• The dry stack option is now a worthy, tried and trusted contender seeking your attention.
  • For those who desire the maximum amount of time on the water, coupled to the minimum degree of fuss, the advantages are legion!
  • The options available as to where and how to keep one’s boat have never been more varied than in recent years.

Stacked in Your Favour

HMS enters the luxurious world of the ‘dry stack’, the latest and arguably most expedient way to have your seagoing ‘pride and joy’ launch and recovered – and all from a secure resting place ‘up in the clouds’ …

The options available as to where and how to keep one’s boat have never been more varied than in recent years. In days gone by, depending on its size, the likelihood was that a boat spent most of its life awaiting the attentions of its owner either made fast to a swinging mooring or perhaps residing ‘on the hard’ in some local boatyard. These days, however, we not only still have the popular but increasingly rare traditional mooring option, but there’s also an ever-growing number of first-class marina facilities to choose from: DIY boat storage compounds coupled to slipway or craning facilities; a plethora of trailer-borne craft that need no ‘facility’ at all – beyond that of an owner’s drive or garage; and then last, but certainly not least, there’s the ‘dry stack’ option … This latter alternative can have great appeal, as the boat escapes the complications associated with being kept afloat for extended periods of time; plus, ‘dry-stacking’ not only comes complete with launch and recovery services but often boat valeting, refuelling and other attractive ‘add-ons’.

So what is dry-stacking, and what appeal does it hold not only for boat owners but also those companies who operate such facilities? Firstly, as the pictures accompanying this article show, boats of suitable size and dimensions are securely facilitated/stored on a tiered racking system (some covered, some open-air), from where the craft is transported to and from the water by means of a special forklift-type transporter vehicle. In the case of the Trafalgar Wharf facility near Portsmouth, for example, their two Wiggins Bull-manufactured vehicles, nicknamed ‘Emma’ and ‘Fanny’, valued at some 200k each, have the mechanical ability to lift up to 12 tonnes! Due to the central point of gravity of most motorised craft, however, the yard usually considers 9 tonnes to be a safe lift limit – especially when working up to a height of 44 feet off the sixth and highest tier. Nevertheless, I think you’ll agree, that’s still a lot of boat!

As this suggests, setting up a dry stack business isn’t cheap and requires serious capital investment to be made on the part of the operator, but the attraction surely must include the fact that it’s still less expensive and involved than building and maintaining a full-blown marina. In addition, there’s the potential to accommodate a lot more boats in an area much smaller than a marina complex, and of course, it’s all ashore – so no pilings to be sunk, dredging to be undertaken or large amounts of pontoons to be bought and maintained. Little wonder why, then, more and more of these facilities seem to be appearing around our shores.

For boat owners, dry-stacking offers the convenience of a modern, expedient service – one that can respond to a same-day request for a boat to be taken off the rack and lowered into the water freshly cleaned and fuelled, ready to go!

It’s true that dry-stacking by its very nature could rightly be considered luxurious, even decadent, but for those who desire the maximum amount of time on the water, coupled to the minimum degree of fuss, the advantages are legion! Of course, some might view being freed from the joys of self-launching down a greasy, overcrowded slipway as tantamount to starving boat ownership of some of its finest pleasures … These include no longer indulging in torrid temper tantrums and family feuds of the magnitude only the likes of a council-owned slipway can rightly boast of hosting. Likewise, it demands saying a chirpy ‘cheerio’ to all those burnt-out clutches you’ve subjected your good-natured family saloon to over the years while forcing it up those same slipway inclines. It also means turning your back on the perils associated with dunking your own trailer in the briny, which often as not results in the blessed joys of having to belt its seized trailer-brake hubs senseless with a hammer in order to free them again before you can hitch up and finally queue to recover your boat … on a falling tide! But if you do decide to join the dry stack ‘elite’, be sure to remember too that it will of course deprive you of being entertained by the priceless slipway theatrics of other hapless boaters each season! This, of course, is quite a loss and should be seriously factored into the equation before you give the ‘all clear’ to a dry stack forklift operator to have your boat lifted aloft!

When all is said and done, finding the right solution in relation to your needs and circumstances is a personal decision that may well change even from season to season. But added to the mix of swinging moorings, marina berths and self-launch by means of vehicle and trailer, the dry stack option is now a worthy, tried and trusted contender seeking your attention. We hope the following information, therefore, will prove helpful to you in determining whether this latest form of boat care might really be ‘stacked in your favour’…


The dry stack ‘runners and riders’

  1. Hamble Yacht Services B. MDL Marinas C. Portland Marina D. Premier Marinas E. Southampton Dry Stack F. Trafalgar Wharf G. Yacht Haven Quay H. Cardiff Marine Group

Company name and main website contact details?

  1. Hamble Yacht Services: www.hysgroup.co.uk
  2. MDL Marinas (MDL Dry Stack): www.mdldrystack.co.uk
  3. Dean & Reddyhoff Ltd: www.deanreddyhoff.co.uk
  4. Premier Marinas: www.premiermarinas.com
  5. Southampton Dry Stack: www.southamptondrystack.co.uk
  6. The Dry Stack: www.thedrystack.com (Trafalgar Wharf www.trafalgarwharf.com)
  7. Yacht Haven Quay Ltd: www.yachthavens.com
  8. Cardiff Marine Group www.themarinegroup.co.uk

KEY – Name and location of dry stack facilities under your care/management?

  • A. Hamble Yacht Services, Port Hamble, Hamble, Southampton, Hampshire SO31 4NN.
  • B. 1) Hamble Point Marina, Hamble, Hampshire SO31 4NB. 2) Cobbs Quay Marina, Poole, Dorset BH15 4EL. 3) Saxon Wharf, Southampton, Hampshire SO14 5QF.
  • C. Portland Marina, Osprey Quay, Portland, Dorset DT5 1DX.
  • D. 1) Swanwick Marina, Swanwick, Southampton SO31 1ZL. 2) Gosport Marina, Gosport, Hampshire PO12 1AH. 3) Falmouth Marina, North Parade, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 2TF.
  • E. Southampton Dry Stack, Drivers Wharf, 146 Millbank Street, Southampton, Hampshire SO14 5QN.
  • F. The Dry Stack, Trafalgar Wharf, Hamilton Road, Cosham, Portsmouth PO6 4PX.
  • G. Yacht Haven Quay, Breakwater Road, Plymouth, Devon PL9 7HJ.
  • H. Cardiff Drystack, Cardiff Marine Village, Penarth Road, Cardiff, CF11 8TU.

The distance each location is from ‘open water/open sea’?

A. The distance to the end of Hamble River into the open Southampton water is 1 mile.

B. The distance to open water: 1) Hamble point 1/2 a mile. 2) Cobbs Quay 3½ miles. 3) Saxon Wharf 2 miles.

C. Approx. 450 metres.

D. 1) Falmouth 5 minutes up the Penryn River from Falmouth Harbour and 10 minutes from the estuary. 2) Gosport 500m from entrance to Portsmouth Harbour and gateway to the Solent. 3) Swanwick 20 minutes.

E. 10 minutes

F. 17 minutes

G. Under a mile

H. Situated on the River Ely leading to Cardiff Bay

Approximate maximum number of dry stack spaces?

A. 60 storage/dry stack places

B. 1) Hamble Point 121. 2) Cobbs Quay 240. 3) Saxon Wharf 100

C. Approx. 120 dry stacks

D. 1) Swanwick Dry stack 80. 2) Gosport Dry stack 148. 3) Falmouth Dry stack 48.

E. Southampton Dry stack 200

F. 200 with a further 150 to come

G. 140 undercover, 60 outdoors

H. 110 in one location

Largest vessel that can be accommodated?

A. 10m

B. 1) Hamble Point 10m. 2) Cobbs Quay 10m. 3) Saxon Wharf 13m

C. 9m

D. 1) Swanwick 11m. 2) Gosport 11m. 3) Falmouth 8m.

E. 12m

F. 13m

G. 12m

H.  9m

Minimum amount of time a client needs to give in order to have his boat launched and ready to go?

A. 1 hour

B. 1 hour at all 3 sites

C. 2 hours

D. 1 hour (Falmouth subject to tidal constraints)

E. Weekday 15 mins, weekends 1 hour

F. 1 hour

G. 2 hours

H. 1 hour

Other ‘on site’ facilities such as café, chandlers, toilets etc.

A. Café, modern toilet and shower block, large selection of marina services

B. 1) Hamble Point: chandlery, bar, restaurant, Wi-Fi. 2) Cobbs Quay: chandlery, convenience store, bar and restaurant, toilets and showers, laundrette, Wi-Fi. 3) Saxon Wharf: showers and toilets, Wi-Fi

C. Cafés, bar and restaurant, chandlery, washroom and laundry facilities

D. 1) Swanwick chandlery, café, self-storage. 2) Gosport café, chandlery. 3) Falmouth bar, restaurant, chandlery, hairdresser and chiropractor

E. Toilets, tea and coffee facilities, free car parking, Wi-Fi, electric boxes

F. Restaurants, toilets and showers, free Wi-Fi

G. Café, showers

H. Toilets, showers, laundry services, supermarket within walking distance, Chandlery, free Wi-Fi

Other ‘complimentary services’ besides launch and recovery: i.e. refuelling – petrol or diesel or both, valeting, boat and engine servicing/repairs, other storage, RYA training etc.

A. Adjacent fuel berth at the marina next door supplying petrol and diesel. Full boatyard facilities, valeting, refit and servicing.

B. 1) Petrol and diesel, boat repairs, new boat sales, RYA training. 2) Boat repairs, petrol and diesel. 3) Petrol and diesel available at nearby Hythe Marina Village. As a Freedom Berthing member (on an annual dry stack berth), customers receive faster Wi-Fi, generous boatyard discounts, complimentary access to 100 other marinas in the UK, Spain, Italy and France, fuel at cost, complimentary RNLI membership etc.

C. Petrol and diesel available, valeting, boat and engine servicing/repairs and RYA training available on site.

D. Premier Marinas’ best-value package is available with an annual commitment, which includes unlimited lifting all year round, free full Sea Start membership, fuel at cost (petrol and diesel*), 20% off Premier Marine insurance as well as free short stays and 42 free nights’ stay at other Premier Marinas. Gosport Marinas Dry Stack includes maintenance racks with access to power and water.

*Falmouth only has diesel.

E. Outside and inside dry stack slots, new boat sales, brokerage, valeting, covers, servicing and repairs, towing, RYA training, first aid, trailer storage.

F. Valet fuelling – petrol and diesel, valeting, trailer storage, boutique marina for overnight stays on your boat, dry marina coming soon, RYA training, maintenance racks, water and electricity.

G. Valet refuelling – petrol only. Diesel available at neighbouring marina, Plymouth Yacht Haven. 7 x nights free berthing at Plymouth Yacht Haven. Free half-day training in boat handling and local pilotage for all customers. Regular organised trips on the water in association with the RYA Active Marina Scheme.

H. Boat maintenance and repairs, engine servicing, sales and repairs, boat building, sail makers. Diesel fuel.

Minimum length of contract terms?

A. Annual

B. 1 month

C. Summer 6 months

D. 12-month annual contract or a monthly rolling contract

E. Daily, weekly, monthly, annual

F. 1 day

G. 6 months but we also offer a 1-month ‘try before you buy’ scheme

H. 3 months

Costs and charges per metre length of craft?

A. £415 ex VAT, £498 inc VAT.

B. Prices (based on a 10m boat and if paid in full in one single payment): 1) Hamble Point £44.31 per metre. 2) Cobbs Quay £43.80 per metre. 3) Saxon Wharf £37.00 per metre.

C. Summer £318.00, annual £398.00.

D. 1) Swanwick – up to 8m £490 per metre, over 8m £512 per metre. 2) Gosport – £437 per metre any size. 2) Falmouth – £459 per metre any size. Annual contract payment can be paid monthly, however the total yearly amount may vary.

E. From £363 per metre for a 12-month membership (inc. VAT).

F. Annual contract paid upfront £470.36 / per metre per year inc. VAT inc. annual FREE membership to Sea Start (it’s like the AA but for boats).

G. 12-month contract £398 per metre, 6-month contract £285 per metre. Contracts are inclusive of VAT, and launching/lifting is unlimited, 7 days a week.

H. Annual gold service £230/metre, 6 months gold service £145/metre, 3 months gold service £75/metre; Annual silver service £195/metre, 6 months silver service £125/metre, 3 months silver service £65/metre

Special offers currently in place for 2016?

A. No

B. No special offers

C. Not at the moment – watch this space for autumn offers

D. No offers

E. Seasonal specials, summer/winter packages – call or see website for offers and brilliant service all year round!

F. Readers of Powerboat & RIB magazine quoting code ‘PBR1’ can get one month free when signing up to an annual contract

G. Refer-a-friend scheme whereby both existing berth holder and new will receive £100.00 each

H. None

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