The Expert Guide to Boat Storage

Whether you sail the high seas or fish in freshwater rivers, you must take meticulous care of your precious vessel—even when you’re not using it.

After all, any seasoned sailor knows B.O.A.T stands for “bust out another thousand.” Minor repairs start at about a grand, while major maintenance can reach eye-watering extremes.

Fit-for-purpose boat storage is a non-negotiable in order to keep your bank balance in check and preserve your dreamy aquatic lifestyle. Stow your watercraft on the driveway, and you’ll leave her vulnerable to extreme weather and theft. Park her in a marina, and you’ll suffer endless exposure-induced headaches.

That’s why more and more Americans are turning to professional indoor storage to safeguard their ships.

This post covers the primary benefits of indoor boat storage, the land storage versus marina debate, what to look for in a facility, and how to find the best option for you.

We’ll also throw in a handy checklist on preparing your boat for storage. That way, you can protect your investment and continue living the nautical dream.

Benefits of Investing in Indoor Boat Storage

From wild weather to late-night crimes and diminished curb appeal, there are a plethora of compelling reasons to keep your boat safely stored indoors.

Protect Your Boat from Natural Elements

Mother Nature is one mean momma. Her wrath can wreak havoc on a boat stored outdoors, from ferocious hurricanes to intense hailstorms and the harsh summertime sun.

Remember hurricane Katrina?

That sinister super storm smashed over 2,400 boats. Hurricane Harvey and Irma were even more destructive, damaging or destroying 63,000 recreational vessels between them. While indoor anti-hurricane boat storage can’t guarantee 100% protection, it’s a heck of a lot safer than leaving your vessel outdoors.

damaged-sailboat-washed-ashore

A sturdy roof provides perfect protection against hail. Don’t assume it won’t happen to you. In 2019, 872 hailstorms rained down on Texas; some ice chunks were as large as grapefruits. The hail-prone state made a staggering 638,000 insurance claims between 2017 and 2019.

Indoor storage will also protect your vessel from the blistering sun and ice-cold snow, two destructive natural elements that can wrack up massive damage over time.

Protect Your Boat from Theft

Nature isn’t the only threat to your prized waterborne vessel. The Department of Justice estimates boat theft costs America $60 million yearly.

According to a Seaworthy study, trailer boats parked in residential driveways are the number one target (73% of all insurance claims). That’s not hard to believe, given they’re hidden from view and have wheels at the ready for a speedy getaway. Florida is the boat theft capital of America, with 47% of all nationwide claims (Texas comes in third).

Wet slip marina thefts comprise 17% of all claims, while indoor and lifted dry-stack storage make up just 2%—it’s clear what the safest option is here.

Only one in ten stolen boats ever gets recovered. The rest are written off.

Convenience

While the marina is the most convenient option, indoor storage comes in a close second. The best facilities lie near pristine lakes and bays, letting the boat owner hit the water with minimal fuss.

Indoor storage lets you stash your fishing gear on-site, freeing up precious real estate in your attic (the wife will thank you later). Plus, you won’t have to shrink wrap your boat every time you take her for a spin—it’s a tedious chore we’d all rather avoid.

You’ll also save space in the garage or driveway by storing your boat away from home. No more rummaging through ram-packed garages or pulling off stressful 10-point trailer turns.

Maintain Curbside Appeal

We work long and hard to maintain our impeccable curb appeal, toiling away on the landscaping and sprucing up our façades.

And there’s no better way to undermine your home’s exterior aesthetics than plonking a big ol’ boat in the front yard.

Reckon your prized cruiser looks great in the driveway?

We doubt your partner agrees. Nor would your hyper-vigilant HOA, which isn’t shy about handing out eye-watering fines.

Adventuring can be tiring, but keeping your toys secure shouldn’t be. Contact us to find a safe and secure solution that works for you.

Indoor Storage vs Marinas

While a marina wet slip lets you moor your boat right on the water, you’ll pay a premium for the privilege. On average, marina storage costs twice as much as an indoor facility.

Moreover, storing your boat in the water makes it vulnerable to decay. Salt, sun, wind, and rain combine to cause carnage on your precious vessel, not to mention those dreaded catastrophic weather events.

Freshwater wet storage requires you to apply a protective coat on the hull. Should you stow your boat in saltwater, you’ll need to haul it out and scrub off the barnacles every 90 days—it’s back-breaking work.

Most marinas offer dry-stack storage, where a lift hoists your boat onto a large semi-enclosed rack—A.K.A. a “boatel.” This less-convenient option costs about the same as wet slip storage, although lower maintenance expenses offset the price.

But with dry-stack storage, you can only access your vehicle during standard marina operating hours—no more early-morning fishing trips. Also, some marinas charge a retrieval and wash-down fee, which could make you reluctant to take your watercraft for a whirl.

Fully-enclosed, single-level indoor storage offers a fantastic, cost-effective alternative. The best facilities reside near spectacular waterways, so you won’t need to tow the boat far. Plus, you get complete protection from the elements and free 24/7 access for a very reasonable monthly rate. 

There’s no harm in combining the two. Many mariners moor their vessels in a wet slip during peak sailing season for rapid water access. Then, during periods of less-active use, they haul them into an indoor storage unit to enjoy affordable rates and fewer maintenance headaches.

Key Features to Look for in Indoor Boat Storage Facilities

Like the sound of storing your boat indoors?

We don’t blame you. It’s an awesome alternative to at-home or marina storage.

However, not all facilities offer the security and convenience you crave. Keep the following factors in mind when shopping around for indoor storage.

Security and Surveillance

As we know, most boats go missing while attached to trailers parked on a driveway. Although indoor storage is the first crucial step against theft, some facilities are more secure than others.

Look for somewhere with round-the-clock video surveillance and formidable perimeter fencing. A tall chain-link fence with barbed wire is ideal.

Consider beefing up security with a fully-enclosed boat storage unit, which safeguards your vessel from other users and nasty parking mishaps. High-powered floodlights help keep the bad guys at bay and allow easy parking in low-light conditions.

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24/7 Access

The top-end indoor storage facilities offer 24/7 access so you can store and retrieve your boat as you please. Keen anglers seeking early-morning nibbles will get good use of round-the-clock access, as will recreational sailors who return late to squeeze the most out of a day.

Some indoor storage facilities have a custom-built remote access app, which lets you open the gates with a touch of a cell phone—no more remembering pin codes or carrying extra keys.

Easy Boat Parking

As you’ll be towing your boat on a trailer, find a facility with ample room to maneuver. The last thing you want is to come back after a long day on the water and have to negotiate a stressful multi-point turn.

Although not strictly a deal breaker, swinging doors afford more room inside an enclosed unit than roll-up doors. As the space outside the unit must remain clear for access, any good boat storage facility will install swinging doors.  

Finally, good lighting can make the parking process a whole lot easier. Look for a place with high-powered floodlights—most use motion-sensing technology.

Electricity

If your batteries run flat, you’ll have to jumpstart them when you take your boat for a spin.

Worse, allowing a battery to reach a low state of charge will damage its delicate cells and significantly reduce its lifespan. Boat battery winter storage is especially problematic because frigid temperatures accelerate the degradation process.  

But there’s a simple solution. Trickle charging boat batteries in storage will maintain a safe state of charge. That way, you can keep your investment in tip-top shape and ensure she’ll be ready to set sail when you return.

Nonetheless, it’s possible to disconnect and safely store a battery. We’ll provide more details towards the end of this post.

How to Choose the Best Boat Storage Unit to Meet Your Needs

Top-end boat storage facilities offer a slew of high-tech features to enhance convenience and safeguard your vessel from harm.

But unless you’re financially blessed, you’re probably wondering: “what does boat storage cost?”

By forgoing a few bells and whistles, you may be able to snag a cheaper monthly rate. Here’s how to find a solution that suits your needs.

Identify the Location You Need

Location is a top priority in the boat storage game. The less time you spend setting up your watercraft, the more time you get to cruise your favorite waterways.

While wet slip mooring at your local marina is convenient, it’s prohibitively expensive and entails ongoing maintenance costs.

An indoor facility near a pristine waterway grants you fast water access while keeping maintenance and storage costs low. That’s precisely why the best boat storage locations are close to popular lakes and bays.

Make a List of Your Top Priorities

The money you spend on boat storage should correlate to the vessel’s value.

Flashy, high-value boats cost a fortune to maintain and replace; you must protect them at all costs. But if you’re putting about on a cheap fiberglass dinghy, there’s no need to splash out on top-of-the-line storage to keep it safe.

Also, factor convenience into the equation. Electrical access isn’t a big deal if you’re happy to disconnect your boat batteries for storage. Likewise, you don’t need 24/7 access when using your watercraft during regular daylight hours.

As for parking, think about the size of the boat and your trailer reversing skills. Smaller vessels are easy to back up into a tight spot, so you could make do with a more cramped facility. Large ships, on the other hand, need a wide turning circle (and a confident driver) to safely tow into place.

Do Your Research

A bewildering array of indoor boat storage facilities reside throughout America, especially in temperate southern states.

With so many possible options, you’ll need to do in-depth research to pinpoint the best facility for you. The following steps can help you sort the wheat from the chaff.

  • Identify the top boat storage facilities in your preferred area.
  • Browse their respective websites to see whether their amenities align with your priorities.
  • Read online reviews and peruse boating forums to determine which facilities have a solid reputation.
  • Compare their monthly rates to see who’s offering the best value.

Consider Premium Boat Storage

Whether you’re living onboard a yacht during the sailing season or hitting local rivers on ad-hoc fishing trips, your precious vessel is your prized possession.

Every eager mariner yearns to keep their boat in tip-top shape, which makes premium indoor storage all the more worthwhile.

If you try to save dosh on a low-cost, far-flung facility, you’ll waste precious recreational time and put your baby at risk. Investing a little more each month in a reputable, well-located provider gives you convenience and peace of mind.

And besides, you’re already saving a small fortune by forgoing those sky-high marina fees. Why not use some of those funds to secure a safe and reliable indoor unit?

kids-jumping-off-of-boat-into-water

How to Prepare Your Boat for Storage

Even though prepping a boat for indoor storage is relatively hassle-free, there are several steps you should take to safeguard your investment. Otherwise, you could cause significant damage to your prized watercraft.

Follow this checklist to prepare your boat for summer storage.

Cleaning the Interior

  • Switch off all your in-built electronics.
  • Roll up and secure your sails.
  • Hose the interior thoroughly to remove smelly fish residue.
  • Empty your toilet and clean your bathroom.
  • Remove all your food and clean out your fridge.
  • Wipe over hard surfaces with an all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth,
  • Use a vinyl cleaner and a microfiber cloth to clean your vinyl seats, then apply a vinyl protectant.
  • Place your safety and electrical equipment in cabinets.
  • Secure your ropes and check them for fraying.

Cleaning the Exterior

  • Use a hull cleaner to scrub off scum to protect the finish and remove any salt etchings that may cause rust.
  • Use a microfiber mitt to clean your boat with a good quality boat wash.
  • Rinse the soap off with a freshwater hose and wipe it dry with a chamois to avoid water spots.
  • Add a layer of wax to stop mold from forming on the surface.
  • Polish the chrome, glass, and stainless steel components with a soft cloth to prevent water spots.
  • Clean the wheel hubs, cooling system, and brakes in your trailer (everything that gets submerged when you launch) and flush out any after-market holes.

Mechanical Maintenance

  • Flush the engine’s cooling system with fresh water, following the manufacturer’s recommended salt removal process.
  • Change the oil in the engine.
  • Top up the fuel tank to prevent corrosion and add a stabilizer to avoid stale fuel.
  • Disconnect the battery and plug it into a trickle charger at home
  • If you have electrical access in your storage unit, use that instead.
  • Close or block off your exhaust ports (and other potential entryways) to prevent rodent intrusion.
  • Pump your trailer tires to the maximum recommended PSI and check the brakes.
  • Chock the tires in place for safe measure.

boats-covered-in-tarps-in-snow-covered-storage-facility

How to Prepare Your Boat for Winter Storage

The frigid winter months entail unique challenges, especially in areas where the temperature drops below freezing point.

In addition to the checklist above, take the following steps to winterize your boat.

  • Drain and remove any water from the engine and other mechanical components.
  • Consult the owner’s manual and perform fogging, if recommended.
  • Change the fuel filters and water or fuel separators.
  • Drain the fresh water plumbing system.
  • Add antifreeze into the plumbing.
  • Remove water from other systems such as the livewells, raw water, and bilge pump.
  • Remove the drain plugs.

RecNation: The Perfect Boat Storage Solution

Indoor storage is a cost-effective way to protect your precious vessel from the elements and would-be thieves.

At RecNation, our convenient Florida and Texas facilities reside nearby pristine lakes and waterways, allowing you to set sail with ease.

Leave the thrill for your next adventure and leave security to us. Contact us to find the perfect storage solution for you.

Boat Storage FAQs

Got some lingering questions? Check out the following FAQ.

How Important Is Heated Winter Storage For A Boat?

It’s not essential. Heated storage keeps the unit at a consistent 45 to 50F, negating the need to perform the aforementioned winterizing steps. However, most boat owners prefer to winterize anyway to protect their investment against a sudden power surge.

How Must A Storage Battery Be Positioned On A Boat?

Position your battery as low as possible, preferably around the bilge. As batteries are heavy, storing them down low improves stability. Plus, it helps protect them against spray from wayward waves. Ensure the battery is securely mounted in an upright position.

Can I Store A Boat In A Storage Unit?

While indoor storage units aren’t explicitly designed for boats, they are 100% fit-for-purpose. So long as the unit has enough room to maneuver your trailer, there’s no reason you shouldn’t store a boat there.

How Much Is Boat Storage?

Boat storage in a marina dry-stack runs between $5,000 and $8,000 annually. Wet slip storage costs about the same, but you’ll have to fork out more for ongoing maintenance. The more affordable option is indoor storage, which costs $2,000 to $4,000 annually and entails minimal maintenance.