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britcoal 09-18-2007 02:15 PM

Winter Storage - Backyard or Boat Yard?
Hello folks,

I've been enjoying my (new to me) 36' wooden ketch this summer but, as I'm in Maine, I need to be thinking about the winter situation. It seems like the number of boats in the area (Portland) has skyrocketed in the last few years - or, at least the mooring fields are getting bigger and bigger. That, of course, means winter storage is at a premium.

I'm wondering about my options. The first option is to pay to haul her out at a boat yard, pay to take the masts down, pay sq. ft. storage for the boat, pay for storing the masts, pay jack stand rental (or buy some), pay for launch the next year.. you get the idea. They seem to love the nickel-and-dime method here.

The second option is to pay a small fee to a friend of mine who owns land. He has stored his Catalina on this land for some time now, and he will winterize the engine for me. My concerns are what to do with the masts, as they would need to come down. I know that the previous owner of my boat has launched her on more than one occasion with a boat hauler at a boat ramp - this is possible due to her shoal draft, I suppose, though I never would have guessed it was possible given her size.. but I never did get an explanation about how the masts go up/ come down (no mention of a boom truck).

At the end of the day, I could probably save money in my friend's yard, even with the costs of hauling the boat.. but there are obviously hassles involved that aren't present with a boat yard. I would also have to figure out some sort of deck covering by myself, though the boat yard would want more money for that on their end anyway.

Any thoughts? Advice? Thanks in advance.

TrueBlue 09-18-2007 02:29 PM

Have you measured from the coachroof top to keel bottom to determine the bridge (highway overpass) clearance? IIRC, and unless you're hauling on back roads, there is a maximum legal hauling clearance on US highways - seem to recall it to be about 13'-0". There's also a utility line consideration - requiring a pole man.

My boat couldn't drop below 14'-0" w/o first doing some destructive disassembly of the pilothouse.

Valiente 09-18-2007 02:40 PM

You'd have to figure out a few other things as well: how to get power to the boat, where to store the batteries (on or off the boat), getting appropriate footings for the cradle unless the ground is very firm and well-drained, and having a method of securely tying the boat to the cradle, and the cradle to the earth. I doubt a Maine winter is nicer than a Toronto winter, and we had 83 knots in February that toppled five boats in a local yard. A lone boat that has no windbreaks around it subjected to a beam-on full gale might not stay up....and forget keeping the tarps on at those wind speeds.

I think you have to consider how much work you realistically intend to do with the boat over the winter in order to determine your best course. You also need to figure out your obligations to your insurance company if you decide to "go solo". If your friend's barn or shed burns in January and sets fire to your boat, are you covered?

I will give you one bit of wooden boat advice: This year a fellow with an old but nice Owens wooden power boat for the first time tacked burlap sacks all along his hull sides and bottom. He then soaked the sacks daily with water from a hose. This apparently caused the seams to expand and seal. The usual practice with wooden boats that have been hauled in North American dry winters is to launch them, upon which they immediately begin to sink unless you've put five or six massive sump pumps aboard. After 48 hours, the seams expand and you can be a "normal" boat. This year, the fellow who did the burlap trick launched and only took on a few gallons of water, which his normal bilge pumps easily dealt with. A lot of people commented on how calm he appeared this year compared with other years!

britcoal 09-18-2007 03:03 PM

Boat Yard it is!
Hmm.. the more you guys talk, the more the reality sets in. Sounds like a boat yard is a good choice at the end of the day. Does anybody have suggestions or preferences in the Casco bay area or is that sort of stuff frowned upon on sailnet?


Originally Posted by Valiente (Post 194498)
I will give you one bit of wooden boat advice: This year a fellow with an old but nice Owens wooden power boat for the first time tacked burlap sacks all along his hull sides and bottom.

That is some interesting advice, and makes a fair amount of sense. However, this boat of mine was on the hard for three years before I put her in this July and the leaking was very minimal. I did about 30 minutes of work slick seaming the obvious cracks on the underside of the hull, and while we installed a shore-power pump for the first weekend at the dock, the onboard bilge pumps kept up with no problem whatsoever (in fact, they were only running a few minutes an hour at most after the first day).

From what I've been told and what I have read, it may be the fact that she is strip-planked, and not carvel planked that leads to the limited leaking.

A side note: I was told by more than one old boat curmudgeon that a horribly leaking wooden boat at launch can be helped along by swimming under the hull and releasing saw mill sawdust. Take a coffee can and fill with sawdust, swim under, and release over a section of the hull, rinse, repeat. Apparently the sawdust gets sucked into the cracks along with the inflowing water and fills in the spaces a bit, until the wood itself can expand. Since I didn't have much of a leak problem, I didn't do this, but it is in the back of my mind for future reference.

britcoal 09-18-2007 03:05 PM


Originally Posted by TrueBlue (Post 194492)
Have you measured from the coachroof top to keel bottom to determine the bridge (highway overpass) clearance?

I'm not sure what the clearance is but I had it hauled on the highway this summer before the launch and it has been hauled on many of the roads and highways around here so it must not be a problem. I think 13' is about the min on highway overpasses here - must be lower than that. Shoal draft must help immensely.

canadianseamonkey 09-18-2007 03:19 PM

Why take down your masts? Is it a requirement for the boat yard?

britcoal 09-18-2007 03:37 PM


Originally Posted by canadianseamonkey (Post 194522)
Why take down your masts? Is it a requirement for the boat yard?

No, it isn't, but I may need to consider some maintenance on them this year (they're wooden..)

Which brings up another question - the varnish is thick, glossy, and not at all chipped, scratched, or otherwise damaged. How do I know when I need to sand and re-varnish? I've been told every other year as a general minimum..

k1vsk 09-18-2007 07:17 PM

It might be worth considering taking a nice fall season sail down here to southern New England where you can store in the water at a reasonable price. Almost all the marinas have fans to preclude ice formation and pretty dependable electric service.

Gramp34 09-18-2007 07:59 PM

Your best bet is to talk to the boat hauler. They'll be able to answer your questions, and give you a quote hauling and launching. They'll also be able to tell you how to support the boat in storage -- they're the ones who set and retrieve the boat. They will know what works.

Most likely your boat has a full keel so will be easy to prop up on the hard with jackstands. You'll need to check them periodically and adjust if needed.

Once you get all the costs you can compare boatyard storage vs. home storage. My marina charges almost the same for hauling to a truck and launching from a truck as it does for haul, store and launch. Bringing the boat home would cost more once I pay the trucker.

I've got a project boat in a friend's yard at the moment. It's on a cradle supported on timbers on the ground. I made three stands for the deck and coachroof to hold the mast about 4' off the deck, running down the center of the boat. Over that I put a plastic "hay" tarp (heavier than the usual grey plastic tarp), draped over the sides and tied down to the cradle. The ends are open for ventilation. It's been up for a year now with just one hole chafed through.

Oh, and 13' 6' is standard clearance on roads. A boat hauler will have a blanket oversize permit and know where clearances are more or less.

Good luck,


kwaltersmi 09-18-2007 09:17 PM

It sounds like a budget issue to me. If you can afford to store it at the boatyard and let them take of the nuances, then that's the way to go. If you need to save money, then it might be worth your time and effort to store it with your friend.

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