Though rewarding, owning a boat is a labour of love. So when it’s time to hang up your captain’s hat for the winter, it’s also time to think about the proper and secure storage for your boat and boat trailer. Here’s a simple guide for those thinking about buying a boat, and for those who are new to boating or a bit rusty:
In this guide we cover 10 points you need to check off before storing your boat – and your boat trailer – for the winter.
Your pride and joy needs to come out of the water and with that it’s time to give it an all-over clean. Wash down all hard surfaces paying particular attention to any residual salt, growth and build-ups. Clean and condition vinyl upholstery, making sure to dry it out before covering or shutting up the boat. It’s also a good time to clean out your bilge. Stagnant water is not good.
Flush your motor of any salt water as usual. If you’re running a four-stroke motor, changing the oil and filter will help displace any water – among other things – that has made its way inside. For the same reason, now is a good time to drain and replace the gearbox oil. Grease any grease points and fittings. Ensure you fill the fuel tank to avoid moisture collecting in the tank. If you’re considering buying a boat and keeping it outdoors, you’ll need to cover the propeller area because it holds water.
Before your last outing, top up the battery cells with distilled water and clean the terminals. Ensure you give the motor a good run to fully charge the battery. This will prolong its life. To prevent it draining over time, disconnect the negative terminal on the battery. Never disconnect positive first. Alternatively, you can run a trickle charger on it.
The ideal is to store your boat undercover in a cool, dry place. You should still cover it to keep out dust and vermin.
If indoors is not an option, a boat cover is a must as it will protect it from moisture, vermin, UV light and fallen vegetation.
It’s not just about your boat – your boat trailer is integral, too. Hose down any salt on the frame and in the rollers/skids. If the frame is an unsealed box-section, be sure to flush the interior.
Conduct a visual check for corrosion. It’s a good time to top up lanolin/grease-based corrosion protection on the frame, especially in areas prone to pooling.
Grease any grease points, such as in the coupling, jockey wheel, winch and jacks. In addition to lubricating them, it also displaces any water that sits at these points.
Replace and/or repack your wheel bearings if required and check your tyre pressures. Chock up your wheels and periodically roll your trailer forward and backward to avoid flat spots on the tyres.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way and that’s certainly true when it comes to boat theft. However, there are a couple of things you can do to make life difficult for a would-be thief. Storing your boat undercover, behind lock and key and out of sight is ideal. But also, install an anti-theft security device on the coupling. Install locking nuts on wheels, including the spare one. Even an old-fashioned padlock and chain to a fence could be deterrent enough.