Hauling Out and Back in Time

14 Oct
I hate to admit it, but after sailing two-thousand odd miles to get to Maine this summer I hardly did any sailing when I got there. Almost from the first day I got caught up in land life and before I noticed its passage summer was at its end. So instead of trying to gather a crew to head right back where I came from, I decided to winter the boat in Maine and take the time next summer to explore the coast. I got very lucky with the haulout.
The mooring I’ve been on for the summer is owned by Riverside Boat Company, a little yard very close to my parent’s house. Although they’re a very traditional yard working almost exclusively in wood the owner agreed to store my plastic boat. There is nothing ordinary about Paul Bryant’s yard and the haulout was no exception. He used the same techniques and much of the same equipment that the yard has been using for many decades, using the tide to nestle my boat on a custom-made wooden cradle and winching it up a set of rails with an antique Ford.
The day started just before high tide. A couple of days before I had given Paul a basic lines drawing of the boat and with that he tracked down an old cradle which was more-or-less the right size. Paul’s two yard guys and I hopped aboard and brought my boat to the cradle where they expertly centered it and jammed wooden wedges between the hull and the cradle.
Fitting blocking to the cradle
This secured my boat well enough to winch it up onto the hard:
Paul did this with a 1970’s vintage Ford:
 At Riverside this is new equipment. Up until recently he did all the hauling with a Ford from the 30’s.
It works like this: a cradle is made to fit the boat and then placed on top of a platform of wood, concrete, and steel which runs down a set of rails into the water. With a boat positioned on the cradely and temporarily secured Paul braces his truck and uses the winch to drag the boat up the rails onto the hard.
Note the rails running up from the water
As it dries out the bracing is secured until there is no chance of shifting. This is done with ‘poppits’ which are the vertical members of the cradle. Two on each side hold the hull and the bow rests on a fifth. Blocks of wood are used to perfect the fit.
On my cradle we were short a set of poppits so once the rest were secured Paul made a pair on the fly. With a chainsaw.
Fitting new poppits
At this point the boat my boat is ready to sit out the winter, it’s just a question of getting it where we want it to go. First there is the mast to take care of. We unstepped it with the boom that you can see in this photo, but I was too busy helping to snap any pictures of that.
Nearly ready to move
Then we hauled my boat further up the track to get it out of the way of everything else they had to do that day.
To do this Paul unhooked the winch cable and linked cradle to truck with a solid steel bar. This allows for moving the boat around a bit faster than the winch can manage and with the ability to push as well as pull.
A simple, effective linkage
At this point there are two options. Boats with a set launching schedule are lined up perpendicular to the rails and the rest go out on wheels to various areas of the yard. The former are actually slid down a wooden track without any moving parts. Aside from being made of wood this track looks similar to a standard railroad. It runs out away from the metal hauling rails and boats are simply slid along it by attaching a snatch block to a convenient tree and winching them out. Boats that are scattered around the yard are moved with a similarly simple elegance- Paul just attaches a set of wheels to them with a few gigantic C-clamps and drags them around the yard with the truck!
This, unfortunately, I didn’t get to see as the yard needed to get back to more important things that day. This style of hauling out is fairly labor intensive; just my little boat kept the three yard guys and myself occupied for nearly four hours. And the cost? Commensurate to what a haulout might have cost when that Ford was brand new.

This article was syndicated from Safe At Harbour But Meant For The Sea: DIY Sailing with Paul Calder


  1. Freddie

    If you come around Buzzard’s Bay next summer, let me know! I’d love to get together and give you company in one of the stops! Perhaps in Cuttyhunk, MV, or Nantucket?

    Tartan 27 Yawl “Destinada”

  2. Roger Noakes

    Hi Paul.
    We will be launching the old Nada in the spring. There is an article on what we are doing in OceanNavigator.com. It would be fun to have you visit on your trip south after the winter. We’re on the north shore of Long Island NY

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