One of the most convenient means of storage for boat owners is in a dry rack. Dry rack marinas save owners time by preventing the need to trailer a boat to and from the house or storage yard. I have used dry racks through the years and find them to be ideal as an angler and avid boater. However, dry racks come with drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is transporting the boat by forklift. Here is what you need to know about the risk of boat forklift damage when storing a vessel at a dry rack marina. 

Understand The Risk To Your Boat From Forklifts

You will not have a choice when it comes to moving your boat to the water from the rack or vice versa. No matter what, a forklift will do the legwork. 

I have spent a significant amount of time in dry rack marinas. Without question, they are busy places, especially during the weekends. 

If you’re planning to put your boat on a rack, understand that forklifts can cause damage. 

Unpainted Hulls Will Become Scratched

The most prevalent sign that a boat is stored in a dry rack and is moved by a forklift is scratching on the bottom of the hull. 

It is important to understand that the forks act as a cradle to support the vessel and prevent it from falling during transportation. 

However, as the forks are slid into position, they drag against the hull. The fork arms are not exactly padded and free of sharp edges. As the arms slid into place, they mark up the hull, leaving an impression from the stern halfway or more towards the bow. 

Alternatively, the same occurs when the fork is pulling away from the vessel. My center console showed signs of wear from forklifts just two weeks after signing a dry rack contract.

Importantly, you’re not going to be able to avoid this from happening. Understand that this is par for the course. If you want your boat to remain pristine, I suggest keeping it on a trailer. 

Your Drain Plug Will Be Removed

Forklift operators are busy people who follow a specific routine to ensure the safe transportation of vessels. 

As part of the launching or retrieving process, the forklift operator or marina staff will either remove the plug for storage or replace the plug before it goes into the water. 

I’ll admit this was a reason for concern. I had a couple of fears. First, I was afraid that the plug would not be threaded properly and would become stripped, which would require replacement. Secondly, I was skeptical that the plug would be installed prior to the boat being lowered into the water. 

Marinas are more than happy to put your boat into the water ahead of time or the night before. I often requested this because I would depart for fishing before the marina opened. However, I was concerned I would find my boat beneath the surface. Luckily, it never happened. 

I recommend keeping an eye out to make sure the plug is threaded properly and is in place before heading out. 

Have Fenders Deployed

Marina forklift drivers are constantly on the go. During the launching process, they most often have the assistance of a dock hand to secure the vessel to the dock after it is placed in the water. 

However, considering the high demand, especially over weekends, the process of securing the boat isn’t always gentle. 

Often, boats drag along docks or are pulled quickly against the dock. Without question, the side of the hull will show signs of dock rash if fenders are not in place. 

For this reason, I recommend hanging fenders over the side before the boat is put in the rack from the previous trip. Importantly, they will be in the proper position the next time the boat is launched. 

Is It Worth Keeping A Boat At A Dry Rack Marina

Despite the fact that your vessel is transported via a boat forklift, it is well worth using dry rack marinas. 

I can tell you firsthand that the benefits outweigh the negatives. It is important to remain mindful and keep an eye on the launching and retrieving process. No forklift driver intends to cause you stress. They are simply trying to accommodate the high demand of getting people out on the water. Lastly, if you’re using your boat a minimum of four times per month, spending the dry rack fee is a worthwhile investment.