Above sea level

Chaguaramas is boatyard heaven, if you can use the words “boatyard” and “heaven” in the same sentence. Shoulder to shoulder they line the shores of Chaguaramas Bay and every one of them is packed with boats of all shapes and sizes. Many have been stored all summer while their owners return home for the hot months. Many more are hauled out for shorter periods for bottom jobs and other necessary out-of-the-water maintenance and upgrade work that all boats demand every couple of years. That will be us, too.

We hauled Escape Velocity soon after we bought her to replace rudder bearings and seals and paint the bottom with antifouling. We would like to have compounded and waxed the hulls but we had just dropped a bundle buying the boat and decided to let that job wait until next time. Besides, our boat had been repeatedly coated with Poli Glow, a preparation that had not aged well and which we didn’t want to continue. By all accounts we would have to either chemically strip it or sand it off before we could do the traditional compound and wax protection on the fiberglass. At the time we were not in the mood.

Trinidad is legendary for boat work. The legend seems to cycle between terrible and great, and lucky for us it’s in its waxing gibbous period. Labor is reasonably priced and high quality and we decided to haul a few months earlier than we really need to and take advantage of it. Generally boaters want to get two years out of antifouling paint and we’re only at a year and a half, but we’re heading for the Pacific soon and we figure it would be good to do it before then. Plus we want to service the engines and sail drives and maybe tackle the fiberglass on the hulls at last.

We had recommendations from friends on the yards they used and quotes from the most likely candidates. After we rested up from the passage south we dinghied ashore to check them out. We picked a yard based on the purpose-built trailer they use to haul out catamarans instead of the usual TraveLift, which always make me nervous. They scheduled us for 4pm Wednesday. That gave us a day to visit with friends and languish in an air-conditioned cafe drinking coffee and enjoying fast Internet for a change.

Wednesday afternoon we watched from the deck of Escape Velocity as the marina launched two big catamarans as easy as if they were little runabouts on a public boat ramp. Then our VHF sprang to life as they called to ask us our centerline width, and a few minutes later to say they were ready for us. This time our anchor chain came up with no problem and we motored toward the ramp.

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This method of haul out is totally new to us. Jack was waved forward by the man driving the tractor as three men handled the trailer and the boat. They had never lifted a Manta before so they took a long time making sure the supports were in the right place and that EV was securely settled on the pads.

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It was at this point that we noticed someone taking photos of us. It was Kris and Dean from What If who came to offer moral support and to see this method of haul out. To boat owners, a haul out is often a spectator sport. By the time Escape Velocity was blocked the peanut gallery doubled with the addition of the skippers from Moana Roa and Daydreamer.

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Once we were safely on the trailer the real challenge began, driving a 40-foot catamaran through the crowded boatyard and squeezing her into a space just barely wide enough. We were blocked and leveled and power washed, ready for work to begin.

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4 Comments

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4 Responses to Above sea level

  1. I love all those boats “shelved” like a kid’s set of collector’s toys–it’s not an image familiar to the landlubbers amongst your fanclub. Also like the silhouette ahot of the powerwashing–reminds me a little of images used in Star Trek SFX when starships are in space dock. Art imitates life.

  2. Jan

    In twenty or so years of cruising and more boatyards than I care to remember, this is the first I have seen a yard allow a customer to ride along on the hard…what yard did you choose?
    You will succeed with your saildrives….there is no magic or voodoo on there 🙂

    • I know, right? We were surprised they didn’t make us get off. I think it’s because this is a trailer and not a TraveLift, so we weren’t swinging. It was a fun ride. This is Powerboats, right next to Peake. Very large and friendly DIY yard with adequate amenities, and plenty of contractors for whatever ails your boat.

      • Jan

        We have done both cats and monos on a trailer for the past four years. No go…and they do jiggle, but that is a hydrolic trailer…Will be interested to hear your take on Powerboats when all is said and done. We may end up there when the dust settles here 🙂

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