Winter Will Be Here Before You Know It: How Much Does Boat Storage Cost?

If you recently purchased a boat, you are likely enjoying it as the summer weather begins to warm. Even though you're having a blast on the water right now, you should start taking steps to store your boat this winter.

If you live in a destination where boating is popular, finding winter storage could be challenging. It's better to start looking now for boat storage instead of waiting until the last minute. Securing winter storage now will allow you to obtain the best type of storage for your vessel.

When researching storage options, you’ll notice that there are different types available. Below, you’ll find a complete breakdown answering common questions like, “How much does boat storage cost?” After reading this guide, you should feel more prepared to begin storing your boat this winter.

Types of Storage

Beside new boat prices and the cost of having to purchase used boat motors, storage is one of the most expensive parts of owning a boat. Storing your boat is a year-round endeavor that can quickly dig a hole in your wallet if you're not careful. Initially, you may need to pay to store your boat at a dock or a marina. Depending on the location that you choose, this could cost a few thousand dollars.

If you store one of your boats in a marina, the site may offer you a package deal that allows you to lump winter storage into an annual plan. However, if your marina does not provide you with the option to do so, you’re going to need to look elsewhere to store one of your prized G3 boats, or a power boat.

The most common form of winter storage is shrink-wrapping. Professionals will shrink-wrap a boat to protect it from the elements during the winter. Once shrink-wrapped, you can leave your boat outdoors without fear of it being harmed by the elements. However, once your boat is wrapped, you cannot reaccess it until the weather warms and you're ready to take the boat back out on the water.

Depending on who shrink wraps the boat and the type of vessel that you have, the cost of shrink-wrapping can cost anywhere from $10 - $15 per foot. So, if you have a 20' boat, it will cost you anywhere from $200 to $300 to shrink-wrap it for the winter. You may also have to pay the marina to keep the shrink-wrapped boat on site and to unwrap it once the weather warms.

The other type of storage available is dry storage. Dry storage entails putting your boat inside a warehouse on a rack. This option is considerably more expensive than shrink-wrapping, but it could pay dividends in the long run. Because your boat isn’t exposed to harsh elements, you could improve the longevity of your vessel, therefore reducing the chance of you having to purchase used outboard motors in the future. Elements that you’ll be avoiding include: 

  • Snow
  • Ice
  • Sleet
  • Salt
  • Wind

Costs will vary for dry storage as well. However, you may have to pay membership rates if you opt for dry storage. This could cause the cost of dry storage to spike into the thousands of dollars.

However, part of this cost could be mitigated by insurance. Because you’re investing in the longevity of your boat, your insurance company could be more willing to give you a more favorable rate. Be sure to contact your insurance agent to see if the company offers any discounts for dry storage.

Which Storage Option is Best?

Now that we’ve identified how much boat storage costs, we can work to pinpoint which storage option is best. If you live in an area with extreme winters, you may want to consider investing in dry storage. Dry storage can protect your boat better than shrink wrap can.

If you live in a climate where winters aren’t as harsh, you should be able to get away with shrink-wrapping your boat and storing it outdoors for the winter.

Additionally, dry storage is also an excellent option if you have a smaller boat. When marinas store boats in dry storage, they stack them on forklifts. The process of doing so could be quite challenging if you have a large boat. Thus, dry storage is an option that's best suited for those with smaller vessels.

If you do choose to keep your boat in dry storage, you should check with your local marina to see if there is a policy about how many times you can take your boat out. Many marinas put these policies in place so that they are not continually loading and unloading their boats.

Do You Have to Pay for Storage?

There is one last option that could be available depending on the size of your boat. If you have a tiny boat, you could potentially store it in your garage or yard. This would provide you with a free storage solution. However, there are a couple of things you'll want to consider before doing so.

Know that by storing your boat in your garage, you could severely limit access for other vehicles. Furthermore, there's no guarantee that storing your boat in your garage could keep it safe from rodents and pests, which would make for an unpleasant surprise when you take your boat on the water the following year.

If you do wish to store your boat at your home, you may want still consider having it shrink-wrapped for additional protection. The professionals who shrink-wrap boats will also flush your system of liquids that could freeze. Professionals will fill the boat with antifreeze instead, which could help keep your boat protected.

The last benefit of storing your boat in your garage is trust and peace of mind. When storing your boat at your home, you won’t have to worry about anyone else having access to it. This proves to be a rather critical factor for many boat owners