Where to Keep Your Boat
As you think about purchasing a new boat, start thinking about where you want to keep it. Budget, convenience and availability all play into the equation.
You won't find a less expensive way to keep a boat than storing it on a trailer in your driveway or backyard. A boat trailer has the added advantages of allowing you to boat on different bodies of water, to seize the random nice days in winter to fish or cruise and can save fees for winter boat storage. Be sure to check your vehicle's owner manual for safety rules, tips and instructions on boat-towing capacity . This will help make sure you're selecting the appropriate boating equipment for the model you're buying.
If you do store your boat on a trailer, try to keep it away from trees. If that is not possible, you should plan on regularly checking the boat and the bilges for debris and leaves. Through-hulls and drain plugs can become fouled and the boat's bildge could fill up with water potentially damaging both the boat and the trailer.
Another alternative for smaller boats is rack storage, or dry stacks. A typical rack storage facility keeps your boat in a covered shed filled with trailer-like cradles. You call the facility a designated time before you want to go boating and they use a forklift or other lifting machine to retrieve and launch your boat. When you come back, you tie it up, walk away and they return it to the shed.
The Marina Advantage
For owners of larger boats, and owners of small boats who crave convenience, a boat marina slip is the best way to go. You drive your family and gear to the marina, load the boat, cast off the lines and go. Rates vary from state to state and marina to marina, but typically you'll be charged according to the length of your boat or the length of the slip. Boat marinas often have showers and bathrooms and offer winter storage and service options. The best marinas offer connections for electricity, washdown water, telephone, Internet and TV at the dock. Boat marinas can be great fun as well, with slip-holders often getting together for parties, cookouts or just friendly socializing.
Buy or Rent Your Slip
In some locales, it's possible to actually buy or rent an annual slip in a boat marina. The slip becomes a long-term asset and takes the annual guesswork out of the where-will-I-keep-my-boat equation in high-demand areas.
A Room at the Inn
Slip availability and pricing is largely a function of supply and demand. It pays to do some research before you buy your boat. Consult your local yellow pages, go online and search for marinas on the body of water you plan to use and discuss the issue with the dealer who's selling you your boat.