Sailboat Haul Out Methods: A Cruiser’s Guide

sailboat haul out methods

There are many sailboat haul out methods, but which (and where) would we choose as our favourite in south-east Asia?

We’ve been hauling out our boat, Esper, since 2004 (in south-east Asia since 2014) so we have plenty of experience. But with all that practice, and no matter how competent the yard, it’s always somewhat nerve-racking. A sailboat is supposed to be in the water, isn’t it? And once you put it on land, all kinds of stresses and loads appear that weren’t there when she was floating.

Hauling out is particularly disconcerting when it’s the first time with a new yard and a new method.

sailboat haulout methods

Birds-eye view of Medana Bay marina and haul-out

That being said, there are some general guidelines and best practices that can help you choose the most appropriate method for hauling out your sailboat. Here are some options to consider:


If your sailboat is small and light enough, you may be able to use a boat trailer to haul it out of the water. It is a cost-effective option, as you can often rent a trailer and do the haul out yourself. But, it may not be suitable for most cruising boats.

Travel Lift

A travel lift is a type of crane that can lift your sailboat out of the water and onto land. It’s a common method for hauling out larger sailboats, and is typically done at a boatyard or marina. It feels safe and sturdy when you’re on your boat as it moves to its new temporary home in the boat yard

As sailor and boat owners, we can tell you that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of the best method to haul out a sailboat. The ideal method will depend on a variety of factors, such as the size and weight of the boat, the type of hull, and the location of the haul out facility.

Hydraulic Trailer

A hydraulic trailer is a specialized type of boat trailer that uses hydraulic lifts to raise and lower your sailboat. It is a good option for boats that are too heavy for a regular trailer, but not large enough for a travel lift. The initial outlay is less than a travel lift and many yards in south-east Asia have this option

sailboat haul out methods


A railway system uses a cradle on rails to lift your sailboat out of the water onto land. We have seen two of these in south-east Asia (both Thailand) and they seem sturdy.

Ultimately, the best method to haul out your sailboat will depend on a variety of factors, including the size and weight of the boat, the location of the haul out facility, your own experience and confidence in the yard. Before making a decision, it’s important to do the research and consult with a professional or other cruisers in the area who may have used the facilities.

Southeast Asia has all of these methods, and here at Medana Bay, they employ the simple tractor and trailer method.

Hauling out on a track at PSS

But before this, when we arrived in south-east Asia, we hauled out at PSS in southern Thailand. There we undertook a total refit and filmed the year-long process. If boat work in exotic locations is your passion check out our TOTAL REFIT playlist.

PSS is a proper old-fashioned fishing boat yard, so it’s not the prettiest of places. They employ a winch and railway system for haul-out. In a nutshell this means that cradle is rolled into the water on a trolley, the boat manoeuvred on to it, then pulled up until the keel is securely resting there.

Once the boat is in place, a winch system pulls the whole caboodle out of the water onto the yard tracks where it is manoeuvred into its parking slot.

sailboat haul out methods

There are always plenty of divers and workers to check the keel is correctly supported in SE Asia

Pangkor Marina’s hydraulic lift

Our next haul-out was at Pangkor Marina in Malaysia, where they use a hydraulic lift with inflatable pads.

This is probably our favourite method of haul-out.

You simply park the boat on top of the trolley, the operator inflates the bed, and then the boat is comfortably pulled onto land! Couldn’t have been easier!

sailboat haul out methodsThe worldwide Travel Lift

Of course, south-east Asia also has classic travel lifts of varying sizes too.

Krabi Boat Lagoon Marina has the most beautiful hard-stand we’ve every encountered. Here, the lift is planted over the slip and you drive your boat into position. There are loads of staff to take lines, hold the boat, and attach slings, allowing you to get off and go for breakfast while the staff haul and park your boat.

sailboat haul out methods

Beautiful views come as standard in south-east Asia

But not all yards are created equal, and although Kudat does have a travel lift, we discovered that access to the slip was tricky.

There were unusual currents, countless obstacles and a jagged entrance. And once we made it through the obstacles we were left to rely on help from a sailor mate with a fag in his mouth who caught our line and held us in place (because there was no cleat)!

Jamie reveals our ALL-TIME FAVOURITE ANTI-FOUL PAINT in episode 339 on our YouTube channel. Watch it here on followtheboat or go straight to YouTube.


How often should I haul out my sailboat?
It’s recommended to haul out your sailboat at least once a year for routine maintenance and inspections. If you notice any issues or damage, it’s important to haul out your sailboat as soon as possible.

Can I leave my sailboat on the hard for an extended period?
Yes, you can leave your sailboat on the hard for an extended period, but it’s important to take the necessary precautions to prevent damage. This includes regularly checking the hull and ensuring that the sailboat is properly secured.

How much does it cost to haul out a sailboat?
The cost of hauling out a sailboat can vary, always check with the yard first.

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