year-round living on a sailboat in maine

10 Days on the Hard, 5 Lessons Learned

10 Days on the Hard, 5 Lessons Learned

Polynya is back in the water, and it feels great! With a beautiful new blue bottom she is once again rising to the waves, tugging at her lines, and sparkling in the sun just a little more. We spent a total of 10 days out of the water at Royal River Boat Yard in Yarmouth, ME and couldn’t be happier with their service and facilities. While on the stands we sanded and painted the bottom, replaced all thru hulls and seacocks, and installed new zincs. Coming soon will be detailed posts about the work completed, start to finish, successes and failures. As with any project aboard, we learned a lot during the process, and the benefit of intimately knowing every inch of Polynya will reward us for years to come.

We left Portland before sunrise on April 4th for our trip up the bay to the Royal River. It takes a few hours to get there, and we were scheduled to haul out just before high tide at 0830. After a mild winter, and weeks of sunny spring days, we were treated to a crisp 15 degrees, a frozen marina, and light snowfall. Gently breaking the thin layer of ice we backed out of our slip and made our way out of the harbor towards a beautiful sunrise. We took turns at the helm, letting the other duck below into the heated cabin to warm extremities and make coffee or tea. Despite the cold it was a gorgeous morning and we shared it only with a few other working boats.

The Royal River was recently dredged, but the shallow water often reshapes the soft river bottom and results in a narrow winding channel. We arrived on time and were immediately hauled out. While the yard crew pressure washed and blocked the boat, we headed back into town for a few supplies and a warm breakfast.

Bundled up for the ride across the bay.


Fresh out of the water.


 

We had intended to take the rest of the day easy and to develop a plan for the week. But once we found that the original seacocks were through bolted we decided to take advantage of Skye’s time off from work to remove the old bronze fittings. Two people were needed to back out bolts, unscrew seacocks, and coax thru hulls out of the hull. The extra work made for a long day, but I could not have done it myself while Skye was at work the following days.

It was an action packed 10 days, but if I could condense our haulout experience in to 5 lessons they would be:

1.) Don’t Fear Big Projects

No matter what the project is on your boat, you are capable of doing it. Maybe not right now, and maybe not by yourself, but you are capable of completing overwhelming tasks. Remember that large projects are nothing but a series of small projects grouped together.

2.) Plan Your Work

Weeks, and preferably months, before hauling out is when you should start planning. Make a work list, a materials list, and a rough timeline. It is important to be realistic here because once you are out of the water time and costs can accumulate quickly. If you are doing the work yourself do as much research as possible. Even if you have done that same project many times before, there is always something new to learn about it. The more you know, the better the outcome. Order materials as soon as possible to avoid delays, particularly during the spring and summer seasons.

3.) Research, Research, Research!

I know I sound like a broken record, but the more information you know now, the less time you have to spend finding it later. If you are simply replacing zincs and applying new bottom paint, this research won’t be all that extensive, but it never hurts to read up on the latest products or to walk into a store and see what they recommend. Just because you’ve done it one way for years doesn’t mean it’s the best way. For bigger projects, and especially new-to-you projects, carefully and critically plan your work step by step with the guidance of all available resources. When you are tired and confused these notes and references will keep you on track.

4.) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

No matter how much you think you know, there’s always someone who knows more, and that’s a good thing! Whether you need an extra set of hands, or a second opinion, learn to utilize the people around you when necessary. Friends and family are indispensable for man power, and they’ll be happy to take payment in the form of food, beer, and free sailing! As for technical advice, ask for an opinion from the yard. If you develop a good relationship with the yard crew and technicians they will gladly lend a second set of eyes and an opinion. Don’t expect them to do any work for free, but I find they are generally willing to offer a quick diagnosis or opinion when they have a spare minute. Sometimes a little reassurance or clarification goes a long way.

5.) Take Your Time, Strive for Quality

As important as that launch deadline seems, quality work must take priority. If a job takes longer than expected, or a problem arises, don’t hesitate to extend your schedule. Keeping a boat safe and functional relies on the performance of countless tiny details. It is better to work slow, check your work, double check your work, and test before launch if possible.  When it comes to watertight integrity, critical equipment, or safety devices you should never cut corners with respect to materials or installation. Even when you think you are doing everything right, its easy to overlook minor details. I can tell you first hand that minor details can become major hassles (more about that in a future post).

Hauling and launching can be a stressful time, but the better you prepare for it the smoother it will go. Being actively involved in the maintenance of your vessel is a worthy investment of your time and one that will pay you back when, not if, you encounter problems in the future.

Finally, please wear the proper safety equipment while doing maintenance! Yard projects almost always involve chemicals, dust, overhead hazards, etc. When you develop your materials list include all necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Always reference the safety data for any chemicals you are working with and when in doubt, go overkill. Stay safe and good luck with your spring projects!


Fresh new blue!


Ready for launch