Like it or not, the end of the boating season is rapidly approaching in the Northeast.
Lifting Your Baby Out of The Water
On the actual day of the haul, plan to be there if you can. You'll be able to take a look at just how fouled the bottom is before it's pressure washed and you'll get an idea of how your antifouling paint is working. Most yards do this immediately after the boat is hauled so the fouling doesn't set like concrete. "We always pressure wash a boat as soon as it comes out of the water," Leszynski says. "We have a waste-recovery system, and this ensures any bottom paint, dirt, or other contaminants are contained. Pressure washing is included in the fee for hauling, and we won't move a boat into the yard until it has been washed."
It's normal for the owner to drive the boat into the travel hoist pit unless you have made alternative arrangements. Have plenty of fenders on both sides of the boat to protect the topsides should you be blown sideways. Listen carefully to instructions given to you by the yard staff operating the hoist who will have done this maneuver many times before. You probably won't need docklines because the boat will be going right into the slings, but check with the lift operator. Larger sailboats may have to back in to the pit and even have the backstay removed so the rigging will clear the hoist. The staff won't lift a boat with you or the crew aboard so they'll tell you when to get off and anything else they need you to do before vacating the boat. Don't forget to shut off the engines, air conditioners and other equipment before the boat is hoisted.
All tanks should be as empty as possible, and while it may not be practical to drain fuel tanks, it is relatively easy to drain water and waste tanks. Full tanks add significant weight to the boat, and empty tanks will put less strain on the boat's structure when it is sitting in an unnatural element on land.
Before the boat is hauled out of the water, tell the travel hoist operator about any underwater appendages, such as fin stabilizers or pod drives, transducers, speed wheels and other things not easily seen when the boat is in the water that could be damaged by the travel hoist slings. "We are familiar with most boat designs", says Leszynski, "but it is helpful if owners mention things that may be special about their particular boat".
On The Hard
If your boat is being lifted for anything more than an hour or so, often called a "short haul," it is likely that it will be placed on blocks in the yard and supported with jackstands. If this is the case, tell the yard about any relevant structural features of your boat. Some downeast powerboats, for example, have hollow keels aft, which could potentially suffer damage if the boat is improperly blocked and supported. In cases like this, blocks should probably run lengthwise rather than athwartships to provide adequate support.
As a general rule, the workers in the yard have much experience moving and blocking boats, so it's best to leave it up to them as to how they do it. By all means watch, but don't interfere unless you see something that is wrong or unsafe; if you see a problem, bring it up with the yard manager.
Once the boat is settled into her spot, inspect the jackstands. Ensure they have chains between them to prevent them from spreading, which could cause the boat to fall over. Be sure that the attachment points of the chain to the jackstands are secure. Sometimes the slits in the metal of the frame into which the chain links sit are torn or bent from use, which could result in slipping or failure. If a stand is severely rusted, ask to have it replaced.
Also check the ground beneath the jackstands. If the stands are resting on, for example, sandy or loose soil, and especially if there's a slope, this may present a problem in heavy rains. The majority of jackstands will have three or four legs and unless they are on a solid surface, they should have sturdy plywood pads or other good support placed underneath to distribute the weight over a larger surface area, preventing them from sinking into the ground. If you see any problems, discuss them with management as soon as possible.