One of the more costly aspects of owning a boat is docking and storing it. Boat storage options can be as simple as pulling the trailer into your garage or as complex as needing your boat to be stored on a lift.
The storage options available to you will mostly be dependent on your budget, the climate, and the size of the boat in question. Some boats can be stored inside a regular sized storage unit for less than it would cost to keep the boat at a marina. Other larger vessels might need to be stored outside on jack stands or in the water.
We’ll discuss the differences between the types of boat storage units and how you can decide which option is right for you. We also have some tips that will help you save money in the process.
Where to Store a Boat
People with a lot of land can store their boat directly on their property. Before you do this, make sure your town doesn’t have any regulations against it. Also, pick a spot that is away from any trees. Even if you keep your boat covered, the influx of leaves and debris can be detrimental to your boat in the long term.
Some other inexpensive boat storage options include:
However, if you have a boat longer than the length of a car or truck, you’ll likely need to look elsewhere for storage. Depending on where you live, some boats can be kept in the water year-round. However, if you don’t plan on using your boat for a length of time, consider storing the boat on land.
Businesses that usually offer boat storage:
- Self-storage facilities
Storing a Boat at a Marina
One advantage of storing a boat at a marina is that you can dock and store your boat in the same place. Also, sometimes marinas will have staff on hand that can help you repair, clean and winterize your vessel.
Marinas usually offer on water storage and land storage. As far as on land storage, marinas provide many options similar to self-storage facilities, which are listed below. The main difference here is that marinas can accommodate much larger boats than most storage facilities.
The two most common types of in-water storage that marinas offer include:
1. Slip/Dock Storage
In most areas, you can rent a dock for the entire year. If you are storing a large boat in the winter on the water, the marina will require that the water is moving and won’t freeze over. Though this option may be more affordable, it isn’t necessarily worth it in some cases due to cold climates or exposure to salt water. However, if you opt to store your boat this way, make sure you take your boat out of the water every few months to perform basic maintenance.
2. Dry Dock Lifts
If you have a large boat that is difficult to trailer, ask the marina if they offer lift storage. These lifts allow for dry dock storage without needing to remove your boat from the water completely. A dry dock lift will raise the boat out of the water just enough to protect the bottom. These lifts can be either covered or uncovered. If you own a dock on your property, you can buy a lift to utilize.
Boat Storage Tip: Keeping your boat in the water year-round can significantly decrease the longevity of the vehicle, especially if kept in salt water.
Types of Boat Storage Units
If you need to store your boat off-site, you’ll find many storage facilities near you that can accommodate you. There are pros and cons to each option mentioned below. Outdoor storage will save you money on storage, but indoor storage might save you on repair costs in the long run. Remember that not every facility will have every available size or option, so it’s best to call in advance.
1. Outdoor Boat Storage
Covered — These parking spaces have large canopy-like covers overhead to protect boats and other vehicles from the elements. The roofs can be made of aluminum or cloth. These are shared spaces that are easily accessible.
Uncovered — This less-expensive option provides customers with a designated parking space for their boats. We recommend that boats in colder climates should be shrink-wrapped to help protect them from the elements. Using a tarp won’t be nearly as effective at keeping out moisture and critters.
2. Indoor Boat Storage
Warehouse Storage — You’ll find that warehouses will offer either stacked or unstacked storage. The stacked storage option is standard in areas with a lot of boats and not much land to store them. These facilities make use of vertical space by stacking boats inside a sizeable indoor warehouse. You won’t be able to access your boat in these units without the company pulling the boat from its spot, which can also be costly. If you plan on performing maintenance and working on the boat throughout the offseason, stacked storage may not be the best option.
Indoor Storage Unit for Vehicles — These storage units are similar to other indoor storage units for cars. They come with garage-style doors and are private and secure. You’ll be able to access your boat at any time during business hours. This option may be limited and mostly dependent on the size of your boat, so be sure to reserve a spot early in the offseason and see if there is a space large enough.
How Much Does Boat Storage Cost?
Boat storage prices will vary depending on location, climate, demand, size of the space needed, and length of storage. The cost will also fluctuate depending on the time of year you need to store your boat. Winter storage could cost more than summer storage due to demand.
As far as affordability, below are some boat storage options listed from the least expensive to the most costly. Remember, this is a general guideline, and some factors may make this list fluctuate:
- $ — Uncovered Outdoor Boat Storage
- $$ — Covered Outdoor Boat Storage
- $$$ — Warehouse Rack Storage
- $$$$ — Private Indoor Storage Unit
- $$$$$ — Climate Controlled Storage Unit
There are other costs associated with winter boat storage to consider. Some you can do yourself, and others can be done by professionals. These costs might include:
- Pulling a large boat out of the water on a lift
- Cleaning the bottom of the boat
- Winterizing the engine and water systems
- Shrink wrapping the exterior
- Placing large boats on jack stands
Another factor to consider is how your storage fees are taxed. In some states, trailer storage is taxed at a higher rate. Make sure that you ask the storage consultant how much the taxes are and if those are included with the estimate.
Find boat storage near you to determine how much a boat storage unit will cost you.
Boat Storage Tip: You can save money on shrink wrapping your boat by reusing your cover year after year. If adequately removed, you can re-shrink your boat with that same cover for 3 to 4 years if you do it yourself.
Boat Storage Units: Rules and Regulations
Before you rent a storage space for your boat, make sure to address the following:
- Measure your boat and trailer before selecting a storage space.
- Make sure your boat is on a trailer.
- You must have valid registration and title to store your boat.
We hope this boat storage guide helped you narrow down which option makes the most sense for you. Whether you store your boat in the garage or a storage unit, the result will be the same so long as you take the proper care to winterize your boat ahead of time.
Not sure you can afford to keep your boat off-site? Find out if any of these storage unit deals will help you keep the cost down.