How to
haul out
a boat

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This page updated: May 2003

"Contracting with a Boatyard" article by I. Michael Heine in 10/2000 issue of Sail magazine.
"Haulouts on the Go" article by Diana Jessie in 9/2000 issue of Cruising World magazine
SailNet - James Baldwin's "Giving Your Boat Some Legs" (building SS legs to hold boat upright while aground for maintenance)

From Gary Elder (owner of Morgan OI 41 in SW coast of Florida):
> How often does your boat get hauled out, and how often bottom-painted ?
> Approx how much does each cost ?

This one is a real can of worms ... If we don't know of any repairs that need to be done, we haul our boat anywhere from 1 yr to 2 1/2 yrs depending on how bad the bottom growth is. These haul-outs are for re-painting the bottom only, although one never knows what one may find that needs work. We re-paint the bottom every time we haul the boat.

Most boatyards do not allow customers to work on their boats (insurance issues and other bs). Those that do have at least two pricing schemes, one for the yard doing the work, and one for the customer doing the work.

Most yards that allow customers to do the work will require that you purchase your paint and supplies from them, and charge an elevated 'list price' for everything. If the yard does the work, they will include, in the quote, a charge for the amount of paint that is appropriate for your boat, but "they may not use all of it on your boat".

If the yard does the work, they will usually quote an all inclusive price range for the total job, if you do the work, the charges are frequently broken down by item, such as: haul and pressure wash (rate per foot), lay days (rate per day), paint and supplies (elevated list price).

Because our boat bottom is large, and our time off 'small', we have been letting the yard do the work, since we moved here. Usually, our bill is $1200 - $1500 for a basic bottom job. Slightly less if you do the work. I don't have individual item prices. In CA we always did the work ourselves. It's a physically demanding dirty job.

Between haul-outs I use a Dri Diver (see your West Marine catalog), and occasionally hire a diver to knock the junk off the prop.

From John Dunsmoor (in Fort Lauderdale FL):
We always do our own bottom work. Most localities have "do-it-yourself" yards, they charge by the foot for haul, pressure wash and what-not. Many require you to purchase bottom paint at the yard, they do charge list. So you pay about twice the rate for the paint. Even with this we usually can get in and out with a bottom job for $500 to $700 dollars for a forty foot boat.

The fact is there is always something else you wish to do under the waterline at haulout. Pull thru-hulls, change seacocks, pull and service the shaft or prop, rudder bearings, blisters, rusting keel, what-have-you. So a thousand dollars or double that is not out of line.

Do the work yourself, you're a cruiser. No one is going to spend the attention on the boat as you would. You can always hire crew to help, most yards let designated crew work on the boat. $15-$20 an hour will get you some extra hands. But you still have to be there every minute.

I just interviewed a couple that have been sailing for seven years aboard a custom built steel boat that is bilged keeled, it will sit like a tripod, upright on their own bottom. With yards being such a@$-@#$es maybe this would be the way to go. Find a sand bar and four feet of tide and to heck with the yards. [But this is bad for the environment, and illegal in most places.]

A boatyard is the place that sailors go when they die and have been bad persons. Most of them are bad, they all charge outrageous prices, hire some of the worst, lowest-skilled individuals for peanuts while they charge you hourly rates that a neurosurgeon could be proud of.

The better yards at least try to make things right.

My recommendation: have a specific list when you haul, do not deviate. Do not get sucked into projects. Get in and get out. Even if it means another haul in six months, it is better to be prepared for a project than get sucked into a black hole. Yard time needs to be finite. It is so easy to turn a one week planned yard time into a month and growing. Accept that not everything will be done.

There are many, many items that can happen out of the yard, dockside. Do them there.

I speak with the experience of doing it right and doing it wrong. I would have to count at least a hundred interactions with yards over the past thirty years. Not all were bad. But the bad ones were so bad as to warrant paranoia.

If you have a yard do the work: Make sure you have a quote, specific tasks. Make sure they understand in writing that if they do any work not pre-authorized by you in writing that they will not get paid for it. Hire an agent to be with the boat and oversee the work, best investment you could ever make. You need to be there when the boat is lifted from the water and you will be there when the boat is ready to be launched.

Another item, yards have such generally bad reputations that they get stuck and sued all the time. Most require that the bill be paid in full, some will take no less than cash or cashiers checks before they will launch. "No cash, No Splash" sign is common.

You sure you want to own a yacht ...

Go back about five thousand words Billy, owning a boat, cruising, is not a game of the mind. It is a game of the heart, analyze this to death and you kill the romance.

From Gary Elder:
[Gary told me that hauling out for any length of time "kills" most types of bottom paint and you have to re-paint.]

Today I talked to a tech rep from Pettit ... He claims that Trinidad can be hauled for a MAX of 72 hrs IF the paint is in good condition, and is not older than 6 - 8 months, AND was properly applied, etc. The rep would not give me a time 'out' for paint older than about 8 months. Considering our hot temps, our hot water, and the quality of crapsmanship we have in FL, I would be a bit reluctant to trust the "72 hours" number. However, I might be willing to try for 24 hours if the paint is new and my next haul out is scheduled for a year from now. Interesting dilemma.
Summarized from editor's response to letter in 12/2001 issue of Practical Sailor:
Ability to survive out of water depends on bottom paint type.

Types are ablative, epoxy, vinyl, Teflon, old-fashioned sloughing.

Modified epoxy paints (e.g. Pettit Trinidad, Interlux Ultra) lose effectiveness slowly (60 days) out of water.

Copolymer ablative paints (e.g. Interlux Micron Extra and CSC) don't lose effectiveness out of water.

Other ablative paints, and vinyl paints, shouldn't be out of water more than about 30 days.

When boat is hauled out:

Haul-Out and Bottom-Paint Work Order to boatyard:

Major Work in a boatyard:

SailNet - John Kretschmer's "The Delicate Art of Careening"