality of service offered and amenities available. If planning on long-term storage, it might be possible to ask about potential discounts, as this is often available with some of the facilities.
3 – Insurance Coverage
Depending on the type of marine insurance plan you hold, a vessel might or might not be covered throughout the period that it is laid up ashore. If not entirely certain of the cover provided on the insurance policy, it is best to contact your insurance company to see what limitations might be in place during this storage period. If cover isn’t already in place, it is possible to extend your existing insurance coverage or take out a short-term plan provided by the storage facility.
4 – Identify the Level of Security
The security measures in place at the storage facilities can vary significantly. It is important to investigate this particular area to make sure you are getting the type of security you believe is necessary. A storage facility with on-site guards or 24/7 video surveillance are the preferred choice. A storage facility with just a simple fenced parking lot isn’t likely to offer a high agree of protection, and should typically be avoided.
5 – Use Protective Covers
In the off-season, it benefits to use a high-quality boat protection cover in either indoor or outdoor storage facilities. Covers are essential to protect the vessel from damage from the elements such as the sun, rain, and snow. Boats upholstery and electrical components can easily become damaged if not protected in the correct manner.