The stowage and off-season for boaters can be a mystifying topic for some. There are different storage requirements for vessels, trailers, and watercrafts. This blog post will help you understand stowage requirements and what to do in the off-season when your boat is not being used.
Stowage Requirements for Boats and Watercrafts
When stowing your boat or watercraft, you should keep in mind that the storage requirements vary depending on what type of vessel it is.
There are stowage guidelines set by the US Coast Guard that must be followed when storing a boat:
- Freeboard (the distance between the waterline and the upper edge of the deck plating) cannot be less than three inches above any part where side planking ends and flooring begins.
- Sides (length from stem to stern) not more than five percent greater than length overall.
- Width at amidships (width at widest point overall) not more than ten percent greater than maximum beam (the distance between planes passing through the outer extremities of the ship).
- Draft (depth from the bottom most point of the ship to bottom of the hull)not more than two inches greater than the stowage width plus one inch for every foot or fraction thereof, but never less than four inches above maximum stowable length.
- Freeboard must be within three inches at all points alongside planking. In addition to these storage guidelines, you should check with your local municipal government and the county where your boat is being stored to ensure that there are no additional restrictions in place.
- For example, some areas do not allow ships and watercraft on trailers during snow season because they might cause damage to a roadway when driven across it due to rough terrain.
Off-Season Docking and Storage Procedures
If you are storing your watercraft in an off-season storage facility such as one found at marinas, there will be some stowage guidelines that you must follow depending on what kind of stowage unit it’s placed in.
For example, if the stowage unit has pilings (deep set foundational polls), you should not attach anything to them (including fenders) because they might cause damage to both the piling and dock.
There are also specific procedures when tying up during the winter months. Vessels moored alongside should be tied to the stowages unit by a bowline and stern line, each with appropriate protective gear to protect the rope from chaffing or fraying.
A mid-ship spring line (the line in the middle of the ship) should be used on the dock facing end of both lines to prevent swaying;
All other lines (mooring, fender) must have proper winter covers or insulation;
Lines not protected will break from expansion caused by freezing water. If you are storing your vessel at home during the off-season, then you still need to follow stowage guidelines such as:
- Vessels shall be stored so that the hull is vertical and supported below the rub rail (the rail hiding the joingt between the hull and the deck of the ship).
- Topsides painted surfaces shall be covered entirely with rust-preventive compounds.
- Hoses, fittings, vents, etc., which cannot readily drain overboard when the boat is afloat, can discharge into the storage unit provided no obstruction exists.
- Vessels should be stored with engines inoperative and propellers removed. If you are interested in storage requirements for boaters or off-season storage procedures, contact a company like NorCal Trailer Sales & Service.
There are several steps to stowing your boat. However, once you have kept the ship, you must take extra care during off-season storage. If not cared for properly, staining can occur from rain or condensation, as well as the winter elements.
To Start with Stowage Preparation:
The first step when preparing for stowage is ensuring all watertight areas, including hatches and ports, are shut securely (and locked if necessary). Next, any tears should be repaired using repair tape such as Duct Tape, which has multiple uses on the boat.
If your storage is inside, it’s a good idea to cover any exposed surfaces with old sheets or tarpaulin. This will prevent them from getting dirty and help best prepare for off-season storage. If stowing outside, be sure that all equipment such as bimini tops are covered (and locked) when not in use.
This will also prevent dust build-up during winter months, leading to staining if rain occurs while equipment is left uncovered. Depending on where you stow away for the offseason, there may be steps necessary before storing away:
Off-Season Stowage Areas
They vary depending on what type of boating experience they offer, but common locations include:
- Marinas and docks.
- Storage areas on land (dry storage).
- Stowage in the water (saltwater stowage).
Before putting your vessel away for off-season, there are a few steps that you should take to ensure it’s protected.
You will want to give your boat a good wash down before storing it away. This is especially important if kept near or around docks where moss can build up during winter when ships aren’t being used as often.
If this happens, you may develop rust spots over time which could lead to structural damage, so best care for your investment by giving the hull a quick cleanse with fresh water from the hosepipe and drying thoroughly afterward with a soft cloth or paper towels.
To stow your vessel away in marinas or docks, you must first ensure that it is well secured and all loose gear has been stowed. Once this is completed, you can tie up the boat with ropes to prevent movement during off-season storage (if left untied, the boater may require assistance when getting back on board).
It’s also important not to leave any drain plugs open because if water accumulates without being drained out, it could cause damage like staining from rain which will ruin a yacht.