Can you store a boat in a storage unit?

A question at the end of every season is where to store your boat over the winter. This article looks at how to evaluate whether your boat could be successfully stored in a storage unit.

The traditional boat storage choices are home storage, undercover in a boatyard or boat park, a swinging mooring, marina berthing or the relatively new option of Drystack storage.  Each of these options has its pros and cons.  Perhaps home storage is not an option for you and the other options seem pricey.  So, can you store a boat in a storage unit?


What can a storage unit provide?
  1. A high level of security – an established reputable storage organisation will have security in place. This would normally be:
    1. 24-hour CCTV monitoring all access points and emergency exits.
    2. Electronic coded access security gates and perimeter fencing.
    3. 24-hour security staff presence or part staff part use of external mobile security. Mobile security is a service which is normally used just for out of standard trading hours, where if any alarms are triggered a person will go to the site.
    4. Fire protection. You should expect fire and smoke detectors and strict rules on what can be stored. Normally any combustible, flammable or explosive item or material will not be allowed.
    5. Security for every individual unit. For many storage unit providers, the level of security for each individual unit is left to the renter. Most people simply select a high specification padlock. Some self-storage units provide an additional level of security by providing an alarm for every storage unit. It means if someone has been able to access the storage unit area there is another layer of electronic monitoring and alarms before they can access your unit.
  2. A safe and comfortable environment in day time and night time hours – In the autumn and winter it’s especially important that the facility is well lit. If you want to access your storage unit you need to feel comfortable stopping by.
  3. Access – the level of access varies and often there is an additional charge if you are looking for access outside of standard working hours. If you can select a storage unit with 24-hour access then it means you can access the unit whenever you want. Maybe an early spring impromptu boat trip?
  4. Protection from the weather – storing your boat in a storage unit rather than outside immediately gives greater protection. Many storage units also provide a climate control option.

What are the downsides of storing a boat in a storage unit?

Sadly, there are quite a few…

  1. Unless it is a very small boat you will need to find a storage unit that will let you drive in with a trailer and reverse the trailer and boat into the unit.
  2. Due to fire safety rules, you will need to drain your engines of fuel or store the engines elsewhere.
  3. Batteries will normally need to be removed and stored elsewhere. If you find a storage unit provider who allows batteries to be stored, you will still need access to power to enable batteries to be left on charge.
  4. You are very unlikely to be able to do any maintenance work on your boat whilst it is in the storage unit. The business model for a storage unit is to provide a cost-effective place to store items, it’s not a place where people spend days carrying out maintenance jobs.
  5. The provider may limit how many times you can access the storage unit per week or per month.
  6. In a boatyard or marina, there is normally a community spirit and access to a chandlery and other supporting services. None of this is available in a storage unit.

How to prepare your boat for storage

Even though your boat is going to be inside a storage unit there is still some preparation to be done:

  1. Invest in a good quality boat cover. You are going to be transporting your boat from the sea to the storage unit and back again. Having a boat cover helps protect the boat from bumps and scuffs.
  2. You will need to completely drain your engines of fuel to ensure you adhere to fire safety rules. This is a good idea anyway for winter storage of your boat.
  3. Find out how you are going to look after your batteries.
  4. Clean and dry your boat so you know how you want your boat to look when you bring it out of storage.
  5. Put in some diary dates to regularly check your boat so there are no nasty surprises when you want to start your boating season.
So, can you store a boat in a storage unit?

The answer is yes you can, and it may be cheaper, but you may find the money savings don’t balance out the drawbacks. 

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