How To Safely Store A Boat and Outboard Motor

​​​There are lots of things involved in keeping a boat such as costs, physical effort, and emotional energy ​that all make your boat into the prized possession that it is. After your home, it might well be the most financially valuable asset you own, and after your family and friends, it might be your greatest emotional asset as well.

That’s what makes it so upsetting when you see that some accident has befallen your boat while it was sitting outside. Maybe you anchored it in a bad place, or it wasn’t fastened properly and it drifted off and collided with something. Maybe it was left outside too long ​in the cold weather. There are any number of different ways in which poor storage may have resulted in a damaged boat.

The common denominator among these different scenarios is the issue of poor storage. Knowing how to store your boat the right way and setting about doing so can make all the difference between your boat becoming a premature wreck or remaining in pristine condition for years to come. You’ll thus want to be sure to follow the proper procedures for safely storing your boat and outboard motor.

That may vary depending on where you store your boat.

Here, then, is a quick guide to safely storing your boat in different places.

On Your Property

This is by far the simplest option. Assuming your boat is small enough, you can simply park the vehicle carrying your boat in your driveway. You will want to do so quietly, however, so as not to arouse the ire of your neighbors.

Of course, that may not exactly qualify as “safe” storage. After all, doing this will still leave your boat quite exposed. You’ll want to at least buy a heavy-duty tarp to drape over your boat. If you can afford it, you’ll want to spring for a full-on boat cover. While your boat likely won’t be completely protected, if you live in a temperate area with little rainfall, this may be sufficient for most situations. 

In Garages or Self-Storage Facilities

One of the biggest drawbacks of simply parking your boat in your driveway is the fact that it doesn’t allow for the proper storage of your outboard motor. You need to make sure this is stored extremely carefully so as not to expose the internal workings to dirt, moisture, or other elements that can cause it to stop working properly. You’ll also want to be mindful of any fuel that you have, and the way you store it.

You do not want your fuel exposed to the elements, and for your own health and safety, you don’t want your outboard motor or any fuel placed in excessively hot or cold places.

Your garage may seem like an ideal domestic compromise. That will naturally depend on just how climate controlled your garage is, and whether your boat can fit all the way inside it. If you can only fit part of your boat inside, the protection is not complete, and your boat may suffer from exposure.

The same holds true if you store your boat at a self-storage facility. You want to be sure that your boat is safely stored in facilities which completely surround your boat, and which feature climate-controlled interiors. A failure to provide this will still leave your boat at least partially subject to the elements, and without you there to track your boat’s condition from day to day, it can degrade quickly without you noticing. 

In the Water

At first blush, storing your boat out on the water may seem like the natural choice.

That said, how natural that choice ultimately seems and how viable it is will depend significantly upon your region’s climate. It’s one thing to dock your boat in the Bay Area as a resident of or visitor to San Francisco, or in Miami’s warm tropical waters. It’s quite another thing to do so in chilly Minneapolis or Detroit. If the temperature is near or at freezing, the weathering damage to your boat can far outweigh any convenience that may come from docking it out on the water.

Climate permitting, you’ll still want to consider covering your boat with a tarp while it’s docked at sea so as to at least cut down on some of that UV light and other weathering elements. You’ll also want to be sure that you are anchored securely. A common cause of damage suffered by boats stored in the water is being anchored improperly and drifting, thus leading to the boat becoming damaged.

You’ll also want to make sure that your outboard motor is locked and is specially covered and kept temperate. As in previous cases, your outboard motor or any source of fuel becoming too hot in warm waters or too cold in the case of freezing temperatures can be disastrous.

Another thing you’ll want to pay attention to when docking your boat in the water is the matter of items sticking to the hull. When you store your boat inside, you are able to dodge the matter of foreign substances coming in contact with your hull completely. Docking and storing your boat in the water, however, means exposing it to substances such as barnacles and debris.

On the one hand, this is obviously a problem that mariners have faced for thousands of years, and is hardly insurmountable.

However, you’d better have the tools, patience, and ability to pry off any barnacles or clear away any light debris, and you will want to try to find waters where you can avoid these as much as possible.

Always make sure to take the time to properly store your boat.