At Stache, we know exactly what it means to feel assured that your boat is being stored in the right environment.

From seasonal costs, to knowing whether your boat might be damaged if kept somewhere over the winter period, the difference between indoor and outdoor storage units is no laughing matter.

For this reason, we’ve broken down the ins and outs of indoor and outdoor boat storage so that you can compare between the two:

  • Dry versus wet boat storage
  • The difference between indoor and outdoor boat storage
  • The cost of boat storage
  • When you can access your boat
  • What the availability is for winter boat storage

Dry Versus Wet Boat Storage

Before considering the pros and cons of indoor versus outdoor boat storage, it’s important to note that this guide is largely focused on dry boat storage.

For those unfamiliar with this terminology:

  • Dry boat storage is when a boat is stored on land
  • Wet boat storage is when a boat is stored in water

The Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Boat Storage

As the names suggest, the distinction between indoor boat storage and outdoor boat storage is whether or not your boat is kept under cover.

Indoor boat storage, for instance, means your boat is typically kept in a garage, hanger or covered lot. The advantages of this are clear in terms of protection from natural elements and prying criminals. Indoor boat storage is best suited for boat owners that, for the most part, use their boat seasonally. We’ll get into why this is a bit later on. 

Outdoor boat storage typically comes in the form of a driveway, open-air lot, or in a marina. This is the ideal option for boating enthusiasts who use their boats on a regular basis, while less attractive for boat owners who aren’t able to do maintenance on their boats frequently. Again, we’ll touch on this more below.

Boat Storage Costs

As you’ve probably guessed, indoor boat storage is generally more expensive than outdoor boat storage. The monthly costs, however, can vary significantly and depend on a number of factors.

Indoor boat storage, for example, will set you back around $8.25 per square foot per month, whereas outdoor storage is approximately $7.50 per square foot per month. 

The state you’re storing your boat in has a large part to play in the total cost of storage. The average price of boat storage in Los Angeles, CA, for example, is just over $600 a month for a boat in excess of 20 feet in length with a beam (width) of 10 feet. North Charleston, SC, on the other hand, averages only $125 a month.

The size of your boat is also an important factor in cost for both indoor and outdoor boat storage. If your boat is on the smaller end (less than 20 feet), it’s considerably easier to find both affordable and quality indoor or outdoor storage in your area than if you own a big (more than 40 feet) boat. 

On top of this, you can garner significant savings if you already own a trailer for your boat. If you’re storing your boat outside on land, it’s almost certain that you need your own trailer, as some lots or open-air storage spaces won’t be equipped with boat trailers for you to rent. If you’re considering storing your boat indoors, you may be able to rent a rack space or a spare trailer, but this will add a significant amount of dollars on top of your bill. 

Boat Accessibility 

When you’re looking for a weekend getaway out on a lake or the open sea, access to your boat is everything. 

For indoor boat storage solutions, accessibility is sometimes an issue as taking your boat from the storage unit to the sea for mooring can be a longer process. In fact, a lot of indoor boat storage facilities ask you to plan ahead when you’re planning on setting sail in advance so that they can ready your boat for you.

Outdoor boat storage is much more convenient in this respect. Generally speaking, storing your boat outdoors means a speedier mooring process (if it’s not already in the water) and can be organized on the day of use with most places. 

In any case, whether you’re storing your boat on a rented driveway or an enclosed boat house, it’s best practice to ask if 24-hour access is available, and mitigate any awkward encounters pre-sail. 

Seasonal Boat Storage – How Much is Winter Boat Storage?  

To protect your boat from the nasty elements all-year round, it’s clear that indoor boat storage always wins out. With indoor boat storage you’re guaranteed that your boat will be preserved in the condition you leave it in, free of paint discoloration from sunlight and superficial damage during the winter months. 

In this respect, outdoor storage is more of a risk, as your boat very much is exposed to nature’s mercy. Superficial damage to the boat’s exterior can turn into issues with the vessel’s sailing capabilities as many boats stored outdoors have suffered in the past. If you’re going to keep your boat stored outdoors, make sure you take the necessary measures to keep it protected from damage, such as giving it shrink-wrapping, a protective gelcoat, and investing in a custom-fitted cover sheet. 

In terms of seasonal boat storage costs, the most notable price surge occurs during winter. 

How much is winter boat storage?

For indoor boat storage, anywhere between $50 – $200 per foot a month. For outdoor boat storage, between $20 – $50 per foot a month. 

Discover affordable indoor or outdoor boat storage near you.

Final Thoughts

There are some fairly bright lines we can draw between indoor and outdoor boat storage.

While indoor storage provides better protection from damage to your boat and more security from criminal activity, outdoor storage is, on the whole, cheaper and more accessible. 

Whatever you decide to go with, make sure to do some research into storage amenities, on-site services, and online reviews to make sure your boat is being stored in the best possible place for your budget.