How to prepare your boat for haulout

Even if you’re lucky enough to keep your boat somewhere you can sail all year round, you will still want to have your boat hauled out for annual checks and maintenance. For most of us having the boat hauled out for a few months a year is just part of normal boating.

If you’re planning to have some work done on your boat then you may need to store the boat in a different part of the boatyard and there may be a higher storage charge. If this is the case then try and assess what work you need to be done before you take the boat out of the water so you can brief contractors and get work immediately planned in to minimize your storage costs. Work out what work you are going to do and what work you are going to outsource. You can even get parts and supplies pre-ordered.

What to sort out before hauling out

So, these are the things to sort out before hauling out…

Check out the crane options – listen to the advice of the boatyard. They will know which is the best type of lifting mechanism.

prepare for boat haul out

Standard crane?  If this is the case then the straps will be hung from a single hook which can put pressure on the hull topsides.  The beamier the boat the greater the pressure on the topsides. The most common areas which could end up damaged are toe-rails, guard wires, and masthead instruments. Crane drivers will often recommend using a spreader bar to open up the stern strap, but for a sailing boat, this means removing the backstay which is not ideal.  Standard cranes tend not to be used when there is much wind due to the dangers of boats being swung by the wind.

Travel hoists – larger boatyards with a purpose-built dock will normally use a travel hoist instead of a crane. The widespread of the straps takes away much of the risk created by standard cranes.

Specialist forklift crane – originally developed for drystack storage where large rubberised forks slide under the boat enabling the boat to be lifted up or down. For sailing boats instead of having the forks under the boat, slings are attached to the forks.  Strong winds make little difference to a forklift.

Work out for the boatyard the best lift points (sling positions) – mark them with tape for the crane operator.

Plan your journey – if you can, check out the entrance to where you’re having your boat hauled out so on the day you know how to approach the lift.

Take the sails off – it’s so much easier taking sails off when you have the boat heading into the wind that it’s a good idea to take them off when the boat is in the water rather than risk taking the boat out of the water and having to take the sails off with the wind in the wrong direction. Always take any furling sails off as well to avoid the sails accidentally unfurling and being damaged or causing damage elsewhere.  Ideally, all the sails should be washed, hung out to dry, packed up, and taken home. It’s also a good idea to get the boatyard to unstep the mast so you can check the running and standing rigging and work out what needs to be fixed or replaced whilst the boat is out of the water.

Clean off any black mold – Once the sails and any other canvas parts (biminis etc) are dry it’s worth taking some time out to clean off as much black mold as possible. The simplest and best way to clean is to wait until the canvas is completely dry, put on a mask, and brush the mold off.  This is the only sure way of retaining the waterproofing.

Clear the boat – it never ceases to amaze us the breakables left on board a boat. Take off the boat anything precious or easily breakable. Just in case there is more movement in the boat than planned! If the boat is going into storage it’s a good time to clear the boat for winter:

  • Take off anything that can freeze, rot or attract animals! Take off all the food and drink containers, and soft furnishings, towels, bedding etc. We also recommend taking off any paper (tissues, toilet paper) as mice love paper to make nests.
  • If you have room, take home any cockpit upholstered cushions so they can be aired. If you can’t take them home at least stand all the cushions on their sides so they can have some ventilation.
  • Take off your bimini and take it home to air or leave it out flat somewhere on the boat so there is less chance of black mold and fewer pockets for the local wildlife to nest in.

Change the engine oil – Over the season condensation will have collected in the engine and will also be present in the oil. If the oil is left in the engine whilst it is in storage then it could cause damage so the oil and the oil filters must be changed. 

On  haul out day

And then on the day of haul-out:

For any boat owner seeing your boat being lifted out of the water is a nervous time.

Positioning the straps – lifting straps need to be put in the correct place otherwise there could be damage to the rudder, the propeller and shaft, and the through-hull log impeller. It’s helpful to the crane drivers if you mark up with bright tape where to put the straps.

Hull protection – make sure the yard staff put some protective cardboard or other soft material between the hull and the strap.

Be prepared to be off the boat – assume you will need to be off the boat during haul-out. Grab your wallet, car keys, and any other essentials.

Find out where to get water and power – drinking water and boat washing may be different places.

Find out how to access the loos and showers – normally there is a key or code to enter.

After haul out

Tie the ladder to the boat! – It’s obvious, but extremely annoying if you’re on the boat and the ladder slips off.

Stop the dirt coming on board – put a rug at the base of the ladder and leave your shoes there or at least wipe them thoroughly. The less dirt you have on the boat the better.

Be polite to boatyard workers & other boat owners – after all the community of boating is part of the fun of boating.

At Nanaimo Boatyard we have many years of experience in hauling boats in and out of the water. Please come and talk to us and I’m sure we’ll be able to help. Our modern boatyard has all the facilities and expertise you could possibly need. Have a look at our boatyard facilities.




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