If you have a boat, it pays to take some simple steps to ensure it remains clean, corrosion free and in perfect condition over the winter season, or whenever it’s in storage.
The exterior of a boat naturally takes a beating, with weather and water causing wear and tear.
The best way to store a boat is when she’s clean, dry and well-aerated. Start on the topsides, and work your way across the deck, cleaning every nook and cranny.
Rinse her down with fresh water to remove salt build-up and leave her to dry. Wipe down all the trim, and give the windscreen a light polish.
Top tip: If you’ve got a fibreglass boat, detect and repair any blisters on the hull. Dealing with these early rather than later prevents further damage.
The engine is the workhorse of your boat. If you expect it to run smoothly after months in storage, the port valves, pistons and combustion chambers must be grime- and dirt-free.
We recommend you add fogging oil to protect the engine. To prevent exterior rust and corrosion, also wipe down the visible parts of the engine with a lightly oiled cloth.
Top tip: If you have the know-how, this is a good time to change the oil and oil filter.
Conventional wisdom suggests the best way to store a boat is with a full fuel tank. There’s no build-up of condensation, and with an ethanol-combative treatment added to the fuel, it’s the safe solution.
We also recommend you change the fuel filter.
Top tip: Run the treated fuel through the fuel system and engine before storing.
The interior of a boat is particularly susceptible to creeping damp and mildew. Mop up any water in the bilges, and clean thoroughly to remove dirt and oil.
Scrub down fish holds, storage areas, drawers and lockers, and leave all the hatches open to allow in sunlight and air. Take out the cushions, and have them dry-cleaned if possible.
Remove lifejackets, flares, radios, GPS chart plotters and other devices and gadgets.
Top tip: Store expensive removable items, devices and apparel in a lock-up self-storage unit.
Sweat the small stuff
Sweat the small stuff and lubricate all the boat’s moving parts and fittings, from ratchet mounts and latches to hinges, linkages and the trailer’s wheel bearing. This is the easiest way to keep moisture at bay.
Remove the battery, and clean the terminals and cables. Also, visit the facility where the boat is stored at least once a month to give the battery a full charge.
Top tip: If you intend storing your boat for months at a time, put the trailer on blocks and remove the tyres.
Bow to stern inspection
Check the boat over from bow to stern, paying particular attention to signs of corrosion, worn cables, spent fuses and loose wiring. Check the hydraulic steering fluid levels, and top up if necessary.
Top tip: If there are any repairs or parts that need replacing, do this right away.
Ideally, you want to store a boat in a lockable, indoor facility. If that’s not possible, secure a covered outdoor bay and invest in a custom-fitted cover, for added protection.
At XtraSpace, all our branches offer affordable self-storage units that are ideal for storing boating equipment and tackle. Several of our branches also offer vehicle storage, including covered bays suitable for small boats. Contact us for more information or browse to find a branch near you.