Yesterday this happened.
I am currently sitting in the San Juan Hilton trying to wrap my brain around our floating house being all strapped down and ready for hurricanes. Please Jesus let there be no hurricanes in Puerto Rico (or anywhere else for that matter) because my Selah is as cozy as can be, but really – I think a stiff wind could send her and her neighbors in for a big ole game of dominoes.
In boat language “putting the boat on the hard” or “hauling out” basically means taking her out of the water, strapping her down to some concrete and locking her up for a bit. That makes it seem so easy! In reality – getting a boat ready for hurricane is a boat load (haha) of work. More than I think we imagined.
In fact, we agreed that this is probably our first and last hurricane season haul out. Next year we might just leave her in the water and take our chances – because this haul out stuff is for the birds. Bo is working on a great video that shows exactly how it is done, but in the meantime I wanted to catalog some haul out thoughts for boat friends who may be reading and want to know what all this “haul out” business entails. There are definitely a few things I wish I had known! My brain is only firing on bullet points at the moment, so bear with me as I bullet point you out a list.
We hauled out at Puerto Del Rey Marina in Fajardo, PR. We ended up there based on recommendations and Active Captain reviews. At this point we believe it is the best decision we could have made and would haul out here again. The crew is helpful, knowledgeable and we truly trusted our boat in their hands.
I wish we had known:
- Boat Tenders. A boat tender is essential. It never crossed my mind that we needed to pay someone separate from the marina/yard to check on our boat in our absense. In hindsight this is just my total ignorance and not knowing how things work. Wish I had known up front the $200+ additional per month to budget for a boat tender. After 4 separate, unrelated mentions we hired Samuel Moorehouse and I truly don’t think we would have made it without him. He advised on pest control, storage options, day-of supplies and SO much more. He was a godsend and we can’t thank him enough. Going forward he will be on our boat twice a week to check batteries, handle mold control, rinse off dirt, check for pests and obviously handle any further storm prep. He has already called us to ask why our bilges were running…
- Choose your marina wisely. Puerto Del Rey is a machine. There are 1000 wet slips (boats in the water) and hundreds of boats in storage. It is a huge operation and there are pros/cons that come with any large operation. Unfortunately they are large enough that the EPA has taken notice and as such there are a ton of “environmental” fees and regulations. I am all for saving the environment, but some of the things are just a bit over the top. In hindsight I think we would have done our prep work at a smaller marina and just arrived in time to haul out. We would have saved a bit of cash and a few headaches.
- Power Wash/Sanding. Because of the aforementioned EPA regulations the typical haul out power washing is done quite differently. At Puerto Del Rey you will be powerwashed once you are on the jackstands instead of in the slings. The marina does not do the power washing and you will need to hire your own contractor and provide your own plastic. Samuel handled all of this for us, but by the time you buy the plastic ($85!!!) and hire a power washer, you are looking at quite a chunk of change that we had not budgeted.
- Tie-Downs. You will need to provide your own straps and they do not tie you down. Again, Samuel handled this for us. My own personal ignorance also failed to realize just how close Selah will be to her neighbors. It is VERY tight and they want to maximize space in the yard for obvious reasons. We were advised to check out her resting spot the day before and make sure we were comfortable with where she was going to be placed. We checked for: the condition of the ground (not too soft and fairly level), no trees (hurricanes and trees don’t mix well), location relative to neighboring work yards (lots of dust and dirt flying from the work yard onto your boat.) After some back and forth discussion we were comfortable squeezing in her with some of her friends. Here’s hoping they don’t all fall down together, as you could easily walk from one boat to another.
- Prepare. I think we were as prepared as much as possible for all the work. And still we had NO idea. I am going to write a separate post on tips for storage, but take whatever you think and multiply by 10. We feel fantastic in that we purged so much stuff from the boat we hadn’t used in the past year. The sheer number of garbage bags and give away bags were astounding – I have no idea where it all came from! We had 4 solid days to prepare and we used all of them – cleaning, stowing, stripping, waxing, etc…just takes a long time. One of the reasons we would choose another marina for our prep work is because of the distance from our boat to anything. It was a solid 3/4 mile to the laundry, bathroom, trash dumpster, etc…I am ALL about exercise, but it is just plain inconvenient and ineffient to walk back and forth so much. Choose a smaller marina and you can more efficiently do laundry and other chores. (To be fair, they will happily come and drive you around in golf carts, but there are only so many times a day I can call those guys and ask for a ride before they think I am a total PITA.)
- Timing. From start to finish, it was about 6 hours on our haul out day. We pulled out of our slip at 8am and hopped in a rental car at 2pm. And that was with us being pretty well organized. It just takes a long time to do all the required maintenance and day-of preparations. Blog coming soon about things like closing and greasing seacocks, cleaning thru hulls, stowing dock lines, etc, etc…
Off the top of my head I think that covers the basics. We are super happy with her resting spot for the season and can’t wait to come back and check on her soon. In the meantime, Bo is off to Rio for the summer Olympics and I am headed to Ohio to be the live-in slave/nanny for my favorite little Lola and her soon to be brother! Hurricane season happens to coincide perfectly with Bo’s busy work season and my need to hang with the littles. For all the non-boat people, hurricane season runs June-November and most insurance companies require you to either be north of Florida or south of Grenada. We got lucky with amazing insurance and they don’t care where we are, so we chose Puerto Rico for proximity to both the mainland US and the Carribean – best of both worlds!
Bo and I are off to massages and naps. Travel day tomorrow back to the US. Bye Selah, see you soon!
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