A regular cost of cruising is hauling out the boat. From time to time, you need to take your boat out of the water for routine maintenance and bottom painting. Haul out costs vary from country to country, and yard to yard.
We have had to haul out our Lagoon 380 catamaran four times over the last four years. This is a little higher than average, but we had a niggly saildrive issue that took a few different tries to solve. I think after the last haul, we’ve solved it but only time will tell.
Based on our style of cruising we should be hauling out every 18 -24 months, which is how long we expect the antifouling paint to last.
Get a Quote
Make sure to get a quote before you haul out. Not all yards are the same haulout costs, labor rates, and add on expenses can vary wildly. Some yards will allow you to do your own work at no extra charge others will add an ‘own work charge’.
It is pretty common for yards in the US to not allow you to do your own work and to tack on 10 – 30% over and above the invoice price for any outside work (some even go as far as adding this charge to parts). Do your homework, two different yards in the same town may have completely different pricing and rules.
Most yards charge per foot to haul out. If you have a small boat be aware that some boatyards have a minimum fee to haul you out.
Hauling Out a Catamaran
The cost to haul out a catamaran is anywhere from 1.5 – 2X the cost of a monohull. If you are currently shopping for a biggish catamaran this is worth keeping in mind. Anything over 25ft (7.6m) take a careful look at which yards can accommodate a catamaran with that beam, along your cruising route.
You may be 2,000 – 5,000nm between haul out yards if you run into problems. You may also find that the yards available to you will be commercial fishing boat boatyards, which may lack the finesse of a pleasurecraft facility.
We have even found with our Lagoon 380, which has a 21.4 ft beam, that our choices are far more limited than the average mono.
Haul Out – Extra Fees and Charges
The cost of the haul out a boat normally includes the cost to put the boat back in the water, but this is not always the case. Check on blocking fees. Blocking fees are a charge that some yards have to position your boat on the hard, be it in a stand or on physical blocks. We have friends who have been charged for each time they asked the yard to move a jack stand for them to paint around. $50 -$70 a time!
Some yards include a certain amount of time out of the water in the haul-out fee, others charge a daily rate for each day out of the water. In Panama, we were charged the daily charge. Martinique and Raiatea included 4 days out of the water in the haul-out fee.
Many yards require a copy of your insurance and may require you to sign a contract. Make sure you read the contract carefully before signing it. Most yard contracts include a “hold-harmless’ clause in their contracts, saying that if they damage your destroy your boat, you understand that you cannot proceed against them for compensation.
The hold harmless clause in boatyard contracts is a big issue that most boat owners gloss over. By signing the clause, you are also saying your insurance cannot sue them. The thing to be careful of here is that your insurance policy will very likely have a clause in it saying that you may not enter into any contract on their behalf. This means that if your boat is damaged, you will not be covered by the yard, and most likely your insurance will not cover you either.
Questions to Ask – Haul Out Quotation:
- Does this quotation include days on the hard? If so how many?
- What is the cost for additional days out of the water?
- Are you able to accommodate us for extra days out of the water if needed?
- Am I able to live on the boat in the boatyard?
- What is the cost of Water, Electricity?
- Is pressure washing included?
- Can I do my own work?
- Will there be a charge for me to do my own work?
- Is there an additional cost to rent scaffolding? Is it available?
- Do you use a travel lift or a trailer?
- Can we dispose of used paint cans and painting supplies?
- Are there any environmental restrictions for the work that can be done in the facility?
- Are we allowed to work on weekends? Sundays? or Fridays in the middle-east?
- Is there a restriction on the hours we can work on the boat?
How Long Do We Need?
When you look at your to-do list before you haul out your boat, it seems like you will need weeks out of the water. In our experience, and watching others on a variety of different boats while in the yard, four days seems to be a magic number, even though it is really 3 as it includes hauling and splashing days.
We can hustle, do a light sand, service saildrives, paint, and do thru-hulls in four days. To achieve this target, you need to have the parts and paint and be ready to start working the moment the boat is blocked. 4 days will not give you enough time to polish the boat by yourselves. If you want to meet the four-day target, it’s best to get the yard to do it. Polishing your own boat well takes about 3 full days.
If you need to do a heavy sand down through all the old layers of antifouling down to barrier coat or glass, expect an extra week out.
TravelLift Or Trailer
It is nerve-wracking watching your home being lifted out of the water. Some boatyards have high-tech TravelLifts that use slings to lift the boat out of the water.
Other boatyards have trailers. They block the boat on the trailer and then pull it out of the water. For me, this is even more stressful to watch than the travel lift option. We were hauled out on the TravelLift in Martinique and Panama and on a trailer in French Polynesia.
Whichever system the yard uses, particularly on a catamaran, know where the TravelLift straps, or Pads for a trailer, should be positioned on the boat.
Our Actual Cost To Haul Out
To give you an idea of the cost to haul out, below are the actual prices we paid for hauling out our Lagoon 380 in Carenantilles, Martinique in 2017, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama in 2018, Raiatea Carenage, Raiatea French Polynesia in 2019, and again in 2020.
|Place||Year||Cost to Haul out||Pressure wash||Other||Electricity|| |
Cost in US$ (incl. taxes)
|Carenantilles Martinique||2017||908.53||84.71||Eco Elimination Charges 48.40||Usage||$1,125.00|
|Shelter Bay Panama||2018||684.00||Included||Live Aboard 15.00/day|
Yard Fee 41.80/day
|Carenage Raiatea French Polynesia||2019||552.18||Included||None||Usage||$587.00|
Are You Going To Do The Work Yourself?
When you haul out your boat, you need to decide whether you are going to do the work yourself or if you are going to have the yard to do the work for you. If you are looking at having the yard do work for you, expect to pay anywhere from $20 – $140 per person per hour, depending on where in the world you will be hauling.
We hire the yard to do any antifoul sanding for us. We don’t have the correct protective gear, and honestly, it is a very shitty job to do. We’ve done it once and never again!
Sanding Down to Gelcoat
Before crossing the pacific, we had a few big jobs we wanted to tick off the list to make sure the boat was in perfect condition for the 4,000nm Pacific Crossing from Panama to the Marquesas. We were looking to transit the Panama Canal in December and were advised that we would have a wait anywhere from one to three weeks before we got a canal transit slot. But the clock would only start once we were measured.
Shelter Bay Marina, which sits right at the entrance to the Panama Canal on the Pacific side seemed like the perfect place to get measured, get the work done on the boat, and prepare for the canal transit.
One of the jobs we wanted to do was, remove all the layers of antifouling paint down to the gelcoat, then add an epoxy barrier coat before painting with antifouling. We got a quotation from the Shelterbay Marina to sand off the old antifouling, which was $1450.00 (excluding supplies). Which wasn’t a bad quote considering the amount of work involved.
Then doing our research for our upcoming haulout we heard of a local guy by the name of José who does odd jobs for cruisers. We contacted him and he and his friends sanded the hulls for $600.00. Which included their own tools and supplies. We had to pay a daily freelance labor charge to the marina totaling $100.00.
My advice is if you need work done that requires manual labor, ask around. There may very well be an approved local contractor who can do the work for far cheaper than the yard.
Living On Board On The Hard
When we haul out, we stay on board the boat in the boatyard. We know of some cruisers who get an Airb&b or hotel. Make no bones about it, living in a boat on the hard is not great. You will be up and down the ladder at all hours of the night, needing to go to the bathroom. Everything is dusty, and let’s face it, boatyards are not normally located in the nicest locations, so restaurant pickings may be almost zero, and most likely you’ll be living in mosquito-filled reclaimed swampland.
Staying at a Hotel or Air B&B
The problem with going to a hotel is, even for one just around the corner, you waste so much time getting to and from the yard. It’s easy to lose an hour or two’s work a day which means more time out, as you will not be able to get your work done in four days.
It is also worth mentioning that many yards haul out schedule is planned weeks in advance. If you’ve taken their standard four-day plan and you don’t get all your work done. They will put you back in the water on schedule as we experienced, an extension is seldom possible. Or if it is possible, it may be a two week wait before a ‘spash’ slot opens up.
Shop In Town Not At The Yard
At the boatyard, you will normally find a chandlery to pick up any supplies you may need. We’ve seen one well-priced chandlery, which was in Martinique, the others have ranged from OK to ridiculously expensive as they have a captive market (Shelter Bay – Three hours to Panama City).
One problem we have seen with boatyard supply stores is that their inventory or selection is very limited. In Martinique, we changed out all of our thru-hull fittings and seacocks to high-tech reinforced ‘plastic’ fittings. The onsite store had dozens of fittings and I did a random check of what we needed, including asking the owner, and was assured they had what we needed in hand.
When it came to doing the job, they were missing one of the seacock sizes and I ended up having to use a brass fitting of questionable quality for one of the thru-hulls. This meant that when we hauled in Panama, I had to replace this thru-hull and seacock with the right material for the job. Make sure you have any parts you need with you before you haul out.
Don’t Buy Consumables at the Haul Out Yard
We normally pick up our consumables at a hardware store in town to get the best prices on consumables such as paintbrushes, sanding pads, etc.
This being said, no matter how hard we try, we end up running out and shopping at the chandlery in the yard and paying 2-3 times the going rate on brushes, sandpaper, gloves, etc. When you buy consumables, buy 3 to 4 times more than you think you will need.
Remember, antifouling eats through gloves. You will need a new pair of gloves every 20 minutes. You will also need a new roller for every coat and a new paint tray every day.
When we are on the hard we normally paint over 2 days. We could do it in one, but the antifoul needs time to dry between layers. On the day you go back into the water, you will need a new paint roller and paint tray, with enough paint to paint the parts of the hull that were covered by the blocks/ jacks.
As a side note, all yards we have run into will promise you plenty of time in the slings or on the trailer to paint these bits. The truth is paint fast. If you get thirty minutes to an hour before the paint in those sections hits the water you are lucky.
It is well known that the types of marine growth changes by location. Yet many cruisers have a loyalty to a certain brand of paint, and this loyalty doesn’t change where they sail to in the world, even if this means paying exorbitant fees to import their favorite brand of paint.
An old South African Sailor, who had crossed the Indian Ocean seven times in a 28-foot sailboat told me “look what the local fishermen are using” go buy that paint. It’s probably the cheapest and the one that works the best where they are.
Seahawk Island 44
We have no loyalty to any brand of antifouling paint. But, as a tiny personal protest, we refuse to purchase any product made by Seahawk in Florida, which is normally sold under the ‘Island’ brand.
Seahawk manufactures and proudly sells a paint called Island 44. The product is banned in the US and most developed countries as it contains Tributyltin TBT a product that is extremely hazardous to the Ocean. Yet they continue to manufacture it in the US (even though it cannot be sold in the US) and sell it in various parts of the world.
We are not crazy environmental crusaders, we just try to do what’s right. Make no mistake, and we are under no illusion that all antifouling paint is nasty stuff and bad for the environment. Why seek out a product that is known to be at the top of the list for being a bad actor? Or support an organization that doesn’t have a half reasonable sustainability or ethics policy?
Quantity of Paint Required
Our 38-foot catamaran requires 20 liters (approximately 5 gals) of paint. This is enough to paint 3 coats on the hulls with an additional layer on all the leading edges, rudders, and waterline. Check the paint manufacturer’s website for application guidelines for your boat.
At most boatyards, you are able to hire power tools for a daily rate. This works out well as often the tools you have on your boat require different voltage. Another nice thing about renting power tools is that you don’t end up wrecking your power tools with antifoul and gelcoat.
I hope this has been helpful for more is the cost of cruising series take a look at our article on the ‘Cost to Repower a Boat’