Ahoy there, boat owner! Unless you’re planning to live a life on the ocean blue, you’ll need proper boat storage for when you aren’t on the high seas.
Finding the right storage solution for your prized watercraft is a must to maintain its condition, whether you have a sleek yacht or a family-friendly fishing boat. Fortunately, there are plenty of boat storage solutions fit for every craft and boater, including at some of the best self-storage companies.
In this guide, we’ll break down the types of boat storage, offer boat storage tips, and give you an estimate of average boat storage costs. You’ll sail into the sunset with the confidence to pick the right storage solution for your boat.
When you should store your boat
Are you thinking about storing your boat? You aren’t alone. Plenty of people don’t have the space in their driveway for boat storage.
Storing your boat at a marina puts it at risk of damaging UV rays, freshwater buildup, or saltwater corrosion. It’s no wonder why so many boaters are bringing their vessels out of the water for storage on dry land.
Boat storage is popular in the off-season, especially in regions with harsh winters. In these colder climates, winter boat storage is a must for protecting your vessel from the damaging effects of ice and snow.
Even if you live in a warmer area with year-round boating, like Florida, there are still situations in which storing your boat is more practical than keeping it at the docks. Maybe you’re planning a move, or you just don’t use the boat enough to justify keeping it in your driveway. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of boat storage options out there to fit your situation.
Types of boat storage
There are pros and cons to every type of storage, so only you can decide what’s right for your vessel. Let’s look at the most common ways to store a boat and weigh their pros and cons.
Indoor storage facilities
Self-storage facilities are your best bet for affordable indoor boat storage. With this option, you rent an indoor, climate-controlled storage unit that shields your boat from the elements.
Fortunately, self-storage facilities are available just about anywhere. U-Haul Self Storage has hundreds of locations that cover a range of storage needs, including for RVs, boats, vehicles, jet skis, and kayaks. Some even have electrical outlets, open storage, enclosed storage, and covered boat storage.
If you’re looking for the most secure boat storage option, moveBuddha readers rate Extra Space Storage highly. All locations have an onsite manager and security team, and some locations include keypad gate access.
Indoor storage pros/cons
- Indoor storage provides excellent protection from the elements
- Most indoor storage spaces come with controlled access and video surveillance
- Some facilities offer add-ons like maintenance or climate control
- Indoor storage usually costs more than outdoor storage
- Larger boats won’t fit in standard units
Outdoor storage facilities
Outdoor boat storage is arguably the most affordable way to store a boat. This no-hassle option involves picking a storage facility and dropping off your boat in their fenced yard, either exposed to the elements or underneath an awning.
Outdoor storage pros/cons
- Outdoor storage can accommodate larger boats
- Easy access makes it a cinch to pick up and drop off your boat
- It’s affordable
- You have very little protection from the weather
- Outdoor storage is less secure than other boat storage options
Full-service storage facilities
Full-service boat storage is the crème de la crème. With this storage option, you get comprehensive help with transportation, boat maintenance, and even cleaning.
Full-service storage pros/cons
- This is the most hassle-free option
- The full-service provider offers a high level of care and security for your boat, making this a great option for high-value or luxury watercraft
- Storing your boat out of water greatly reduces maintenance costs
- This is the most expensive boat storage option
- You don’t have a lot of control because the service manages everything for you
Dry stack storage
With dry stack storage, you pay to store your boat in a warehouse-like structure with other boats. This specialized storage option neatly and securely stacks boats on racks on top of each other.
Dry stack storage pros/cons
- Dry stack protects your boat from some of the elements
- Offers a little more security than outdoor storage
- Usually comes with add-on services, like placing the boat in the water for you
- It’s generally only available for smaller boats
- This isn’t as widely available as other types of storage. It’s more popular in seaside towns with big boating communities.
Marina slips (in-water storage)
With a marina slip, you pay a monthly fee to rent a space at a dock. Although it’s pretty expensive, marina slips are the most convenient way to access your boat and get on the water in minutes.
Most boaters want alternatives to marina storage because of the high costs and potential damage that comes with storing a boat in the water 24/7. However, this could be a good option for diehard boaters who hit the water every day.
Marina storage pros/cons
- This is ideal for frequent boaters
- Marinas often include onsite services and facilities
- Easy to access your boat and hit the water
- Marina slips are pretty expensive, especially in prime locations
- Your boat is in the water constantly, which can lead to hull wear and barnacle growth
Boat storage tips
How you store a boat depends on whether you plan to store it short-term (a few weeks or months) or long-term (six months to several years). Follow these tips to keep your boat in top condition, regardless of how long it’s in storage.
How to store a boat short-term
Short-term storage doesn’t require as much prep as long-term storage, but you still need to prepare your boat to be out of commission for a while.
- Clean thoroughly. Nobody wants to come home to a dirty boat. Remove dirt, saltwater, and debris to prevent corrosion or mold. Some boat storage facilities will have hoses onsite, but if you aren’t sure whether these are available, clean the boat before you get there.
- Check and document all damage. Inspect the boat for any damage. Document everything and take pictures. This is especially important if you’re using a full-service solution that manages transportation and storage on your behalf.
- Add fuel stabilizer. Did you know that gas deteriorates over time? Always add a fuel stabilizer to your fuel tank to prevent the fuel from breaking down and damaging the boat.
- Care for the battery. Disconnect your battery and store it in a cool, dry place to prevent drainage.
- Cover the boat. Always cover your boat, regardless of whether you’re storing it indoors or outdoors. This prevents dust and adds more protection from the elements. But not just any tarp will do. Look for a breathable boat cover to protect against moisture and mold.
How to store a boat long-term
Long-term storage is riskier because you aren’t using the boat for several years. Minimize the risk of serious damage with this prep list.
- Do a deep cleaning. A simple hose-off isn’t enough. Clean the boat inside and out, ensuring all surfaces are dry to prevent corrosion or mildew.
- Drain fluids. Drain any water in the boat. If you’re storing the boat in a cold area, replace fluids with antifreeze to prevent freezing and cracking.
- Lubricate moving parts. Apply lubricant to hinges, locks, and any other moving parts to protect against rust.
- Care for the engine. Change the oil and apply fogging oil to prevent engine corrosion.
- Check all seals and gaskets. If you notice loose or rotted seals, replace them before storage.
- Cover the boat properly. Use a high-quality, waterproof cover at a minimum. Some boat owners even shrink-wrap their vessels for better protection.
Boat storage cost
The cost of boat storage varies a lot depending on the storage option, location, and size of your boat. Here’s a breakdown of average monthly pricing for different boat storage options.
Standard indoor storage
Self-storage facility costs run between $50 and $250 a month. This ranges a lot based on your location, time of year, and facility amenities. To shave a few bucks off your monthly bill, find boat storage facilities that offer discounts for upfront payments or long-term storage contracts.
If you plan on short-term storage, opt for month-to-month contracts. They’re more expensive if you end up needing long-term storage at that rate, but they’re generally cheaper if you only need a few months of storage.
Heated indoor storage
Standard self-storage units don’t always include climate control. If you want protection against freezing temperatures — and the damage that comes with them —you’ll need specialized indoor storage.
Pricing ranges anywhere from $5 to $50 per foot per month (with “feet” referring to the length of your boat). For example, storing a 25-foot boat at a $15 per-foot rate would be $375 a month.
This isn’t required, but shrink-wrapping your boat is a smart way to protect it from the elements, especially for off-season storage. It covers your boat with a heavy-duty plastic film that’s heated to create a tight, weather-resistant cover. Shrink-wrapping usually costs $10 to $15 per foot, although you only pay for it once per boating season.
Open yard storage
Outdoor storage solutions are more budget-friendly, ranging in price from $50 to $150 per month. As always, the pricing ranges based on location, security features, amenities, and boat size. For example, storing a 30-foot boat in an outdoor parking space at a $5 per foot rate would be $150 a month.
Dry rack storage is a popular option for smaller boats. You have slightly more protection than outdoor storage at a reasonable rate that ranges from $5 to $30 per foot per month. Some facilities offer concierge services or boat washing, which will increase your monthly fee.
In-water storage with a marina slip rental costs between $10 to $30 per foot per month. That means a 30-foot boat at a $15 per-foot rate would be $450 a month. However, popular marinas usually charge a lot more than that, so it’s best to check prices with your local marina.
FAQs about how to store a boat
How do you properly store a boat?
Whether you’re storing short-term or long-term, it’s best to prepare your boat for storage by:
- Cleaning it thoroughly, inside and out
- Performing maintenance checks
- Changing the oil and adding fuel stabilizer
- Draining all water from the boat and adding antifreeze to prevent freezing
- Disconnecting the battery and storing it in a cool, dry place
- Using a boat cover
Should I store my boat inside or outside?
It depends on your location, boat type, budget, and duration of storage. Indoor storage protects your boat from the elements, so it’s ideal for long-term storage or storage during the winter months. The downside is that it costs more.
Outdoor storage is an economical choice that’s better for larger boats, short-term storage, or milder climates. For extra protection, we recommend using a high-quality boat cover or paying a little extra for shrink wrapping.
Where is the best place to store a boat?
Self-storage facilities are usually the best place to store a boat. They give you the option between indoor and outdoor facilities and often come with helpful amenities and security features. Most offer 24-hour access and the option to add car storage or RV storage at a reduced rate.
How long can a boat be stored?
It’s possible to store a boat for several months or even years with the right preparation. Regular checks and maintenance during storage will ensure your boat remains in good condition, though, so try to check on it periodically. For more specific advice on long-term storage for your boat, check your manufacturer’s recommendations.
What should you do to protect your boat from the weather?
Protecting your boat from the weather will maintain its condition and prolong its lifespan.
You can’t prevent all weather-related damage, but these storage tips will offer better protection from the elements:
- Use a high-quality boat cover
- Consider shrink-wrapping the boat
- Apply a protective wax or sealant
- Store the boat indoors or in a dry rack storage facility
- Elevate the boat with either a boat trailer or boat lift to prevent water from pooling
- Secure any loose items to avoid damage from storms or high winds
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