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Winter Is Coming: Where are you storing your boat?

Kelly Moulton
Kelly Moulton

I live in Bergen where you have an option to keep your boat on the water during winter or take her up into winter storage.

For the first time last winter, I chose to keep her in the water. And for the first time in literally 35 years, what happened? Fanafjord froze over.

People were actually ice skating on the ocean outside my house.



All winter long, my boat was stored across the water from the where I took this photo from in a small, well protected, family-owned marina called Nødtvedt Marina - here's a picture just a week after the great meltdown. 



With SmartBoat One, I was able to keep track of my boat's temperature the whole way, but I am uncertain if I want to take that risk again. I am happy to say the Mercury 150 started up right away when the ice thawed so there's a happy end to the Ice Age story.


But what are the pros of keeping the boat in the water, compared to pulling it up for the colder months?

Pros of storing my boat on the water:

  • Major #1 advantage, I can use it all year. Just dress warmly. Don't be one of these wimps who must have no rain, sunshine, 18+ temperatures, light seas, etc. in order to use my boat. Put on the gloves, the sweater and windbreaker and get out there in the winter. The water, the light — absolutely beautiful through Christmas. Maybe January, February I can take time off, otherwise back on the water in March onwards.
  • As we the Norwegian saying goes: “båten trives best i vann.” Or, boats like the water best. Accidents can and do happen when a boat is taken up on land. Most boat oweners have at least one story in that regard.
  • Save money? Not sure. Some marinas include this service in the year round fee you pay. Mine does.

On the other hand, you might think to yourself:

  • You may not use the boat in the winter, so best to take it up.
  • Easier to give it a proper wash, cleaning and service before putting her back in the water when it's removed for the winter
  • No worries about low on-land temperatures harming the boat


If I take my boat out for the winter, why would I need SmartBoat One?

Well, batteries needs monitoring, period.

In some facilities, storage will include charging of batteries. But it is hard to verify that charging his being done correctly (i.e. when the battery reaches around 50%) and not just during the week before handover. If you have self storage, SmartBoat One can be an essential tool for monitoring good battery health to avoid critical drainage. More questions about battery charging best practices? Take a look here.

Paal Kaperdal, Founder and CEO of Sensar Marine, also added:

“I have personally had the largest damages to my boat during winter storage on land. Outside the water the batteries are most exposed when it gets cold, especially if they are not fully charged. Boats stored inside are less exposed, so big difference between inside storage and outside storage.”

SmartBoat One's built in temperature sensors will allow you to stay up to date with the temperature of the boat to be sure that it's not exposed to temperatures that could contribute to longer term damage. 


Here's my personal winter checklist:

Please note, I own a 21 foot daycruiser with a 150 Mercury outboard so bear in mind my advice applies to my boat type.
  • Remove all valuables and belongings

  • Once the boat is up, do a good inspection for any damage or areas that need to be fixed (this, after all, is one of the big big advantage of taking her up, to be able to inspect the hull that is normally submerged).   Open seacocks to allow any water to drain.  If you have the time, give the hull a good wax job, why not show some love?

  • Disconnect batteries and move them to warm storage

  • Treat the engine. Flush engine with fresh water. Use fogging oil in the cylinders. Apply water resistant grease to propeller shaft and threads. Change the gear oil in the lower unit.
    In my case, if I am honest, I usually trust a mechanic because I am not an engine man by any stretch of the imagination. 
  • Fill the tank but not all the way to allow room for expansion.  Add fuel stabilizer.    
And ideally, the best place for your boat to be during the winter (IF you are taking her out of the water) is under cover and in a climate-controlled boat storage area. 
Kelly Moulton
Kelly Moulton