The History Of KB Boat Park’s Portsmouth Dry Stack Facility
KB Boat Park Dry Stack started in 2002 when two friends Steve Ayub & Tim Anderson, became bored with the seemingly drawn out ritual of organising a day out on their Ribs. Living in Southsea, but with their Ribs on the other side of the harbour in Gosport, made the idea of a quick opportunistic trip out with the family almost impossible.
In addition, the high level of work needed to keep a marina berthed Rib safe, fully functioning and in good condition was proving very costly.
It didn’t take long for the idea of a Dry Stack boat storage facility on the Portsmouth side of the harbour to take shape. However, with waterfront property attracting top prices, where could they sensibly build such a thing?
After months of searching and negotiation they eventually secured a boatyard in the sheltered Camber Dock – right next to the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. At that time, the yard was run by Ken Brown, a local crane operator (hence, KB Boat Park), but it was clear that it would be an ideal location for a Dry Stack.
So in January 2003 work began to build the first Dry Stack boat storage facility in Portsmouth Harbour. If Steve & Tim had any doubts about whether the idea would catch on, they were soon to be pleasantly surprised; as by the time the Dry Stack was ready to open in March 2003, they already had nearly thirty boats in the Dry Stack.
By August of 2003 KB Boat Park Dry Stack took delivery of a large boat handling forklift that could put the boats in the specially designed storage racking and could lower them into the water for launching. What’s more, even with the large tidal range in Portsmouth Harbour, boats could be launched and recovered at any state of the tide!
Over the next few years the popularity of the KB Boat Park Dry Stack grew and grew. More storage racking was added and space increased so that bigger boats could be accommodated. It didn’t take long for a second tier of racking to become necessary.
The range of services grew to include: –
On-site mechanic and workshop facilities.
Electronic instrumentation installation and upgrade service
GRP and tube repair / replacement service
RYA training classroom and instructors
Indoor winter storage
Yacht and motor boat brokerage
For the next few years the dry stack continued to grow. More pontoon space was added to cater for the growing number of Dry Stack clients and innovations such as pressure washing boats on recovery, and free annual maintenance checks were introduced. By 2014 after years of growth the dry stack was nearing capacity.
However, no-one could have foreseen the dramatic turn of events that would have a massive impact on KB Dry Stack.
The Big Move
In February 2014 It was announced that Sir Ben Ainslie was putting together a UK team to challenge for The Americas Cup.The team was to be called Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR). BAR had expressed a strong interest in building their HQ at The Camber Dock in Old Portsmouth - on the site occupied by KB Dry Stack. What's more, they needed to take posession of the site (to start Building) by June 2014; just 4 months away! So after some intense negotiations, it was agreed that KB Dry Stack would relocate from the North side of The Camber to the South side.
The Only Way Is Up
Relocating over 120 boats whilst dismantling the old racking & fencing and installing the new racking & fencing - in the middle of a busy launch and recovery season; was certainly going to be a challenge. Furthermore, as the new site was significantly smaller than the old, racking was erected that stacked the boats 4-tiers high as opposed to the old 2-tier system. In turn, this meant that a new boat handling machine was needed to reach the new taller racking. So over the course of the summer work on the relocation raced ahead.
In The Heart Of The Action
So as 2015 loomed KB Dry Stack settled into their new offices, completed the new racking, comissioned a new boat-handling forklift (which arrived in November) and set about the mountain of paperwork necessary to safely run and operate a class-leading Dry Stack service. All this was set against a backdrop of the building work to creat a hugely impressive BAR headquarters right next door. KB Dry Stack is now fully funtional and with the excitement of the Americas Cup World Series racing events in July 2015 & again in 2016, followed by the fianls in Bermuda in 2017, KB Dry Stack is right in the heart of the action. And who knows, if things go well, The Camber could be the new home of the Americas Cup Trophy!
Further Growth In 2020
The last few years have seen KB Dry Stack running at full occupancy and last season over 2,000 launches took place over the summer period alone. A new bridge-head and pontoons have been added to keep pace with the increased usage. However, as demand for Dry Stack spaces continues to grow, 2020 will see the addition of some new racking at the Eastern end of the yard. This will see the creation of some taller and some wider spaces to accommodate the diversity of boats wishing to use the Dry Stack service. All this should be in place for the start of the 2020 season in April. So here’s looking forward to a great boating season!
2022 will be an exciting year as in September KB Dry Stack celebrates 20 years of class leading Dry Stack service in Portsmouth. In 2002 KB became one of only two Dry Stacks in the UK. The concept was still very much in its infancy here, but Steve & Tim were convinced they were on to a winner.
Today, there are approximately 16 Dry Stack facilities in the UK and the concept is very much part of the boating scene and KB Dry Stack is in the enviable position of 100% occupancy with a waiting list for spaces.
So as the 20th anniversary approaches, KB continue to refine the service by increasing the number of boat-handling machines to 3, expanding the workforce to ensure continuity of service and most of all making it easy for clients to get the best service in the best location at the best price.