Hauling your boat out for a bottom job and other projects can be seamless and inexpensive or expensive and trying. We've just been through haul-out in Mexico....here's our story.

We’ve hauled Tulum out in the US and now in La Paz, BCS Mexico with great results, and the experiences that make you a cruiser.  Considering the fact that we already knew we were going to La Paz for the onslaught of a full chainplate job and all new standing rigging…we decided to also get Tulum’s bottom repainted.  We knew there were yards in Puerto Penasco (where you can do it yourself for less expense), La Cruz and La Paz and had talked to friends about the different pros and cons of where to go…but decided on La Paz as that’s where Tulum would get her new rigging and chainplates.  We also knew that we wanted to get these jobs done as soon as we could in October so we could take off quickly to catch the Panama Posse in early December in Bahia de Navidad, on the Gold Coast of Mexico.  Obviously this plan changed, but we still wanted all the work done on Tulum before this upcoming cruising season.  Diving on her hull, we were also aware that large (hand sized) chunks of her red bottom paint had been coming loose and falling off…so we really needed new bottom paint.  Thus begins my story is about Stage-1 of Tulum’s refit….haul-out and projects completed in the yard……

Going into the Palmar Boat Yard would throw the Tulum Crew it’s first of many surprises…as it’s very different than pulling into an American boat yard.  They made us turn our big girl around as they wanted to haul her ass end first, which was accomplished with surprising speed.  The biggest surprise was that fact that they started lifting the boat with the family on her,,,simply picking the entire boat up and moving the travel lift to get Tulum into a place where she could be pressure washed (probably never happen in the US for liability reasons).  Gently setting her down in the slings, we were able to get off and watch her get washed.  For the purposes of not boring myself as I tell this sage tale….I’m gonna use photos and walk you through the haul-out:

Just out of the water and prepping for pressure wash. 
Tulum blocked and braced. Working with the Palmar Yard Manager, it was determined that the barrier coat had failed all the way down to fiberglass.  I promptly emailed Shelter Island Boat Yard, who had done our last bottom paint to ask them why the paint had failed after such a short time cruising.  The answer was as expected….when we did the last paint job in the US, I had not asked to have the barrier coat taken down and redone.  This time the whole barrier coat would have to be taken off and redone.  We had not budgeted or prepared for this bit of set back.  The additional time, labor and materials would effect the price of the bottom job, time in the yard, time in the Airbnb and set back the schedule to get chainplates and rigging.  I should have asked more questions so I didn’t have to impignorate most of our budget to the haul out.  LESSON LEARNED.  The process to take off the barrier coat is also much different (and slower) than in the US.  In the US…they would sand blast or mechanically blast away the old barrier boat down to fiberglass, but here they simply use some sort of bad ass chemical peeler and “Tio” with his various scraping tools.  In the pic, you can see barrier coat all over the cement and some paint still on the boat in places.


After the barrier coat was removed she was prepped for painting of the new boot stripe color- blue.  I’m over green!
Boot and Pin Stripes getting done by expert painter “Beto” and his apprentice.
After the boot and pin stripe were done, a very experienced yard veteran came in and “filled” all the imperfections in the hull prior to new barrier coat.
First Coat of Barrier Coat applied.
Wrapping Tulum for Hull Paint.
After three coats of barrier paint and primer, first coast of hull paint goes on. See the blue tape on the upper hull and the lack of stanchions and lifelines- we’ll get to that project below and in Stage 1.5 (next story).
You can almost feel Tulum’s happiness to finally get new barrier coat and paint.
Final paint goes on the bottom of the keel where the blocks were. After twenty-one days in the boatyard (and four different Airbnb’s), Tulum is finally in the slings and ready to go back in the water.
In the slings, going back in the water…with all of us on board…of course.

After anticipating and planning for just seven days in the boatyard, Tulum went back in the water after twenty-one days in the boat yard and four different Airbnb’s for us.  Not sure if that means much, but to us it meant four different moves between Airbnb’s, one 11th birthday celebration in an Airbnb, figuring out a whole new budget and pushing back the schedule for our chainplates and re-rig.  The extra time in the yard was our decision as we needed to get the old barrier coat off and get new, effective barrier coat added.  All said and done, we learned some lessons:

1. Yard Bills:  Since Palmar Boat Yard and Marina doesn’t have it’s own website, we chose to work through Mr. Rich Boren of La Paz Cruisers Supply to book the yard, for a myriad of reasons.  Due to tax laws and various other challenges, the yard only seemed to accept cash for services, but Rich can bill via internet/credit/debit card payments- making it easier to pay via electric means.  It’s also logistically challenging withdrawing large amounts of cash from ATM’s, creating another challenge with paying the boatyard.  Back to my story: Originally Rich had presented us with a quote for the yard work which included haul out and bottom paint, estimating the work would take approx seven days.  Once we got all hauled out and figured out the barrier coat needed to come off and get redone…I was presented with a written quote that I assumed was the entire bill.  Here’s the learning lesson- I failed to contact Rich to coordinate on the bills and fully realize the final quoted price for ALL the work.  Yard time went from seven to twenty-one days and the bill doubled because of the barrier coat and extra work needed.

2.  Payment methods:  This here’s an interesting subject that I had to learn about through experience.  We’ve had folks who only take cash, who only wanted to be paid via wire transfer and others who would take a check.  FYI, before anyone fools you…there are two (2) banks here in La Paz that will take foreign checks, but not all the craftsmen use those banks.  But the challenge is to pay the usual 50% or money down for materials when you’re out and about but you want to have an expert craftsman get the materials to start a project by the time you arrive.  This is where Rich can help, as he can accept your payment electronically.  Service Fees and Taxes come up and will be added to your bill…just make sure you know what they are.

3. Instinct for People:  People who want to work on your boat will do a better job.  Nuff said.  And, because I was around to watch, learn and help where I could, I made it clear to anyone who worked on the boat that was the case.  Now, I think I could do most of the projects myself with some scaffolding and the right tools.    

During all this boat yard time…we also managed to knock out a few high value side projects….which I’ll cover in my next story…Stage 1.5.  

So we live on our boat full time but during the boatyard work, we were in Airbnb’s and Quincy Dane was in a local kennel.  Wanna read about our story from the HelmsMistress’ perspective?  Read her story here.  Wanna read about Quincy’s Dane’s Kennel time during all this? Read her story here.

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Upcoming stories that relate to this one:

Stage 1.5- Side Projects in the Boat Yard

Stage 2- New Chainplates

Stage 3- New Standing Rigging (complete re-rig)




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