Marine Boat Rack Storage Systems

A division of

Vacuum Pumpout Systems

Dry Rack Storage Frequently Ask Questions

Introduction to Boat Storage Racks

Completely flexible and adjustable, WMW engineers, fabricates and installs boat racks that can be free standing or installed within a fully or partially covered building.

For many marinas, boat storage systems using multiple storage levels are becoming essential to creating an efficient profitable marina operation. WMW Dry Rax systems are custom engineered and designed in accordance with AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction) specifications and local building codes. WMW boat racking systems are designed to meet these latest requirements as well as all other related building codes.

Completely flexible and adjustable, WMW engineers, fabricates and installs boat racks that can be free standing or installed within a fully or partially covered building.

Boat storage systems are becoming essential to creating an efficient profitable marina operation. WMW DryRax™systems are custom engineered and designed in accordance with AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction) specifications and local building codes. All rack components are manufactured from hot-rolled structural steel and all fasteners are fabricated from high tensile steel, tested and galvanized. New legislation introduced in Ontario Canada requires that all boat racking must meet new Pre-Start Health and Safety Review’s or PSHSR’s. WMW boat racking systems are designed to meet these latest requirements as well as all other related building codes.

WMW experience in working with marina owners, developers, designers, and contractors to provide new boat storage racks systems or to upgrade old storage rack systems enables WMW to develop innovative and cost effective solutions to meet your storage needs.




Questions – Answers
Dry Rack Boat Storage

Q) Are Dry Rax customizable to meet my requirements?

A) The number of levels and height of each level can be easily adjusted to meet changing requirements over time. Marinas can quickly adapt to changing boat types and sizes including; trailers, inflatables and jet skis by simply removing the attached bolts and moving the supporting beams upwards or downwards. Additional support beams may be removed or added at any time to accommodate larger or smaller boats.  Adjustable rack sizing is highly recommended especially as boaters move up in size. Racks are adjustable by 4 feet in 12" increments.



Q) Is there a high demand for Dry Stack Storage?

A) As the number of boaters increase and the available water front dockage remains the same, the demand for dry stack storage will increase. In certain areas where boating has increased in popularity, the demand for dry stack storage has increased substantially over the past 5 years and provides an opportunity for the marina owner to increase revenues.

Marinas who currently have wooden structures are replacing these units with steel frames for multiple reasons including; new building code regulations, increase cost of insurance, lower maintenance fees and the ability to adjust the size of rack to meet both current and future demand. 

Demand is also being created by higher end clientele who prefer to have their assets well protected from the elements year round

Q) As I don’t know how many racks I might need, are there options?

A) Racks can be purchased as a single stand alone bay unit or multiple bay structure. Additional bays can be easily added on to over time as the demand for dry storage increases. 

Q) What are the main advantages to boat owners?

A) There are many benefits to boat owners in using dry rack storage facilities:

It saves money - Boaters are not spending money on additional gas, launch fees, or any upkeep associated with using a boat trailer. As the boat is not sitting in the water, it does not have to be cleaned from the marine growth or bottom painted every year.

Dry storage keeps the boat in better shape - If the boat is sitting in a big steel barn and not constantly being bombarded by the sun's UV rays, there is less possibility of gelcoat damage. Overall, it assures the boat owner of a higher resell value.

Safe and secure - Manydry rack storage facilitieses have security measures like electronic security systems to stop vandalism and outright boat theft that may be more prevalent at a marine slip.

Environmentally friendly - Boat storage helps reduce the amount of contact time between pesticide-containing bottom paints and the water.

Q) As a Marina Owner, what is the typical payback I can expect?

A) By using the marina forklift to handle boats, off-water sites can accommodate double, triple or even quadruple the quantity of stored boats in comparison to a ground-level storage lot.  Payback can be as little as one season.

For example, assuming a 3 level rack storing at total of 12 boats at an average length of 26 feet at a cost of $10 per foot, the revenues generated would be $ 3,120 per month. Additional ancillary revenues can be generated from Chandlery supplies, fuel sales and maintenance repairs associated with the increase in the number of boats. In most cases, payback for a free standing rack storage systems can be far less than 2 years.

Some marinas will also consider selling a rack slip as part of a membership to a club or as if it were a piece of real estate similar to a condominium or dockominium.

Q) What is needed in terms of preparation and installation?

A) Once the site is selected, you will be required to contact a civil engineering company to engineer the supporting foundations to ensure the ground will support the load bearing weight. WMW will provide with the weight of the dry rack system. Engineering certified foundation pads will need to be in place well before installation 

Once the racks are manufactured to your requirements, they are delivered to the boat yard for assembly. Assembly takes 1.5-2 days per bay and can be completed with ease by WMW, marina personnel or a designated contractor. A fork lift will be required to riase and move the beams into their correct position.


Q) How are Dry stack storage units designed?

A) There are three basic designs to dry stack storage units.

Conventional dry stack buildings - Referred to as a "barn" as they are typically rectangular sheet metal steel structures with racks on either side with an aisle in the center for forklift access. Racks can be either free-standing or building supported. (i.e. the racks form part of the support system for the roof and sides of the building). Most dry stack buildings can handle boat sizes from small runabouts to mid-size boats up to 35 - 40 feet while some of the newer buildings can handle larger boats.

Sheds – Typically, these buildings are a three-sided structures with three walls and a roof. Structures can be either a covered shed or "back-to-back" three-sided buildings with the boats' bows facing each other in the center with sufficient spacing for forklift access.

Free standing storage rack units - Each unit has columns that can support boats up to three to four racks high. Some free standing racks have roofs and most are adjustable to accommodate different boat sizes. These units can also be manufactured to be portable so as to allow for relocation at a later date.

Although WMWdoes not manufacture building structures, we will work with any of the building structure manufacturers to ensure that the system is fully integrated with the closed or partially closed facilities.

Q) What are the typical dimensions of a dry storage rack?

A) The dimensions will vary according to the size and type of boats that are being stored. On average racks are 30 feet in width and 15 feet in depth and can be up to 50 feetin height. The 15 feet in depth is more than sufficient to support boats up to 30 feet in length.  

The height is usually determined by the size of fork lift used to access boats. The number of levels can vary from 2-5 and are adjustable to accommodate changing boat sizes.

Q) What are the factors that need to be taken into account in storage rack design?

 A) There are three basic criteria to consider in the design of any boat storage system - Unit, Area, and Method.

Unit - This refers to the characteristics of the boats being stored. The size factors of boat weight, length, beam width and height form the basis for ensuring sufficient current and future capacity and clearances.
Area - This is the space available for the rack or building structure. This takes into account several items, including the following:

  • Square footage - necessary space to store the desired number of boats
  • Lot coverage - land usage/code restrictions; storm water management system usually crucial because of proximity to body of water
  • Accessibility to bulkhead - directly affects the speed and efficiency of the launch/retrieval operation
  • Aisle allowance - provide ample room for movement of the boats in and out of the system
  • Topography - level or sloping ground; may necessitate retaining walls or steeped foundations; flood plains may require minor flow-through at base level
  • Soil conditions - can affect the building foundation, bulkhead and launch areas.

Method - This relates to the type of handling equipment to be used in the system. There are two standard methods of handling boats in a dry stack operation - the marina forklift and cranes.

Q) How wide should the forklift aisle be?

A) With the current trend in boat sizes and forklift sizes, most aisles require at least 60 feet clearance. This width will comfortably handle boats with an overall length of up to 30 ft.. For boats up to 35 ft.WMW recommends a 65 foot aisle clearance. Boat lengths greater than 35 feet should utilize an aisle up to 70 feet.

What are the optimum bay spacings?

A) Bay spacings are generally double wide (two boats per shelf level) or triple wide (three boats per shelf level), or a combination of both. Triple wide bays up to 30 feet will accommodate boats that have a 9'-0" to 9'-6" beam width. If many of the boats to be racked have beams over 10'-0" wide, WMW recommends that double wide bays be utilized. Generally a combination of double wide and triple wide bays will maximize the cubic volume of boat storage.

All of WMW shelf beams are vertically adjustable in 12" increments. Boat cradle supports can also be adjusted to accommodate 2-3 boats  

How many racks high should be planned for?

A) The general rule is to store boats as high as possible. This maximizes the income stream. Generally, storage levels range from three levels to five levels high. The profiles of boats and the height of the fork lift will determine how many levels of boats will be stored.

Other factors influencing the height are local building height restrictions and the lift height of the forklift as well as the overall layout of the yard

Q) What top shelf height should I plan for?

A) When designing any boat rack system for a forklift application, the top shelf height should be 2' ft, lower than the maximum lift height of the forklift truck. This allows ample room for the boat to clear the timber bunk board supports.

Q) How thick should the concrete be for the forklift aisle?

A)The aisle slab must be adequately designed to handle the load of the forklift. If there is a minimum of 2500 psf soil bearing pressure we recommend a concrete slab requiring a minimum of 8” thick structural slab with two mats of #5 rebar on 12” c-c. Now that forklifts are capable of handling much larger boats, thicker slabs - from 10” to 16” thick - are often required. It is not uncommon to build pile supported structural concrete slabs in areas where the soil conditions are poor. Earlier on in the project planning stages WMW strongly recommends that soil borings be taken and a - report obtained. Underestimating the wear & tear on the slab could result in replacing it in the future...almost impossible when your dry stack building is full of boats.

Q) What about galvanizing the rack system?

A) WMW recommends that the rack system, (or at least a minimum of the shelf beams, timber clamps and ground stands), be galvanized if the facility is in a salt water environment. The additional cost associated with galvanizing a rack system is a worthwhile investment and will extend the life for many years. Racks can also be spray painted with high quality paint in a range of selected colors.



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