A Checklist for Preparing your Boat for Long-term Storage

Boat Storage

December 9th, 2020

Storing your boat for long-term storage takes a little preparation and time. This blog will explain how to prepare your vessel for dry storage.

The Engine

Whether your watercraft is a sailboat, a motorboat, or a yacht, your engine requires preparation. Here, we will go into this process step-by-step.

Replace engine oil

Before storing your boat, you will need to replace your old engine oil. Run the motor in the water first to ensure the old oil drains well and fill with a good quality oil for the duration of storage. This will avoid possible damage to your engine from old oil, which may cause pits to your bearings. If your motor is a 4-stroke engine, change the filter as well.

Drain the Water From the Engine

This step will be unique to the type of boat you have. For inboard and sterndrive engines, flush the engine with clean water. A water muff or similar device should be used for this step, which connects your garden hose to your cooling system on your boat. Continue flushing until your engine reaches normal temperature. Remember, never run a water engine without water! Now, remove the drain plugs, usually located in the engine block and manifold. You should also remove the water pump hose to allow the water to drain thoroughly. For outboard engines, remove the drain plugs and ensure the drain holes are open. Start the engine and flush the cooling system with fresh water; it should take a few minutes.

Stabilize the Fuel

A crucial step in storing your boat is stabilizing the fuel. Fuel can deteriorate during the over a period of months, which causes the fuel to gum up and varnish in your engine. A high-quality fuel additive designed to stabilize fuel is the way to go. Add the fuel stabilizer, then top off your tank with fuel to avoid corrosion in your tank caused by condensation. Run your engine for a few minutes to ensure the stabilizer has made it through the engine, either in the water or using your garden hose fitting designed to run your engine outside the water. It is essential to keep your tank full; an empty tank may cause drying of your gaskets, and there is always a coating of fuel that can varnish over time.

Protect Engine Components

To avoid cylinder scuffing caused by oil draining away from internal engine parts during storage, causing corrosion, use an oil fogging spray to coat and protect engine parts.

Replace Gear Oil

Drain the lower unit of used oil and replace it with fresh oil. Keep an eye out for evidence of moisture contamination; this will look like lumpy or perhaps milky oil. If you see this, you'll have to replace the seals before starting out next time.


Grease your engine's parts and fittings in the steering mechanism. This will protect from corrosion while stored. Use a marine lubricant designed for the task.

Water Systems

Besides the engine, other systems on your boat will need to be readied for long-term storage. If your watercraft has water systems onboard, you will want to prepare them. For faucets, shower heads, and other fixtures, use an RV antifreeze; do not use antifreeze designed for vehicles--it is highly toxic. Open all the faucets and fixtures to drain the system and feed about 5 gallons of RV antifreeze into the system. Ensure the pink fluid comes out of each fixture. Don't forget the shower head by the boat's swim platform! For raw water systems, drain the live wells and other tanks, remove the hose with each pump, and replace it with a hose for the RV antifreeze and pump antifreeze into the system until the pink fluid reaches the holding tanks. Keep all the fixtures open during storage.

Final Preparation for Storage

Clean out your boat before leaving it in storage. Remove your valuables and other items you'll need, including the electronics onboard. Keeping insurance on your boat while in storage is a good idea as well. Clean and wax your boat. Remove any batteries; you can keep those charged while stored at home. Inspect the hull for any damage, paint chips, cracks, or blisters. Repair any damage now, so it's ready to go. Remove any propane tanks; ensure you run the propane stove to remove any propane in the lines. Seal the end of the propane line to avoid leaks. Clean any canvas with a good quality surface cleaner designed for canvas. Finally, cover your boat with a good quality boat cover or shrink-wrap it.


Your sailboat will require some additional preparation. Storing your sailboat includes a thorough cleaning of the mast, hardware, rigging, and other components of your vessel. When you remove the mast, check the electrical wiring inside. Check spreader tips and turnbuckles. Inspect the mainsheet system, turning blocks, winches, rope clutches, and seacocks. Clean your sails, but it's best to spray with water and brush any areas that need extra attention; cleaning your sails may reduce their durability, so use just water. If you are able, dry your sails in the shade or in your garage rather than in the sun to protect your fabric from UV rays. This is an excellent time to repair your sails, too, if necessary. Store your sails from damage by rodents by hanging them or surrounding them with mothballs. Our storage facilities are clean, safe, and secure and ready to meet your dry storage needs. Our areas are well-lit, fully secured, equipped with video surveillance, and offer access via individual codes. Our rental process is contact-free. Reach out to us today for more information on how we can meet your storage needs.