By Suzi Conner, Area Manager, CSSM
When summer or early fall comes to an end, it’s time to take your boat, jet skis and other watercraft out of the water and prepare them for winter storage. I know, I know – the thought of storing your boat or watercraft makes you want to throw a tantrum and complain that Summer is never long enough and you just aren’t ready to put them away yet. Trust me, we understand! However, we all know this is the reality of living in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast and you need to take care of this task every year, whether you want to or not, tantrums and all. We have compiled a list of helpful tips to get you prepared for watercraft and boat storage.
Step 1 – Consult the Owner’s Manual.
The first thing you need to do is consult the owner’s manual for your watercraft. The last thing you need is to jump into this without learning what is required for your specific watercraft. The winterizing process can vary from small electric boat to cabin cruiser to jet ski, so don’t just assume you know if you have done it before for another watercraft. If Spring rolls around and you find out that you didn’t do something correctly before placing your boat in storage and voided your warranty, that tantrum will come back threefold!
Step 2 – Secure Your Storage Option.
Now that you have read the manual cover to cover and you are ready to tackle this project, you need to figure out your boat storage options. Depending on your township regulations, you may not be able to just leave it parked all winter beside your garage. And if you can do that, there are likely rules to follow like a gravel base at a certain depth and size and so on. The easier option for you is to select a self storage location for storing watercraft. This way it is off your property and out of your way until you are ready to break it out again in the Spring.
When selecting a self storage facility, ask the following questions:
- Do they offer boat storage?
At most Moove In Self Storage locations, we offer outdoor parking spaces specifically for boats and RVs of all sizes. Many of our locations can accommodate boats and RVs up to 40’ in length.
- Can I store my watercraft inside a storage unit?
If you have something smaller like jet ski or fishing boat, a 10×10 or 10×20 drive-up storage unit may be the better option for you. This option provides protection from the weather year-round.
- Do they offer 24 hour access?
Our gate access is 6am-10pm daily, but you can request extended access hours with your property manager.
- Is the property well-lit and fenced in.
All of our locations are safe and secure. Our properties are well lit, fully fenced in and have keypad access gates to gain entry.
- Are there security cameras?
We have a closed circuit security system at all locations as well.
- How long do I have to commit to a lease?
Our leases have no long-term commitments. They are 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 locations.
Step 3 – Winterize Your Watercraft.
You’ve read the manual and secured your boat storage option. Now it’s time to get started on winterizing your watercraft. You will need to complete this process at home, where you will have ample time to cover each step in the process and have 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 of our locations at any time.
- Inspect Your Watercraft.
After you have pulled the watercraft from the water for the last time of the season (don’t cry, before you know it, Spring will be here again!), take the time to go over your watercraft inside and outside very carefully. You should look for any damage and anything that needs fixed or replaced from this season. It’s better to take care of this now when preparing for storing watercraft. That way you will be ahead of game in the Spring, and ready to hit the water right away while everyone else is doing repairs.
- Squeaky Clean Is Good.
Take the time to scrub and clean everything, and I mean everything. The hull, decks, seats, instrument panel…everything in the watercraft. Remember to clean all the water intakes and pumps and filters. Be sure to let enough time pass for everything to dry completely. I suggest at least 24 hours as a starting point. If you do not allow everything to dry completely, you can create a mold or mildew issue and that is never good.
- Now You Can Prep Your Engine.
If you are storing your watercraft outside:
Top off the gas tank and add a gas stabilizer. This helps reduce the possibility of condensation. Change the oil and replace all the filters. Check over all the hoses and belts for wear, holes or tears.
If you are storing your watercraft inside a self storage unit:
Completely drain the gas tank and oil tank, and any other fluids from your watercraft. We do not permit any flammable liquids to be stored inside our storage units at any time.
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.
- Last 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.
Take the time at the end of each season to follow these simple steps. This will prolong the life of your watercraft and help keep its value up. It will also have you out on the water almost immediately once the weather warms, because your maintenance will have been done prior to storing. Remember that tantrum you threw in the fall? That will be a thing of the past while you are out cruising on the water and reeling in that prize bass!
If you are in need of a solution for boat storage, you can contact us at any time and our friendly property managers will be glad to talk with you about your storage needs. If you’re ready to secure that parking space for your 40’ 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.