A Dream Came True – a shiny new Boat!
Now you have to come up with a storage solution
First of all, this blog is not about the „big guys.“ When you have a 40’+ boat, the options are already pretty limited. You keep it in a wet slip, use a good bottom paint, protect it as much as you can against the UV rays, check all the ropes when a strong wind blows … and hope for the best. In the meantime use it as often as you can. Good deal.
This blog is also not meant to give advice to the seasoned old salt. We just want to write down some food for thought for the rookie skipper who has never possessed a boat or at least a boat in Florida. However, the following summary is only our opinion, but maybe it helps. Sometimes it happens that you can’t see the woods for the trees.
We also need to tell you that we are not selling or brokering boat docks. Once in a while we have a real estate listing that comes with one, but our specialty is not homes for boats – it is primarily homes for people (if a boat slip is included, fine).
The beauty of a smaller boat, let’s assume a 23′ deck boat, is that you have more options. Here they are: You can keep the boat in the water, or on a lift, on a covered lift, you can keep it on a trailer, keep it on a rack in a marina (outside) or have it in an indoor dry storage. Sweet! So many choices, but too many choices can cause a headache as well. Therefore, let us try to structure the deal a little bit.
What’s different with Florida’s climate?
First of all, before talking about the weather, we need to speak about this: unless you are on a lake or river you are always dealing with saltwater in Florida. Saltwater is highly corrosive and warm saltwater does not make it any better. Metal parts which are not made out of stainless steel, if not protected with paint, will rust away before your eyes. Even stainless steel, if not cleaned once in a while, will show a rust film or rust spots. So much about the salt. Now let’s talk about the weather.
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In the Sunshine State …the main culprit is the sun. Really?
During the summer months, the sun can be brutal. Yes, she can be. Tourists, who have enjoyed a few hours on the beach, will look like Main lobsters after they have gone through their boiling water treatment. They can tell you about those “rough night” afterward. And your boat, which is baking in the sun all day long, will like that? Several months of the year we have an extreme UV index of 10+ in Florida. This burst of energy will definitely have an effect on plastic, gel coat, fabric, paint, and rubber.
If unprotected from the sun, plastic, fabric, and rubber will eventually crack and …fall apart. Crumble away. Gone. Paint will fade. There will be an ugly chalky deposit visible on the surface of the gel coat. This is basically your boat’s equivalent of a sunburn. It is definitely not a good sign, and it is a call for action. If not treated properly your “baby” will not be happy …and your wallet will also be unhappy. The longer you wait, the costlier the repair will become.
Let us go Step by Step
Options require decisions. When you have several options, you need to decide which one is best for you. And your decision will have an impact on the well-being of your investment – in this case, your boat. We had boats, two sailboats (on the Baltic Sea) and a powerboat (in Florida), for more than 20 years. We always tried to keep them in excellent condition to get the best price when selling the boat. It was a battle against weather, saltwater, and decay, but it was worth it because we always got very close to our asking price. Now, having said that, let us face all the options you (may or may not) have.
Boats like it wet. Yes, but…
Well, if you decide to keep your boat in the water you have to fight some obstacles. First of all, you can do that in Florida because our waterways and harbors don’t freeze over
like in, let’s say, Michigan. That is actually the reason why you are here, right? So, that was the Pro for “leaving the boat in the water,” now the Cons:
My Boat has Parasites?
So, there is always a “but.” Thousands of enemies are hiding in the water. In that beautiful and warm water? Yes, they are there. Invisible at first but they were already casting an eye on your boat even while it was still on land. At least it seems so. They are tiny little creatures and plants. Those barnacles and algae tend to build up pretty fast in
warm waters and they are very, very sticky.
When in their larval stage barnacles can move around. Once they found your boat, and they will find it, they will stick to it, and they will start building calcified plates. They look like little volcanoes adding relentlessly more material to their shells.Within months they can grow into huge colonies.
The algae are starting as a thin green layer. In warm water conditions, they grow fast. If let alone they can cover the whole bottom of the boat with a thick weed like structure.It actually looks like a long green beard, and who wants to have a boat with a beard?
Barnacles and algae are at least not invasive and do not destroy the hull or gel coat, but they are a pain to remove.
So, to avoid that, the boat needs a really good bottom paint job from time to time. The paint will wear off, though, and needs to be renewed over and over again, as long as you keep your boat in the water.
In between your toy needs to be taken out of the water to hose some really stubborn stowaways off. They do not only slow you boat down, they like to settle down in places where you absolutely don’t want them, like engine or steering parts. All those part which you are not to supposed to cover with bottom paint. Those barnacles seem to know that.
Does my Boat have small Pox?
Not really, but it is not uncommon for fiberglass hulls to develop blisters while in the water. This is not necessarily a structural problem, but it doesn’t look too good. If you ever want/need to sell the boat in the future, you will most likely have to repair this condition. Nobody wants to buy a boat with ugly blisters which are also referred to as “osmosis.” Although, in most cases it is not osmosis. It is simply a water intrusion into the first two layers of the fiberglass hull. But everybody will think your boat is on its death bed, and the grim reaper took already possession of it.
Also, you also have to deal with certain nasty weather conditions. Yes, the sky is not
always blue in Florida. Maybe 340 days, but there are still 25 remaining. On certain days we may have storm surges, hurricane force winds, pouring rain and extremely humid and hot conditions. All those weather conditions do not really pamper your electronics or other sensitive electrical parts of your boat.
Okay, so far we talked you out of a wet slip, right? No, we did not, but we happen to think (and that is only our opinion) that it is not really the best option. However, if this option comes with your home for free, it might be worth dealing with all those obstacles. Free of charge is free of charge, right? You may also like the idea that you have access to your boat whenever you want to use it. Just take the cover off, fire up the engine and off you go. Some people like to have their boat 24/7 available for parties. Okay, everybody has his own ideas.
Boats don’t like Wet Feet – Crazy
If your home comes with a boat, lift you have already a better option. When you take it completely out of the salty environment, the corrosion will noticeably slow down. You can hose the salt down, flush the engine and use a boat cover to protect it from the sun’s damaging UV rays. Your lift has a roof? Even better. Your “Sea Cat,” “Salty Dog,” or whatever the name of your boat is, will thank you for that extra treatment. It will stay longer healthy, and you don’t have to paint the bottom of the boat at all. Barnacles can’t fly. What a relief. And what about the blisters? If it sits high and dry there can’t be no water intrusion, right?
Your home does not come with a boat lift, but you want to have one: expect to pay at least 10 grand to put one in, or $20 – 30 k to buy one in a marina. Keep in mind that a boat dock with or without lift needs maintenance. Eventually, the lift or the whole dock needs to be replaced. What a wonderful Christmas present a new boat dock can make. Shining eyes everywhere when the final bill arrives.
Keep in mind that you can not always buy a boat dock wherever you want. If you want to buy (or lease) a dock in the Englewood Isles Marina you need to be a resident of the Englewood Isles community. If not, you are out of luck.
Boats on Wheels
A trailer may also be an option. Yes, you can keep your boat on a trailer. It is only in the saltwater when you use it, and you can store it wherever and whenever you want. You are so flexible! You can also use your boat wherever you want to use it. Take it to the Keys, take it to the Panhandle. Your options seem to be without limits. Maybe in the mountains, your boat is rendered useless.
On your property you can store it for free, but if your Homeowners Association is a little fussy you may have to put it in storage. The latter is adding an annoying monthly $50 – $100 bill to your already existing monthly payments. But when the grumpy HOA president knocks at your door ten times a day to complain about your boat trailer you will voluntarily dig into your pocket. Yes, you will.
However, the trailer costs money and needs maintenance, too. Also, if it doesn’t consist entirely of aluminum and stainless steel it will eventually crumble away. You need to take good care of it to prevent that. You also need a vehicle that can tow and handle the weight on a slippery ramp. Maybe a heavy truck? Maybe a 4×4? At least your Fiat 500 doesn’t get you and your boat nowhere. That is for sure.
And you may need a little patience at the ramp on busy holidays! If you are #10 in line, it might take a while until you see the open water. When coming back to the ramp, you might have the same problem again. If your philosophy is “take it easy”… then you are the perfect trailer guy. Go for it!
A Spot in a Marina – maybe not a bad Choice at all
Now the marina options. Most marinas offer full service. That means: you call them at least one hour in advance and let them know that you are on your way to upset some fish. With their “monster – forklift” they take your “baby” out of the rack and put it in the water. You show up, fire up the engine and take her out. When you come back, you just tie the boat to the dock, take your personal belongings out, let the forklift operator or manager know that you don’t need the boat anymore… and disappear. While you are flushing down your grouper dinner with a glass of Merlot in a nice waterfront restaurant, the marina people are busy washing your boat. The salt needs to go.
They take it out of the water, rinse the salt off, flush the engine with freshwater and put it back where it belongs – into the storage rack. Some marinas offer open racks outside. That is cheaper but not very helpful. The boat is baking in the sun again, and it will be filthy after a couple of rainstorms. Some marinas offer outside storage with at least a roof. That is better, but still not state of the art.
Dry not Wet that is no question
Dry storage in an enclosed building is the way to go. The boat stays dry, clean and protected from the elements, and no bad guy is snitching your expensive electronics. How do you like that already?
Some marinas refuel it when needed, fill up the water tanks or empty the holding tank. Other marinas employ technicians who are buzzing around fixing things if necessary. Keep in mind that nothing on this beautiful earth is for free! Friendly members of the staff are always at your disposal. That is good but ask for an estimate first. A typical rate for a dry storage runs between $12 – $18 per foot. However, beware of those nice extra services offered.That is how they get you.
Some boat owners say that they do not trust the forklift operators. They will put scratches and dents into the hull. Well, you may want to choose your marina wisely. Look around and try to figure out how professionally they do their job. We had our boat in dry storage for many years, and the dents and scratches were put in by ourselves. We were even proud of them – well, not really.