Winter Boat Storage Concerns and Mistakes

Once again after a glorious summer season it is time to place the family boating treasure into winter hibernation.  What is the best storage procedure for my family boat?

Do you actually “Love Your Boat”? Are you concerned with the harsh winter months and how this can effect the lifespan or your investment? I trust that your bowrider, pontoon or fishing machine has provided many hours of summer memories. If it has not, either proper service and/or the right type of winter storage may be to blame!

As we get to the end of the boating season, boat owners frequently do not consider or have the right facts at hand on just what needs to be done to properly store the boat over the winter months. Now we all know that essentially no one reads the engine manual on what should be done for off season care. So you are depending on some dealer or some cheap boat storage facility to take care of a significant family investment? Those guys should know what to do as they are in the business….right? the question that needs to be asked and answered is…. Who’s best interest are they operating in…yours or theirs plus how would I know which is the case. Lets take a moment and look at some facts and these are undeniable.

  • Does the place where you are considering storing your boat offer more than one type of winter storage? If they do not…then they cannot without a clear conflict of interest advise you of just what is the best form of storage. Any place of business that tells you plastic wrap storage is as good as inside storage is not being honest with you and your instincts and senses should be tingling. Shrink Warp storage systems have a major problem with mold…the nasty black stuff Aspergillis.
  • Inside storage as in a actual building designed for boat storage is far superior to shrink wrap or plastic wrap type storage. Inside boat storage significantly reduces UV exposure on all hull surfaces, upholstery and carpets which increases upholstery, stitching, carpet lifespan plus maintains a truer over time original hull colour.
  • Inside boat storage due to significantly reduced moisture levels reduces corrosion rates on engine and wiring components as well as reduces to non existent that nasty very unhealthy black mold problem.
  • Inside boat storage maintains a more constant temperature of the hull and interior which means that it does not suffer deterioration from constant contraction expansion cycle from the greenhouse effect common under all plastic wrap systems.
  • Your marine investment comes out in the spring essentially physically looking the same as when it entered storage in the fall.

Many of you have fine expensive automobiles…Benz, BMW, Audie and expensive domestic brands as well. Would you consider placing a $40,000 t $100,000 or more fine automobile in a plastic bag in a grass field for a long period of time? So if you “Love Your Boat” why are you even considering placing it in a garbage bag. Well the dealer says it is okay! Go into any high end automobile retailer and ask them if that auto should be stored in a plastic bag in a field? Why is the boat dealer or storage place on the side of the road with the family boat getting bathed each day in road salt or brine saying it is okay…it is not the best but maybe its okay? Surprise it all comes down to money and how much the dealer or storage facility wants to invest in facilities. Proper boat storage buildings with the associated maintenance, land cost and taxes are expensive! It is at the end of the day all about all of us….doing what is right for the customer not what is right for our bottom line! Plastic Wrap storage systems is a great example of not doing what is right for the customer in addition to what is right for the environment.

Not only are plastic wrap storage systems a bad investment in protection it is an environmental disaster. What are the facts regarding plastic wrap storage and the known problems?

  • Chaffing of outer hull surfaces, windshield frames, wake towers and swim platform edges. The wrap vibrates in the wind and this results in marking of the contacted surfaces. Under wrap is required to lessen the impact and due to its cost most facilities do not go this extra step to protect your investment.
  • Increased moisture levels frequently results in black mold problems. Once this gets started very difficult to eradicate. Mold Guard must be applied to a dry boat before wrapping. Ventilation of the wrap is very important.
  • High corrosion levels due to high moisture levels resulting in premature mechanical issues with starters, alternator and wiring systems or switches.
  • Advanced aging of hull surfaces, upholstery, sewing and canvas due to high UV loading versus inside storage as well as large continuous temperature swings due to greenhouse effect of the plastic wrap.
  • Plastic wrap systems have a very large carbon footprint and a high level of trash content.

All of the above known problems with plastic wrap systems are not associated with proper inside boat storage procedures.

Can the problems associated with plastic wrap storage systems be lessened or managed. The answer to that question with regards to mold, chaffing and trash content…yes these can be managed but not to a level equal to that obtained with inside boat storage. To combat these problems plastic storage provides must supply a high level biological guard system, lots of ventilation, under wrap on all areas that come in contact with the shrink wrap and recycle.

What are the problems associated with inside storage? There is really only one and it has to do with the selected building utilized during the storage period.

  • The storage building should not be a barn or other such type of building as they tend to have inherent mice and critter problems as well as having higher windage and water leakage. Barns are frequently surrounded by fields which only compounds critter problems. These types of storage buildings due to location tend to be load and forget to spring so little to no monitoring is completed by appropriate persons during the storage months.

What about heated boat storage? Heated boat storage is not common in Ontario for boats. Any advantage to heated storage for bowriders, pontoons and fishing boats?

  • Constant temperature storage which would be just above freezing temperatures due to the costs involved has no net benefit versus cost over traditional non heated storage for bowrider, pontoon boats and fishing boats.Especially in mid to northern Ontario there is very little swing above and below freezing point for most of the winter months. Any contraction expansion issues occur in the area of a freezing point temperatures. A well made bowrider, pontoon boat or fishing boat is designed to handle movement under load of internal components and hull joints with expanding/contracting capable sealants and or joints. Only foreseeable advantage would be in the case of a high end cruiser with significant kitchen facilities and high end bedroom amenities.