Off-season marina tips for your commercial marine clients

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Help your commercial clients prep for their off-season marina and yacht club storage

In northern parts of the country, it’s nearly off-season for boating. Vessels are being drydocked or stored for winter. Offer your marina and yacht club clients these off-season marina tips for safe storage this winter.

Hazards from fire, theft, hard freezes, storms and more are what your marina clients must protect against, as they prepare their site and oversee winter preparation for their clients’ boats for the winter.

Remember: Arrowhead Marine offers coverage not only for your yacht club and marina clients (including marina operators legal liability), but also for excursions and charter boats, bareboat charters, boat dealers and manufacturers and marine artisans and contractors.


Before starting off-season preparation

First – before any boats are hauled out or lifted out: You need a written procedure in place that every employee is trained on, that covers everything from marine forklifts to boat transportation, to storage. Be sure to include any federal, state or local requirements that may impact your policies. That way, any grey areas can be cleared up and employees are clear on what they can and cannot do, particularly when faced with a special demand by a boat owner.

Marina owners should ensure that their yard and storage areas are clear of obstructions before beginning the lift-out process. Any employees operating a mobile boat hoist or marine forklift should be both certified through an OSHA-approved program, as well as experienced in using the equipment. Their ground crew of spotters who help move large boats around should be experienced as well.

Finally, your marina clients are usually dealing with a fair number of first-time boat owners who are unfamiliar with the winterizing process. We recommend they provide these newbie boat owners with off-season marina tips and a winterizing checklist provided by


Perform daily inspections

Whether using a marine forklift, mobile boat hoist or self-propelled trailer, inspect equipment daily to ensure the vehicles are safe to operate and road-reliable. Because of their heavy use, daily check tire pressure, hoses and fluid levels, properly working controls and instrument panels. On forklifts, inspect covers of the forks; use the seatbelt; and keep a fire extinguisher on the forklift. Our friends at Chubb have a more in-depth checklist for off-season preparation that you can review with your clients.


Proper blocking procedures

Take into account the terrain of the yard: any slopes, the ground cover (sand, paved, gravel), along with the size, weight, shape and condition of each boat. Do not use cinder blocks or oil drums for blocking; instead, support the keel on sturdy wooden keel blacks – the wider the better to distribute the load. Although jack stands stabilize the boat, the majority of the boat’s weight typically rests on its keel. Some boats have specific keel support requirements; also note that at least one manufacturer warns against putting weight on the keel.

Use at least two tripod jack stands on each side for support, placing them at structural bulkheads and to prevent high point loading. Power boats typically need additional support under inboard engines, fuel tanks and heavy machinery. Make sure they’re adequate for the size of the boat and check them regularly during storage season, particularly before and after storms. Allow rain water to drain through scuppers or deck drains.

After the boat is blocked, sight along the hull and keel to make sure the jack stands aren’t depressing the hull. Check again in about two weeks, after settling has taken place. The boat must also be level, or water could pool and cause stains, mildew, and/or gelcoat problems, says

Rack storage dos and don’ts

Ensure that either batteries are disconnected or the master battery switch is turned off. To lower risk of fire, prohibit battery charging, portable power cords, unattended portable heaters, open flame heaters, flammable solvent cleaners. Remove portable fuel tanks, LPG and CNG cylinders, kerosene, charcoal and stove alcohol. Fuel levels should be no higher than 95 percent. This helps prevent expansion and subsequent fuel venting onto boats below.


Take home extra equipment

Have boat owners take home electronics and other items aboard that may be targets for thieves.

Commercial marine producers, provide these off-season marina tips to your marina owners and managers. Not only are you helping them protect their reputation and their business – you’re also helping them protect their clients’ vessels.

Learn more about our commercial marine products. Arrowhead also offers coverage for commercial hull and P&I, including rental boat operations (premises liability available) for pontoons, sailboats and runabouts and other commercially used vessels. Additionally, we provide marine general liability, bumbershoot and excess liability, ship repairers legal liability and other monoline marine liabilities.