The Intrepid Adventures of Wanderlustsailor: Avoiding Haulout Shame

Fixing your boat on a budget

Four years ago Steph and her fiancé, Louis, bought a little sailboat, named Thumbsucker, to live on – with absolutely no idea what they were doing. In this new series on the Zizoo Sailing Blog, they share their stories, experiences, and the lessons they have learned from living aboard. Follow Steph and Louis on Instagram. Today’s post is about fixing your boat on a budget: a practical guide to avoiding haulout.

Fixing your boat on a budget

The situation:

Thumbsucker is tragically, desperately, 100% overdue for new antifoul. It’s gotten to the point where I suspect the riotous growth underneath her is starting to develop sentience, possibly even the beginnings of cognitive thought and speech. The basics of a primitive, pantheist sort of religion have almost certainly formed down there.

The problem:

I am horribly self-conscious and plagued with every social anxiety issue you can imagine. I can’t even make a telephone call without imagining and rehearsing every impossible unlikely scenario that could ever take place, then planning / memorizing what to say for each one. Answer-phones are the worst – I have to start over then completely give up and try again later if I get the much dreaded “please leave a message – beep”.

With my somewhat low tolerance for feeling embarrassed, there is simply no way I can allow Thumbsucker to be hauled out in this condition, lest everybody should see the enormous mussel farm thriving on the hull and shame me for my gross negligence and general poor boat-ownership.


The usual solution to this problem would be to squeeze into last summer’s slightly-shrunken wetsuit, plop right on into the dark, cold, suspiciously murky waters of the marina and spend an hour frantically gasping for breath while attempting to vigorously scrub away at the hull. Anyone who has ever tried this knows how difficult it is do anything vigorously underwater, let alone scrub a large and deep mass of barnacle-encrusted fiberglass while trying not to drown. Without diving weights and suction-cup hand-holds – to prevent you from jettisoning yourself away from the hull with every scrub – it is almost impossible. It’s also really rather a lot like hard work and I am a wee bit lazy when it comes to spending an hour getting cold and filthy.

Fixing your boat on a budget

While many may term this work-shy or lazy, I prefer to call myself a tremendous believer in efficiency. More specifically, finding the most efficient / effective way to do some that requires the least amount of effort. Lazy = awesome!

I have therefore devised an ingenious, albeit slightly crappy, and very budget cheapskate solution to my predicament. While it may not solve all my being-embarrassed-by-everything-all-the-time problems, it can at least reduce the severity of the humourless death stares we receive from the haul-out guys as they slowly and deliberately waterblast an entire eco-system off our yacht. So here’s how to fix your boat on a budget.

The ingenious solution:

What you’ll need:

1. A longish rope (apologies, I am bad at estimating measurements, you’ll have to work out specifics for yourself).

2. A helper-friend (I chose Mr Fiancé – he’ll hate this photo, sorry Louis!)

Fixing your boat on a budget

Applying the ingenious solution.


1. Hold one end of the rope each, let it sink under the water until it drops below the hull.

2. Both pull the rope tight and see-saw your way along the hull, being careful not to pull the prop or keel off (that would be bad, don’t do that).

3. Gasp amazedly and exchange delighted / impressed remarks with each other about the level of deforestation occurring as all the nasty growth shears off and floats away.

4. Become immediately wracked with guilt as thousands of fish and crayfish are disturbed by the total annihilation of their life-long habitat.

5. Once you realise the community and destroyed remains of what had once apparently been a highly popular, all-inclusive resort for barnacles is now floating incriminatingly around your shiny clean hull; stash the rope (aka the evidence of your crime) and hide inside until your intensified guilt at being mean to the environment subsides.

Serious note:

My ingenious face-saving rope solution (aka fixing your boat on a budget) is pretty rough on ablative antifoul. I definitely don’t recommend using this as a part of your maintenance routine if you have recently anti-fouled. It’s really more of a desperate last resort just before you haul the boat out.

Fixing your boat on a budget

Sailing Thumbsucker after giving the ingenious rope trick a go – going a lot faster now without the drag from the mussel farm

If you liked this post on fixing your boat on a budget, read more of our ‘how-to’ articles, such as this post on how to choose a marina, this one on the right documents you need to charter a boat, and this list of helpful websites for beginner sailorsRent one instead: we offer over 6,000 boats across 200 locations in 25 countries..