Roger Nadin reflects on boat storage as he prepares to hang up his sailing gear at the end of the season
5 steps to stress-free storage of your boat this winter
Do you own a boat that is the apple of your eye? What happens when you take it to a shipyard to take it out of the water and store it?
Do you know why one marina uses a crane and a boat motor while another uses a slipway trailer, or why one yard uses props to keep your boat upright and another stores your boat in a cradle?
Do you know how much money your yard invests in purchasing boat handling equipment and training yard personnel?
As with most things, the answer to these questions depends on factors such as geology, geography, staff experience, and available finances.
Fortunately, the days of a mobile crane staggering around a construction site with a boat swinging on a single hook are long gone.
The biggest capital cost a marina is likely to incur today is the purchase of good boat handling equipment.
So what are the choices:
- A slipway trailer (a boat engine built for submersion in salt water) towed by a good used tractor is the cheapest option. But the yard or marina is still considering the big budget of Â£ 150,000 to fully equip themselves to handle the 20-ton yachts and may need to increase the cost of building a slipway. These units can move boats from the water to a storage area quickly and efficiently and generally store boats fairly close to each other, saving on storage costs. Such equipment must be built to survive the ravages of salt water, so lots of stainless steel, high quality oil rig paint, etc. One thing to note is that it is a myth that hydraulically operated support skids are used to lift the boat – they are not. The bearings provide adjustable support for the hull, but the actual lifting is done by hydraulic lifting and lowering of the entire frame.
- The higher cost is a self-propelled trip or an electric winch that travels over water on a two-lane jetty. This unit can again transport boats from water to storage quickly, but there is the added cost of building the jetty and the downside that the width of the winch means the boats cannot be stored close together. others.
- Of a similar or perhaps much higher cost is a yacht crane with a boat engine (towed or self-propelled). A crane is ideal when installed on a harbor wall. A four-hook crane provides excellent control of a vessel as it is tipped after lifting and transferred to a boat mover. The cost of a crane includes the funding needed to build the pile in the ground the crane is installed on – this can vary widely, and a thorough and professional investigation of the land is required before a final decision can be made regarding it. installation of a crane.
- Finally, we can come back to the idea of ââthe slipway but look at a self-propelled semi-submersible boat engine. These can be quick, efficient, and easy to use by minimal staff. But good semi-submersibles come at a high cost because everything has to be built to withstand submersion and the effects of salt water.
So, now that your boat is out of the water, are the staff properly trained and using the best boat support system to keep your boat safe?
It is a fact that until recently the yard staff had little training and much of what was available fell under the rubric âwe always did it like thisâ.
The yard and marina staff are very hardworking and often work in all weathers.
Until recently, there was little or no formal training.
This is gradually changing with equipment manufacturers providing on-site training and the better and more up-to-date marinas insisting that staff be trained.
What about the cradle your yard has stored your yacht in or the legs / accessories that have been used to support your craft? How good are they?
Do they come from a factory that has thoroughly tested them? A small number of manufacturers subject this equipment to wind tunnel testing, but very few.
And is your boat by the sea? If so, does your garden use galvanized steel brackets / brackets to protect them from the ravages of salty winds?
It’s scary to see construction sites using steel fixtures that rust from the inside out or, God forbid, always using wooden fixtures.
If your stored yacht is kept with its mast during the winter months, has the yard stored it with its bow in the prevailing winds – if not, why not?
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The hull of a boat has a large area against which the wind can push – have the yard staff tied your boat to keep it safe?
So what’s stopping every marina or shipyard from having the latest, best-built boat handling equipment?
As with so many businesses, money is the main answer.
There are a lot of areas that there are many areas that there are many things that owners of yards and marinas have to be experts in and there is an accountant out there who is trying to keep costs down.
A site manager may make a different decision than a site owner – the first having to make sure their annual numbers are right, the other trying to make sure their long-term business gets the best value.
The manager looking for a new launch trailer will see that there is a wide range of products on the market.
Some of these trailers look very similar and operate the same – in fact, some are just cheaper copies of the original models.
Some towed wagons cost several thousand pounds more than others. How does the manager choose?
The pressure to cut costs may well lead him to choose the cheapest. Maybe the job site will regret it later when shoddy materials and workmanship come to light, maybe after the manager moves to another job site.
Unfortunately, some shipyards and marinas find that choosing lower-cost equipment can lead to almost immediate disappointment: a boat’s hull damaged by poor quality support pads on a new trailer; a cheaply purchased slipway trailer collapsing under the weight of a machine that is just over the maximum capacity of the trailer.
This really is a “get your money’s worth” case when it comes to boat storage.
So what lessons in boat storage can we learn from the experience of others?
- First, make sure you know how much your boat actually weighs and exactly what your yard is capable of lifting. There is no point in asking a job site with a 12T slipway trailer to slip you a 10T machine to which you have added items such as extra fuel tanks, generator and other heavy items. A crushed slipway trailer is not a pretty sight!
- Talk to yard staff about their machines – why they use the equipment they have, how often is it serviced, and what training they take so that you can be confident in what they are doing.
- Some shipyards provide cradles for yachts, some rent them to boat owners, and some expect owners to provide them. Cradles tend to be a preferred method of storing a yacht during the winter – it can and should be tied up. In exposed yards, sailboats should be stored forward of the prevailing wind.
- If your boat is supported by propellers, check the quality of the propellers and make sure the propellers are tied or chained together. This ensures that if a leg is accidentally bumped or stuck in, it should not move and endanger your boat.
- Make friends, talk and visit your yard staff and make sure they understand that you are genuinely interested in the way your boat is maintained. And if you have any concerns about boat storage, let the marina manager know.
At night when the wind howls and you are snuggled up in your bed, you will sleep more soundly, safely knowing that you and the court staff have done all you can.
If you liked to read 5 steps to stress-free storage of your boat this winterâ¦.
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