It is no secret that storing your boat indoors will help protect your vessel from the elements and extend its life. However, the boat and the accompanying trailer may prove too long to park inside the garage. When this becomes the case, you could outright rebuild the garage around the dimensions of your water-fairing vessel. Even so, such an overhaul could prove complicated due to costs, property space, the dedication required to complete such a project, permitting issues and even homeowner’s association restrictions. There is no need to despair, though: There are practical and creative options that will help you fit your boat inside your existing garage.

Organizing Your Garage

Before attempting to fit your boat, it’s best to organize your garage beforehand to provide the maximum space possible. Merely moving objects here and there to give your garage both space an aspect of neatness will simply not do. True organization implies bringing together common items, storing them in modular containers and placing said containers inaccessible locations inside the garage. With an organized garage, you will be able to spot, retrieve and store items quickly, without the trouble of sifting through objects that are not of interest. With your garage items properly stowed away, you will also attain the initial space to start moving your boat inside. (If you choose to use the garage solely for storing the boat, you may be able to make use of the space at the corners.) While such an endeavor can seem daunting, these step-by-step instructions will help you approach this project with clear objectives.

Maneuvering Your Boat

Suppose we had a 22’ x 22’ garage with a single 16’ bay door in the middle. The combined length of the boat and trailer in which it rides is 23’. Clearly the trailer will still be one foot outside at the bay door if parked straight in. However, with the versatile Trailer Valet device attached to the trailer, you can help fit your boat inside with some inventive maneuvering.

  1. Move the boat into the garage in such a way that the beam (the widest part) of the boat is along the length of the bay door and that the centerline of the boat-trailer is at the center of the garage.
  2. At this point, take note of the position of the hitch. This will be the initial position of the hitch.
  3. Using your Trailer Valet device, move the hitch of the boat-trailer in a straight line from its initial position towards one of the edges of the bay door, backing in your boat-trailer towards the opposite garage corner in the process. This will provide the perfect angle in which the deepest maneuverability is achieved.
  4. If the boat-trailer is successfully inside, continue adjusting the boat-trailer to provide the best fit possible while also providing for your other garage needs.

Figure A The boat-trailer in its initial position (red) and final position (green). The hitch follows the dashed line as the boat-trailer is pushed in.

Through this pivoting technique, boats built with the most common dimensions will be able to fit in your garage. For the example above, the 23’-long boat-trailer setup will be able to fit easily.

However, do not assume that your boat will fit simply because your garage is diagonally larger than the centerline length of your boat. Be mindful of the shape of the stern and the shape of the trailer at the back, since this will significantly affect the movement of the boat-trailer. The narrower the back of the setup, the more likely the boat will fit.

Employing Breakaway Tongues

If the trailer hauling the boat proves too long despite many maneuvering attempts, consider using a trailer with a breakaway tongue. You can reduce the length of the trailer through either a swing tongue can bend back or a removable tongue can be taken off entirely. Once the tongue is placed away, couple the Trailer Valet to the remaining frame of the trailer and continue maneuvering the boat-trailer inside the garage.

While some trailers come with these tongues, you can also install one onto an existing trailer. This will require purchasing a hinge that fits snugly into the width of the tongue and carefully sawing and drilling the tongue to exact measurements. Take special precaution in measuring, marking and drilling the hinge bolt locations on both the main and detached tongues, since you will have only one opportunity to drill these holes correctly.

Exploring Other Options

If the boat-trailer is not entirely inside even after using the above ideas, here are other worthwhile options:

  1. Purchase a trailer with a smaller length. Take note of your boat and garage dimensions and show them to a specialist so that you can together calculate whether your prospective trailer is of a proper size.
  2. Lift the motor into the boat. If the stern is narrow enough with adequate space, move the motor into the boat, returning it to its original position only when the boat is outside the garage and ready for use.

As a courtesy, don’t forget to review safety tips for safe boating. With this in mind, you can enjoy your vessel when in use and have peace of mind when storing it.