If you look carefully, you'll see a prusik knot near the top of the shot, and if you scroll back up to the first picture, you'll notice that the bottommost boat isn't hanging in a sling. It rests on foam pads on the garage floor, instead. The result? Optimal space utilization at minimum cost. James' kayaks are sheltered, but get-at-able. And he can still find room for a car in his garage. If that's not a win-win scenario, I don't know what is.
Then again, not all boats need inside storage, and not every boater has a garage. ABS canoes and "tin tanks" can shrug off most of the assaults that the weather throws their way. Even wood-and-canvas boats can cope with outside storage in milder climes, if properly protected—as the following note from Stan Scolnick of Foster City, California, makes clear. Stan has quite a fleet of little ships. Yet he doesn't have a garage. That's not a problem, though. Here's how he copes:
No canoe freak can have just ONE canoe. My first was a 13-foot Grumman, and then I graduated to a 16-foot Old Town Yankee. … Canoe acquisition was all uphill from there. Being an apartment dweller, for the sake of my boats I had to move to a waterfront domicile where I could store them and have easy access for usage. I store my eight boats [outside] on homemade racks made of PVC pipes, and cover the boats with tarps. Works well for me. People say, "How can you have eight canoes?" I tell them it's like having eight good friends. I have a personal attachment to each craft, and it breaks my heart to sell one. I am a born New Englander, and I suppose it's in my blood. Of course, I also have about 40 paddles. Each is a work of art. NO laminates for me. Beavertail ash is the way to go.
Well, time to go for my morning cruise around the lagoon. Which boat should I take, which paddles should I use (I always take two)…? Oh, all these decisions!
As Stan has discovered, PVC pipe is a natural for homemade boat racks. It's easy to find in any DIY center or hardware store, relatively inexpensive, and you won't need any special tools to cut it to length. It's also termite-proof, an important consideration in many places. That said, wood has a boatload of virtues as well, both aesthetic and practical. It, too, is easily worked to size. Moreover, it's a renewable resource, something that can't be said of PVC. Earlier this year, when trudging down a portage around a long drop on The River, I came across this trailside rack: