Staying In The Water All Winter

Published On September 17, 2015 | By Mark Baese | Boat Projects

Ok, I know there are a lot of strong opinions about whether or not you should pull your boat out of the water for winter. I’ve gone back and forth with all the pros and cons – and read all the forum posts with the strong opinions. I still don’t know what’s right or wrong, but we’ve decided that we’re staying in the water this winter.

The main reason I’m doing this is cost. Let’s just get that out of the way now.

Our marina used to include on-land storage over the winter if you were a moorage customer. I’m not sure if demand is up, space is down, or greed is king, but there’s a charge for this now. It’s still pretty cheap at $3 per foot each month, which works out to about $600 for the winter. However, when you add in the cost of the haulout, shrink wrap and winterize, it’s almost $2000 just to put your boat away for the winter.

Shelter Bay Marina

We used to be able to store our boats in this parking lot – just like the lonely boat that’s there now.

I’m looking at reducing these costs. Dropping the land storage, haul out and shrink wrap will cut it down by $1200-ish. Don’t worry – I won’t relive the tarping disaster from a couple years ago.

So what are the pros and cons to leaving it in the water? Let’s go through them:

Pros

  • Cost: It’ll be cheaper. In British Columbia you can be insured and in the water all year round. You pay for this regardless of whether you stay in or not. I also pay for year-round moorage. So, I’ve already paid for the space.
  • Access: You can get onto your boat anytime and feel the gentle sway any time you like.
  • Season Length: You don’t need to get in line to get hauled out of the water and winterized, so there’s less of a need to make an appointment to get out or in the water. This can extend your season by several weeks.

Cons

  • Worry: And buckets of it. Every point you’ll see here gives you reason to worry, but it’s worth mentioning worry by itself as it can make you uneasy all winter long.
  • Sinking Boat: You’re in the water all winter, and that means you can sink. You can’t sink on land. You have to check on the boat frequently, make sure your batteries are charged (for the bilge pumps) and make sure no water is getting in.
  • Snow: It can pile up on your boat. After a heavy snow storm, you’ll need to knock it all off to make sure your canvas doesn’t collapse – or reinforce the structure.
  • Safety: You have to wander down to the empty marina on slippery docks.
  • Ice: I don’t have this problem because our lake doesn’t freeze – but if yours does, it’s a whole different issue.

The cons list might be longer, but it doesn’t outweigh cost and season length for me.

It would also affect our decision to leave the boat in the water all winter if our lake froze. It’s a lot more complicated in that situation.

I’d eventually love to be able to winterize and summerize our boat myself – as that would also save some costs. However, after having one cracked block already, I’m going to bring in a mechanic to learn from this year and document everything so I can get it right.

Larson 280 Engine Repair

I’m not even facing the engine in this picture, so I doubt I’m fixing anything.

As always, you can follow along here, and on our youtube channel, to see if this is successful. Good or bad, It’ll all be documented here for you to follow.

Would you leave your boat in the water all winter?

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