probably be surprised at how few supports are necessary to safely stabilize
your vessel once she’s back on terra firma. The experience of the
yard staff plays an important part here, since over-blocking the hull
unnecessarily covers hull surface that will need attention sooner or later.
In some cases blocked areas will need to be prepped and painted in relative
haste after the boat is lifted again, so the fewer, the better.
Once your boat has been lowered gently onto her supports, it’s time
to scrape away whatever foreign matter the pressure washer couldn’t
remove. Again, you (or more likely the yard staff) will be taking off
paint along with barnacles and other marine growth. At Rybovich Spencer
and other environmentally responsible yards, a felt dropcloth will be
placed beneath the hull in order to catch this matter so that it can be
properly disposed of.
Inspect your boat’s hull as it is being prepped. On a fiberglass
hull, look for osmotic blisters caused by moisture that gets trapped beneath
the gelcoat during lay up. These will have to be ground out, filled with
epoxy resin, and sanded down. If your hull is blistered over a wide area,
you may want to consider a gelcoat peel using a plane-like stripper that
precisely removes gelcoat as well as a thin layer of fiberglass. Done
properly, this will free all moisture so that once the new gelcoat is
applied, you will not be troubled with blistering in the future. Wood
hulls should be checked for wood parasites and planks and caulking that
need replacing. The paint-prepping process is also a good time to look
over your hull for areas of impact from touching bottom or bumping floating
debris. Such areas may need anything from a little extra sanding to an
Now is also the occasion for you to inspect every through-hull on your
boat, including the transducers. Remove and clean any strainers, and look
for stress cracks (which can develop when through-hulls are mounted too
tightly) on the through-hulls and on the surrounding hull area. On metal
parts, look for corrosion. Clean your through-hulls completely; even the
thinnest film of slime compromises their effectiveness. You should also
take the opportunity to disassemble, clean, and lubricate seacock valves
within your boat. (For more details on proper seacock maintenance, see
“Don’t Go Off Half-Cocked,” this issue.) You can replace
your zincs at this stage, keeping in mind as you examine the old ones
that too little material left may indicate a need to add to their numbers.
Always use those with a specification of Mil-A-1800J or a higher letter.
Finally, inspect your boat’s running gear. Using precise instruments
technicians can check the balance and pitch of your boat’s props,
the alignment of her shafts, and the snugness of her cutlass bearings.
It is also a good time to check and, if required, repack the packing glands
on your shafts and rudders. The sooner you determine whether any repairs,
replacements, or adjustments on running gear are necessary, the better,
since this work is likely to be time consuming.
If your boat is not hauled out for the full season, the yard’s workers
will likely take care of as many tasks as possible concurrently in order
to minimize your stay. But considering the many possible projects that
can pop up, never haul out on too tight a schedule. Ribovich Spencer’s
Withey says that for a 40-foot boat, a general checkup plus the prepping
and painting processes can be completed in about a week or less. However,
additional work can add significantly to your dry time. Of course, the
larger the boat is, the longer the stay.
You’ll find the time out of water can be time well spent. The folly
of the notion “out of sight, out of mind” could not be better
illustrated than in relation to your hull. Even if your yard takes care
of every last detail of the work, stay involved and keep apace of its
progress. Once she’s back in the water, you’re likely to be
more confident in your boat than ever.
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