It’s almost fall, and it won’t be long after the leaves change colors that we’ll be pulling out our jackets and scarves for the winter. Before it gets too cold, it will be time to store our boats for the winter months. Storing your boat properly will help to protect it from the elements during the cold winter months and help to avoid the need for costly repairs next Spring. In this blog post from Canvasworks in Cokato, we’ll share tips for storing your boat safely throughout the winter. 

Importance of Winter Boat Storage

Just like with any vehicle, storing a boat for the long-term should be well thought out. Taking your time to decide on the best approach for your boat and budget will save you a big headache in spring. If you haven’t yet purchased a boat, taking the time to consider the costs and time associated with boat storage now will help you determine if boat ownership is for you and possibly what type of boat you should purchase. 


These are a few of the key things to consider when deciding how to store your boat over the winter:


●        Typical precipitation type and average volume for your area.

●        How severe are the temperature changes?

●        Rodent, raccoon, and bird activity and nesting where you are storing the boat.

●        Security of the storage facility.

●        Financial aspects.


Failure to take these aspects into consideration when storing your boat over the winter can result in costly repairs in the spring. Rodents and raccoons will cause extreme damage to upholstery, it is very common to see this type of damage in boats that are stored in old barns or sheds. It is one of our most common repairs in the spring. Winter weather conditions can cause significant damage to your boat’s interior, the mechanical and electrical systems, as well as the exterior throughout the freezing and thawing cycles of the season.

Consider Your Options – Outdoor or Indoor Storage?

The biggest decision you need to make is whether you are going to store your boat indoors or outdoors. Both are effective ways to overwinter a boat and have their individual benefits.


Storing a boat outdoors is the least expensive option. However, it does require more consideration and care when preparing your boat for storage. The biggest consideration you will have, beyond preparing your mechanical and electrical system properly, is protecting your boat from the elements. Ice and snow can do significant damage to your boat’s interior and engine over the winter. With replacement upholstery costs running into the thousands of dollars in many cases, properly protecting your boat is of paramount importance. This can mean shrink wrapping your boat, which is a yearly expenditure of $400-500 average throughout the country. Or you can purchase a reusable winter storage cover for your boat. The outlay is greater at the beginning, but with a lifespan of 12-15 years there is significant long-term savings. Reusable winter storage covers are also an environmentally friendly alternative to shrink wrapping.


Your other winter storage option is to find an indoor storage facility. These can be unheated or climate controlled. Indoor winter boat storage means that you don’t need to have a boat cover specifically for winter storage. However, you should still cover your boat to protect the interior from dust, dirt, and rodent or bird debris. As we noted above, consider whether or not the storage facility is likely to be an attractive overwintering spot for rodents and raccoons, they are capable of causing incredible amounts of damage to a boat while it is being stored. If you’re unsure of where to begin looking for indoor boat storage, your local marinas should be able to help you. You will still need to winterize your boat correctly, however oftentimes storage facilities will offer winterization services.

Before Storing Your Boat – The Basics


There are a few quick steps you should take before storing your boat for the winter. Doing these in the fall, before storage, will save you time in the spring when getting your boat back on the lake quickly is a priority.


Follow these  basic steps to store your boat safely:


1.      Assess the condition of the hull and determine if any work needs to be done before storing.

2.      Wash the hull, polish it if needed. Make sure you clean your snap studs afterwards to make sure any polishing compound isn’t left in them.

3.      Clean the interior. Make sure you remove anything, food or otherwise, that will make your boat an attractive nesting place for vermin. This is the perfect time to bring any upholstery that needs to be repaired or replaced to your local canvas shop.

4.      Change the oil and oil filter.

5.      Winterize your boat or have it winterized by a professional according to manufacturer’s instructions.


Now that you’ve read our quick winter storage guide, take some time to enjoy the last warm days of summer before winter sets in. Before you know it you’ll be getting your ice fishing and snowmobile gear ready for winter fun!

Custom Boat Covers from Cokato, Minnesota

At Canvasworks in Cokato, we specialize in custom winter boat covers. Our reusable winter storage covers are the green alternative to shrink wrapping, saving you money and protecting the environment. Winter boat storage covers are made to your boat’s specifications and can accommodate motors or other options.


To check out our custom boat covers, stop by our online gallery. When you’re ready to order your winter storage boat cover, give us a call at 320-559-0165. You can also contact us online to connect with a member of our team and learn about our boat covers.