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BOATING WITH BARB: Marine travel lifts the only option for larger vessels

By Barb Thomson
Many boatyards are equipped with specialized haul-out facilities to handle power and sailboat maintenance. This is Jack’s Boatyard in Lund. its crane can lift up to 50 tons. Photo by Barb Thomson

By Barb Thomson

Special to the Record

After an exchange of pleasantries with a friend at the Comox Marina, I noticed she was wearing an outrigger canoe on her head.

“Oh, it’s really light,” she said, and then strolled down the boat ramp and dropped it into the water. Easy in, easy out, if you can wear your boat like a big pointy hat, or tow it behind a truck to launch from a trailer. But not so simple for heavier vessels that exceed the Class 5 driver’s licence trailer weight limits (total GVW 4600kg) or sailboats with fixed keels and masts. Those vessels generally leave the water by appointment or surprise.

Reasons for booking a vessel haul-out can vary from a full winter laying-up or a few days for routine hull maintenance; when it comes to sea life growth, your boat is as good as any rock. There are no haul-out facilities in Comox, outside of two tidal grids limited by use restrictions (no power washing) and tide levels. So local boaters choose between the nearest area boatyards equipped with a marine travel lift, a specialized type of mobile gantry crane able to carry up to several hundred tons, depending on use: Ocean Pacific Marine Supply & Boatyard (Campbell River); Freshwater Marina (Campbell River); Texada Island Boat Yard (Van Anda); and Jack’s Boat Yard (Lund). Each has a website detailing services and costs determined by how much work you want to do yourself or what the boat yard facility allows (see links at the end of the article). Hull sanding requires special environmental and work safety equipment. However, if it’s too early for a haul-out, there is the option of hiring a local commercial diver instead. For example, we have employed Steve A. Diving to inspect the hull and change the zinc anodes for considerably less cost than a haul-out.

This spring, we chose Jack’s haul-out in Lund, where our daily commute was to Nancy’s Bakery for blackberry cinnamon buns. The boat was secured “on the hard” by metal tripod stands, while Jack’s staff power-sanded the pitted hull. Once the hull was clean, we re-applied the anti-fouling paint ourselves.

Next time we’ll probably try the Texada Island facility, also recommended by other mariners whose boats like their bellies rubbed. All boatyards have their own advantages, unique to their setting, while we work under our boats, that are for a time, held overhead.

Steve A. Diving: (250) 792-1442 or

ALSO: Stern tie program benefits boaters and the environment

Barb Thomson is a boating enthusiast who writes regular columns for the Comox Valley Record.