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Venezuela Haul Out

Chris on the bow as we ride up the railway
Chris on the bow as we ride up the railway

Sailboats are typically hauled out of the water about once a year to repaint the bottom and to do other maintenance that can't be done in the water.  Ocelot is no exception.  She was out of the water and freshly painted when we arrived in St. Martin in December 2001, so in December 2002 we hauled her out again in Chacachacare, Margarita, Venezuela.

Most haul-out facilities are reasonably near population centers, where folks can purchase the bits and pieces they need when doing boat maintenance.  Not Chacachacare.  This place is miles from anywhere, with desert on one side and the ocean on the other.  Talk about a captive audience!  So we had to make sure that we had everything we were going to need before we arrived.

We're FLYING!
Never thought we'd see Ocelot flying!

Chacachacare has an interesting haul-out procedure.  The water next to the yard is fairly shallow, so they have a marine railway that extends out to deeper  water.  A metal car is winched out into the deeper water, the yacht is positioned and braced on top, and the car is then winched up to the yard.  Since only one boat at a time can be on the car, boats are then lifted off the car by a modern travel-lift and deposited around the yard for as long as necessary.  When the work is finished, the procedure is reversed.

Henry Beard & Roy McKie, in their delightful Sailor's Dictionary, define Boat Haul-out as:

An annual procedure during which a boat owner's collection of marine specimens is removed from his hull, usually by convicts in work-release programs.  Electronic gadgets, binoculars, radios, and other costly bric-a-brac which have gradually encrusted the cabin spaces over the year are removed as well, and at most boatyards, as part of the operation, the boat owner is also thoroughly cleaned out by professionals.

Sanding down the old bottom paint is HARD WORK!
Sanding down the old bottom paint is HARD WORK!
And you thought Amanda was always clean & beautiful...
And you thought Amanda was always clean & beautiful...

Besides being a lot of hard work, hauling out is often a traumatic time for cruisers.  Many systems that rely on water being all around suddenly don't work.  These include the engines (and systems that use them, like engine driven refrigeration and battery charging), water cooled refrigeration systems (we have one, but don't use it), watermakers, Ham radios (which for us means email), and even the toilets.   Even the hatches often don't work, as the boat might not be pointed into the wind.  And being ashore means being subjected to the bugs and dirt that we avoid at anchor.  Chacachacare has this red dust that permeates everything.

Amanda mixing up the paint to distribute the copper
Amanda mixing up the paint to distribute the copper
Amanda & Sue paint in the shade where it's cooler
Amanda & Sue paint in the shade where it's cooler

Click on the pictures to see larger versions

Hauling out is usually quite expensive.  Typical prices are $1,000 to get hauled out and put back in, $100 per day while the boat is "on the hard", about $100 per gallon for the 7-8 gallons of bottom paint (special slightly toxic paint that resists marine growth), and lots of other charges for materials or services provided by the boatyard.  We were lucky this time, as Venezuela is pretty inexpensive for most things.  Chacachacare charged only $250 up and down, $16/day, and we were able to find bottom paint for only ~$35/gallon.

Way to paint, Chris!
Mouse over Chris to see him painting
Jon draining the old oil from the Sail-drives.  The oil gets recycled.
Jon draining the old oil from the Sail-drives. The oil gets recycled.

Luckily, we did not have a lot of repairs to do.  Besides sanding the bottom and putting on 3-4 new coats of bottom paint, we needed to

In all, this took us 3 days of hard work.  Sue, Chris & Amanda did all of the sanding, taping, and paint work, while Jon did the other tasks.  This also turned our bottom from a dull black to a nice jaunty red, and enabled us to put extra paint where it tended to wear off, like the bows and sterns.  Although we were covered in toxic paint and the red dust of the yard, all projects were finished and we were gently deposited in the water with only a minimum of trauma (mostly nervousness on our part).  The yard owner and his son (who liked to drive the travel-lift) are French but spoke good English, and they were very helpful with things like priming the new propellers so we could put bottom paint on them.

The first coat of paint is on!
The first coat of paint is on!
The pandemonium of our work-site
The pandemonium of our work-site

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