From the Boathouse: Boat barns can reduce owners' costs


Are waterfront barns on the horizon for our harbor, but without the farm animals?

Newport Harbor already has boat storage racks commonly referred to as dry stacks on Lido Peninsula, but Marina Del Rey and Dana Point are looking to build boat barns on their waterfronts.

Boat barns are not new to the boating world, but the barns are relatively new to the Southern California's coastal communities. You can find boat barns across the country in areas where the snow falls, and in regions with extreme heat.

A boat barn is a covered structure with interior boat racks. The racks are usually multi-stories high with a forklift that transports the boat to and from the water upon the beckoning call of the boat owner. The idea of covering the boats while sitting in the cradles is an excellent idea to protect the boat from the Mother Nature and critters.

Critters love to build nests and homes in unattended, covered boats that sit idle for the winter season. Just ask anyone you know who has stored a boat in other areas of what a raccoon can do to your boat's upholstery. Along the coast in Southern California, we can expect to find possums, mice, rats and birds among other critters that like to sneak under the boat's cover to find a dry, warm home. Which, might be better than finding Sinky, the sea lion, relaxing on your boat in the harbor.

Out-of-the-water storage is becoming more popular as marinas redesign the size of their slips to accommodate the larger boats. Additionally, the price per foot might be prohibitive to store a 20-plus-foot boat in the water. As the land prices increase, more environmental regulations are imposed, and insurance costs rise, so does the price per foot to keep your boat in the water.

Additionally, waterfront landowners and businesses are very concerned about the city's new idea to charge more for the tideland fees, up to 20 % of gross revenue, which will negatively impact boating in Newport Harbor.

Another advantage of a boat barn is that the boats, racks and gear are hidden by a façade to match the characteristics and compatibility of the surrounding area. Marina del Rey is planning to build the barn to resemble an office building, while Dana Point's conceptual drawings look like a hotel.

Boat barns and dry storage racks do serve the smaller boater market with boats typically shorter than 30 feet in length. Boat owners will find that it is less expensive to keep a boat in the racks, plus the maintenance costs will dramatically drop with the boat stored out of the salt water. A boat in the racks will not experience any marine growth, electrolysis, meaning zincs will last longer, and no damage from a passing boats' wakes.

Tip of the week is if you are sitting home wondering what to do Friday, cruise on down to the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum (ExplorOcean) for Family Fun Zone Fridays.

This week you'll hear live music, play arcade games, ride the Ferris wheel, tour the bay with Fun Zone Boat Co., or just grab a bite to eat.

Family Fun Zone Fridays is a great family event, and the museum will be open with extended hours from 5:30 to 9 p.m. so you can visit the galleries, the touch tank, which is my favorite, and your kids can join in the science experiments. You can find out more information at

Lastly, let's not forget to mention a few winners of this year's Fourth of July Old Glory Boat Parade hosted by Newport Beach's American Legion Post 291 and Post 291's Yacht Club. The Sweepstakes award was won by the crew of the sailing vessel Elation owned by Paul Gerst, who is no stranger to winning. He took home Best Sailboat in the 2010 Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.

Peggy Jo Sherrow aboard Champagne Lady won the Commodore's award, the Bug Tug with Bruce Schoenberger's crew won the Decoration award, and we cannot forget to mention Skipper Tim Bercovitz winning the Wood Classic award with the vessel Fairwind. Congratulations to all the winners in the 14 categories, but more importantly, thanks to all the boaters who entered the parade.

And don't forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead's Boathouse Radio Show, broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network at noon Saturdays and replayed at 10 a.m. Sunday.

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to

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