Dry-Stack Marinas

There's more to consider than the pool, ship's store and landscaping.

Dry-stack marine storage offers many of the conveniences of a slip at a more manageable price tag, and without the all-day environmental assault of sun and water. But what makes it good?

“Reputation is key,” says Dante Grover, owner of Al Grover’s High & Dry Marina in Freeport, New York. Besides verifying how long the facility has been in business, Grover suggests talking to random customers on the dock, as well as looking at the condition and cleanliness of key equipment like forklifts and racks. “If the equipment looks neglected, believe me, they’re not going to treat your boat well.” Let’s look at other considerations.

Location, Location, Location
Heavier boats typically occupy the lower racks by necessity. A good facility will power-wash boats before racking them to prevent salt water or contaminants from dripping on the craft below, but oil leakage is still a possibility. Better facilities will take responsibility for any resulting repairs to carpet or upholstery. The top racks, however, may not be as desirable as conventional wisdom would dictate. Birds often nest in dry-stack facilities, adding a different kind of dropping.


Hours and Convenience
Better dry-stack marinas offer one launch and retrieval per day, a power wash and, in salt water, an engine flush. After hours, verify that your boat will be waiting in a slip and that you can leave it in a slip when finished. A good facility should have your boat out of the racks and waiting at the dock in 15 to 30 minutes. Verify that forklifts have the capacity for your boat’s weight and inquire about how many are in operation. If a sole lift breaks, you’re high and dry. Literally.

Payment and Insurance
Monthly fees start at about $13 to $15 per foot. Annual contracts can be discounted, but be careful paying a year in advance if the facility doesn’t have a proven track record. Most facilities require customers to carry liability insurance. Study your contract; the marina should cover losses resulting from its neglect, such as from improperly placing a boat into the racks. Fire-suppression systems, typically sprinklers, are required in any enclosed structure and on many outside racks.