Keeping your vessel safe is a fundamental part of boat ownership. A good boat storage facility should be secure, affordable, and accessible while providing the right services and amenities for you and your craft. Stress-free, long-term boat ownership often hinges on finding the perfect marina, boatyard, or commercial space to store your cabin cruiser, runabout, or sportfishing yacht.
Whether you’ve moved across the country or just purchased a brand-new yacht, securing a trustworthy place to store your vessel is essential. Different storage methods and facilities have their benefits and drawbacks, but you can find the best boat storage facility for your needs by:
Like maintenance fees and insurance, you’ll need to fit storage costs into your budget when buying a boat. Some storage methods and facilities are more affordable than others, and some factors that affect pricing include:
Where you live can impact your boat storage costs. In popular tourist areas, you might pay more for a wet slip at a marina than indoor dry storage at a boatyard in a smaller town. Call and research local or semi-local marinas and commercial storage facilities to compare prices.
Boat storage facilities often charge by the square foot, calculated by multiplying the vessel’s length and beam or the total overall length. If your boat is on a trailer, the facility will likely charge you for the additional length. Self-store options may have flat rates based on size, and some boat storage facilities offer package deals that include winterization services.
Your chosen type of storage and availability impact your monthly costs. Outdoor boat storage on dry land is fairly common as indoor spaces fill quickly. Storage type, season, amenities, and services also factor into pricing. The average boat storage costs among different options include:
Amenities and convenient extras also affect the cost of storing a yacht. Dry-rack maintenance, shrink-wrapping, and winterization services also increase prices. Looking for facilities that offer long-term storage discounts can help alleviate some of the cost.
Opting for the cheapest way to store a boat may be tempting, but cost-cutting on essentials can have long-term consequences. Poor or inadequate storage can depreciate your vessel’s value and shorten its lifespan. Rather than shopping for the lowest price, make room in your budget for affordable boat storage that offers quality care and protection to preserve your craft’s longevity.
Dry Land Storage
“Dry land storage is going to be the most cost-effective form of boat storage,” says William Morong, CEO of Yachting Solutions and founder of the company’s former all-inclusive storage program, Safe Haven Advantage. Storing your boat on land is more economical because repair costs add up quickly when vessels are in constant contact with eroding elements like water and salt.
Self-storing your boat in your garage or on your property is a free but challenging option. Restrictions due to city ordinances or community rules may hinder your storage plans. You’ll also need to consider the expense, time, and skills involved in preparing a boat for storage. After weighing the cost and effort, you may find a dry boat storage package deal more practical than self-storing at home.
Especially in the Northern United States, boat storage costs vary by season. If you live in the Northeast, storing your boat in a heated indoor facility is half the cost in the summertime as it would be in the winter. However, in places like Florida where temperatures rarely dip below freezing, year-round rates are more consistent.
When researching boat storage costs, think about the difference between off-season storage and storing the boat when you don’t immediately need to be on the water. “In the north, wintertime storage is more common,” Morong says. “In the south, boating is a year-round sport, so dry boat rack storage is more prevalent, and people come for their boat as needed.”
Owners who pay for year-round storage typically save time and money because they don’t need alternative types of storage. If you keep your boat in a wet slip all year, you can use it as needed in the summer and avoid finding and paying for winter storage. Of course, you should still budget for yearly haul-out fees and maintenance costs.
Ideally, where you store your boat should be an easy driving distance from your house and close to your favorite boating destination, such as a lake or along the coast. Storing your yacht close to home reduces travel time, so you can get on the water faster and spend more time enjoying your boat.
Before signing a contract, talk to storage personnel about how and when you use your boat. If you’re an angler who likes to cast a line before the crack of dawn or a boater who adores starlit nights on the water, limited access hours may be a dealbreaker.
Some boat storage facilities offer 24/7 access to your vessel while others have strict business hours. Access restrictions make family outings stressful if you’re worried about returning to the dock before closing. More flexible marinas may ask you to call ahead if you plan to use your boat outside of business hours so they can have it ready when you arrive.
Some boat storage facilities may ask you how often you use your vessel, especially if you live somewhere boating is a year-round sport. You might use your boat more often during the summer than in other seasons. Indoor storage facilities need to know ahead of time when you plan to use your boat so they can prep it for launch.
When storing your boat at a marina, ask about the amenities available for boat owners and guests. Many larger marinas have prime locations close to restaurants and shopping centers as well. Some marinas include additional conveniences such as:
Helpful and convenient extras make voyages more fun, relaxing, and stress-free. As the liveaboard boating community becomes more popular, features like laundry facilities, gyms, and showers support all members as well as those enjoying long and short-term living on the water.
Ensure your facility provides trouble-free access to electricity and water so you can prepare your craft before a weekend outing or clean up quickly after a fishing trip. Before committing to a storage space, check to make sure these essential utilities are easy to find and convenient to use.
Boat storage facilities often provide package deals that include long-term and winterization services for your craft. Others may only include haul-out, dock, and launch services, so it’s important to research facilities in your area to compare pricing, features, and amenities. Commonly included services are:
During your boat storage research, compare engine and mechanical winterization services different boatyards and marinas offer. Look for winter work discounts that provide detailing, maintenance, bottom paint, and gel coat repair, as many storage facilities have deals on these services, too.
When it comes to cost, storage packages are a more convenient, budget-friendly way to bundle all your boat’s services for winter storage. Some businesses charge by individual service, so you may need to investigate different options to find a cost-effective solution for your vessel and needs.
“For in-the-water storage, you need to have a protected harbor,” Morong says. This caveat is especially true for the Northeastern U.S. and Upper Midwest on the Great Lakes. Winter storms are often severe, resulting in iced-in boats and frozen, brittle lines.
Boats in storage need protection on at least three sides to shield them from high winds, ice, snowstorms, hurricane conditions, and saltwater. In areas prone to severe weather, three-sided enclosures are common at professional facilities with covered and indoor boat storage.
“When storing outdoors, or in a cold indoor environment, look for exterior fencing, security cameras, and some type of security overwatch or patrol,” Morong recommends. Having reliable surveillance keeps your investment safe from theft and vandalism. Look for the following security measures when deciding on a storage facility:
In addition to inquiring about theft prevention, check online reviews, browse local news sites for incident reports, and ask employees about security issues. Investigating a boatyard or outdoor storage facility’s reputation and security standards reduces your risk. Also, the company should ensure on-demand surveillance footage access due to damage, security concerns, or questionable activity.
While searching for storage online is convenient, visiting a marina or boatyard in person gives you a better idea of the property’s condition. A clean, neatly landscaped property often corresponds with the level of care, dedication, and attention customers can expect from personnel. In-person visits also allow you to inspect the facility for potential hazards and signs of rodents and other pests.
Most marinas and commercial storage facilities have several contracts available for boaters. Seasonal storage is the most popular arrangement, but many companies offer month-to-month contracts. Longer commitments, such as annual storage, often feature discounts on services. Shop around to find the contract that best suits your needs.
Ask your chosen storage facility about launch scheduling and timing, especially if you’re using high and dry rack storage. They’ll likely give you a standard wait time, but launches may take longer during busier times of the year. To avoid delays, inform the facility a day or two before you want to use your boat.
While having the right marine insurance on your vessel is important, so is storing your yacht at an insured marina or boatyard. Facility owners should have general liability coverage, which usually includes the operation of a non-owned vessel with no length or time restrictions.
If the facility repairs vessels and docks them while awaiting service, the company should also have ship repairer’s legal liability insurance to cover issues excluded from the general coverage plan.
For people storing their boats, one of the biggest insurance components affecting coverage is the facility’s safety precautions. “Sprinkler systems, fire protection, fire doors, and fire-retardant construction are a really big deal when storing indoors in a heated environment,” Morong explains.
Boat storage facilities carry insurance to protect their customers from financial loss. Policies should include instances of theft, weather damage, physical loss or damage to the vessel, and pollution caused by chemical spills.
Informed clients always have the upper hand when choosing where and how they want to store their yacht. The list below sums up the main points and topics to address when choosing a new boat storage facility. Questions you might want to ask your marina or boatyard include:
Whether you’re new to yacht ownership or searching for a new boatyard to secure your fishing runabout, selecting the right facility to protect your boat is crucial. Compare local storage facilities to find the best price and services to fit your budget. When choosing where to store your boat, keep in mind that high-quality service helps preserve your yacht’s appearance and lifespan.