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Don’t Get Caught Off Guard: A Guide to Essential Boat Hauling in South Florida

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There’s nothing worse than loading friends and family aboard for a great day on the water, only for problems with your vessel to keep everyone shore bound. Routine in-water maintenance is one remedy, yet industry experts say that the longer you wait between haul-outs translates to a greater chance for problems. So, what do you need to know about hauling out? ALL AT SEA asked professionals at three well-known South Florida facilities.

1. Time it Right

When there isn’t the threat of a hurricane, the ideal time to haul depends on the yacht’s last haul-out date, according to Tom Glass, vice president at Roscioli Yachting Center, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which can haul and launch vessels up to 360 tons. “Typically haul-outs should be done annually to work on issues like bottom painting, through-hull fittings and other maintenance. So, if you hauled last June, you’ll want to plan to a haul-out for this June.”

Caribbean Boatyard Haul-out Tips

Hurricane season in Florida spans from June 1st to November 30. Some insurance policies require that a vessel be hauled in the event of a named storm. In this case, there are two options timing-wise. One is long term storage, generally hauling the boat by June 1st and then launching in November. The second choice is to have a hurricane plan to haul just in the event of a storm. Some boatyards that haul for hurricanes do so on a first-come first-serve basis, while others such as the River Forest Yachting Centers, offer hurricane membership programs. Membership in these programs generally range in cost from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on boat size.

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Roscioli Yachting Center
Roscioli Yachting Center

“Boat owners need to review these options and decide what type of program works best for their needs and resources,” says Tracy Campbell, director of sales and marketing at River Forest, with locations in Stuart and LaBelle, Florida, and the capability to haul vessels from 20’ to 90’ and up to 82 tons. “For example, there are several questions to consider. These include: Do they live in Florida full time? If not, do they have someone willing to move the boat for them if they are not available? Does their marina require them to leave in the event of a wind storm? How long will it take them to prep their boat for a storm? Is there a lock involved to get to the destination, as in our case, and at what wind speed does the lock close?”

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River Forest Yachting Center
River Forest Yachting Center

2. Prep Ahead

Arrive early and have the vessel all ready for servicing or storage.

“Remove all loose items such as lines, eisenglass, canvas, outriggers and antennas, and prepare the boat for not having power. For example, empty the refrigerator and freezer,” recommends Dominick LaCombe, president of American Custom Yachts, in Stuart, Florida. “Plus, be patient always, especially in the threat of a storm. Haul-outs cannot be rushed, and rest assured our team is working as fast as possible in the threat of a storm. That’s why it’s important to arrive to the yard prepared to be hauled.”

Have strap/lift points clearly marked, adds River Forest’s Campbell. “In addition, dry out any damp areas. Decide whether a dehumidifier and/or fan will be used and if this will be monitored. Add some fuel stabilizer. Decide whether fresh water tanks will be drained or chlorine added or water maker pickled. Will batteries be disconnected? Specifically, what servicing will need to be done during the storage period?”

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River Forest Yachting Center
River Forest Yachting Center

3. Know the Equipment

Forklifts generally lift up to about a 40’ cabin style boat or perhaps longer for go-fast type boats. Anything larger usually requires a Travelift.

“Forklifts generally require less manpower and allow for stacking boats vertically. Travelifts take longer and require more people to haul a boat, but they allow the boat to be lowered closer to the ground than a forklift (which is better for high winds),” tells LaCombe of American Custom Yachts, which own 35-ton, 75-ton and 150-ton marine travelifts.

American Custom Yachts
American Custom Yachts

4. Budget in Advance

The cost of a haul varies. For example, one factor is the size of the vessel and the size of lift that’s needed. Most yards, though, have published prices. In any event, it’s a cost boat owners should budget and plan for on an annual basis.

“Our haul-out price is $20 per foot for vessels 51’ to 80’, $23 per foot for those 81’ to 100’ and $25 per foot for yachts 101’ to 155’. So, for a 100-foot vessel, that means $2300,” says Roscioli’s Glass.

The above example is the cost just for the haul. Storage and servicing are extra.

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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