The Lake Norman Boat Storage Story
This is a story (every story has some truth in it!) about a family who decided not to use professional boat storage on their favorite lake of lakes, Lake Norman, NC. We must tell you that the names have been changed to protect these Lake Norman boaters from any further embarrassment!
Secure Boat Storage vs. A Bad Decision
In the spring of 2004, the Norman family made the decision to spend their weekends and summers boating on beautiful Lake Norman, NC. “All of us love the water, the skiing, the tubing and swimming and the picnics,” said patriarch John Norman. “We had a family meeting and all five of us, including our three kids, agreed that we would love boating and playing on the lake versus going to the beach or Disney World. So we went boat shopping.”
At the second boat dealer, the family fell in love with the Mastercraft X-7. “The sleek design of the X-7 with the yellow body paint and extreme graphics was a huge hit with all of us,” said John. “This boat was a beautiful choice for water skiing and wake boarding and even had a full stereo system with a tower and built-in speakers.”
The family debuted their X-7 on Lake Norman in early summer 2004. The boat dealership actually delivered the boat to a neighbor’s dock on Lake Norman. “Because of our budget, we decided not to purchase a boat trailer and just keep the boat in the water,” said John. “I thought to myself, what could go wrong? It’s a boat and boats belong in the water.”
If you remember the summer of 2004, it was a crazy hot summer but perfect weather for boating on the lake. “The kids were loving every minute we spent on the water, so I used all of my vacation time to keep us on the lake for some spectacular family bonding time,” adds John. “Our youngest, Shelly, who is eight years old, had never skied and it only took her one Sunday to learn how to water ski! Everybody was having a good time.”
The Norman family kept their boat tied to a family friend’s shared dock on the east part of the lake. The dock was a standard wooden dock with no electricity or lights. The Normans would park at the top of their friend’s house and walk down the long stairs leading around to the dock. Because of a large area of trees and brush, the dock was not visible from the house on the top of the hill. This would present an issue as the seasons turned from summer to fall to winter.
As quickly as their boating fever began, the autumn season came and it was time to secure the boat at their friend’s dock. “This is one thing I will never forget,” said John. “My friend did not own a boat so they never knew anything about their own dock, including monitoring it or maintaining it at any time of the year.”
John bought a half-boat cover to protect the boat’s interior instrument panel, stereo, throttles and steering wheel. “Everything else could get wet and we would just clean it out in late spring when the weather turned warmer and we could get back out on the water,” said John. “I also tied both the bow and stern to the dock so there was no way that anything would come loose. And nothing ever did come loose.”
The early winter of 2005 brought a really bad ice storm to the Lake Norman area, including a very bad winter of rain and several inches of snow. “The safety of our boat never crossed my mind during all of the ice and rain,” said John. “I just assumed that the boat would be fine as long as it was safely secured and tied to the dock.”
Let’s fast forward our story to mid-April 2005 as John Norman and his oldest child, Chris, make a trip to the dock to clean-up their boat and ready it for another season of boating on Lake Norman.
“I had no idea of what we were about to see as we stepped off the stairs and onto the dock,” said John. “My son and I stopped cold in our steps at the same time as soon as our boat came into view.”
What John and Chris saw was the top of their boat’s ski pole…sticking out of the water (see photo). “We could see the yellow boat completely submerged under the water resting on the bottom of the lake,” said John. “The dock boards that the boat had been tied to were floating on top of the water, still tied to the boat but ripped from the dock. My only thoughts were how are we going to get this boat out of the water and could it be saved?”
Chris Norman was devastated. “I have never seen anything like that before and I don’t think I want to see it again,” said Chris. “I had a bad feeling that this was the end of our boat and our time on the lake.”
You may have heard about this story…or you may have heard rumors of this story. Because of the steep hill in between the dock and the house above, there was no access for anything to get to the boat from the road. The only way to pull up the boat was to try to lift it out from the water. “We had a flat lake barge with a small crane lift come to the dock and try to lift up the boat,” said John. “But the barge needed to drag the boat to deeper water to get a better angle of lift to raise our boat.”
The Norman’s boat was dragged about 25 feet out to deeper water and was successfully raised. “It was a complete loss when we finally got the boat out of the water and onto a trailer,” said John. “The bottom was completely ripped open from being bashed against rocks on the lake bed and all of the electronics and upholstery were rotted and irreplaceable. It was a complete loss from a very bad decision about keeping our boat stored at a friend’s dock.”
Leaving your boat exposed to Mother Nature, even when you think it is covered and secured, is a risky decision. If you cannot commit to checking your boat every couple of weeks during the off season, including making sure the battery is charged, then we would recommend storing your boat inside for the winter. Protecting your investment with professional boat storage is the right decision. We at Westport Marina offer convenient boat dry storage that will keep your boat safe, dry and protected from the wrath of Mother Nature. Our winter boat storage lasts from October 1st through April 1st.
We also offer a unique service where we will travel to our customer’s home and check your boat, recharging the battery if necessary!
Call Westport Marina at 704-483-5172 and let us arrange to professionally store your boat on Lake Norman this year. If we could offer a moral to the Norman’s sad story, it would be to not sacrifice your long-term plans with a short-term decision.