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October 09, 2012

Cover Your Boat the Right Way for Long-Term Winter Storage

Covering Your Boat Properly for Long-Term Storage Helps Ensure Long-Term Happiness as a Boat Owner

One of the key elements of successfully winterizing your fishing boat is covering it properly. This will protect your investment from rain, snow and varmints like racoons and rats looking for shelter from wind and cold.

While canvas boat covers are suitable for short-term storage, a snug shrink-wrap cover offers a more durable solution for long-term storage. While there are do-it-yourself kits for shrink-wrapping from companies like Dr. Shrink, this is usually a job best left to your boat yard or a mobile shrink-wrapping service. The process requires a large amount of material and a fairly high level of skill, as well as an open flame around fuel vents, fiberglass and plastic wrap (which is flammable). Prices for shrink-wrapping range from $24 to $60 per foot.

Here are six factors to keep in mind when having your boat shrink-wrapped.

INSURANCE. Make sure the yard or mobile service has insurance in case your boat is damaged in the shrink-wrapping process.

NO LOW SPOTS. Just as with a canvas cover, there should be no low spots in the shrink-wrap where rain water or snow can collect. Such weight might tear the plastic.

PAD THE SHARP POINTS. Sharp areas like the corners of windshields need padding to keep from tearing the shrink-wrap.

VENTILATION. The shrink-wrapper needs to install vents in the plastic to prevent condensation that can lead to mold and mildew. There also needs to be a vent around the fuel-tank vent.

MID-WINTER ACCESS. Once wrapped, you can’t get in your boat without cutting, tearing and ruining the cover, unless there’s a zippered access panel. If you think you might want to get inside over the winter, ask your shrink-wrapper to install one of these.

RECYCLING. You’ll need to dispose of the old plastic next spring, and on big boats, that can be substantial chore. Ask if your boat yard or mobile service will assist with recycling the used shrink-wrap.

Covering your boat properly each winter is an important part of keeping your boat in the best condition possible for years to come.