We are considering purchasing a boat, sailing winters for three to four months, and working part time for the remainder of the year. Our sailing area will be Florida and the Caribbean. Any suggestions on what to do with the boat the other months when it is not in use?
Mark Matthews responds:
Sailing throughout the winter. Sounds like a good plan to me. As far as storing the boat when it's not in use, there are a couple of different options you should explore. If you're planning on being away for several months, you'll get the most peace of mind by hauling the boat out and securing it on shore.
Now, because your plans include cruising the Caribbean and Florida in the winter months, I'd recommend looking into several marinas on the St. Lucy Canal, a stretch of waterway connecting the west and east coasts of Florida. There are a number of haulout facilities in those parts that allow boats to be hauled and stored out of the water. These places are most active during hurricane season (June through the end of October). If you're in that neck of the woods, stop at the Indian Town Marina and the folks there will be able to provide the names of some of these haulout businesses.
The other option is to store your boat in the water, but I only mention that if you've arranged to have the marina or someone else you trust keep an eye on it. In the area of the St. Lucy Canal, the locks you have to transit to get to there should be sufficient to keep out the storm surge should a storm hit the coast. However, if there's a direct hit, all bets are off. Good luck to you.