Thursday, April 22, 2010


This post will be fairly short - it's about something that's done so frequently that most of the terror is gone for veteran boat owners. Still, as your home comes out of the water on a couple of spindly looking straps...

As you know, I was at Indiantown Marina just about 25 miles west of the St. Lucie Inlet on the Okeechobee Waterway. It's run by Scott and Raquel Watson -who, in addition to being very boater friendly, look like movie stars.

They run a green marina - there's no working on boats in the storage area and in the work area they provide plastic sheets to catch all the detritus that comes off the boats during repairs. They require vacuum sanders and grinders and that you sweep up your plastic every day. They recycle antifreeze and oil in an simple and clean way. General rules are posted and they are clear, obvious and as non-officious as possible.

The staff is all very pleasant - the yard guys are friendly and helpful and the office staff take the time to talk if they're not running to catch a boat or some other service.

All in all, if you're in the area and need a haul, their Travelift is a 50 tonne lift. (Tonne = 2000 kg) If you live on your boat, they provide water and pump outs while in the work yard.

From their brochure:

Indiantown Marina is one of Florida's largest dry storage facilities located on the Okeechobee Waterway in Indiantown, Florida.

With access to both coasts and 20 miles inland we are considered one of Florida's best hurricane holes.

We have the capacity to store over 500 boats on land and a 40 wet slip marina.

We are a full service marine repair facility and a do-it-yourself boat yard.

Ok, so now you know about the yard. Here's the haulout story.

I had arrived on Friday evening and scheduled my haul for Monday. Get this: because I didn't get hauled until late Friday, they charged me the in-water fee for the day which was less than the work yard daily rate. Imagine that!

It turned out that the wind was a help getting me to the Travelift well and I backed down there like a pro. I didn't terrify even one other boater! As you know, backing up with Pelican is more or less random.

I'm leaving the images their normal size so you don't have to download them to get a good look. Here, the wind is from the port side gently blowing me towards the dock like I know what I'm doing.

The crew gently moves Pelican into the well where the straps have already been lowered - I had put strap markers on the cove strip (the one near the caprail) so that the operator knows where to put them - in addition, I have a drawing of Pelican that I showed the operator so he could confirm my placement.

Never rush the operator. Make sure they know what you're thinking and where the straps should go. Make sure you know where they should go. There is so much damage than can be done lifting the boat incorrectly that it's worth the extra effort. As it turns out, the straps go directly below both masts on Pelican. That's just to easy!

Once out of the water, I had the marina power wash the bottom of Pelican. I knew the paint wasn't in bad condition and no sanding would be needed.

This costs a reasonable $1.75 per foot and the wash water is collected so the toxic paint that comes off doesn't go into the water.

Finally, after the wash and a fairly long ride to the work area, Pelican is blocked for painting, waxing and other stuff. If you'll notice, though, there's 13 stands holding up Pelican. Can you imagine? Usually, if there's 7 that's a lot. Notice the stand under the area between the prop and rudder - it's to keep weight off the back of the keel that isn't too strong.

This is the first haul I didn't have to take the headstay off! Just dropped the mizzen boom. Wow, that makes life much easier.

What do you do in a short haul? The obvious, painting and waxing of course - then the not so obvious. Work and lubricate or repair/replace all your through-hulls. Check the propeller shaft and rudder shaft packing. Adjust or repack as necessary. It's a good time to check and fix any dings in the hull. ( I had one from the trip to Marathon where for some reason I believed I could get through five feet of water for several miles. I mostly could except for that one rock.)

Anything that needs to be done out of the water should be done now. But I've covered the basics. The first thing I did was wash the hull with hull cleaner (which is basically oxalic acid with soap) that removes the brownish stains. Then I taped the waterline. Finally, I painted the bottom and while one coat was drying I waxed the topsides.

Then back to the painting, back to the waxing, etc., etc.

Because the days are getting longer, there was more time to work. After two days I had multiple coats on the bottom (at least two and three around the waterline and at high wear points like the bow and front of the skeg). I asked the marina to move the stands so I could do where they had been (the marina specifically states in their rules that they will move jack stands) and in a few minutes up they came to do it. Wow!

The last day out, I finished the waxing with a couple of coats near the waterline and high wear areas (bow, transom). Included here are the before and after pictures - I sure hope you can see the difference!

I do know you'll be able to see how nice the bottom looks!

After this, I got dropped back into the water and took the afternoon to make sure the rudder packing was no longer leaking and that the boat wasn't going to sink any time soon. There were some other little maintenance items so I took care of them.

I filled up with fuel and the next morning I was on my way - just a week in the yard and I'm ready for the year. Woohoo!

Up next, Vero Beach!

See you on the water!


Patrick said...

Hearing a pro like you describe backing your P424 as "more or less random" makes a newbie like me feel a lot better about how random my P424 backs. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob,
Looks like you are running back home already. Wow you are speeding along....well as speedy as a sailboat lets you be.....Wishing you fair winds and deep water.....
Bob and Cathy

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najamonline4u said...

very nice.Marine repairs work seems great I must say