You can—and if the alternative is leaving your boat on the water, you should definitely bring it home.
Boating experts such as those at Discover Boating recommend out-of-water, indoor storage if you live in a place with cold winters. Not only are you reducing the risk of theft and vandalism, but leaving a boat in the water over the winter can cause significant damage.
Putting your boat in the garage
According to the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BOATUS), outdoor storage can result in storm damage from changing water levels, wind, and rain; blisters on the hull; and sinking due to “the slow failure of a small underwater fitting”. In addition to the obvious harshness of the winter elements, Boats.com warns that outside winter storage can even lead to sinking due to snow! This happens when snow comes in through a fitting above the waterline and weighs the boat down.
Of course, storing your boat in your garage might be a tight fit. As Storage.com explains, “Finding a place to store your boat in your garage or driveway is hard, especially when you have other vehicles that need to get in and out.” That said, the cost of storing your boat in a separate storage facility may eat into your boating budget, and if you can fit your boat in your garage, those savings could be well worth the spacial limitations.
Furthermore, Storage.com goes on to say that “many neighborhood covenants restrict boats from being stored in driveways”, so the garage may be your best bet.
Getting your boat to your garage is step one. There’s a lot more to protecting a boat during the winter season that just bringing it inside. So how should you prep your boat for winter? Here are a few key winterizing tips:
You’re going to need it. According to BOATUS, in preparation for winter, you’ll want to run antifreeze through cooling systems, flush it through and fill the air conditioning system, flush the water intake and run antifreeze through it (if in lower unit), and ensure that water strainers are filled with antifreeze.
Other areas that may require antifreeze include the watermaker, pickle, refrigeration, deck washdown pump, and areas of the head (hoses, holding tank, y-valve, macerator and discharge hose); consult your owner’s manual. Discover Boating adds bilges to the list. Antifreeze may be one of the most important things you buy to winterize your boat.
Engines and fuel
While procedures for inboard and outboard engines are slightly different, according to Discover Boating, you’re going to want to flush all engines with fresh water and spray fogging oil into the cylinders. BOATUS puts filling fuel tanks (to reduce the chances of condensation) and adding stabilizer to gasoline at the top of its winterizing checklist, as well as changing the oil and filtering.
What to clean and what to bring into the house
Discover Boating recommends removing “any valuables, electronics, lines, PFDs, fire extinguishers, flares, fenders, etc.” and cleaning, inspecting, and replacing them where needed. You’ll also want to clean your hull, engine(s), fuel filters, thru-hulls and strainers, bilges (make sure these are dry after you clean them), drawers, lockers, fridge, and stern drive(s).
Keeping your boat warm
Spaceheaters are not a good heating method for your boat. A lightbulb left on onboard is also a bad idea, despite having a long history as a source of warmth. Both these methods could result in your boat going up in flames. Instead, keep the space where the boat is stored warm.
This is not an exhaustive list; as a boat owner, you already know that boat maintenance can be complex. Hopefully these tips can function as a good starting point for winterizing your boat. Of course, as BOATUS states, the best winter storage space for your boat is “indoors, in a climate‑controlled facility with a backup generator.”
This means that you need control over the temperature in your garage. A good garage door that seals out the cold will help keep your boat safe over the winter. If you’re looking for a new garage door, contact Atlas Overhead Door Sales for a custom door that’s just right for you. We let you choose key features to ensure that you receive the door you were looking for.