Friday, April 10, 2009

Every twelve to eighteen months, it is necessary to take your boat out of the water in order to inspect, clean and repair the bottom. Over time, after sitting in the water for an extended period, algae, barnacles and associated parasites build up on the keel. Unchecked, they can eat through the painted water barrier exposing the bottom to destructive forces. On top of that, it is just a good idea to make sure that the rudders, propellers, stabilizers and through hull fittings are in good shape and not leaking water.

Our boat is 44 feet long and weighs 44,000 pounds. It is a heavy ship. Taking it out of the water is a big deal. I often wondered how the marina yard workers are able to handle this chore. As one would expect, there are tools and machines for everything. This contraption is called a travel lift and is used to pick boats out of the water. Some are capable of lifting nearly 100,000 pounds.
It works by placing heavy duty straps strategically under the boat and hydraulically lifting the ship out of the water. Once 'in the straps', the travel lift can move the boat away from the water and take it anywhere in the boat yard. Often the boat is lowered onto wooden blocks where it is released from the straps and lashed down to supports. There it can be cleaned, painted or repaired. Sometimes boats are lifted out of the water and put on the 'hard' for long periods. This can keep them safe from strong hurricanes or allow bigger projects to be completed that wouldn't be feasible if the boat was in the water. In case you are interested, they generally charge about $20/foot for this service. That is .8 boat units.

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