How To Store A Pontoon Boat For Winter

How To Store A Pontoon Boat For Winter | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

January 19, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • We need to find a storage location, clean the boat, winterize the boat, set up the boat’s support system, and put a winter cover on the boat to store it for winter.
  • It’s safe to store a pontoon boat outdoors during winter, but extra steps must be taken to protect the boat.
  • It will cost $50-$200 per foot to rent a storage space indoors or $25-$50 to do so outdoors.

Everybody who owns a pontoon boat should learn to store it for winter. This will protect the boat and ensure it provides the maximum expected lifespan.

To store a pontoon boat for winter:

  1. Find a winter storage location
  2. Clean the interior and exterior of the pontoon boat
  3. Winterize the boat and properly prep the spark plug holes, battery, fuel tank, and engine
  4. Set up the boat’s support system
  5. Put a winter cover on the boat.

We have dealt with pontoon boats for years, so preparing one for winter storage is nothing new. Everything any pontoon boat owner needs to know about storing a pontoon boat for the winter is mentioned in this guide below.


Table of contents

How To Store A Pontoon Boat For Winter

Not everybody knows how to store a pontoon boat for winter. It can be tricky, and the exact steps depend on where the boat is being stored.

Luckily, we have plenty of experience. Below we include the perfect plan to follow along with some boat winterization tips to ensure the pontoon boat is kept safe from freezing temperatures and nothing breaks down when temperatures dip.

Determine Winter Storage Location

One of the primary concerns for pontoon boat owners is winter storage and what they will use as storage space for their boats. It’s possible to keep the boat indoors at home or rent a spot at a larger storage facility too.

The winter storage location can be in the driveway at home, in a larger garage, or in a backyard. But this requires extra work, so many people opt to rent a storage space at their local marina.

This is preferred by many because they can pay to have the boat removed from the marina slip and placed into storage. This saves the pontoon boat owners various steps but also comes with an added cost.

Clean The Interior & Exterior Of The Boat Thoroughly

The next step for winter pontoon boat storage is boat preparation. But before we can worry about winterizing it, we must thoroughly clean the boat.

This includes removing all trash and debris from the boat and scrubbing the exterior with soap. It’s also best to get rid of any loose gear inside the boat, like floatation devices. Take special care to remove any algae or barnacles from the boat's bottom.

Remove all of the water from the boat. This includes emptying the bilge and engine of any remaining water to prevent moisture from building up. It's also a good idea to remove the drain plugs from the transom.

Many more steps are needed for anybody living in a cold climate because of the cold temperatures. We will explain these below when we winterize the pontoon to handle these conditions without permanent damage.

Winterize The Boat

Next, we need to winterize the boat. This is the most critical step because more than simply putting a cover on the pontoon is needed if the boat will be in a storage space for the entirety of the winter months.

It’s necessary to drain the engine coolant from the boat and add a propylene glycol-based antifreeze with a 50/50 water mix. This will reduce corrosion risks and best protect the boat in the cold.

Draining and replacing the engine oil with fresh oil is also recommended. The old engine oil should only stay in the boat during the next boating season. We can also add a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank and replace the oil filters and air filters.

Set Up The Boat Support System

After we finish winterizing the entire boat, we need to set up a support system for the boat. The easiest way to do this is by using the pontoons trailer.

But other methods are worth considering if we don’t have a trailer. The other popular method is to use cinder blocks to support the boat’s weight above the ground, so there is no water buildup inside.

Put The Winter Cover On The Boat

Lastly, we can put the winter cover on the boat. The best option is a mooring cover because it is designed for the pontoon boat with a tight-fitting seal, so there is minimal risk of leaking or water getting inside the boat.

Always take measurements before buying a mooring cover. They make them accurately sized, so it’s necessary to avoid choosing the wrong-sized cover.  They are also known to keep the pontoon covered during snow and other bad conditions.

How Do You Winterize Pontoon Boats?

Below we have listed the best tips to winterize a pontoon boat efficiently.

Focus On The Boat’s Engine and Fuel Tank

The engine needs to be cared for when winterizing a pontoon boat too. This is done by switching off valves, sealing exhaust ports, and checking the water hose.

Use A Fuel Stabilizer

Leaving fuel in the pontoon boat during the winter is only recommended if a fuel stabilizer is used in the gas tank. Without it, the tank could deal with corrosion because of the freezing temperatures.

Remove The Drain Plug

Water getting inside the boat is possible, so removing the drain plug inside the boat can ensure the water never builds up. Pooling water inside the boat can cause mold or damage inside the boat.

The boat must be raised off the ground too. Otherwise, there is no place for the water to drain, and the last thing anybody wants during the winter is water buildup inside their pontoon boat.

Prep The Spark Plug Holes

The winter can get harsh, and the engine can go wrong during the off-season. To ensure the boat is ready for the winter months, try to spray fogging oil in the spark plug holes for more protection.

The spark plugs must be removed, and the fogging oil should be put into the cylinders for best results. The spark plug wires can also be unplugged or removed for the winter. This protects the spark plugs while the boat is in storage.

Prepare The Boat Battery

We also recommend removing the pontoon boats battery for winter. This is best practice because consistent cold weather exposure will damage the battery.

Check the owner’s manual to locate the battery and remove it before moving to the next step and putting the cover on the boat.

Always Opt For A Winter-Quality Cover

A durable, high-quality winter cover is key to successful storage for pontoons. Keeping the rain, snow, and leaves out of the pontoons interior will improve the boat’s durability and make life easier in the spring.

Using something tight and specifically built for the winter rather than a traditional tarp is better. It will last longer, and the unique fit on the boat will ensure it never comes loose despite the difficult weather conditions and freezing temperatures.

Is It Safe To Store A Pontoon Boat Outdoors For Winter?

Ideally, pontoon boats should be stored indoors and out of direct sunlight. This will ensure they are protected in the event of harsh weather conditions.

But it’s not always a requirement. Using a durable cover and stable support system makes it possible for a pontoon boat to last in storage outdoors during the winter too.

Remember to keep the boat on a level surface with enough room for ventilation. This is true when the boat is indoors or outdoors, but it’s essential for outdoor winter storage.

The primary concern when a boat is outside is temperature control. The boat needs to be well protected, which is possible by following the steps mentioned to winterize the boat. This includes removing the battery, adding a fuel stabilizer, and protecting the spark plug holes.

How Much Does It Cost To Store A Pontoon Boat For The Winter?

If storing a boat at home doesn't sound reasonable, renting a space at a pontoon boat storage facility or marina is not complicated. For an indoor space, expect to pay $50-$200 per foot, and outdoors is much cheaper at only $25-$50 per foot.

Typically, the marina will offer storage and handling to anybody who already rents a space at the dock. Many prefer this method, but if this is not an option, other third-party marinas and storage locations are worth considering.

These prices will range based on location and availability, so they are only estimates and not firm prices for every pontoon boat owner.

How To Store A Pontoon Boat For Winter
Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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