Compromise is the bedfellow of boat owners. We spend endless hours deliberating the virtues of weight, length, construction and powerplants. Boat storage typically isn’t a talking point, but it’s a growing consideration – especially for people upgrading to bigger boats. The changing shape of our homes hasn’t helped the boat owner’s cause, either. Garages and yards have shrunk to accommodate larger homes on smaller blocks, and street parking is getting harder to find. So where will you store your pride and joy?
Marinas offer the comforts of home for you and your boat, offering facilities such as power, water and internet. Your boat lives in the water full-time, ready and raring to go whenever you are. If you’re prone to getting angrier than Barry Hall at the boat ramp in snapper season, a marina berth might be the best option for you. But beware: the first time you dock at a marina, it’ll feel like you’re parking an elephant between two dominoes. Marinas are social places, too, where like-minded people gather on Sunday afternoons to share fishing spots, a rum and stories of the sea.
• Ideal for bigger boats
• You won’t annoy the neighbours with the boat taking up valuable street space
• No boat-ramp stress, and no waiting for your turn to launch
• Most marinas have good security systems with locked gates and CCTV
• Meet and socialise with like-minded people
• Close to amenities
• Ongoing costs, including antifouling if you don’t have a sea barrier
• Not easy to take the boat away on holidays
• Your boat likes to rub shoulders with other boats and pylons
• Docking a bigger boat takes some practice
HANG LOOSE ON A SWING MOORING
A swing mooring is a length of chain and rope connected to a cement block, typically found in sheltered bays and waterways close to residential areas. They’re a good option for big-boat owners who don’t want the expense of a marina. Check with your insurance provider, though, as some will impose extra policy conditions.
• Generally pretty affordable
• Boat is ready to go
• Easier to moor than a marina berth
• You need another boat to get there (unless you’re partial to a morning swim)
• Your boat is exposed to the elements
• No security
• Antifouling costs
• Annual service required
At-home trailerboat storage is the most realistic and cost-effective option for most boat owners. You can admire the boat from the lounge room, and tow it to wherever the fish are biting. The garage tools are always on hand, and you can escape the significant other with a spot of virtual fishing in the garage.
• Flexibility to fish or ski wherever you want
• Your boat goes on holidays with you
• It’s a good talking point whenever your mates pop over
• Modern trailers are strong and sturdy enough for long-term touring
• Space is the nemesis of trailerboat owners
• Security can be an issue
• It’s you versus the world at the boat ramp when the fishing is hot
• Trailers come with cost and maintenance issues
• If you don’t have a suitable garage, the boat is exposed to the elements
SQUEAKY-CLEAN SEA PEN
Boats stored on-water need protection from organisms and other nasty things in the sea. Painting the hull with antifoul is the most common method. Another option is a sea pen, a fitting similar to a swimming pool liner. It’s operated by driving the boat into a pen and, as the water is pumped out, a flexible liner will shrink-wrap to the outside of the boat like a second skin. In between the pool liner and the boat is a woven roving mesh, which creates an air gap so the boat is totally dry. The sea pen can eliminate the need for antifouling, improve on-water hull performance and reduce running costs, including fuel bills, antifouling paints and slipping expenses.
• Removes the saltwater bridge, which causes electrolysis
• Special polymer material doesn’t need cleaning
• Forget the antifoul
• Better hull performance
• Lower running costs
• No pollutants
• You’ll be on the water in three minutes
• You can enjoy the lawn again
• Initial costs for the pen, though this cost will be recovered over time
• If the fishing is hot in Bermagui, you’ll have to get the boat on a trailer
• You can’t admire the boat when you come home from work (unless you’re lucky enough to live on the waterfront)
RACK AND STACK
Dry racking is a good option for owners of small to medium-sized trailerboats. The boat is stored in a cradle within the safety of a building or shed. When you’re ready to go fishing, call the storage facility and they’ll forklift it onto the water for you.
• You don’t have to get your hands dirty
• They’ll wash and rinse the boat for you
• Generally safe and secure
• Skip the ramp queues
• May not be ideal for bigger boats
• Monthly fees
• Boat might still be exposed to the elements, including salt air and sea birds
BOAT STORAGE YARDS
If the front yard, garage and street parking are not options, a boatyard could be a good alternative. Storage companies like Kennards and Storage King offer realistic rates, with services usually including secure parking and 24/7 entry via a pin code. Boatyards can also include open parking in a marina, or even privateers offering land for rent.
• Usually close to water
• Generally secure
• Can be exposed to the elements
• Access hours might be limited
• Can get a bit tight
• Security can be a risk
Another storage option is FloatBricks. The bricks are a modular configuration, offering a safe, sturdy platform, high above the waterline. FloatBricks are ideal for PWCs and smaller boats up to 6m. The FloatBrick can also double up as a platform or temporary bridge.
• You can be on the water before the bite slows
• Boats or PWCs sit well clear of the bugs
• Offers a wide working area on the water
• Upgrade FloatBricks as your boat grows
• It’s Lego for grownups!
• Limited to boats up to 1300kg
• Maxed out at about 6m
FLOATING BOAT LIFTS
Floating boat lift systems are a drive-on/drive-off dry hull storage solution for mono- and multihull powerboats. Some use a hydraulic mechanism to lift the boat out of the water in a level manner, while others use the boat’s uneven load (powerboats are generally heavier at the stern than the bow) to work with air/water displacement and the boat’s weight to raise it. The manufacturers of systems made with High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) – such as AirBerth – say they’re resistant to rot, corrosion and rust, don’t require antifouling and have no ongoing maintenance requirements. When secured with mooring lines, rather than permanent brackets, they’re marina fire-regulation compliant and can be moored anywhere you’d normally tie up the boat.
• The boat sits clear of the water
• A green alternative: no antifouling on boat or HDPE boat lift systems
• Reduces ongoing boat maintenance
• Hull and prop are easy to reach
• Easy to relocate – if you sell or move, the boat lift moves too
• Upfront investment on your boat’s maintenance, although it’s usually recovered in a few years
• You’re only restricted to local boating until you hoist the boat onto its trailer
• Some waterfront property owners or marinas consider them an eyesore