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Author Topic:   Cover vs. shrink wrap for winter storage
pennstater posted 10-24-2005 08:58 AM ET (US)   Profile for pennstater   Send Email to pennstater  
Anyone have any opinions as to whether shrink wrapping is any better that a custom made boat cover for winter storage. Cost for a cover for 05 Nantucket on is $350. Marina charges $225 to shrink wrap. The boat will be stored outdoors in Kent Island, MD. Thanks in advance for any input.
HuronBob posted 10-24-2005 10:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for HuronBob    
I've done both shrink wrap and covers on a number of different boats.

My conclusion (and, YMMV) is that, if both options are done correctly, it comes down to cost.

Factors for both...It needs to be water proof, there needs to be a way for the cover to breath/vent to prevent moisture build-up, if you're storing outside it needs to fit tight enough to keep the mice, raccoons, and other crawly things from nesting in your boat. If you're in a snow area it needs to be supported in a manner that will prevent the cover from collapsing into your boat..

Currently I'm using covers on both the Whaler and the Pontoon (a mills cover on the Whaler, but it is stored in the pole barn)... I figure a cover used outside in the winter (cost about $250 for a generic cover for the pontoon, I'm not using the custom made cover during the winter) will last me 5 years or so if I take care of it... about the cost of one year's worth of shrink wrap. Also, of course, figure in your time... It took a few hours to devise a system to support the cover, and about an hour to put it on each year... You'll also probably want to go out and sweep the snow off if you're not using shrink wrap (which is GREAT in terms of just letting it slide off!).

swist posted 10-24-2005 07:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
Shrink wrap is expensive and the boat can't breathe.

Covers are no good in snow areas. Not a steep enough slope.

I made a simple a-frame out of 2x4s and drape a cheap blue tarp over it, securing with rope through the tiedown holes. The frame has enough of a steep slope for snow to slip off. It has enough openings on the end to breathe. I buy a new tarp every couple of years - they are crap but at $30 or so at flea markets etc, who cares.

I can also unlace a little of the end and actually slip in to work on the boat in the Winter.

kamie posted 10-24-2005 08:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
how many seasons of use do you expect to get from a boat cover? cost of cover / # seasons of use = per year cost. if your per year cost is < shrink wrap then go with custom cover. If it's not then go with the shrik wrap. Shrink wrap can breath, it's why they put the vents in.
I went with the shrink wrap last year, this year I am going with the cover
vkr posted 10-24-2005 10:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for vkr  Send Email to vkr     
I have been very happy with this cover from Fisher Canvas. Pennstater, I can send you a picture if you like.

jimh posted 10-24-2005 10:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You people store your boats OUTDOORS? In the WINTER?

Oh, the horror...the horror.

Tom W Clark posted 10-24-2005 10:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

I'm not sure I can even think of an indoor boat storage facility within the Seattle city any price. So I am curious, how much does it cost per month to store your boat over there in Timbuktu, or wherever it is you live?

SteviLad posted 10-24-2005 10:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for SteviLad  Send Email to SteviLad     
I'm storing my Nantucket in an indoor storage facility 45 minutes North of the city (Minneapolis) for $250 for the winter (Oct-April). They charged an Addl $75 for winterization & pressure checks.
swist posted 10-25-2005 08:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
"You people store your boats OUTDOORS? In the WINTER?"

Send me a check for the outrageous fees here in New England for inside storage, and I'll put my boat there immediately.

HuronBob posted 10-25-2005 08:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for HuronBob    
"You people store your boats OUTDOORS? In the WINTER?"

I guess if you have just one, tiny, little, girly boat you could stuff it in your garage...besides, it might get wet if it was left outside...

But, if you've got many, many, large and powerful boats it might be necessary to leave one or two outside for the winter....where they can rage and struggle against the elements of the north, eventually to vanquish the snow and ice to emerge in the spring, bigger, and stronger...and..... oh, enough?

daverdla posted 10-25-2005 08:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
I paid for indoor storage for the montauk once. The problem is that indoor storage really isn't very clean - birds, dust, etc. I forget how much I paid but it was more than double the cost of shrink wrap. Storing in my own garage is best but really not an option anymore - too many other toys. I had it shrink wrapped last winter. It's great. The montauk emerged cleaner than it did from indoor storage.
pennstater posted 10-25-2005 10:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for pennstater  Send Email to pennstater     
Thanks to everyone for the advice! This forum is truly amazing. I am leaning on the cover based on the cost factor. Will look into building a tarp system as well to keep the snow off.

VKR - if you have a picture of the Fisher Canvas, I would appreciate it (

Thanks again everyone.

BobL posted 10-25-2005 10:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for BobL  Send Email to BobL     
A simple blue tarp can be an effective and inexpensive way to keep a boat clean, dry and protected from snow and rain. It is important to build a framework to hold up the tarp at an angle steep enough to shed snow. On a 21’ boat I use four 2x4’s as uprights supported by 1’ by 1’ plywood plates on the bottom where they rest on the deck. I space them evenly and cap them along the centerline of the boat with simple 1 by 3 strapping screwed into the tops of the 2x4’s. By cutting the 2x4’s to the right height you can form a nice arc with the strapping from bow to stern. If you initially cut the 2x4’s a little long you can fine-tune the heights to get that nice arc. Let the strapping run long over the engine so the tarp covers it but allows for air to circulate inside the tarp without letting in the weather. Pad any rough areas in your framework with carpet scraps to keep the tarp from ripping (especially on the strapping ends). Use some rope to support your 2x4’s in an upright position. This framework will support your tarp and allow wintertime access by simply removing a few ropes. The 2x4’s and strapping zip together with drywall screws so I can reuse my framework each year (mark the parts for ease of reassembly). I buy a new 15’ x 30’ tarp each year for under $20.00. Where I live, shrink wrapping cost $350. to $400. for a 21’ boat. The savings can give your boating budget some welcome flexibility.
Tom W Clark posted 10-25-2005 10:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

$250 for the winter? If I drove my boat an hour or two away from Seattle I might find a storage facility that would charge me that amount each month!

20dauntless posted 10-25-2005 11:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless  Send Email to 20dauntless     
I kept my 20 foot Whaler at an indoor storage court a few blocks from my house on Mercer Island for several years. The rent kept getting higher, and when it got to about 400$ a month I said enough and moved the boat to Twin Bridges. It would be great if there was a facility like Twin Bridges somewhere closer to Seattle.
SteviLad posted 10-25-2005 11:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for SteviLad  Send Email to SteviLad     
That's the trade off for living in such a wonderful city with access to water, wilderness & mountains in your back yard........Lucky guy!
20dauntless posted 10-25-2005 11:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless  Send Email to 20dauntless     
I got off the orgiinal topic. We also have kept our boat outside for the winter. The winters in Seattle are fairly mild, no snow to deal with, but a lot of rain. We always used a cover from Mills and the boat came through pretty well. A little dirty, but not bad. I have never used shrink wrap.
Tom W Clark posted 10-25-2005 11:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

Twin Bridges Marina is a very nice facility indeed but it would still cost me $330 a month with a six month lease. It's an hour from my home and my trailer would still be out in the rain.

I hope those Midwest boys know how good they got it ;-)

Sheila posted 10-26-2005 03:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sheila  Send Email to Sheila     
This whole business of putting your boats away for the winter is too sad for me to even contemplate.

If any of you people who actually experience winter find yourself down my way, look me up. I'll be happy to get you out there.

JMARTIN posted 10-26-2005 07:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
Jeepers Tom, Twin Bridges charges me 230 per month on the 6 month shot and 5 bucks of that is thier eco fee. They want 330 for yours? I did squeak in on the 8' height and had no problem with the 25' length and 8' beam. Does your arch and bow pulpit put you that far over? You could always shrink wrap your trailer, just kidding. I am about 20 minutes away from Twin Bridges, only 10 minutes away if I am at work. John
20dauntless posted 10-26-2005 08:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless  Send Email to 20dauntless     
I have a 1 year lease at Twin Bridges and pay around 200 bucks a month. JMARTIN, you are lucky you live so close. It takes me almost 2 hours on a friday afternoon to get there.
Dick posted 10-26-2005 08:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
To correct an earlier comment about shrink wrap not breathing. This is only true if the reccomended vents are not installed.

The only disadvantages to shrink wrap are that it is expensive, you have to dispose of it in the spring and if you get some nice boating weather during the winter off it comes and it won't go back on.

A good quality custom cover is the way to go. If you have heavy snow and have room for it the A frame and tarp addition is a good idea.

Sal A posted 10-26-2005 08:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal A  Send Email to Sal A     
The marina next door to where I slip, and who I am not using, gave me this quote this week:

Haul out boat, pressure wash bottom, store in their yard, and relaunch in spring : $35/foot = $875

Winterize Yamaha F250: $250 (an oil change, fuel filter change, oil filter change, grease a few things)

Shrink wrap: $16/foot = $400

If I want them to do the 20 hour service, even though some of the items in that service are already in the winterizing figure above, that adds : $300

Oh... and you must use shrink wrap as no tarps or covers allowed on their premises. And you are not allowed access over the winter.

Finally, you must be prepared to slap a little green into some hands to insure you get hauled out early in the spring, and not on Memorial Day weekend.

How 'bout them apples? Yes I am bitter. And yes I will find another way.

LHG posted 10-26-2005 08:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Eagleman here arranged for my 25 Outrage to be stored indoors up in Wisconsin, next to his 25 Revenge, in a steel building with concrete floor, but not heated, I believe, for a flat fee of $300, Nov 1 to May 1. It's going to cost me more than that just to fill the tank up with gas first. No amimals or rodents, either.
Buckda posted 10-26-2005 10:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Free, locked, indoor (but dirty) with 6 cats to keep the critters out, access all winter, and power nearby (though not heated).

How 'bout them apples? The obvious thing; it's not anywhere near Chicago.

The owner of the property likes the fact that I'm around most weekends to keep an eye on things and report any problems while he's away in FL for the winter.

I told JFM's kid this spring; you need to talk to local farmers. There's often room in those big barns and if they're semi-retired; etc, you may score some low-cost rent inside a house for your boat; keeping the snow, rain and sun off the boat.

I also "volunteer" for some odd jobs around the farm from time to time on the weekends. No problem there, with the arch, I need 11' of clearance, so indoor storage elsewhere will be hard to find and expensive when I do, if not for this fella.



DCPeters posted 10-26-2005 10:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for DCPeters  Send Email to DCPeters     
I've got one in my sister's barn (I'm exchanging some electrical wiring for the favor), one stored under shrinkwrap at camp on the basketball court, and the third (the one that we use most) is in a former knitting factory here in Syracuse. The Syracuse storage costs $200, a 200' roll of shrinkwrap from a Buffalo company cost $200, but is enough for 8 years. I took about two hours to build the 2x4 frame and do the shrinkwrap task. The electrical work will cost me $200 in parts and a day's work.
RFK posted 10-28-2005 05:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for RFK  Send Email to RFK     
For two years I used a structure I built from 10'x 3/4" pvc pipe. I made a hoop frame by running a center pole (actually I used 4way joints every two feet), then a ten foot pipe up top the center from each side. I covered the frame with a huge plastic tarp.I used 18" rebars pounded into the ground, then put the pipe over them.

Here is the best part. On July 5th, 2004 we had a tornado go through our town. Not 50ft away from my structure a tree was up-rooted. I thought in the middle of the storm that I would the structure a 1/4 mile away. It was in perfect shape! I could open up each end and pull the boat out or on return, just drive through and park it. I think it cost me less than $75.

RFK posted 10-28-2005 05:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for RFK  Send Email to RFK     
P.S. This is Illinois. The snow would just roll off the tarp. It was amazing how warm it would be inside on sunny winter days.

I put up a garage to store the boat and lawn equipment but I gave all the pcv pipe and tarp to a neighbor and he is now using it in northern Wisconsin with his boat.

aubv posted 10-29-2005 07:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for aubv  Send Email to aubv     
Shrink wrap can be reused if care is taken when installing and removing. We have reused shrink wrap for two winters, including as a summer cover when the boat is on the trailer. This means the cover was remove/installed over a T-top a couple of dozen times during those 2 years. It could have been reused again but I shrink wrap my own boat and decided to just redo it.


Shrink wrap, when run around an outboard motor, can allow quite good access and ventilation, if this isn't an option there are doors available. Additional ventilation can be accomplished with vents or small V's in specific areas.


I can shrink wrap your boat at your house, if you are interested.
Send me an e-mail.

jimmy c posted 10-31-2005 10:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimmy c  Send Email to jimmy c     
All shrink wraped boats should be vented...they are like a green house.
Put a open box of mouth balls in the boat,no spiders,mice or other critters.
Home Depot has 7 ft. zippers in thier tarp dept. that work well with shrink wrap...they just stick on, and only 6 dollars and allow easy access to the inside of a wraped boat.
any boat that is securly covered or shrunk wraped should not have its fuel tank vented under the cover,it will build up fumes to the danger point.
If you have portable tanks take them out....if you have internal fuel tank make sure who ever does the wraping does not cover the external vent....
RFK posted 11-02-2005 06:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for RFK  Send Email to RFK     
Frankly,that is why I felt the quonset shaped shelter I built was superior to shrink wrap. I didn't have a problem with condensation. There was air flow. Neither did I have a problem with animals, which surprised me because I has animal problems when I kept the boat in a closed pole barn.The down side is the quonset needs more space than a shrink wrapped boat.

My trailer was 80" inches wide. The shelter with ten foot pipe would easily handle a Montauck or a Dauntless. Length is whatever you want it to be.

Sal A posted 11-02-2005 06:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal A  Send Email to Sal A     
Brian you have mail.
andygere posted 11-03-2005 12:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I store my Outrage 22 Cuddy outdoors, in the winter, in the water. What I would never do is store it anywhere without covering it. No boating from November to May? The horror...the horror.

When I lived back where it snowed, we kept the boats that wouldn't fit in the garage covered with a proper mooring cover, and built the 2x4/blue tarp snow shelter on top of that.

swist posted 11-03-2005 08:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
Just a little war story on not having some sort of arrangement that sheds snow: Many years ago before I understood all this I stored a 20' boat outside with just a (factory) cover. It was stored at my Summer house where it was not visited very often in the Winter - it started accumulating snow, which in itself wasn't so bad until a few thaw/freeze cycles set in. I discovered the boat with the tarp collapsed under the enormous weight of solid ice (at 60 lb/cubic ft!). It took out my windshield, distorted the railings and did a lot of other damage - and I had no choice but to just stare at it until the ice thawed enough to start removing it.

If you cannot get to your boat after every snowfall to brush it off, you absolutely cannot rely on a mooring or storage cover and need to go some other route as mentioned in previous replies (shrink wrap, tarp on a-frame, storage building, etc).

jimmy c posted 11-04-2005 09:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimmy c  Send Email to jimmy c     
You can not leave the portable shelters(Quonset hut) unattended all winter.
They still need the snow knocked off.
I just go inside and push up on the cover with a broom.
Wet snow loads will severly damage the structure if left un attended rendering them useless and doing damage to the boat.
Also shrink wrap comes in differant thickneses,If you are in a heavy snow area make sure to get the thicker ( 7 mills) and be sure it has a beafy support structure.....shrink wrap is only as good as what is supporting it and the person doing it.It should have carpet pads under the structure supports that sit on the deck also where it contacts the wrap itself so the wind moveing the boat will not cause any damage by the structure.The structure can be saved and re -used every year.The wrap should be doubled at stress points and padded at sharp objects such as windshields and cleats etc.The trailer should be blocked and leveled to take the weight off the tires and suspension.Hopefully you have serviced the trailer wheel bearings etc. before storage.
kingfish posted 11-04-2005 09:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Jimmy c-

I agree about not leaving a portable shelter unattended, if you are intentionally differentiating between a quonset shaped shelter and a gable roof shelter. I have the latter (gable roof, though pretty shallow pitch), and it sheds snow here in the Michigan snow belt just fine with no help from me.


jimh posted 11-04-2005 09:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I keep my boat with a boat dealership that has several large storage buildings. Over the winter he packs them full of customer's boats he is storing. This facility is far from the water and in an urban/industrial setting. For a 22-foot Whaler it costs about $500 for the winter.

This is one of the advantages in living near Detroit. It is a city that used to have two-million people living in it, and now it is down to about 800,000 residents. This has created a lot of under-utilized space. Well, now that I think about it, this inexpensive boat storage may be the only advantage of living near Detroit...

kingfish posted 11-04-2005 09:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Difficult to find storage space with big enough (high enough) doors to get my boat into for the winter around here. My shelter cost about three years worth of your storage, Jim, and is pretty handy to have in the driveway. Downside is that a nosy neighbor filed a complaint and I had to buy a building permit for the furshlugginer thing in order to be legal, and Katie snidely refers to it variously as the whale in the driveway (it's gray) or John's church depending upon her mood...


swist posted 11-04-2005 04:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
There are other advantages to living in Detroit, if you get lousy service at a marina you can just shoot the attendant and no one will notice.
banff22 posted 11-04-2005 07:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for banff22  Send Email to banff22     
I can't resist this after all my whinning about Canadian prices...

At my marina, Outrage 22, V6 225, 9.9, winterized, shrink wrapped, stored on blocks under hard cover (not enclosed), de-winterized, spring tune up, waiting for me in my slip come spring... $568.00 CAN.

Summer slip with shore power $575.00 CAN the other 6 months.

Peter :))

Dalemcc posted 09-15-2006 03:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dalemcc  Send Email to Dalemcc     
I live in Utah and Store my boat at an inside storage unit at a cost of $3.50 a foot. I also shrink wrap the boat to keep out dirt and dust and anything else that twants to take up residence. The shrink wrap is put on over my existing canvas cover which adds affitional support for the shrink wrap. As to cost when you pay $80,000. for a boat whats $400. to keep it new.
David Pendleton posted 09-15-2006 04:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
My boat has sat outside every winter since new (1999).

If I do say so myself, it still looks like it's only a year or two old.

I shrink wrap the boat every winter (well the marina does anyway). I think I pay somewhere around $12.00 a foot. This includes vents, an entrance zipper and wooden frame.

I also leave my cockpit cover installed under the shrink wrap.
If I owned a full cover, I would leave it on.

Plotman posted 09-16-2006 12:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
I just arranged for heated indoor storage for $300 for the winter for my outrage. And I can work on it there.
BW23 posted 09-18-2006 10:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for BW23  Send Email to BW23     
I rented some space in a steel farm building last winter for $52.00/month. No heat but had electric so I could work on the boat.

With those rates and 5 months (PA) I'll never store outside again.

Shop can be had.

BW23 posted 09-18-2006 10:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for BW23  Send Email to BW23     

Forgot to mention, $52.00 was for a 26' boat.

alfa posted 09-19-2006 07:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for alfa  Send Email to alfa     
Place in a barn for the 22'. About 340 for the year. Access all year. The owner is always there.
Yiddil posted 09-20-2006 11:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil     
I kepted my nantucket outside in the Marina I used the last couple of years, wintewrized with help from friends, then covered with Tarps (plastic kinds) Worked pretty good except for the accumulation of water on the outside of tarp that made for a lot of bailing in the spring...

This year I will keep DAs BOat covered with a new Mills Mooring cover, that just came in today, and use the tarps for the 13.....Im hoping the mooring cover comes close to providing the kind of protection Ive heard so much around 1100. thats I think is a steel if you get to use it for the next 5-10 years:) Tie will tell...and yes, there outside in Virginia for what I hope will be a short Dec, Jan, feb, and back in in later March...

Shiela< congrates on your Aux Article!!!!

Treypescatorie posted 09-21-2006 08:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Treypescatorie  Send Email to Treypescatorie     
I think shrink wrap is a waste of money. And if you see how it is put on you might think twice.They use a heat gun to shrink it which probibly isnt too good for the gell coat. I use a blue tarp for my 21 foot conquest. I use a u clamp clamped to the bow rail and a 2x4 and run it all the way back to the stern suported with a pole mounted inside a hole in the engige well railing (you can also use rope in the same fashon and run the ropes to the side railing).and hang the tarp on that. You can use bungee cords and run them under the keel to keep the tarp nice and tight. With the tarp it lets the boat breath and also keeps the weather out.
Royboy posted 09-21-2006 09:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
If you live in a State that gets a lot of snow, shrink wrap is worth its weight in gold, but thankfully only costs about ten bucks a foot. I have mine done with a nice high peak to shed the snow all by it's lonesome. Vents are a must too, but any good shrink wrapper knows this. The heat gun doesn't hurt the boat a bit, as long as the operator knows what he's doing, and they generally do around here because a lot of folks shrink wrap their boats.

I'd love to find a good indoor storage deal, but I usually boat too late in the year and they're all gone by the time I'm ready for one.


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