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Dave and Anke
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BOATYard vs B.O.A.T.Yard

If anything's going to happen, it's going to happen out there!
Cap'n Ron

Bring On Another Thousand. I hear it all the time. This is after the initial purchase, mind you. "Boating is like standing in the shower, burning thousand dollar bills."

Expensive systems break down, requiring expensive repair or replacement. Expensive finishes (including bottom paint) need seasonal attention. Structural entropy requires expensive materials and know-how.

Well... there are alternatives. Themes for another time.

Haul-out and yard costs alone can break a budget. Even a successful, quick turn-around can easily rack up a grand ($1K). How many boats of your acquaintance haul out for some small project, only to be found months or years later, still on the hard. Nearly afloat on a rising tide of fees and bills and unforeseen expenses.

A short list of B.O.A.T.Yard expenses: RT haul-out and sling-fees; wash-down fee; storage fee; transport/block/unblock fees; commuting and housing costs (sometimes can't stay aboard on the hard); shelter construction/demolition/disposal; electricity, water and garbage; taxes. When these costs are 'included' in some other fee, it doesn't make them disappear. Then there's materials, gear, professional help and so on. And the expensive little treats you 'run out for' to keep yourself going (coffee, pizza, etc.). And the social costs of being in a yard... time lost to garrulous neighbors and passers-by with the meter ticking.

Worse yet, where's the yard when you really need one? If you need one when they're unavailable at any price, it could cost you the boat. Or your life. Even if a tow were available, they too cost a heap, and still require a floating hull on your part.

A lot of the sailing we do is remote. Should need arise, we have to draw on our onboard resources. I think of this as the BOATYard. Never leave home without it!

We carry a full array of hand tools necessary to build the boat from scratch. Timber tools to leverage our options with materials gleaned from beach and woods. An array of fasteners, wire, line, rod, plywood, 1x and 2x stock, aluminum plate and  flat-bar... enough to fix or fudge most anything. Goops, glues, paints and puckies. Enough sailcloth for a whole new suit. Heavy movers to lift, shift and haul the boat. Tarps to work under. Everything necessary for stop-gap measures or measured, permanent repair.

Our copper plate bottom was an expensive, initial investment. But it's paid for itself in bottom painting costs, alone. Currently, it's illegal to scrape and paint with toxic anti-fouling anywhere in tidelands or drainages to them. If you care about your environment, that's not just greedy bureaucracy; it's good sense. But it means haul-out and paint in expensive, shoreside catchment systems. B.O.A.T.Yards.

Elemental copper sheathing (non-toxic) may be brushed down anywhere (all it ever needs), and probably will last our lifetimes. No seasonal haulouts required. I conservatively figure it will have paid for itself in dollars alone within five years.

Boats which can take the ground have a big, BOATYard advantage, when bottom work is necessary.

Twin keelers are great, as they have their own, built-on grid system, allowing easy access to their underbodies with no extra thought. Flattish bottomed boats are no huge deal to elevate, as you can see from the photo above. Deep keel boats are trickier, but with sheer legs, they do fine. It surprises me how few are used in this country. In England, France and elsewhere, they are widely employed... not at all exotic. Might consider bronze shoes on whatever keel you have, whether single, twin or triple, to take a rough bottom and reduce the need for access to them.

So when you ease up to some beautiful, protected beach, you're right at home. Your pace is unhurried. Relaxed. Plenty of time to give each matter thought before action. All that is done is well done. May even have a few bears wander by to offer a helping paw.

And once you're ready for anything, anywhere... why go back? Why haul out at all? Ever?

LUNA's BOATYard... Foredeck and tabernacle rebuild.

PS. As usual, I'm hamming this up for effect. There are many boatyards, run by wonderful folks, who provide great service at extremely reasonable rates. If you're lucky enough to have one in your vicinity, they are a valuable resource.


  1. I really enjoyed the article. Particularly the information on the copper sheathing. I never gave it a thought before. I particularly enjoyed the caption to the picture at the top of the article.

    I can only hope that someday when I grow up I'm half as wise as Cap'n Ron.


    1. A square bow is not seaworthy i lived a year in a flst bothemed zee punter but in winter it was to i aam in an old age house but i long for the freedom of the boat

    2. Hi Richard,

      Well... I'd say that 'seaworthy' is at least in part relative to what is asked of it. So far (25 years) no complaints.

      I recommend insulation and a woodstove for winter.

      As for freedom, we must find it where we can.

      Best wishes to ya!

      Dave Z

  2. Here's a link to a brilliant rendition of sheerlegs:

  3. Your account of expenses is correct but we often choose this problem by wanting the gadgets an complication of a bigger boats. I have tried to avoid this in my design (see "" at the bottom of the page under Plans. I've viewed your boats on the web and admire the concept. Roy

  4. The motto of the prepared for suprises!