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Maintenance

All-Out Haul Out

All-Out Haul Out — Maintenance April 2001
All-Out Haul Out
Some basics concerning that always-exhilarating, and a little anguishing, annual event.

By Tim Clark
   


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• Part 1: All-Out Haul Out
• Part 2: All-Out Haul Out continued

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At no other time does your boat seem so fragile than when she’s cradled in the straps of a TraveLift. Yet she also suddenly looks huge when all that area below her waterline is revealed. As the lift crawls in gargantuan slow motion from the slip to the patch of ground where your boat will rest, you are at once quaking with concern and swelling with pride.

You can minimize your apprehension by making sure the yard you choose is equipped with a TraveLift, or other means of bringing your vessel on shore, whose hoisting capacity comfortably exceeds the weight and dimensions of your boat. Any yard supervisor worth his salt will have this kind of information on the tip of his tongue. Some older vessels (wooden boats in particular) built before the advent of TraveLifts were not designed to withstand the stresses of lifting straps. For them Thurber Withey, boat manager at Rybovich Spencer in West Palm Beach, Florida, recommends the use of a Synchro-Lift, a platform lift raised by four synchronized motors. If you select this system, the yard must construct a cradle for your boat to stabilize it on the platform. The cradle is mounted on wheels to move along the yard’s rail system.

If possible, visit the yard before you commit to a haul out. Determine if its lifts and other machinery seem well maintained. Are the premises well kept? The way a yard treats its equipment and facilities can give you some indication of how it will treat your boat. Also look into the services and facilities the yard offers, since it’s possible you’ll discover projects demanding special expertise, tools, and equipment. Choose a yard with a large, skilled staff capable of everything from fiberglass repair to engine alignment. Because of greater environmental regulation, do-it-yourself yards are becoming rare. The yard’s staff or sub-contractors are likely to undertake most of the hull work, but to ensure that your boat gets the attention it needs, you should be familiar with what should take place.

Whatever the circumstances that lead you to haul your boat out, take advantage of the occasion to see that everything below the bootstripe gets a complete checkup. The first priority is removing as much marine growth as possible while the hull is still wet and organic matter comes off relatively easily. Many yards attack the growth while your boat hangs in the straps of the TraveLift. The preferred tool for this undertaking is the pressure washer, which will quickly and easily (relative to the deck brush of old) blast away most marine growth in a cloud of high-velocity spray. Because whenever you remove bottom growth you also remove some bottom paint, which may contain elements harmful to the environment, modern boat yards have special areas for pressure washing with trough systems that collect runoff.

Following pressure washing, the lift will creep to the spot the yard has designated as your boat’s home for the next few days, weeks, or the entire season. The next step, lowering your boat onto supporting blocks and freeing her from the TraveLift, can be as disquieting as the lifting. To a great extent you’ll have to trust in the expertise of the yard crew, which should be familiar with the location of structural bulkheads throughout your boat so as to know where best to place keel and cradling supports. If you’re unsure of your boats lifting points, contact her builder for recommendations.

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This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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