Can I leave my boat in the water all year round?

At Trafalgar, we talk a lot about boat storage, whether it be the marina, our pontoons, our moorings or our Drystack. 

We’ve written several guides on what to consider when deciding on boat storage and our team enjoy this frequent topic of conversation. Last week someone asked us what the implications were as to leaving their RIB on a mooring or in a marina all year round. So here are the pros and cons.

In essence it is about convenience, hassle and cost. If you’re not too worried about convenience and you’re looking at ways to reduce the cost of owning a boat, could you leave your boat in the water all year round?

This article looks at what you would need to consider if you were thinking of leaving your RIB in the water all year round:

Maintenance

The first thing that comes to mind. Every maintenance element of your RIB will need to be carefully thought through:

    • Boat engines – boat engines cannot sit in saltwater indefinitely.  During the winter your boat engine will need to be taken off the boat, winterised and then stored ashore. There will be a cost involved in storing your engine ashore and of course when you next want to use the boat you will need to arrange for the engine to be put back on the boat. The spontaneity of using your boat through the winter will definitely be lost if you’re having to move engines.
    • Tubes – Every RIB owner needs to apply specialist products to protect the boat from sun damage and saltwater, but if you’re leaving your boat on the water all year round then this will need to be applied more frequently.
    • Antifoul – Any part of the boat which is continually in the water needs to be protected with an antifoul. You will need to be especially diligent about checking and regularly applying otherwise you will find your boat covered in algae and more.
    • Damage to boat – the longer your boat is left in the water the more likely it is to be damaged by other boats.
    • Emergency work -Plan ahead for what you are going to do if there is emergency work required. Through your mooring, you will be a member of a boat club. If you are taking the boat home to work on then you will just need to pay for your boat to be lifted in and out of the water, but if you’re going to need space on a maintenance rack or in the boatyard there will be additional charges. 

Security

Everyone knows the risk of leaving your RIB on an unlocked trailer, but what are the risks of leaving a RIB on a mooring? You need to consider:

    • How easy is it for someone to simply take your RIB from the mooring?
    • What type of alarm could be fitted?
    • Can you put a tracking device on the RIB, the engines?
    • How close can the mooring be to the shore and is there anyone living nearby who would let you know if there is a problem?

RIB Insurance

Any RIB is a significant investment and so you must read the small print of your policy carefully and where required request written clarification. You need to understand whether the insurer:

    • Provides cover for boats on the water all year round or whether it is up to a maximum number of days.
    • Will add a condition for the boat to be regularly checked within a defined period.
    • Only provides cover for the boat or the boat plus engine(s).
    • Requires the boat to have security elements, such as an alarm.
    • Provides 3rd party cover.
    • How damage is categorised, wear and tear or accidental damage?

Plan

Cover off the  scenarios  -what if…

    • Your boat is stolen.
    • Your boat is taking on water.
    • One of the tubes is punctured.
    • The mooring appears to be damaged.

Your commitment

We all know a boat is a favourite possession, however, have a think about:

    • Going out to your RIB in the middle of winter (and maybe in the dark) to check the mooring is secure and the covers remain tied down. Ideally, you would want to be checking your boat weekly.
    • Having to organise for your boat to be lifted out, put on the maintenance racks and worked on more frequently.
    • Finding out your boat has been stolen.
    • Wanting to use your boat and finding you’ve left at home critical safety equipment.

Drystack free boat storage offerIf you don’t have suitable storage at home, boat storage is a significant cost of owning a boat. The Drystack is a great way to store your boat and is popular because the service includes a hassle-free lift in and lift out, your boat stays dry, has reduced wear and tear, doesn’t require antifouling or a boat cover and is secure, however convenience comes at a cost.

If you’re serious about leaving your boat on a mooring all year round I suggest you put together a spreadsheet listing out all the costs. Give yourself something to compare against the costs of boat storage ashore. I would include in the spreadsheet the following:

  1. Any increase in insurance premiums.
  2. Heavy-duty boat covers.
  3. Security required by the insurance cover.
  4. Optional security you want to have.
  5. Cost of having boat engines taken off the boat and put into storage.
  6. Cost of carrying out extra maintenance on boat hull and tubes.
  7. Cost of mooring.
  8. Your time. There is an investment in time required for maintaining the boat and carrying out a weekly check.

Read these articles for alternative viewpoints about boat storage:

We have a boat storage guide which provides a wealth of information on the most efficient and cost effective ways of storing your boat.

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