Chatting with fellow cruisers recently, the discussion turned to Hauling Out. We three women had gone ashore for exercise, leaving our men aboard working on projects. One of them was scheduling a haul out in Trinidad, to coincide with a trip back home to Australia. They still hadn’t decided whether to have the bottom painted during the rainy season in Trinidad or to haul out again later for that purpose. The other first mate said they hadn’t decided whether to haul out over the summer in Grenada or wait until they returned to St. Martin. I said, “I’m glad that’s behind us this year. We hauled out in Rodney Bay and had a great experience there.”
Back in Maine, normal boaters haul out only at the end of the season, when they store their boats. As live-aboards, we generally hauled out every 18 months, and had a diver check the zincs at least twice between haul-outs. Hauling out is expensive, and if you live aboard, you’ll either have to find a place to stay or adapt to living “on the hard”. Generally I hate living “on the hard”. You can’t use the head or any sink drains. you have to carry any gear/provisions up the ladder and any trash or supplies for the projects down the ladder. The boat may not be faced into the wind so you get no breeze below, the list goes on. I resolved to be cheerful about this haul-out and in fact found it to be not only tolerable, but good. It was a good experience.
We had been referred to IGY at Rodney Bay by two gentlemen we met on a dock in Falmouth Harbor, Antigua. They work on the fine yachts that visit Antigua and then they travel to New England in the summer to work on those fine yachts in their home ports. They were adamant that Rodney Bay was the best place to haul out and get work done south of Antigua. While we were in Guadeloupe, EW sent an email to Edwin Chavez, Assistant Manager at Rodney Bay, and Edwin answered his questions promptly – always a good sign. They had room for us, we could do as much of our own work as we wished, and they had an experienced crew who could fix the keel and rudder and perform any other repairs or improvements we needed. All we had to do is contact Edwin when we arrived in Rodney Bay and book a day and time to haul out.
At fourteen hundred on Wednesday, June 15th, we approached the lift and met Ricky, Dwayne, Jermaine, and Kendall. Ricky is the Yard Manager and the haul out crew chief/guru; his team also includes Gerard who assisted with splashing La Luna, and this is an excellent team. We had trouble backing against a contrary wind and current and I had trouble tossing a line correctly. They remained unruffled and friendly. After some delay as they worked with EW to determine our aft lift point, they hauled La Luna and hosed her down, leaving her in the lift overnight as the keel dried. (They also set up jack stands to reduce the potential for swaying in the lift – something I’m sure would have been disconcerting.) Over the next 9 days, we were moved once, and lifted once so that the fiberglass experts could repair the keel. Ricky and his crew always gave us a time for the move, and they were always on time. Ricky, the Yard Manager, is an excellent manager and he knows a lot about boats – not just lifting and hauling them. EW was impressed and I was relaxed with the professional expertise and friendly manner of the whole lift crew. (In Maine, our first sailboat, a Seafarer 26, was placed incorrectly on her jack stands and fell over. I’ve been leery of the whole process ever since, and usually don’t watch.) In Rodney Bay, La Luna was in good hands.
As for living on the hard, well they supplied a sturdy ladder that they tied to our stern ladder, so there were plenty of hand holds for getting up and down. Edwin was available whenever we had a question, and the rest of the team – from security to billing – were excellent. The marina has heads and showers labeled “male” and “female” (Edwin apologized for the poor grammar before I had seen the signs) and the cleaning lady is frankly unbelievable. The shower building had been damaged in the last hurricane, so tiles were missing, but you couldn’t ask for a clearer facility. I was happy, but hauling out isn’t about having clean showers to use, hauling out is about getting work done on the boat. That went well, too.
IGY purchased Rodney Bay Boat Yard and Marina some (one person said 10) years ago. and essentially fired most of the experienced yard workers. Instead those same workers (or the best of them) have trailer offices around the perimeter of the property and are independent contractors. We didn’t understand this but the system works thusly:
- You can come ashore and go see Elvis, Fiber, Chinaman, or other experts and contract them for work.
- You can meet with Edwin, the Manager, and go over your needs with him and he will assign the contractors to your project.
- You can meet with someone at the Marina who will project manage your work, reputedly for no extra fee. Evidently he is paid by the boatyard or contractors, similar to working with a Travel Agent.
We didn’t really understand this system, and opted for option number 2 as that is the system we know. There were a few minor glitches during the first days, but once EW understood the system and told Edwin that we wanted him to assign the crew, things moved along smoothly. We had the boatyard do the following:
- Repair the keel and rudder from the bad grounding in the Berry Islands, Bahamas
- Replace the cutlass bearing
- Clean, wax and polish the hull
- Polish the stainless steel
- Provide customs brokerage for parts we’d had shipped to St. Lucia
Steve started grinding the aft end of the keel as soon as they had moved La Luna to her spot on Thursday. Steve worked on the keel and on the cutlass bearing through the end of the week. He didn’t work the following week, so Elvis finished the keel repair, essentially rebuilding the aft corner of the keel, and grinding and repairing the bottom of the keel and the rudder. Both men are very skilled, and both were fun to work with (or around). EW and I each had our own assigned tasks, but had to make sure that we didn’t impede Steve or Elvis. Knowing that your boat is being repaired properly is wonderful, enjoying working with the crew is priceless.
Elvis worked part of the weekend, as did EW and I. EW and I also played a bit by attending Fish Friday with Carl and Carrie from S/V Sanctuary. In fact, as has been mentioned in the previous post about the haul-out, this was the most social haul-out experience I’ve had. We visited with, were hosted by, or ate out with cruisers at least eight times over eleven days. It was a good haul-out. We enjoyed getting to know Elvis and some of the other crew and they were open to sharing advice about the boat as well as where to get the best Caribbean Stewed Chicken. Captain Mikes is a small restaurant/bar right off the fuel dock and it has just come under new ownership. The food was excellent and since they were targeting the locals as well as the cruisers, the prices were very good. We ate there a number of times.
This was a no trauma haul-out – including when it came time to pay. I mentally added up the work we had done and was cringing at what I was afraid the bill would be, while EW had a much more realistic estimate. He was right. We had all that work done, including the cost for the new cutlass bearing, for $2100.00 US. Nice. We did have just a tad bit of trauma as we were going back into the water. My fault. I had rigged the dock lines and fenders, and handed them up to the lift crew as Ricky lowered La Luna back into the bay. The wind was pushing the bow toward the concrete pier, but I wasn’t worried as I had given Dwayne the bow line. Well, I wasn’t worried until Dwayne exclaimed, “It’s not cleated!” My bad. I ran to the bow and cleated the line and Dwayne hauled with great effort. No worries, mon, though Dwayne, Ricky and the crew gave me a bit of well-deserved grief.
In short. It was a great haul-out experience and we would definitely recommend IGY Marina and Boatyard at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. And I’m really glad we don’t have to worry again about this for another 12 to 18 months.
EW and some of the IGY crew during the haul-out . Moving La Luna into her space for the week./
Keel under repair. La Luna, lifted for keel bottom repair.
One of Elvis’ crew working on the lifted keel. Beautifully repaired bottom of our keel.
(Looking up from under La Luna.)
Repaired Keel. It’s a beautiful thing.
If you look closely, you will see we have a two-toned bottom -- red and black. More on that in a post about raising the waterline and painting the bottom.
Below, the Officiant Bag on the ladder.
NOTE: As of this date, July 15, 2011, Harts At Sea does not accept advertising. I was not paid for this post and we did not ask for or receive a discount from IGY Marina. Just sayin’. The crew knew I wrote a blog and did agree to have their photos published and to have me mention their first names.