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The Big Summer Haul Out


Skipper’s Tips: Summer Haul Out

Whether you are a ‘have yacht’ or a ‘have not’, at this time of year, if you are occupied with boats in anyway, there is a chance you will be involved with a haul out.

When the winds blow strong in hurricane season, the insurance companies expect you to secure your boat with the minimal risk of damage; that plan could have the boat tied to the dock or a mooring buoy, but many would require the boat to be plucked from the water and stored ashore.

An article in the Caribbean Compass hailed the BVI as the author’s preferred country for haul out and the most noteworthy point cited was security. It is true that in this small collection of islands, the village atmosphere keeps the neighbours with an attentive eye on what goes on around. It isn’t for naught that the motto of the Territory, ‘Vigilate’, keeps the small population policing one another so that petty theft is almost non-existent in boat yards.


The other element of security to consider, is that in this relatively privileged population there is a generally discerning conscience, meaning that should the islands be devastated by weather, social order would remain intact, looting would be uncommon, and airports and services would return to normal sooner.

Nonetheless, it is advisable to take valuables off the boat as part of your haul out checklist. This should be closely followed by the removal of all foodstuffs – unless it’s in a tin can, get it off the boat.

Coconut mice (aka rats) can eat through anything, so if you’ve left an innocent pack of pasta on board, they will not only devour that, but also eat their way through delicious electrical cable, resulting in an expensive rewiring job.


If you are not at hand to regularly check on your boat, then it is important to have the support of a local management company for notorious offenders like rats, ants, blocked drains and mould.

Storage in the tropics requires good ventilation and dehumidifiers to be in place, for without this mould will take possession of all fabric like the cushions, sails or cabin liners. In a worst case, excessive mould can call for a full interior refit; therefore, proper preparation for haul out will save you money.


Indeed, every boat needs to come out of the water at least once a year so that you can inspect your through-hulls, cutlass bearings, shaft seals, and general watertight integrity. Take advantage of the summer haul out to get this work done. Annual boat maintenance like replacing zincs, bottom paint or exercising sea-cocks, can be conveniently done and would save later expense on an emergency haul out if anything below the waterline fails when cruising.

There are stipulations the boat yard will make such as remove all loose items on deck, including bimini canvas and frames, and stow below or in a storage locker. The jib should be fully removed and the main well lashed to the boom or better, put away. A wind generator ought to be removed so in order to top up an expensive set of house batteries, it’s worth having a $100 trickle-charger or some of the solar panels exposed for a measured charge.

Alternatively, leave it to the yard workers; they have experienced operators for the large Travel Lifts and hydraulic Con-O-Lift trailers to exactly position the boats to within a credit cards width (thus preventing the domino effect). They will also ensure that the jack stands are chained properly and straps to the tie downs or sand screws are checked regularly.

BVI boatyards understand how difficult it is to get insurance at this latitude and they’ve made up for that with the provision of hurricane cradles in Nanny Cay and keel pits in Spanish Town making them fully accredited by leading yacht insurers like Lloyds of London and Pantaenius.


BVI based yacht surveyors are also accepted by the world’s major underwriters, so significant boat works can be proved. Obviously, the yards would want you to employ the services of their onsite contractors, but they will also have a list of recommended outside wood-workers, welders, and fiberglass guys and permit DIY lead work, but remember, you will jack up the lay days charged.

The BVI is a marine centre which stays open all year around, with skill labour whose reputations built over decades, supply super high end, top quality work with a good warranty. You will be given an honest quote with an honest time line. You can find the service that fits every budget so these days it is not necessarily cheaper to haul out down island.


Also, the BVI’s a really fun place to hang out with your haul out. Hotels linked to a boat yard will offer you a cracking discount, therefore make a short holiday of it. Soak in the pool, go to bars and restaurants, visit local sites, meet with friends, compare notes and salty talk, garner some local tips for best labour and discounts, and note how nice it is not to have a language barrier. Or, if your funds won’t stretch, you can still sweat it out on the boat and get more work done while you’re at it.

There are several haul out options in West End, Nanny Cay, Road Harbour and Spanish Town. Just remember, space is limited, so it is always ideal to book by Christmas Day for summer storage:

Nanny Cay: http://nannycay.com/boatyard/boatyard-rates/

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour: http://www.virgingordayachtharbour.com/boatyard/storage

Accredited Marine Surveyors:

Caribbean Marine Surveyors: http://www.caribbeanmarinesurveyors.com/

Louise Reardon, Captain and RYA Yachtmaster Instructor

Louise Reardon, Captain and RYA Yachtmaster Instructor

Louise Reardon has been sailing around the globe on private yachts since 1992 and taught sailing with Offshore Sailing School on Tortola since 2006. She holds an MCA 3000 ton Masters, is a RYA Yachtmaster Instructor, US Sailing Instructor, and has a BA hons in Asian & African Geography.
Louise Reardon, Captain and RYA Yachtmaster Instructor

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