On the hard – 10 tips to make your haulout easier

I really enjoy the annual haulout – said no one ever. This is especially true when you roam far from your home port and need to find a different yard each time, but even at home there are ways to minimise the pain – to the body and the wallet

1.Shop around, not just for the best prices, but for services and facilities. Going up on someone’s old slipway may save money, but if it means climbing around a bulky trolley, or working in mud, gravel, or dust, the savings are not very good value, especially if it’s miles from anywhere.

2. Picking somewhere close to trades, chandlery and painting supplies will be a huge timesaver. Having a coffee shop handy never did any harm either, unless you enjoy sandwiches and a thermos in the shade of your boat.

3. Schedule for an appropriate season. The middle of a southern winter, rainy months or gale-prone times not only waste time and make the job harder, but the quality of the job suffers. Weather delays hurt the bottom line significantly too.

4. If you’ll be living aboard on the hard, facilities become hugely important. Check that the showers and toilets are acceptable, and not too distant. I once hauled out in a major Queensland yard only to find I was expected to walk half a kilometre up the road to find a shower.

5. Position, position, position. Don’t accept being put next to some old hulk on which someone is using a rattle gun to remove the rust, or doing any other noisy or dusty operation. Likewise, it is better not to be directly under floodlights – or any structure where birds might roost.

6. A liveaboard boat will be more comfortable facing the prevailing winds for ventilation. If your galley is aft, you won’t want the wind blowing down the companionway making the stove unusable.

7. Have all your gear ready, including personal protection gear, access equipment like ladders and staging, and of course your sandpaper, masking tape, brushes, rollers, spare roller covers, thinners, antifoul, and anodes. Remember the cleaning gear like brooms, hoses and rags too.

8. Work clean. Close the boat up because the amount of dirt blowing round even the tidiest boat yard is astounding. Provide mats at both ends of your ladder, and at the entrance to the companionway.

9. Work smart. If you are just redoing the antifoul, go for it. But when the job list is longer, it can pay to go into project mode. If it’s a marathon, not a sprint, take it steady, and look after yourself and your workers to ensure you last the distance. In a longer haulout, factor in some relaxation time, keep the daily working hours reasonable, and don’t forget happy hour for the workers at knock off time.

10. Think about hiring some labour. Saving a few days of hardstand rates could work out cheaper. Consider the advantages of giving your own body a break too – labourer’s rates are far cheaper than visits to the physio, chiro or osteo.

Petrea McCarthy