Date Published: 2023/11/21

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Keep your Boat Safe and Protected with these Winter Storage Tips

Side view of five boats with winter covers parked side-by-side on boat trailers for winter storage in front of a forest.

Winter can be harsh on a boat, and if you want to get out on the water next spring without any unwelcome surprises, it’s important to store it properly. Not only will cold water and ice cause expensive damage, but improperly storing your boat can also leave it vulnerable to theft or damage from a storm.

Boats aren’t cheap to fix either – with the addition of more specialized technology such as navigation devices, cameras, sensors, auto docking features and more, boats are becoming increasingly expensive and complex to repair. That’s why it’s more important than ever to store your boat correctly and regularly perform preventative maintenance. For example, not winterizing an engine can lead to freezing or cracking, which costs upwards of $10,000 to repair!1

Follow these tips to keep your boat protected this winter.

  1. Inspect your boat and get it serviced. Before you take your boat out of the water, run it one last time and pay attention to anything that might need to be repaired. Winter is ideal for getting your boat serviced, as you won’t lose any time on the water. You need to check the rubber seals on the bellows annually. If those seals wear out, it can lead to partial or total sinking of the boat.
  2. Take your boat out of the water. Never leave your boat in the water during the winter – not only will cold water and ice damage the boat, but it also leaves it vulnerable to winter storms. If you are storing your boat outside, make sure it’s level when you store it so the hull doesn’t get warped. Don’t store under trees; a falling branch could damage your boat.
  3. Clean your boat. Before you put your boat away, clean it from top to bottom with soap and water. Remove any plant life attached to your hull and clean all cupboards, fridges and drawers. After it’s dry, wax the hull to keep it in tip-top shape. 
  4. Drain and winterize your boat. Draining and winterizing your boat prevents any liquid from freezing and breaking parts of your boat. Drain all water from your water tanks, ballast tanks, fuel lines, pipes, and anywhere else there’s water. Properly winterize your engine and follow the directions in your owner’s manual.
  5. Secure all items and seal your boat. Remove any valuable items from your boat, including electronic guidance systems, to protect them from extreme weather and theft. You should also remove anything prone to mildew and mold over the winter, such as flotation devices. Once you’ve removed all loose items, wrap the boat using boat wrap and cover it with a custom waterproof cover that fits snuggly. If the cover is too loose and saggy, water can collect in parts and damage the cover. A cover can protect your boat from unexpected roof leaks, even if you’re storing it inside. Seal any exhaust ports to prevent pests from making a home in your boat. If you’re storing your boat on its trailer, lock it and remove the tires so a thief can’t easily drive away with it.
  6. Check on your boat regularly. Throughout the winter, check on your boat to ensure there is no damage to the cover and that it is free of pests. Brush off any snow that collects on the cover as well. Once a month, take the cover off and inspect the boat for anything amiss.
  7. Tell your insurer of your storage plans. Although you may not be using your boat in the winter, you need insurance coverage year-round to protect you from damage to your boat or extreme theft. Your insurer will also need to know your storage plans for your boat to assess your coverage needs appropriately.

If you would like to get a quote on boat insurance, you can visit the Orbit website or call an Orbit insurance broker at 1-844-929-4768. If you have questions about your watercraft policy, feel free to reach out to Orbit Insurance Services at 1-844-929-4768.

1.    Canadian Underwriter – Why boat insurers are starting to feel more like car insurers