Unless you’re fortunate to live in a place where it feels like summer all year long, then the time will eventually come to stop pontoon boating. Yes, it’s a hard reality to face, but it’s also an inevitable one. The question becomes though, where can you keep your pontoon boat in the off-season? What are all of your pontoon boat storage options?
You have plenty of options for storing your pontoon boat during the offseason, including the following:
- Using your own dock
- Using a public dock
- Keeping the boat in your garage
- Renting space at a public storage facility
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about these boat storage options. We’ll talk about costs and what kind of work you should expect to do to keep your boat in tip-top condition. Finally, we’ll provide some storage tips for those going through the offseason for the first time.
Storing Your Pontoon Boat on Your Own Dock
Let’s say you have your very own dock. You could rent it or have even bought it outright, but either way, it’s yours. You now have a reliable place to keep your pontoon boat each and every winter.
Obviously, once you own a dock, you can do whatever you want with it (within reason). Thus, you don’t have to pay a cent to put your pontoon boat there all winter. That said, owned docks don’t come free. At some point, you will have plunked down a pretty significant sum to get your own piece of boating real estate.
Just how much? According to BoatUS Magazine, you could pay somewhere in the ballpark of $80,000 to $150,000 for a premium piece of boating space. Those are 2012 numbers, by the way, so the prices could have gone up since then.
Some marinas even have dockominiums, says BoatUS. These semi-marinas include a series of amenities you’ll love. Imagine having laundry facilities, electricity, Wi-Fi, cable, and marina access onsite. If you were to rent such a space, it’d cost you about $820 a month. BoatUS mentions that for 50 amps of electricity, you’d pay about $100 monthly. Then there’s the rental fees, a little over $700.
Want to just skip renting and buy a dockominum? Sure. That’ll cost ya about $47,200. At least.
Like with any major investment, you’re not putting down all your hard-earned money at once. You have mortgage fees to pay each month. Keep in mind this is on top of owning a house or apartment and probably a car as well. You need to make sure you can afford the bills you already have before tacking on what’s essentially a second mortgage.
The downside to owning a dock? You have to take care of it. If you rent your own dock, then assumedly, the company that lends the dock to you would do all the maintenance work. That’s just the maintenance for the dock, of course, not your boat.
Having free access to your dock through ownership means you can stop by weekly or even daily and take a peek under the boat cover. If necessary, you can polish ‘er up as well. Your boat shouldn’t have any fluid in it, and you should have taken the batteries out already, too. If you by chance missed any of those steps, you could quickly rectify that before you irreparably damage these items.
Keeping your boat clean now saves you a lot of time come the spring. You won’t have to dust your boat off as hardily since you kept the cobwebs away all winter.
Tips for Success
We’ve written about parking your pontoon along a dock before. If you by chance missed that article, then we recommend you go back and read it. It provides some handy pointers.
Never parked at a dock before? You might want to practice at an emptier dock than yours. You won’t risk hitting any boats this way, which is a good thing for you.
Here’s some other useful tips:
- Beginners should use spring lines. They go from the boat’s aft in a diagonal direction. You then attach the other end to the cleats, the stern, or the bow. Doing so can kind of guide you into a perfect position along the dock.
- Let a friend help you in if you don’t have spring lines on you. Sort of like when you’re parking a car in a tight spot, a second pair of eyes on deck can help you settle yourself in along the dock.
- Never abuse the accelerator when trying to park your pontoon boat. It’s a slow, sometimes arduous process, and rushing it will make it take even longer.
- Don’t freak out if your boat moves without you pressing on the accelerator. This is actually a good thing, as it means you’re using your momentum to guide yourself into the spot.
- If you’re ever parking your boat in the wind, never try to go in the opposite direction of the gusts. While parking will take longer and require more effort in this weather, use the wind to your advantage. Move in its direction instead of against it.
Storing Your Pontoon Boat on a Public Dock
If you don’t own or rent a dock yourself, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. You can also do what many pontoon boat owners have to, and that’s use a public dock.
You have two pontoon boat storage options here: dry docking or wet slipping. With a wet slip, your boat sits on a slip in the water all winter long. Dry docking, as the name tells you, means your boat stays out of the water for the winter. Depending on how cold it gets and the likelihood of your water freezing during the chilly season, you might decide for or against wet slipping.
Since you don’t own the dock yourself, you will pay monthly rental fees to keep the space reserved for your pontoon boat. These fees absolutely vary based on where you live and which marina you rent your spot from. The size of your boat also plays a pretty big role in how much you’ll spend.
For example, at St. Petersburg’s marina in Florida, here’s a cost breakdown:
- If your boat measures 28 feet or less, you’d pay $249.65 as a resident and $312.40 as a nonresident
- If your boat measures 29 to 34 feet, you’d pay $328.10 as a resident and $410.55 as a nonresident
- If your boat measures 35 to 44 feet, you’d pay $432.90 as a resident and $541.71 as a nonresident
- If your boat measures 45 to 55 feet, you’d pay $545.84 as a resident and $683 as a nonresident
- If your boat measures 56 to 65 feet, you’d pay $636.18 as a resident and $796.07 as a nonresident
By the way, that’s per month, not per year!
At Titusville Marina, also in Florida, they have an annual rate of $8.50 per foot of boat per month. Their monthly rate is $10.50 per foot of boat per month. With the weekly rate, you’d pay $6.50 per feet of boat per week. There’s also a daily rate of $1.75 per foot of boat per day.
As you can see, there’s plenty of fluctuations in price. We recommend you call the marina near you and discuss costs so you can budget out what you might spend to rent a dock.
Your boat still needs the same maintenance we covered in the prior section. Now there’s a roadblock, though. Since you don’t own the dock, you can’t enter it all willy-nilly to check on your boat. Some marinas might have daily hours and others might close for the winter. You shouldn’t try to get in to see your boat if the marina isn’t open.
Instead, we’d prioritize you putting together an airtight pontoon boat maintenance list. Follow this to the letter, triple-checking you didn’t miss any of the items on the list. If you winterized to the best of your abilities, then your boat should stay in good shape over the winter. Yes, even if you can’t see it until spring.
Tips for Success
The same tips we listed before for parking your boat at a dock still apply if you’re only renting the dock. Remember to respect other boaters around you as you navigate your pontoon into a spot.
Storing Your Pontoon Boat in Your Garage
While pontoons make for a somewhat surprising choice in terms of boats to keep in your garage, doing so isn’t impossible. You need either a smaller pontoon boat or quite a large, wide garage. If you once kept cars or recreational items in there, you’ll more than likely have to take these out.
Storing your pontoon boat in your garage doesn’t cost you a thing, so that’s one of its biggest perks by far. However, you’re not just tossing your boat on the floor of your garage. The concrete or hardwood can scrape up your pontoon if you’re not careful. Not only that, but floor temperature changes can affect your boat as well.
That’s why many pontoon owners who take their boats from the water for the winter will use a trailer. Most manufacturers who produce these trailers make them for either boats of a certain size or a certain weight. We don’t really recommend surpassing the requirements of the trailer, as bad things will happen. Either your boat won’t fit or it will fall right off once you finally get it on the trailer.
How much do trailers cost? You can get basic ones for around $150. More complex and stable trailers will run you a lot more money. Most of the companies that sell them require you request a quote, but not all. For instance, Trailers for Pontoons in Elkhart, Indiana sells their trailers for close to $5,000.
If you can’t quite find the right pontoon boat trailer for you, then you can always get a customized one. This will fit your boat down to its very measurements. Just expect to pay way more than $5,000 for such a creation.
When it comes to maintenance, like owning a dock, you can check on your pontoon boat in your garage daily. Even better, you don’t have to hop in the car and drive anywhere. You can just open your garage up and there’s your boat. If there’s any minor maintenance necessary, you can do it on the spot.
Keeping your boat indoors safeguards it from environmental damage. Yes, a cover will protect against most of this as well, but nothing beats knowing your boat is safe and sound indoors.
Tips for Success
The following tips will help you trailer your pontoon boat for the very first time:
- If you’re buying a trailer, consider a scissor style. This is the opposite of the bunk trailer. The latter handles driving conditions better, but they’re made to fit all sorts of boats. That’s not true with scissor trailers. Manufacturers only make these for pontoons. That means a more precise fit.
- Having guide rails will make trailering much less of an endeavor. These trailers, nicknamed easy guides, thus make a wonderful choice for beginners. With the rails and guides, loading your pontoon boat on and off the trailer doesn’t take nearly as much time or hard work.
- Keep your trailer on a flat, even surface in your garage so it’s not at any risk of tipping. Most trailers have a somewhat hardy profile, but they’re not infallible.
Storing Your Pontoon Boat at a Storage Facility
If you can’t rent or buy a dock nor use a public one and your garage isn’t fit for a pontoon boat, don’t despair. You have one more option: a public storage facility. At one of these facilities, you may have your own storage cube or space. Other facilities will keep your pontoon at a giant warehouse, stacking one boat atop another. You’ll often see dry stacked storage more often with speedboats, but theoretically, you could store pontoon boats this way, too.
How much you spend for storage depends on a few factors. First, there’s your location. The more options near you, then the choosier you can be. Also, the size of your boat will surely drive up costs.
Looking for a website to browse for storage facilities? Try Neighbor.com. You can search for storage right in your neighborhood, hence the name. Let’s say you’re in New York, a very populous city. You might pay anywhere from $45 a month to $250 monthly at a facility. In Chicago, costs vary from $50 to $225 a month for a storage cube.
According to First Quarter Finance, you should expect to shell out roughly $200 to $300 in monthly fees for a storage facility. This excludes dry stacked storage.
Speaking of dry stacked storage, if that’s the route you go, you can say bye-bye to your pontoon boat until the springtime. Your pontoon will get stacked so high and with so many other boats that you couldn’t get to it if you tried. Not that you should try.
Once again, you’ll have to do your best to winterize your boat super efficiently before you take it over to the facility. If you forget something or missed a step, hope it’s not something major. You’ll find out in the spring.
Here’s what you should do. Before you leave your pontoon boat at a storage facility, you want to use fogging oil on the engine, but only if you have an inbound motor. Flip an outbound motor down so there’s no water in it and thus it can’t rust.
Fill your fuel tank with fuel stabilizer and make sure you empty all your drain plugs. Flushing your water systems with antifreeze works as well.
If you rent your own storage cube or space, then you should have free access to it (during business hours) if you continue paying. You could get in there and check your boat, cleaning it up and topping things off if necessary.
You’ll more than likely want to use a boat trailer for a storage facility unless you’re not allowed. This will protect the underside of your boat.
Tips for Success
- Since you’ll keep your pontoon boat at a storage facility for a few months, you want to make sure the facility has adequate security.
- Always opt for indoor storage over outdoor storage if you can. These temperature-controlled environments will safeguard your pontoon from elemental damage like wind, rain, and sun.
- If you absolutely must store your pontoon outside, then never forget to use a cover. It should have UV protection. Make sure the cover is waterproof as well, not water-resistant. Double-check you get a cover with wind tearing protection, since it can get quite blustery in the winter.
When the wintertime arrives, where will you keep your pontoon boat? You have four choices: your own dock, a public dock, your garage, or a storage facility. All have their pros and cons, and most require quite a bit of a money. We recommend you choose the option that suits your budget and level of convenience best. Good luck!