Every boater knows that maintaining the bottom of your boat is critical – and every boater knows that in order to maintain the bottom, the boat needs to come out of the water. If you’ve got a boat small enough to put on a trailer, doing bottom maintenance is a breeze. If you have a larger boat – you need to be able to get your boat out of the water and ‘on the hard’.
We have a 30’ sailboat named Winter Break – about every 3 years we have to take our boat out of the water, sit it on the hard, and have the bottom inspected, repaired and repainted. We did that this summer and had a great experience using the services at the La Conner Marina and La Conner Maritime Service.
Getting to the haul-out area was easy – it’s a quick trip along the Swinomish Channel, a turn east into the service area, and a turn north to the docks and slings. It had been a few years since we’d walked around the Marina yard and we were amazed and pleased at the upgrades they’ve made. I think what impressed us the most were the really nice docks and ramps, and the number of sling sizes they have.
The guys from La Conner Maritime Service were there to catch our lines (which was great!), and within a short time they were working the sling into place to pull our boat out of the water. If you’ve never watched a large boat being maneuvered out of the water and then ‘parked’ for maintenance, it’s quite exciting … and a little nerve-wracking!
The sling-meisters (as we like to call them) do their job, and then they use another machine to carefully move the boat around the yard. Granted, they’ve been doing this for many years … but it’s amazing to watch how skilled they are at moving a boat around a fairly crowded yard. (It’s also fun to walk around in the yard and see the REALLY big boats that are having work done. Their massive size, keels, anchors and rudders make our sailboat look like almost like a toy.)
Out of the water, it was clear that Winter Break had more than just a dirty bottom – our rudder and prop were seriously worn and were in need of replacement. It took a few extra days for parts to be ordered and delivered, but the service guys were good about letting us know exactly what was happening and what our timeline adjustment would be.
The best part of our entire experience came when it was time to put Winter Break back in the water. Off the stands she came, and back around to the slings. But, before she was lowered, the service guys spent at least 30 minutes going over the bottom one last time, doing a bit of paint patching where the stands had rubbed a bit – checking the quality of their work, and making sure all was good. We’ve NEVER had that happen before. It absolutely made the whole experience great because we knew they really did care about their work, and our boat.
Slings in place, Winter Break was lowered back into the water, and the service guys came down the ramp and visited with us while we got organized to get away – including holding the boat for us so we didn’t have to put out lines and then untie.
If you have a boat, and you have need for service work on the hard, we’d recommend La Conner Marina and La Conner Maritime Service. They are professional, they are prompt, they are extremely helpful, and they truly do pay attention to all the little details.
John and Janet Gifford / La Conner, WA