Boat Shelters: How to Select the Right Shelter for Your Boat

Need a boat shelter for winter? When it comes to sheltering your boat for winter, there are plenty of storage options to choose from. 

Boat shelters — also called boat canopies or boat storage shelters — shield your boat from the elements during the off-season. Depending on your area, your boat will need protection from snow, wind, rain, and even the sun. 

With various boat shelters on the market, knowing which one is right for you can take time. Keep reading to discover the best boat storage shelter for you. 

What Is a Boat Shelter?

There are many ways to store your boat, and ‘boat shelter’ is a general term that refers to various types of storage. As we mentioned, they are designed to protect your boat on land. Depending on your storage needs, boat shelters can be permanent or temporary. Read on to discover some boat shelter ideas available to you. 

Benefits of a Boat Shelter

Boat shelters offer peace of mind when storing your boat during the off-season. Additionally, they:

  • Protect your vessel from harsh weather and environmental hazards. And this is necessary if you want your boat to last a while. Proper storage keeps your boat functioning as it should, so you won’t have to spend as much on repairs and maintenance. 
  • Protect your boat from theft and vandalism. Boat shelters offer extra security when you’re away from your vessel. 

Read Next: Weather Safety Tips for Boaters

What to Consider When Buying a Boat Shelter

With so many different types of boat shelters available, knowing which one is right for you can take time. Here are some considerations to help you make the best decision for you: 

1. Cost

As you can probably imagine, different types of boat shelters cost different. To give you an idea of what to expect, here are some ballpark figures:

  • Self-storage or boat canopies – Between $500 and $3,500
  • Boatyards – At least $1,000 per year
  • Marinas – Between $5,000 and $30,000 per year 

2. Materials 

Naturally, the materials of a boat shelter influence the cost. A steel or aluminum boat shelter canopy will last a while. However, it’s going to cost more initially. On the other hand, a cloth boat shelter canopy is a budget-friendly option that isn’t as durable.

3. Boat Dimensions

Will your boat shelter require special features – like towers or masts? Or will you require an oversize structure? If so, that will impact the cost of your pontoon boat shelter. 

4. Installation Costs

If you opt for a portable boat shelter, you’ll need to install it yourself. (While this can save you money, it requires a bit of time and effort.) Additionally, if your boat shelter is complex or custom-made, you might need to hire a professional to ensure it’s installed correctly.

5. Protection Levels

Do you live somewhere with frequent hurricanes? If so, you may want your boat stored in an enclosed dry-stack storage facility. However, if you live somewhere with mild weather, a boat shelter canopy might be all you need to protect your vessel from wind and rain. 

Boat Shelter

6. Add-Ons and Accessories

Depending on your boat, you might want to install walls, doors, windows, air vents, or lights. However, note that doing so will cost more.

7. Boat Shelters vs. Other Storage Options

Is a boat shelter the right option for you? Generally, the answer depends on your boat’s size and specific storage needs. Here’s a quick overview of standard storage options:

8. Self-Storage Options

As the name suggests, self-storage involves storing your boat yourself. If your boat is small enough, you could keep it in your personal garage or boat shed.

Or, you could invest in a portable boat shelter. While boat canopies aren’t fully enclosed, they offer overhead protection – usually enough for most vessels. Additionally, if you live on the water, you can keep your boat on your dock’s lift. 

9. Boatyard Storage

Boatyard storage is another option for sailors. These outdoor storage facilities are essentially parking lots for boats, usually located near water. Sometimes, marinas have an attached boatyard, making storage incredibly convenient.

10. Marina Storage

Because marina slips can store your boat year-round (with minimal transporting), they are incredibly convenient. However, this also makes them more expensive. Additionally, certain marinas offer dry-stack storage options, where a forklift lifts your boat onto an indoor storage rack. Another perk of marina storage is the access to boat sheds, which enclose your entire vessel.

Choosing a Boat Storage Shelter

Is a boat shelter the right storage option for you? Hopefully, this guide provided an answer. For more boating resources, maintenance tips, and excursion inspiration, head to the Discover Boating blog