year-round living on a sailboat in maine

Planning to Haul Out

The weather this winter has been unusual to say the least. We have had very little snow and, except for a few subzero days, have had an eerily mild season. I can’t really complain as it was a good way to test our tips and techniques for living aboard in cold weather, with periods of nice weather between to complete more projects. Over the last month or so mother nature has really started to tease us with days reaching into the 60s. It’s hard not to be fooled by the warm breeze and bright sun! Yet with the first days of spring so too came another snowstorm, just to remind us that winter did indeed arrive from time to time over the past several months. As temperatures reluctantly trend upward, we turned our attention to planning our haulout. The plan has been to haul in the spring to complete a few projects and to have the boat back in the water for summer sailing.

I had an idea of where we should haul out, but decided to shop around just to compare pricing and availability. We hadn’t picked a date to haul out yet, but we wanted to be back in the water well before sailing season, and to make sure winter had passed to allow us to do some painting. The consensus after talking to a few local yards was the May was not an option, as this is the busiest time of the year. Due to my work schedule we are limited to either April or June, and we really want to be sailing in June, not sanding and painting. I stared at the calendar, researched average April weather, and wrote a list of things that need to be done before hauling out. We agreed that April was our window of opportunity.

We are currently scheduled to haul out April 4th at Royal River Boat Yard. I am very familiar with this yard as my family has used it for decades and my good friend (and former employer) uses it every year to haul and store S/V Frances (www.mainesailingadventures.net). They have very reasonable rates, well below the Portland yards, and are very welcoming to DIY boat owners providing you follow their work rules (safety, environmental protection, etc.).

There are three main tasks we will complete while in the yard: repaint the bottom, replace the seacocks, and replace the zincs. We are hoping to complete our yard work in 10-14 days. Before hauling out there are a few big tasks to complete. The first was troubleshooting the engine so that we can motor up the river to the boatyard. Look for another post in which I’ll describe our troubleshooting of the cooling system to date. Next we wanted to replace our forward hatch before removing the shrink wrap. For details on how to replace a deck hatch click here. The other big, but easy, task will be removing the shrink wrap and aluminum frame. We plan to do that over the weekend before we haul out.

The painting and zinc replacement are familiar territory, so the majority of my focus thus far has been in preparing to replace the seacocks and thru hulls, which I have never done. As I always do, I have been poring over manufacturers details, books, articles, and blog posts on seacock installation. While the project is slightly intimidating due to the importance of watertight integrity, the process itself is fairly straight forward. As The Boat Galley recently posted on Instagram, “if you can read, you can do ANYTHING!”

The reason we are replacing our seacocks and thru hulls is that they are showing signs of serious corrosion, and despite regular operation are quite stiff. Since we only intend to haul out every few years we have decided to take this opportunity to do this job before the seacocks give us any trouble. Seeing the effects of corrosion I was drawn to research alternative materials. My browsing led me to Marelon which is described at www.forespar.com as a “proprietary formulation of polymar composite compounds using composite reinforced polymer and additives to produce a superior marine-grade product. For use above and below the waterline.”

A Marelon flanged seacock. www.forespar.com
A Marelon flanged seacock. www.forespar.com
Current corroded seacocks
Current corroded seacocks

Marelon has been tested at length and is fully U.L. and A.B.Y.C. compliant. In other words, these are not simple plastic fittings, these are precisely engineered and proven composite fixtures. The price is reasonable and we expect, with regular maintenance and operation, that they will give us many years of reliable operation. Since we are switching to Marelon seacocks, all associated thru hulls will consequently be changed to Marelon as well. By removing these metal components we will be able to remove all of the extra bonding wires and stop worrying about corrosion of these fittings. As we complete this project we will try to document with plenty of photos and tips to share as this is one of those boat tasks that intimidates many boat owners. 

Look for many more updates as we complete these projects! We can’t wait to check these projects off the list and start the sailing season!