The winter season is upon us, and if you haven’t taken your boat out of the water yet then it’s likely time to do so. But storing your boat for the winter isn’t as simple as pulling it out of the water and hauling it into your backyard or to a boat storage facility. Both winter weather conditions and long periods of storage can put wear and tear on your boat, and can end up causing your boat to require costly repairs and painstaking maintenance once spring and summer roll back around.

The following infographic details the steps you can take to ensure that your boat is prepared for its time in storage and breaks down the pros and cons of the different boat storage options there are available:

boat storage


How To Prepare Your Boat for Winter Storage

Step 1: Change your oil

Any water or acids that have gotten into your oil can corrode the engine. Change the filter and flush it out so that no water remains, then add the new oil.

Step 2: Refresh the coolant system

Drain out the current coolant, then flush with water. Fill with fresh antifreeze, but make sure you’ve diluted it to the manager’s specification. This will prevent parts of your engine from freezing and will protect them from corrosion.

Step 3: Spray with fogging oil

Get your engine turning over without starting it, and while it’s still turning over spray fogging oil into the carburetor or through the spark plug holes, whichever way your manual instructs your to do. This will keep your engine’s moving parts protected during the winter cold.

Step 4: Remove drive belts

When kept under tension for longer periods of time, your drive belts may crack under the stress. Loosen or remove them entirely before placing your boat in storage.

Step 5: Grease the steering mechanism

Greasing the steering and control mechanisms will make sure that these are moving smoothly when it comes time to take your boat out again. Make sure the joints are well covered with grease.

Step 6: Disconnect the battery

Don’t allow your battery to drain and die over the winter. Disconnect the battery and top it off with distilled water. Charge it every once in a while to make sure it’s ready to go when you hook it back up to your boat.

Step 7: Fill your gas tank

Condensation can build up in an empty tank, causing the tank to corrode or creating even worse damage if the moisture freezes. Gasoline stabilizer will make sure your fuel is ready to use when spring comes back around.

Step 8: Seal exhaust ports on inboard boats
Some inboard powered boats have large exhaust port openings where pests can enter your engine. You can use duct tape to plug these openings. 

Step 9: Take care of the interior

If you have electronics, remove them, as they’re vulnerable to extreme cold temperatures and moisture. Any organic materials, including leather, canvas, or fabric, should be removed, as moisture can cause these to mold and mildew. Empty water tanks, and run antifreeze through water pipes.

Step 10: Wash and wax

Thoroughly clean your boat inside and out, then cover the body with wax. Wax will prevent rust from corroding your boat’s body, and is particularly important if you plan on storing your boat outside.

Step 11: Use a cover

A boat cover will protect your boat from dirt, dust, grime and moisture. Covers make sure your boat is as ready as possible when the warmer months roll back around.

Where Should I Store My Boat?

*SpareFoot has made it easy to find the best available options for storing your boat. Just check out our boat storage page to find the best units in your area!

Outdoor storage


Cheap or free (if in your own yard).


Boat cover mandatory.

Exposed to elements, which can cause wear and tear.

Takes up yard space.

Some may think is an eyesore.

Must be transported to and from the dock.

Boat Storage Units


Relatively inexpensive.

Will keep your boat protected from the elements.

Storage facilities are widespread and easy to find.


May require transportation to the dock.

Larger boats will not fit in standard storage unit sizes.

Dry Stack Storage


Boat stays near dock; may not require special transportation.

Often kept in a warehouse, allowing for protection from the elements.


More expensive than other options.

If not kept in a warehouse, will be vulnerable to winter weather.

Large boats will not fit.

Indoor Boat Storage


Will keep your boat protected from the elements.

Common perks include free transportation to and from the dock, maintenance, and monitored security.

Requires the least preparation.


Typically the most expensive option.


Special thanks to Scott Croft of the Boat Owners Association of the United States (