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tpm1950 08-20-2012 02:57 PM

Winter storage on Great Lakes
Is there any long term difference between storing a boat on jackstands instead of on a cradle? I bought my first boat in July and want to do what I can to keep it a long time. It's a 1985 S32. I know there are cost differences, but some of that would be offset by being able to do my own maintenance and upgrades in a heated storage space. But are there any other considerations?

Is a hull less stressed by going directly onto jackstands for winter storage, rather than being loaded on a cradle and bumping along the road as it's driven to a further away storage location? And will being in a heated building over winter extend the life or reduce overall maintenance costs?

PorFin 08-20-2012 04:03 PM

Re: Winter storage on Great Lakes

You're asking several different questions there, which is fine ;)

First off, congrats on the purchase and welcome to the wonderful world of boat ownership (otherwise known as "boy, I never thought THAT would happen...")

Here are a couple of thoughts about your questions.

Re: Jack stands v. Cradle. There's nothing wrong with jack stands, as long as they are positioned and used properly. A custom made cradle may be more idiot proof (which could come in handy in some yards, as the yard crews aren't always 100% on-the-ball), but you need to make sure that the cradle is indeed a good fit for your boat. Depending on what equipment the yard has and the size of the boat, moving one in a cradle may be as easy as using a forklift instead of a TravelLift.

Re: Indoor heated v. outdoor storage. There are plenty of good reasons to go for indoor heated storage as opposed to outdoor, but you've got to assess whether or not it makes sense for you since it will be more expensive. If you've got any moisture issues with your boat (I'm talking moisture inside or under the glass, e.g. in the rudder) then allowing it to freeze is going to accelerate the damage it does. As the water freezes, it will expand and cause further delamination which in turn will allow water easier access in the future. A second benefit to indoor storage is that you can tackle many maintenance tasks during the winter that otherwise will need to be deferred until the spring thaw. If you aren't planning maintenance chores that require extended periods of above freezing temps, then paying the extra for indoor storage may not be the best use of your money.

Re: Park it immediately v. take it somewhere else. Obviously, any time spent moving the boat harbors some risk. The quicker you can get the boat parked and supported, the smaller that window of risk is open. That said, as long as the boat mover is doing the job right, the risk is not too great.

Anyway, whatever you decide I hope you have an enjoyable and productive off season.


Siamese 08-20-2012 04:20 PM

Re: Winter storage on Great Lakes
Difference in jack stands vs. cradle is minimal if any. My 2007 Catalina 309 has a factory cradle, which should be correct for the boat, right? Right. BUT...the marina that put the boat on the cradle and raised the cradle at the bow to allow for rain run-off raised it too much, putting big dimples in the hull that resulted in considerable damage. Here's the big surprise... note sarcasm...they said it was customer error.

I switched marinas and now have a totally different level of service.

Think about this. You boat is lifted with lifting straps. They tend to fall into the gravel and get grit on them. Then they get wrapped around your topsides and have a few tons of downforce on them. Guess what happens to your gelcoat if the marina doesn't use nice clean fluffy pads between your boat and the straps?
My previous marina was the biggest in this area, but didn't use any padding.

Moral of story is that to protect your boat in the off season, it's more about choosing a marina that will take care of it. Ask, ask, ask. And don't ask powerboaters, ask sailors. Do they pad? Do they listen to their customers or are they jerks.

newpbs 08-20-2012 05:33 PM

Re: Winter storage on Great Lakes
I have a cradle for my boat. There are 2 reasons, that I can think of, to have jack stand instead.

#1 Jack stands are easy to move. I had to pay a trucker $125 to bring my cradle to my marina. The trip was about 12 miles and I would have paid more, but the truck was heading on that way for another trip. I got a deal.

#2 Jack stands are better for working on your bottom paint. I could have an additional stand and carefully remove one stand, while supporting that area with another stand. In that way I would have access to the entire bottom. As it is now, I have to make arrangements to have my boat left in the sling over night to complete my anti fouling work.

Cradles seem to be more secure. My yard seems to have a good track record with stands... no issues that I have heard of.

captbillc 08-20-2012 05:50 PM

Re: Winter storage on Great Lakes
i have a 6 wheel 12'000 lb capacity galvanized steel trailer. it fits my nimble 30 express perfectly. the marina loads it on the trailer with the travel lift & i tow it home with my pickup. i can work on it as i need to & remove snow from the cover when that gets too heavy. i leave the mast at the marina & pay only for mast storage and not boat storage.

tpm1950 08-20-2012 10:16 PM

Re: Winter storage on Great Lakes
Thanks all. If surveyor is correct, only area of above normal moisture readings ("relatively moist") is the rudder. But so far, no signs of delamination based on testing with percussion hammer. I'll get more info/cost on 1. outdoor (buy or rent stands and shrinkwrap or canvas cover), 2. indoor unheated, and 3. indoor heated. And I'll try to find cost of repairing what can happen if rudder starts delaminating.

I'm hoping to find that indoor storage might not be that much more expensive considering me doing my own maintenance/repair during winter. Or being able to get someone to work on it in winter when it's too cold for them to work on other boats.

Barquito 08-21-2012 10:00 AM

Re: Winter storage on Great Lakes
In my area, indoor storage (unheated) is almost twice the cost of outdoor storage. However, if you plan any major projects, you will get tons more work done indoor than out.

I would imagine you could paint under the pads of a cradle, if the pads lower far enough. You would need to have an extra pair of jack stands with a chain to support that part while the pad is lowered. O/w paint those spots while the boat is in the slings prior to launch.

MSN2Travelers 08-21-2012 12:17 PM

Re: Winter storage on Great Lakes

A couple other things of note –

Depending on the yard, “heated” indoor storage is often heated to just above freezing. Don’t expect the temps to be much more than 40-50 degrees. In my yard, $1.99 / sf outside; $4.75 / sf indoors; $7.99 / sf for heated indoor storage. Also keep in mind that yards with indoor storage may not be open in the winter or may be open limited hours.

There are more yards without travel lifts than those that have them. Yards with a travel lift do offer you the choice of mast up or dropping the stick every year. Yards without a travel lift may have an extra charge for dropping the mast in fall and stepping it again in spring. I have a cradle. It is very stable in all conditions and I normally keep the stick up in winter.

In my area it costs roughly $800 to have my boat shrink wrapped. A custom winter cover pays for itself in three years.

I’m not sure what you have for bottom paint now. Many of us, on the great lakes, use VC-17. It dries and is ready for water within 15 minutes or so of application. Once in the sling, I hit the spots on the hull that I couldn’t get to when the boat was in the cradle. Launch 15 minutes later.

Many options for those of us who haul `n store our boats on the hard in winter. Don’t underestimate the cost of winter storage or overestimate the access you think you might have to your boat in winter.

kwaltersmi 08-21-2012 12:38 PM

Re: Winter storage on Great Lakes
I've used both stands and a cradle on my boat and much prefer the jackstands.

Cradle thoughts: The cradle for my boat is supposedly "custom made", but I have to rely on the yard to set the boat on the cradle properly. Also, I need to store and/or transport the cradle somewhere between uses.

Jackstand thoughts: Winter storage at my local yard includes the use of their jackstands, so cost isn't an issue. When setting the boat, the yard rests the keel on a keel pad (2x8 or similar) and then adjusts the stands under the boat while it's still in the slings. I get a precise fit and can have whatever angle on the boat I want for drainage and ground slope. I make sure my stands are chained together so they can't slip. Some yards will also chain the stands to the ground for further protection, but I haven't seen many around here that do that.

Don't forget that indoor storage typically requires you to unstep the mast, which has extra cost/effort associated with it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing since you can do a rig inspection at the same time, but it is something to be aware of when deciding where to store. I do my own winterizing when I store outdoors, which forces me to do a thorough systems/engine check and tune-up every year, another good thing.

tpm1950 08-21-2012 11:41 PM

Re: Winter storage on Great Lakes
Thanks guys. I went from having a lot of questions and uncertainty, to having a good plan in three days. I'm now looking for indoor unheated storage that I can sail into, as long as they let me inside for some work. Seems like no need for cradle with stands on concrete.

Boat won't be in water for another week to finish some surveyor recommendations and insurance requirements. So it will be a short first season sailing, but I'll be happy getting onto it in storage to learn it and start working on it. I'll be interested to see how much weight rudder looses after it dries.

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