The ideal place to store your boat is in a climate-controlled warehouse with 24-hour security that allows easy access for you and nobody else. If, on the other hand, you have an unheated garage, a drafty storage shed or a vacant spot in your driveway, you have a few things to do to keep your boat safe and secure, especially during the winter off-season. Remember, next to your house, your boat is probably your biggest investment.
Clean It Out
If you’ve ever carried food onto the boat, carry all the food off the boat as soon as you get to the dock. Even the slightest crumb left from a sandwich will give mold and mildew a foothold under the boat cover. If you have a removable gas tank, remove it from the boat. If your boat has closets, remove the clothes and the clothes hangers.
Dry it out.
If you fish, clean out the bait well. Drain it, pick up as much water as you can with a towel and dry it with a hair dryer used for this and nothing else. Dry the bilge and the transom well the same way.
Protect the Finish
Wash it with mild dish detergent and water, washing from top to bottom on one side. Rinse that side, using a garden hose, then wash and rinse the other side and the stern/transom.
Wax the boat the same way you would a car – one side at a time. Buff it with an orbital buffer; don’t use a drill with a buffing pad. You’ll scar the gelcoat.
Cover It Correctly
Open every door, cubbyhole and hatch, to allow air to circulate through the entire boat. Pull the boat cover on it, but don’t pull it tight. Instead, procure two pieces of 2-inch PVC pipe, about 18 inches long. Shove one piece under the edge of the cover at the rear of the boat, and one under the edge of the cover at the front of the boat. Then – and only then – should you tighten the cover straps. The PVC pipe allows air to circulate under the cover to help keep mold and mildew to a minimum.
Store It Securely
If your boat is in a shed, lock it. If your boat will winter-over in the driveway, turn the tongue of the trailer toward your house. Don’t make it easy for someone to back into your driveway and drive away with your boat. Drive an eyebolt into the edge of the driveway or the wall of your garage and chain the trailer — or even the boat – to the house or the drive. Some boaters even flatten the trailer tires and use a portable air pump to inflate them at the beginning of the season. Don’t leave your trailer hitched to your vehicle, either, or thieves may take both. Your dealer, Boats Direct USA may have additional ideas.