Marine News from the Great Lakes

Tips For Boating: Proper Storage

Published: Friday, September 29, 2017
By: Fred Davis

As the season nears an end for many boaters, one of the most important tasks arrives: proper preparation for storage.

Proper winter storage should be as important as spring fitting out. The job should not be approached with a quick “get it over with” attitude. Make a checklist to include the following:

  • Proper engine winterizing.
  • Removal of perishable equipment.
  • Proper covering with good ventilation.
  • Correct setup of blocking for long term storage should be of utmost importance.

I was called in to investigate damage to a sailboat that had nearly sunk at its mooring two days after spring launch. The vessel was hauled and a crack in the keel located. The reason was obvious, but the cause was questionable. At first glance, it appeared the vessel had grounded. Noting the crack was near the strap marks where the boat had been hoisted, the owner blamed the marina.

Neither cause ended up being correct. Close investigation of how the boat was stored presented the answer. Although stored with the drain plug removed, the boat was set on a cradle with the keel support just above the ground. High winds had packed drifting snow against the drain hole. Blowing rain and snow had allowed moisture to collect in the bilge sump area. With the drain hole plugged, moisture collected.

A quick change in temperature, with sub-zero readings,caused a moisture build-up that froze quickly, cracking the keel bottom from the inside out. The crack went undetected because it was in the bottom area, just a few inches off the ground and not visible. When bottom paint was applied, being thick in nature, it filled the crack.

Large boats stored in marinas, especially those stored outside, should be checked frequently. Responsibility to do so is that of the owner unless special arrangements are made.

Smaller vessels, even those on trailers, should be checked frequently. Birds and small animals may enter under winter covers. They can destroy interiors, tearing seats and carpets to shreds and the damage goes undetected.

Vessels stored on cradles, blocks, and trailers require proper support be placed evenly around the hull. Improperly supported hulls may warp. Bright winter sun on a storage cover creates warm conditions inside a hull with the outside remaining cold. Damage goes undetected and results in confusion the following season when the operator finds his boat handles differently. These problems can be nearly impossible to correct.

Be sure to check your insurance policy. Determine whether or not you have coverage against winter damage while in storage. Some companies do not cover damage from winter storms or freezing, others offer optional riders to the policy.

tags: Boating 101, Storage


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