I’ve been fortunate to have owned numerous sailing vessels during my more than 50 years on this planet, and the time spent on them has rewarded me with many fantastic experiences, not all of which have been under sail. In fact, some of the most memorable times (including good, bad and somewhere in between) have occurred with my boat on the hard in a boatyard. At some point every boat owner has to perform routine maintenance, and that requires a haulout.
It’s just part of the game. During the nine years that my family and I have sailed our catamaran, Makana, an Admiral 38 Executive, across the Atlantic from Maine to South Africa, we’ve hauled out over a half-dozen times. In that time I’ve learned that hauling out need not be stressful, even when dealing with a beamy catamaran. The key is having a well-formulated step-by-step plan to minimize the cost, time and frustration.
One of the challenges of owning a catamaran is finding a boatyard with a travelift that can accommodate its width. Our boat has a beam of just over 23ft, making her too wide for the standard 50- to 75-ton travelifts found in many yards, which typically can only accommodate vessels with a beam of 22 feet or less. With a little research we’ve identified close to a dozen yards in the Caribbean and along the East Coast that can accommodate Makana’s beam (for more details, see “Where to Haul,” below).
While you’re at it, before settling on a yard, find out what type of work you are permitted to do there. Boatyards differ in this respect. Some allow owners to do whatever they want (within reason, of course) and some insist all work must be performed by yard staff or licensed contractors. I prefer to haul at a yard that will let me paint the bottom, change oil, and replace seals and zincs, while also letting me wash and wax the topsides. When I’m on the hard, getting work done is the name of the game.
I also prefer a yard where I can talk with a certified diesel mechanic, should I encounter something beyond my expertise, and I always check to make sure that pressure-washing the bottom is included in the haulout. It is wise to have the bottom pressure-washed immediately after hauling. If you let any bottom growth dry you will regret it later. Also be aware that some yards may charge a 25- to 50-percent premium to haul and block a catamaran. Finally, it’s nice to have access to a head, shower and a good restaurant, as you’ll deserve some well-earned breaks while working on your boat.
Once you’ve chosen a yard, doing some work prior to pulling into the lift basin will make your haulout easier. For example, be sure you know where the straps from the lift should be placed so as not to damage saildrives or prop shafts, transducers, through-hull fittings, daggerboards or rudders. A picture or diagram illustrating your boat’s underwater hull profile is useful.
In deciding where to place the straps, you should consider the stress the straps will place on a cat’s hulls and bridgedeck. Areas at or near major interior bulkheads with no underwater extrusions are perfect areas to place the straps. Use some masking tape to make arrows on the topsides of each hull showing where the straps should be placed. If your vessel has daggerboards, make sure they are fully retracted prior to entering the lift basin. I also drain the water tanks and keep fuel to a minimum to reduce weight. Prior to hauling I order bottom paint, zincs, drive-shaft seals and any other parts. I have all the materials shipped directly to the yard, so that they will be waiting there when I arrive. As for waxing, which you might want to do while you’re on the hard, a power-buffer is a must.
Once your vessel is secured in the lift the operator will hoist and move it to a dry-storage location for blocking. (Again, remember to have the bottom pressure-washed before it dries and open your through-hulls to allow any water to drain out.) Whether your catamaran has keels or not, it is important to have it properly supported and blocked to avoid damaging the hulls and reduce stress cracks in the gelcoat. Both hulls need to be evenly supported and level with on another. Again, bulkheads and engine support areas are where the jack stands should go. Also consider how level the vessel should sit so water will drain off the deck and cockpit. We typically place four jack stands on each hull—one under each engine just aft of the keels and two forward of each keel. This makes it easier to remove jackstands for painting. If a rudder needs to be serviced, make sure your catamaran is blocked up high enough to facilitate its removal. After our catamaran is properly blocked up, I remove the dinghy and outboard engine to reduce weight and for cleaning.
A catamaran may present a few more complications than a skinny monohull when it comes time to haul her out, but they are by no means insurmountable. Plenty of boatyards have the space, both on the lift and on the hard, to haul and accommodate your vessel. Do some research, plan accordingly, and you too can enjoy your time on the hard and complete the myriad projects on your punch list, make a few memories, and get back out on the water.
Where to Haul
There are plenty of boatyards along the US east coast that are capable of hauling Makana’s 23ft 6in beam.
Hinckley Yachts Services
Southwest Harbor, ME, 207-244-5531 hinckleyyachts.com
Billings Diesel & Marine Service
Stonington, ME, 207-367-2328 billingsmarine.com
Front Street Shipyard
Belfast, ME, 207-930-3740 frontstreetshipyard.com
Thomaston, ME, 207-354-6904 lymanmorse.com
Newport, RI, 401-846-6000 newportshipyard.com
Georgetown Yacht Basin
Georgetown, MD, 410-648-5112 georgetownyachtbasin.com
Deltaville, VA, 804-776-9812 deltavillemarina.com
Ocean Marine Yacht Center
Norfolk, VA, 757-399-2920 oceanmarinellc.com
Jarrett Bay Boatworks
Beaufort, NC, 252-728-7100 jarrettbay.com
Savannah, GA, 912-356-3875 thunderboltmarine.com
St. Augustine Marine Center
St. Augustine, FL, 904-824-4394 staugustinemarine.com
West Palm Beach, FL, 561-840-8308 rybovich.com
Lauderdale Marine Center
Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 954-713-0333 lauderdalemarinecenter.com
For the past nine years, Rick Caroselli and his wife and daughter have sailed Makana, an Admiral 38 Executive, from South Africa to Maine. They currently split their time aboard Makana, spending winters in the Bahamas and summers in Maine.