• Preparing Your Boat For Storage

    Whether storing your boat for months or years, a few extra steps can make a big difference

    With the exception of the the diehards among us, the boating season is over for most people up north now so I thought this might be a good time to outline some tips for the proper storage of your boat during the off-season or just taking it out of service. I should note that this article is about the care of your hull in storage, not the engine and other systems.

    There are many sources for preparing engines for storage, however Iíve found that often the hulls themselves are usually put into storage with not much more than a cover. That may be fine for short-term, in-between-use layups, however, additional steps should be taken if the boat is to be stored for more than a month.

    Your trailer bunks should be set up to avoid excessive hull overhang. Supporting your hull at the transom is especially important since there is a lot of weight concentrated there.

    Most water damage to hulls will occur during storage, not actual use, so it is especially important to always store your boat correctly to greatly extend the safe integrity of the hull as it ages. To most of us familiar with rotted balsa cores and transoms, this makes sense, and while there may be no way to completely prevent water intrusion and damage over the course of many years, water intrusion and migration can be mitigated to a large degree with some preventative and after-use measures.


    When youíve finished using your boat, even for a short period, always take measures to keep the hull dry. After a day on the water, most of us will remove the drain plug and tilt the trailer upward to drain the hull, clean, then cover the boat. But more steps could easily be added to this routine that could make a big difference in the long term.

    Covering the boat protects it from outdoor elements, however that cover also traps in moisture, and with no circulating air inside the boat, it is a perfect environment for moisture-rotting to take place. Hereís what my routine is:

    After the boat is trailered and cleaned, place a dehumidifier inside the boat, then cover the boat tightly. Let the dehumidifier run for several hours The amount of water that the dehumidifier will pull from your boatís interior might really surprise you. You do not have to do this after every use, however once every two weeks during the boating season would really be beneficial.

    Many boats have a bilge pump access cavity below the floor, and in this case I have a somewhat unorthodox tip to better circulate air under the floor during long-term storage.

    Find a small computer case fan; the type thatís used inside your computer and other electronics. Obtain a small DC power adapter in the proper voltage and wire the fan to it. Then simply place the fan into the bilge opening (if your boat has one) and let it run for as long as you want. Those fans donít push a lot of air, but it will be sufficient to circulate air under the floor, which would aid in removing some dampness on and around the stringers and balsa core.

    If you want to really be thorough, get an engine lift and unbolt the outboard (or jack plate) from the transom to make sure your engine mounting bolts are sealed. If you purchased the boat pre-rigged - even from a dealer - do not always assume your transom through-bolts are properly sealed. My preferred solution here is 3M 4200. Many people will recommend 5200 instead, however I feel that its adhesive qualities are far too strong for this task. 4200 will seal just as well and be easier to remove when the time comes. While you're at it, check other fittings below the waterline such as speedometer pitot tube brackets and fish-finder transducer mounts. And finally, If there is a metal trim piece at the top of the transom, it wouldn't hurt to check if that is sealed as well.


    Never overlook your trailer and how it is set up to support your hull. Supporting your hull properly could prevent deformation, such as the development of a bottom hook, rocker, and even twisting of the hull. Remember there is a lot of weight on your trailer, and over time the stresses of your boatís own weight can and will slowly (even unnoticeable, at first), deform the bottom. Furthermore, for long-term storage, I advise against using trailers with rollers instead of flat bunks. I will use one example of a beautiful 1975 HydroStream Viper that I inspected. The Viper looked amazing in its near-flawless apricot metalflake gelcoat, however once I looked at the bottom I immediately saw very pronounced indentations on the bottom, which matched the roller-bunks that the boat was evidently stored on since new. That kind of hull damage would be very expensive to correct, to say nothing of the impact on this classic boatís value.

    Using a trailer thatís designed for your boat size and properly adjusted is also very important. Aside from weight-limit concerns, a trailer that is too short will create a situation where your boat hull has excessive overhang. This places added stress on the bottom of your boat that would not be ideal if your boat spends a lot of time on its trailer. Remember, there is a very heavy outboard on your transom, and your trailer bunks should be long enough to run all the way to stern. Furthermore, your bunks should not extend more than 12 inches past the rearmost bunk support bracket. These guidelines are extra important if you tow your boat on long trips often.

    Last but certainly not least, make sure your trailer bunks are properly positioned for your hull, and that the hardware is not dangerously corroded.

    Being extra vigilant in how you prepare your boat for storage, both for months or years, can make a big difference in its condition and safety in the long run.
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. sonicss33's Avatar
      sonicss33 -
      What’s this storage you speak of? Just kidding, good info in the article.
    1. Capt.Insane-o's Avatar
      Capt.Insane-o -
      Greg would be THE expert at this!
    1. Scream And Fly's Avatar
      Scream And Fly -
      Quote Originally Posted by Capt.Insane-o View Post
      Greg would be THE expert at this!
      Haha! I KNEW this comment would appear LOL!
    1. tnelsmn's Avatar
      tnelsmn -
      Great advise!
    1. oldschoolltv's Avatar
      oldschoolltv -
      I want to see the article of bringing the boat out of storage for one of the many great events from your site Greg
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