The pros and cons of dry boat storage

1st April 2021 Mike McKiernan

Marinas have traditionally been associated with docks, ropes and prices that burn a hole through your wallet. However in recent years dry boat storage (or drystack) has grown in popularity in the Australian market, particularly for those with small to medium-sized boats.

Why? Dry boat storage presents a more affordable, low-maintenance alternative to leaving your boat exposed to the elements in a wet berth. Your boat is instead stored in a covered facility on a boat rack and can be launched or recovered from the water on demand by staff using a high capacity forklift. 

It might seem a little ironic to keep a boat out of the water, but the reality is the advantages of dry stack far outweigh the disadvantages.

1) Convenience

Keeping your boat in drystack saves you an enormous amount of time compared to towing your boat to and from a ramp. You also save all the money that would have otherwise been spent on a trailer, fuel, and the need for a heavy-duty towing vehicle. 

Swing moorings might suit certain boat owners, but they create obvious access challenges, and the fact that they remain unsupervised for extended periods of time is cause for concern.

2) Less maintenance and chance of deterioration or damage

Storing your boat high and dry keeps it protected from harsh weather conditions – there is no need for regular cleaning, detailing and antifouling. You also avoid deterioration caused by ultraviolet rays, dust, mould, and the ever-present threat of the seagulls marking their territory! Consequently, preserving your boat in dry storage will ensure the value of your boat remains higher for a much longer period of time.

3) Overall costs of boat ownership are reduced significantly

As touched on above, dry storage eliminates the need for expensive maintenance like annual antifouling, as your hull is not exposed to conditions that cause corrosion and growth. 

4) Security Guarantee 

Theft or vandalism of your boat becomes just about impossible once it’s up off the ground. Just about every dry storage facility in Australia is monitored by round-the-clock surveillance, giving you peace of mind that your boat is always safe.

5) Better for the environment

The dry storage method is not only a better use of space, but moving more boats out of the water means less oil, fuel and sewage leaking into our waterways, and it reduces the impact of toxins from anti-fouling paints.

So, are there any downsides? The most common complaint is accidental damage such as scratches and gashes accidentally caused by the forklift operator. It may also be difficult to gain access to your boat for light maintenance, although this will vary depending on the arrangements at your facility.

The biggest problem for most boat owners using dry stack is planning ahead – it’s hard to make a quick escape when your boat is 20 feet in the air. In most cases, you will need to give the marina an hour or two of lead time to have your boat ready for launch, particularly on weekends. If you are a fisherman, for example, this might be a concern when planning a pre-dawn trip, but for majority of the boating community there are few downsides to the convenience of dry storage.