I dread this time of year, not just because the trout fishing where I live is slowly coming to a close, but because storing my boat for the winter is a bit of a chore. I own a 13-foot inflatable raft with a fishing frame, and storing a boat like this properly can make all the difference in its lifespan. It just takes a few (although tedious) hours to get it ready for winter storage. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years that seem to make a real difference.
The best place to keep your boat during the winter is indoors in a dry climate. Since this isn’t always possible, here are some ideas to keep it protected all winter.
1) Wash your boat with warm soap and water. Make sure you’ve given your boat plenty of time to dry before storage.
2) Keeping your boat outside on a trailer fully covered with a UV tarp is arguably the easiest solution, but consider bringing your frame inside. Frame pipe that has water trapped in it will burst once it freezes.
3) Spray and wipe your boat down with 303 UV Protectant. Cover the entire thing. Do the top, bottom, and even the inside of your valves, as this will help keep them lubricated and less prone to shrinking and leaking over time.
4) If you store your boat where there is the possibility of damage by mice or other rodents, rolling up your boat and standing it in a large plastic garbage can will provide better protection than simply wrapping it in a tarp.
5) If you keep your boat on the trailer, remove the frame and use a tarp or something heavier for coverage. Even with the frame, you should always pitch a high point in the center of the boat to promote drainage off the tarp from rain and melting springtime snow. Poking a hole in the center of the low point of the tarp will allow the snow melt to escape. (Do not follow this last suggestion if your boat is not self bailing)