David Parker explores a few tips and tricks for storing trailable boats at home to keep them protected during the winter lay-up

When you start looking at cranes on eBay to help you store more boats on your property, it might be time to get help. Or maybe that’s not such a bad idea at all… perhaps we could get it in the garden… do we really need a front door?

You probably shouldn’t say these things out loud while you’re pacing around to see just how far an oversize hull would protrude into the house. But wouldn’t it be a great idea to have the boat on the drive? Think of all the jobs you could get done.

Positive thinking, however, can only get you so far. You might be envious of those who boast of bringing their cruiser ‘back home for the winter’ but with larger craft it’s often a case of you’ve either got the space or you haven’t.

But with trailer-sailers, dayboats and dinghies it’s a different story. When a craft is about the same length as an estate car the possibilities really open up if you’ve got a drive or can find a bit of outdoor space. You might also be surprised what you can corral into a usable space.

Once I had a 15ft patio area tucked away and only accessed by a narrow stone-walled passageway. To get the 14ft clinker boat in there I had to up end it on its transom to get it down the side of the cottage. But with the help of a few mates and temporarily taking down the porch I got it in.

Another time I built a boat in an enclosed garden and needed to get it over two walls and down an alleyway to escape. Where’s there’s a will there’s a way. For boat aficionados there is one more thing to be aware of. The more space you have, the more boats you seem to collect… or that’s certainly the case with some of us.

However there are some relatively straightforward ways to maximise the space available and a few of these are shown here. In addition to storing boats efficiently, their trailers also need to be protected, of course.

None of the set-ups shown here cost a great deal of money but they do ensure that when your craft and/or trailer are in hibernation they’re well looked after.

Covering up


Sometimes boats ashore seem to get dirtier than when they’re on the water. Covers are essential but cheap, flimsy ones never last so heavy duty tarpaulins are worth the extra cost.


Holdon plastic clips are a great way to supplement the fixed eyelets in a tarpaulin. They can be fitted along any edge just where you need them and are a good way to snug down the cover.


Wooden trestles and bearers are a good way to store boats on top of another. I made four wooden trestles out of tanalised timber with fence posts as the bearers.


I chamfered the edges of the bearers so they don’t chafe on the cover. If you want to stop your tarpaulin shredding itself this is a small but significant thing to remember.


Ensure you have a good air flow under, over and around boats. The dayboat has its own separate cover and it’s important to avoid having another directly layered over it to avoid encouraging condensation and mildew.


The problem of uneven ground under trestle legs can be cured by cutting a few wooden wedges, or by using pieces of durable natural slate.


Rainwater quickly puddles in any dips in covers, so ensure there’s a good run off. This low trestle keeps the trailer nose high so rain drains quickly. It also keeps the jockey wheel off the floor.

TLC for the trailer


Get trailer wheels off the ground to protect the tyres and spin them occasionally to stop them binding. Cover tyres in direct sunlight to stop UV light attacking the rubber.


If you don’t have axle stands, bricks can be used but make sure they’re stable. Wooden pads between the bricks and metal helps protect the trailer galvanizing.


Raising the trailer on axle stands not only protects the tyres but gives you additional storage space underneath. Note the two small trolleys that I use to roll items in and out easily.


There’s room under this one for a kayak and paddles but you could also stow an outboard engine, trailer board or other kit safely if you fashioned a suitable arrangement.


Don’t forget the trailer winch either. A basic cover will stop the webbing strop degrading and prevent the metal parts corroding. This one is just held down with a piece of shock cord. Remember to grease the winch and the trailer jockey wheel before storing for the winter.

Hanging around


Ladder hooks screwed to a fence or the side of a garage wall are a cheap and effective way of storing a mast outside.


A couple of screw hooks on the garage rafters and a strop of rope can be used to hang up shorter masts and spars inside.


There’s space between the rafters too. Scrap wood bearers provide support for paddles, oars, fishing rods, trailer lighting boards etc.

First published in the November 2018 edition of Practical Boat Owner – download the issue from LeKiosk or Zinio, or subscribe with Magazines Direct.