Why Jack Stands are Better for your Boat
Blocking a boat comes with the territory of boat ownership, and boat stands make it easier to get it done. Damaging your boat is a real possibility if you don't use proper blocking equipment. Boat stands greatly reduce the chances of damage to the hull, and make blocking a boat much simpler.
What are Boat Stands?
Boat stands, also known as poppet stands or jack stands, are adjustable devices that provide stability to a blocked boat and prevent it from tipping over. A blocked boat is often supported by a keel block at the bottom — which takes the weight of the boat — and by the boat stands at either side. Boat stands provide lateral stability, and secure the vessel upright so that it can't fall onto its side. However, they don't support the actual weight of the boat — that's what keel blocks are for.
How Boat Stands Work
Most jack stands are adjustable by a central screw thread that raises or lowers a support strut. At the top of the strut is a pad that can swivel to match the hull's angle. This allows the stand to be adjusted to the height the boat is being stored at, and the shape and angle of the boat's hull.
Boat stands are placed on either side of the hull under the chines. Here they provide lateral support that maintains the boat in an upright position, and prevent it from tipping. By keeping the boat upright, the weight of the boat is supported by the strongest point, which is the centerline of the keel. When the boat is ready to be taken off the blocks, the jack stands can be quickly removed by unscrewing the support struts.
Boat Stands are Best
There are plenty of home-built boat stands and DIY workarounds, but few live up to the functionality or ease of use of a genuine jack stand. Anything that allows the boat to tip even slightly will be taking part of the load off the keel and putting it onto the area of the hull supported by the makeshift stand.
Hulls aren't designed to take heavy loads, particularly in focused points, so a system that doesn't keep the boat completely upright may lead to hull damage. Homemade stands are generally cumbersome, and lack the adjustability of jack stands. They're often difficult to manage and take up valuable space when not being used, and their lack of adjustment can lead to damage due to tipping.
How Many Boat Stands?
The size of your boat will determine the size and number of boat stands you'll need, with the general rule being that one stand should be used for every 15 ft of deck. A 30-ft boat would use four stands in total, while a boat up to 60 ft would use eight stands.
The Bottom Line
Jack stands and keel blocks are the best way to block a boat, period. A full set of stands might cost several hundreds of dollars, but they'll last a lifetime and pay for themselves in damage prevention and time saved. Having a set of dependable jack stands is also a lifesaver when you have to winterize your boat or if you have to suddenly block your watercraft for any unexpected repairs.