According to Seaworthy, the damage avoidance newsletter for recreational boaters from BoatU.S. Marine Insurance, the safest way to store a boat over winter is to bring it ashore. To prevent accidental damage BoatU.S. has ten tips on how to do it the right way:
1. The best way to store your boat is in a steel or wooden cradle specifically designed for your boat. Never use a cradle designed for another vessel because it may not support critical load points.
2. If you're using jack stands, there should be no less than three pairs of jack stands placed under boats larger than 26 feet, and additional support at long overhangs.
3. Jack stand pads should always be placed as far out from the keel as possible to provide the most stability. A boat that is resting on the ground or loose gravel should have plywood placed under the base of the stands. Without this, rain and frost could cause the stand to settle into the earth causing the boat to tip over.
4. When positioned correctly, jack stands should not depress the hull or "point load," where excessive weight at a single area can cause laminate failure.
5. Always use safety chains - never rope or wire - to tie pairs of jack stands together. Never tie a tarp to the stands as the tarp's rope can pull the stands out.
6. Keels must be supported by wide, thick timbers. Never use cinder blocks as they are prone to failure. Engines and outboards may require additional support.
7. Boat covers must be supported underneath to prevent water from pooling, which can add considerable weight and put additional pressure on keel supports.
8. Boats should be stored in the level position to allow scuppers and bilge drains to be effective. Drains should also be left open and kept clear of debris.
9. Fixed-keel sailboats, such as club racers stored on trailers, are prone to being knocked over when wind is on the beam. Use jack stands to provide additional support.
10. Check your boat on a regular basis as damage can be prevented by an occasional visit.
BoatU.S. - Boat Owners Association of The United States - is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its 670,000 members with a wide array of consumer services including a group-rate marine insurance program that insures nearly a quarter million boats; the largest fleet of more than 500 towing assistance vessels; discounts on fuel, slips, and repairs at over 835 Cooperating Marinas; boat financing; and a subscription to BoatU.S. Magazine, the most widely read boating publication in the U.S. For membership information visit http://www.BoatUS.com or call 800-395-2628.