Storing B.O.A.T.S. (Based On A True Storage) For Winter, Especially Kayaks & Canoes

by Zachary Chetchevat on
If you own a boat, congratulations! Whether it is a canoe, kayak or pontoon, you are the owner of a small personal watercraft, and therefore awesome. Ignore the jeers from those who own fishing boats and yachts, because your small person-powered watercraft is better for you and the environment. Unfortunately, at press time, temperatures have dropped significantly and things are beginning to get icy out there at sea (or lake/river). You can’t be boating all year round, so here is some handy advice on how to store your shiny little boat.

For best results when storing a kayak or other person-powered boat, you should definitely consider storing it inside. If you’re running low on space at home, you can always rent a remote unit through a self-storage finder like ours to protect your boat during the off-season.

“But why keep my boat inside?” you may ask.
Well, any hull material – from fiberglass to plastic – is susceptible to degradation from the sun’s mighty rays. “Well, what if I use a tarp?” you ask next. Another danger that Mother Nature can pose to a small boat is rain and snow collecting in the bottom of the hull or on the tarp. This water adds additional weight that deforms the hull.

Only one thing is more dangerous than the sun, and that is the cold, and not even a tarp can protect a kayak from that. Low temperatures can cause damage to the skins of inflatable kayaks and damage from inside small seams, joints and cracks that have collected water.

Besides weather issues, storing outdoors could draw the attention of thieves in need of a reliable, illicitly obtained escape vehicle. To protect from this, try to hide it, or perhaps store it in a way that would make it difficult to steal.

Something even more unpredictable than thieves is wind; depending on the area, winds can be strong enough to displace or harm your kayak by flinging it into a tree or pole. Fortunately, winds can be thwarted by making sure your kayak is properly secured to either the ground or a fixed object. Additionally, small animals may want to make their winter homes inside a kayak or canoe, so make sure your boat is cleaned out before storing, and check up on it every now and then.

Indoor boat storage form and placement
Now that we’ve settled on why you should definitely store inside, the biggest concern is keeping the bottom of the kayak or canoe in the best shape possible. Generally, canoes and kayaks either have flat bottoms, round bottoms or v-bottoms. Maintaining the shape of the bottom is incredibly important for the boat’s stability, speed and handling.

We asked local outdoorsman and fellow SpareFooter Mike Wright for his advice: “You should store indoors, for sure. Also, it’s best to store a kayak off the floor.” When suspending a kayak or canoe, distribute the weight evenly between two points. This should prevent deformations such as flat spots or bending in the middle.

However, sometimes buying webbing that suspends your beloved canoe off the ground can be hard on the wallet. A more practical alternative is to simply lay the canoe against a wall, either on its side or standing upright. Both of these methods prevent weight from gathering in the hull, preventing deformation.

For canoes, take specific care of the area known as a “gunwale,” which is the widened edge around the top side of a canoe. Wooden gunwales should be properly oiled and have the stem screws removed, while the hull screws should be loosened. Aluminum gunwales should be kept warm over the winter months to reduce warping of the hull. Also remember to clean your canoe before storing if you’ve been in salt water.

Taking good care of anything always requires some effort, and personal boat storage is no different. With these tips in hand and heart, you’ll be well-equipped to store any sort of person-powered boat this winter season.