Pay attention to both "where" and "how" you store your boat. Like many Northwest boaters, you might store your boat and motor outside on the driveway, in a carport, or on a cement slab in the yard. And, in the back of your mind, you may have wondered, “Am I harming my boat by doing so?”
The answer depends not just on where you store the boat, but how.
Most manufacturers suggest that, if possible, boats should be stored out of water and under cover. Generally, though, painted fiberglass and aluminum boats suffer no damage when left outside when you follow these maintenance tips:
If you own a trailer boat, park it so that it can’t easily be stolenRead more about how to protect against boat theft.
Remove surface dirt with clear waterRemove grease, oil, and stubborn dirt with a brush and mild detergent. At least once a year, wax and polish the boat.
To prevent fading, protect paint from prolonged exposure to sunlightIf it’s already too late, light sanding and polishing can return paint to its original luster.
Cover the boat with a breathable tarp, preferably canvasCanvas tarps are a must if your boat has vinyl upholstery. Plastic tarps trap moisture and lead to mildew grow th on vinyl. A covered and shaded location also will protect your vinyl upholster y from the ravages of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. (Some vinyl is chemically treated to retard cracking and aging.)
Remove the drain plugIn case water still finds its way inside your boat, remove the drain plug and raise the tongue of your trailer to ensure water drains out.
Protect your engineStore your outboard engine indoors during the off-season, bringing it in with the battery every fall. If that’s not possible, buy a tarp long enough to cover it.
Fill – don’t drain – your gas tankInclude a fuel conditioner to prevent condensation and gumming.
Consider fogging your engine if it’s not used for several monthsStart it and spray fogging oil into the carburetor or fuel-injection intakes. Keep spraying until you’ve flooded it with enough oil that the engine starts to choke, emits smoke, and finally stalls. Follow your engine manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific engine.
Inboards and inboard/outboards (I/Os) require different care than outboardsBecause inboards and some I/Os have internal water jackets (like cars) instead of an impeller for cooling, they must be flushed and filled with clean water and antifreeze every fall. With other I/Os, you must open the petcocks in the fall and drain all water from the engine. Follow your engine manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific engine.