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Whiskey Charlie Grows Legs

Guaymas Seca was THE cheapest storage yard in the ENTIRE Sea of Cortez, until this year. They raised their rates for us from $115 for the haulout on the travelift to $150 and from $115 per month for storage to $150 per month. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, especially compared to other yards which are even more expensive, but to your eternally frugal (i.e. broke) cruisers it is an increase of about 20% for a yard we really didn’t like anyways. It was a good value, but very dirty and plagued by mosquitoes in the summer. The bay in Guaymas is just filthy too.

But hey, what are you going to do?

Grow Legs!

Denny Grover, who owns a trimaran in San Carlos, mentioned in passing one night at the Captain’s Club that the costs to haul out in San Carlos are significantly cheaper for boats with their own trailer. If you’ve followed the blog, we originally built a triple axle trailer to haul our 1993 Gemini 3400 catamaran across country to the east coast but sold it when we decided to move the family to the Sea of Cortez versus move the boat to Georgia. The problem with keeping the trailer revolved around the overhead to store the trailer the rest of the year when we didn’t have the boat on the hard. In the end, it was a break even to hauling out and storing the boat on land and I didn’t have the replacement and maintenance costs for tires, bearings, etc.

What changed since in the last three years? We have friends. Surprising, I know. But we have friends that graciously offered their empty lot to store the trailer when we’re down for the winter.

Now, it would cost $15 for a haulout versus $150 with the travel lift and $98 per month for storage versus $150. In the first year the savings would be around $800!

So my goal was to try and find, build, modify, a trailer for $800- in a week!

We asked on the cruiser’s net, scoured the marina’s, hunted through junk yards, and cruised through neighborhoods looking for potential bits and pieces to build a trailer.

Unlike most boats, our catamaran is a rectangle. It’s 14′ on the beam and 34′ long not including the rudders which rotate up and add about 3′. The manufacturer specs rate the boat at 8,000 lbs but other owners suggest they really are closer to 10,000 dry. So I needed a minimum of a double axle trailer that would carry 9,000 lbs plus. The caveat, we’re in Mexico! I only needed to build a trailer strong enough to support our boat for the 1/4 mile trip from the Marina to the dry storage yard travelling at a blazing 5 mph on paved roads. No tag, no electrical, no inspection, no DOT permits.

After four days of hunting I found something that would work. We found a 27′ double axle boat trailer that looked adequate. Like a regular boat trailer, it was 6′ wide and narrowed towards the hitch like a wishbone. I would have to cantilever the boat 3-4′ off the frame of the trailer. A little more hunting I found two 5″ I-beams in Guaymas that were already cut 14’6″ and for $180 they were even delivered to San Carlos.

I spent the morning borrowing tools and cut off all the unnecessary bits from the trailer. When the steel beams arrived, with a little help, they were located in place and stick welded across the frame. I added landing pads and vertical posts to locate the beams when the frame is under water and in one very long day the frame was ready. The next morning I cut the scrap 2×6 carpeted runners from the boat trailer and screwed them onto the landing pads and vertical supports and we were ready!

The next morning we were scheduled to haul out. By this time we had a crowd of curious onlookers. Some in disbelief, some waiting for the inevitable crash, most hoping in earnest I didn’t screw up.

Lo and behold, she held up! The boat was slowly pulled out and the plain jane 2 ply tires bulged like bull frogs but didn’t blow. I followed the tractor back to the yard in what seemed like the longest 1/4 mi I have ever driven. We spent two HOT days getting the boat cleaned up and packed away before Whiskey Charlie was slowly moved to her spot in the dry yard for the summer. I blocked up the frame in four spots to keep the pressure off the tire, with a vow to return with some stronger 8 ply tires next season!

Our total cost for haul out, work yard, and storage for the first month was less than just the haulout at Guaymas Seca!

So how much did it cost? I did manage to find the trailer for $800 but the steel beams cost another $180. Add some screws, blades, welding rods, and foam cushions, the total cost was still below $1,100.

We had to pick up liability insurance to dock in the Marina, but knew the day was coming. It cost another $200 for annual insurance, which will be good for next season, but we hadn’t planned on forking out that much right now.

We will save a bunch long term and the convenience of being in San Carlos is huge. The downside, we tapped a little deeper into our Summer Fund than we planned.

Oh well, pain is fleeting. Who needs to eat anyways?

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