Mastering Winter Storage: A Comprehensive Guide to Covering Your Pontoon Boat

Mastering Winter Storage: A Comprehensive Guide to Covering Your Pontoon Boat

Winter’s on its way and you’re wondering how to protect your beloved pontoon boat from the harsh elements. You’re not alone. Many boat owners struggle with this annual task. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Covering a pontoon boat for winter isn’t just about throwing a tarp over it and hoping for the best. It’s about choosing the right cover, preparing your boat properly, and using the correct techniques to ensure your boat stays in top shape until spring.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step. You’ll learn how to choose the right cover, prep your boat, and secure the cover to withstand winter’s worst. So grab your tools, let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • Choosing the right cover for your pontoon boat is vital for its protection. The perfect fit should be snug, not too loose or tight, and the material should be durable, temperature-resistant, waterproof, and UV-protected. Ease of use is also an important factor to consider.
  • Properly preparing your pontoon boat for winter storage involves thorough cleaning, engine maintenance, checking and inflating the tubes, making sure all waters are drained, and ensuring optimal ventilation.
  • The process of cleaning your boat includes washing all parts, inside and out, with particular attention to the waterline. Engine maintenance consists of using a marine fuel stabilizer and changing the engine oil and its filter.
  • When covering your boat for winter, a heavy-duty, UV-resistant cover is preferable. It should be snug but not overly tight. Use a support system made of poles for the cover to prevent water accumulation and include vents to allow air circulation and avoid moisture buildup.
  • It’s crucial to secure the boat cover properly with adjustable straps or robust cords and periodically check for any signs of snow or ice accumulation. Regular inspections during the winter will ensure that your boat cover stays in place and protects properly.
  • Final checks include reassessment of ventilation, detection and correction of potential water pooling areas, and making sure the cover’s skirt length is adequate to prevent wind exposure.

Proper winter storage is crucial for pontoon boat maintenance, with comprehensive covering tips provided by Boating Magazine. It’s important to choose the right cover material and secure it properly to protect against the elements, a topic elaborated on by Pontoon Guide.

Choosing the Right Cover for Your Pontoon Boat

Choosing the Right Cover for Your Pontoon Boat

One crucial decision while preparing your pontoon boat for those long, chilly winter months is choosing the right cover. Not all covers are designed equally, and your choice needs to safeguard your valuable watercraft investment from the harsh winter elements.

First things first. Size matters. An ill-fitting cover won’t provide the protection your boat needs. Too loose, and it’ll allow moisture and debris to seep in. Too tight, it may strain and rip. Hence it’s essential to select a cover designed specifically for pontoon boats, offering just the right snug fit.

Material choice plays a role in protection and longevity. High-quality, marine-grade polyester or Canvas are often the best choices, known for their durability in extreme weather conditions. They’re waterproof and UV-resistant, making them ideal for protecting against rain, snow, and sun.

Temperature Resistant & Breathability is next on the list. As temperatures fluctuate wildly during winters, covers that can withstand such shifts without cracking or losing their strength are necessary. Also, covers that “breathe” help keep moisture from building up and causing mold or mildew growth.

Lastly, ease of use can’t be ignored. Look for covers that are easy to install and remove. Time-saving features like elastic hems, quick-release buckles, or zippered access panels make the process simpler, quicker, and safer.

Remember that quality matters when it comes to protecting your pontoon boat during winter. Take the time to research and invest in a top-notch cover that’ll serve you for many seasons to come.

In the next section, we’ll walk you through the process of preparing your boat before you start covering it up for the winter season. Every small detail counts when you’re looking at months of cold weather ahead.

Preparing Your Pontoon Boat for Winter Storage

Preparing Your Pontoon Boat for Winter Storage

Before you tuck your pontoon boat away for the winter, there’s a checklist of tasks you’ll need to attend to. A boat’s off-season maintenance plays a crucial part in its lifespan and performance. So don’t overlook the details—your boat depends on the care you put into it.

Clean Thoroughly

Begin with a comprehensive cleanup. Rinse the boat to whisk away any dirt or saltwater build-up. If left unwashed, these residues can cause corrosion or deposits. Use a boat-approved, biodegradable cleaning solution for a deep clean interior and exterior. It’s important to pay attention to the upholstery, carpet, and hull—these areas are prone to mold and mildew growth.

Engine Maintenance

Attending to the engine prior to winter storage is crucial to ensure your boat’s performance in the season ahead. Top off your fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer to prevent gasoline from going stale during storage. Changing the engine’s oil and filter is also necessary as old oil contains acid and other contaminants which can corrode the engine. Don’t forget to remove the battery and store it in a cool, dry place.

Inflate and Check Tubes

Make sure your boat’s tubes are properly inflated. Overinflation during the cold winter can cause the tubes to crack. Also, check for any holes or leaks and have them repaired. An underperforming tube can throw off the boat’s balance.

Drain All Water

Ensure all water is drained from the boat. Water left in the pipes, tubes, or engine could freeze, causing damage. Pay attention to your engine’s cooling system, livewells, and bilge as these places often hold unnoticed water.

Ventilation and Dehumidifiers

To reduce the chances of mildew and musty odors, ensure your boat is well ventilated. Providing ample airflow can prevent stagnant air which often leads to mold growth. Placing a dehumidifier can also help in maintaining optimal humidity levels.

Although covering your pontoon boat seems to be the final step for winter storage, it’s the preceding measures that contribute to the overall protection and longevity of your boat. When you unveil your boat for the new season, you’ll be glad you prepared it thoroughly.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Pontoon Boat Before Covering

Efficient preparation of your pontoon boat for winter storage starts with cleaning and maintenance. It’s not just an option but an essential requirement to preserve the longevity of your boat.

When it comes to cleaning, it’s vital to properly wash down the entire boat, inside and out, to remove any accumulated dirt, grime, algae, or salt. For the best result, using an approved marine cleaner and a soft brush can get into all the nooks and crannies. Pay particular attention to the waterline, as this area often collects a lot of dirt.

Once you’ve completed the wash, ensure your pontoon boat is completely dry before proceeding with the next steps of the process. We’re talking “bone dry” here. Moisture trapped in enclosed spaces can lead to harmful mold growth in the off-season.

Let’s move onto engine maintenance. It involves more than just a simple oil change, you’ve got to take into account fuel stabilization too. Add a quality marine fuel stabilizer to the gas tank before your last ride of the season. Run the engine long enough to ensure the stabilizer reaches all aspects of the fuel system.

Next on the list is changing the engine oil. Fresh oil contains fewer contaminants, reducing the likelihood of corrosion during storage. Don’t forget to include a new oil filter, too!

Maintaining the tubes is equally essential. They’re the foundation of the boat, after all. Check for any signs of wear and tear, ensure they’re properly inflated, and repair any damages.

Also, remember that water is a big no-no when it gets to freezing temperatures. Drain all water from the engine, pipes, and any other areas that could potentially hold water, as freezing could lead to cracks and damage.

Finally, ensure your pontoon boat has enough ventilation to prevent mold growth. A well-ventilated boat allows airflow, preventing the buildup of condensation which leads to mold. You can accomplish this by placing moisture absorbers or by ensuring the boat cover allows for air circulation.

Properly Covering Your Pontoon Boat for Winter

Now that you’re aware of the necessary maintenance tasks before tucking your pontoon boat away for winter, it’s time to address the next step – covering your boat properly. The type and fit of the cover you use play a vital role in preserving your boat’s condition while it’s not in use.

A heavy duty, UV resistant cover is preferable, as it provides maximum protection against harsh weather conditions. When fitting the cover, ensure it’s snug but not overly tight. A cover that is too tight can cause damage to the boat’s surface, and a loose cover could let in unnecessary moisture or even critters.

Use a support system made of poles for the cover. This will prevent water from accumulating on the top and freeze-thaw cycles from causing undue pressure. This step can make a world of difference in preventing mold and mildew.

Ventilation is another crucial aspect when covering the boat for winter. Even with a great cover, moisture can still collect inside if the area is not ventilated properly. So, ensure your cover is equipped with vents to encourage air circulation and let out humidity.

It’s also good practice to check your covered boat periodically throughout the winter months. You’ll need to look out for any signs of snow or ice accumulation and promptly remove it. Repeated snow and ice can add unnecessary weight and impose strain, which might lead to damage.

Covering your pontoon boat properly is an insurance policy for the investment you have made in your vessel. Following these steps ensures the boat is in good form when it’s time to hit the water once again.

Securing the Cover and Final Checks

Securing the Cover and Final Checks

Securing the cover properly is as crucial as picking up the right one. When fastening the cover, make sure it’s snug yet not too tight. A stretched cover can potentially rip or tear due to weight accumulation from snow or ice.

Consider using adjustable straps or robust cords for tying down. They’ll offer the flexibility to accommodate changes in temperature that can cause the cover to contract or expand. Remember, the cover should remain in place through the winter, braving the harshest weather conditions.

Once you’ve covered and secured your boat, resist the temptation to take a breather just yet. It’s time for a few final checks that’ll assure you’ve done everything right. Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Proper Ventilation: Double-check the vents (if your cover has them). Vents reduce the chance of moisture buildup, making sure your boat remains mold and mildew-free.
  • Water Drainage: Locate the areas where water may pool. Is any part sagging? Add an additional support pole if needed. A flat surface promotes water runoff, preventing ice accumulation and undue strain on your cover. Matching your cover support and boat’s deck layout circumvents water pooling problems.
  • Skirt Length: Look at the cover’s skirt length. If it’s too short, wind gusts can lift it, exposing your boat to elements. Ensure it’s long enough to protect your boat adequately.

After installing the cover and crossing all checkpoints, don’t consider your task finished yet. Winter is unpredictable and it’s important that you check on your boat occasionally. You’ll want to make sure the wind hasn’t loosened the cover or snow hasn’t piled up. Remove any standing snow promptly and realign the cover if it shifts. Such regular inspections ensure that your boat will be ready to hit the waters again when the weather warms up.

Your effort in correctly covering and maintaining your pontoon boat during the winter months will pay off in the quality and longevity of your vessel. Remember, it’s not just about waiting out the winter, but also about prepping your boat for the countless adventures waiting next season. By following these guidelines to secure the cover and carry out those final checks, you’re setting the stage for another exciting year on the water.

And the best part? When spring comes around your boat will be in perfect shape, ready for you to jump in and sail away.


Securing your pontoon boat for winter isn’t just a task—it’s an investment in your vessel’s future. With adjustable straps or cords, you’ll ward off damage from harsh winter elements. Remember, it’s not just about covering up—it’s also about ensuring proper ventilation and addressing water drainage. And don’t forget the importance of the cover’s skirt length for optimal protection. But your job doesn’t end once the boat’s stored away. Regular inspections throughout the winter will keep your boat in top shape, ready to hit the water as soon as the weather warms up. So, take the time to cover and maintain your pontoon boat this winter. Your future adventures depend on it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the importance of securing the cover on a pontoon boat for winter?

Securing a cover on a pontoon boat for winter protects it from damage caused by snow or ice accumulation. Using adjustable straps or cords ensures the cover stays in place, effectively safeguarding the boat.

How can I check if my boat cover is properly installed for winter?

You can check its proper installation by confirming appropriate ventilation and resolving any water drainage issues. Further, make sure the cover’s skirt length is adequate and covers the boat fully.

Why is regular inspection required during the winter?

Regular inspections are essential in winter to prevent any potential damage and ensure that your boat is in good condition and ready for use in the next season.

How does properly covering a pontoon boat enhance its longevity?

Properly covering and maintaining a pontoon boat during winter safeguards it from harmful elements, enhancing its quality and extending its lifespan. It ensures your vessel is prepared for future water adventures.