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The Dos and Don’ts of Storing Watercraft

Storing Watercraft
When the warm weather starts to turn to cool mornings and chilly nights, it’s time to get your boat, wave runner and other watercraft out of the water and prepare them for winter storage. Sorry, even if this thought makes you want to cray a bit and throw a tantrum because there is no way that Summer is over already, you have to face the facts. And trust me, we totally understand the feeling! It’s just the reality of living in Maryland and something we have to take care of each year, tantrums and all. Here are some helpful tips to get your prepared for storing watercraft.

waverunnerStep 1 – Consult the Owner’s Manual.

Before you do anything else, consult the owner’s manual. The winterizing process can be complicated and varies from small electric boat to cabin cruiser to wave runner, so don’t just assume you know what to do. the last thing you want is to find out when Spring rolls around that you did something wrong before storing watercraft and voided the warranty. If you do that, here comes that tantrum again!

Step 2 – Secure Your Storage Option.

After reading the manual in its entirety, you should decide on your watercraft storage options. Many townships have different rules that you need to follow, and that could mean you are not permitted to leave it parked beside your garage all winter. If they do allow you to do this, there are likely other regulations like having a gravel base of a certain size and depth. To make it easier on you, choose self storage for storing watercraft. Then you can keep it off your property and out of the way until the warm weather comes back.

When selecting a self storage facility, ask the following questions:

  • Parking SpacesDo they offer boat and RV storage?

At 140 Mini Storage, we offer outdoor boat and RV parking spaces of many sizes.

  • Can I store my watercraft inside a storage unit?

If you a small boat or wave runner or similar watercraft, you can certainly select a 10×10 or 10×20 drive-up storage unit is a great option. Using a storage unit will provide protection from the weather year-round.

  • Do they offer 24-hour access?

Our gate access is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.

  • Is the property well-lit and fenced in.

Our property is safe and secure. It is well lit, fully fenced in and has electronic keypad access for the gate to gain entry.

  • Security CamerasAre there security cameras?

We have a closed circuit security system that records daily.

  • How long do I have to commit to a lease?

Our lease does not require any long-term commitments. It is month-to-month, so you can rent with us for one month, one year or longer to fit your storage needs.

You should also read our previous blog: What You Need to Know about Storing Titled Property. This information is important to learn when storing watercraft or any vehicle at our property.

Step 3 – Winterize Your Watercraft.

Now that you’ve read the manual and secured a storage unit or parking space, you can start winterizing your watercraft. This is a process you need to complete at home, to give you ample time for each step in the process. You will also benefit from having everything you need on hand from your garage or home.

Please note: We do not permit any cleaning, fixing or maintenance of any vehicles on our property at any time.

  • Inspect Your Watercraft.

You take your watercraft from the water for the last time this season, accompanied by some tears and a little tantrum, and you need to complete a thorough inspection. Take plenty of time to go over every inch of your watercraft, inside and out, very carefully. Look for damage that could have happened this season, fix anything that needs fixing, and replace anything you want to now before putting into storage. Trust me, you want to take care of this step now to get it out of the way. Then as the warm weather returns, you can break out your your watercraft and get on the water quickly while everyone else is doing repairs.

  • Squeaky Clean Is Good.

You need to really scrub and clean everything with great care and detail. That means the hull, decks, all seats, the instrument panel and everything else on and in the watercraft. Clean every pump, filter and water intakes thoroughly. Let plenty of time pass, at least 24 hours, for it to dry completely. If you do not allow for a complete dry to occur, you can create mold and mildew issues that won’t be discovered until next season.

cleaning boat deckboat instrument panel

  • Now You Can Prep Your Engine.

If you are storing your watercraft outside:
Start by topping off the gas tank and adding a stabilizer to help reduce the chance of condensation. Change the oil and replace all filters. Check every hose, tube and belt for wear, holes and tears. If you find any, fix them now.

If you are storing your watercraft inside a self storage unit:
Drain the gas tank completely and the oil tank. Also drain any other fluids from the watercraft. Check every hose, tube and belt for wear, holes and tears. If you find any, fix them now. We do not permit any flammable liquids to be stored inside our storage units at any time, which is why you must drain all fluids beforehand.

If you are not qualified for this step and have no real engine experience, it is best to have a qualified mechanic winterize your engine and fuel system. This will prevent any major damage that could be caused if you missed something or did something incorrectly. Not to mention this could be a costly mistake for you.

  • removing boat batteryLast but Not Least, Remove the Battery and Clean the Terminals.

Check the water levels and place the battery on a charger made for marine batteries. If you leave the battery in your watercraft all winter, it can cause damage to it or drain it completely so it will not work in the Spring.

If you take some time when the season ends each year and follow these steps, you will prolong the life of your watercraft and help it maintain its value. It will also get the “no fun” chore out of the way so you can jump right back in the water when the warm weather returns. That tantrum you have now because of this process will be long forgotten when you get out cruising on the water faster than everyone else and reel in that prize bass!

If you are in need of a solution for storing watercraft, you can contact us at any time and our friendly property manager will be glad to talk with you about your storage needs. If you’re ready to secure that parking space for your cabin cruiser, you can reserve a parking space online. And, if you want to store your precious baby inside a storage unit, you can rent one online now.