How to prepare a yacht for a lift out by boat hoist

As a boat owner there are going to be times when you’ll need to lift out your pride and joy, either for winter storage or anti-fouling work or perhaps to undertake checks or routine maintenance. For those of you that haven’t done this before, there are some practical issues to consider. Here are a few tips;

1: Make sure that the hoist and the surface you are storing your boat on are sufficient for the purpose. This will include making enquiries as to what sort of chocking system will be used for storage. Is a frame used? If not, who chocks the hull and is this part of the service? Most importantly, what are you responsible for and are you / they insured! Consider taking some ‘before’ photos if in doubt.

2: You will need to check the owner’s manual and specification for weight, draft, recommended lifting points, etc. Remember that your vessel will be heavier with fuel, water and other sundries on board.

3: Check the deck and hull for marked lifting points. The hoist’s slings may need to be adjusted slightly to allow for weight distribution on board.

4: Make sure the vessel is well fendered and your crew or hoist staff are well briefed on how you’d like the vessel protected during the lift. Fenders!

5: Consider removing the transducer for the depth sounder and inserting a blank plate before the lift. Failing to do so can cause damage to these sensors.

6: Dependent on the style of hoist and the rig design, you may need to remove the backstay to allow for the lift. If this is the case make sure you brace the mast with a halyard (probably the main halyard) and locate it somewhere forward of the backstay’s usual position. If you carefully mark the thread on the backstay (perhaps with insulation tape) you should be able to retension the rig to it’s former position without needing to get to involved in rig tuning.

7: Before lifting the yacht remember to close the engine sea cock (unless you want the system dry of course). If you don’t, it’s likely you will have an airlock when you ‘splash’ the hull again. Put a note on the engine start and chart table reminding you to reopen the sea cock after she’s back in the water!

8: You may need to clean the hoist or slings (especially if you are using a club hoist) so be prepared for that and if you are leaving the boat for any length of time no doubt you will add isolation of batteries to the isolation of gas, unless you will be plugging her into mains shore power, of course. Best to secure the hatches too.

9: If you intend to visit the yard to work on your boat, you may need to sign in as a visitor and comply with their policies on health and safety, including the wearing of appropriate footwear, etc.

10: If you intend to cover the deck with a bimini or tarpaulin during storage on hardstanding, make sure to take account of windage effect, especially during the winter months. 

Of course, you know your boat best and the yard will know how to use a hoist. Therefore, clear communication in preparation of the hoist is the best way to make sure everything goes smoothly. Good luck!

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