Reader Recommended Do-it-Yourself Boatyards

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Reader Recommended Do-it-Yourself Boatyards

Photo by Ralph Naranjo

If youre looking for a good do-it-yourself boatyard to take care of some below-the-waterline projects before heading south this fall, check out our expanding list of reader-recommended boatyards that happily allow boat owners to do most or all of their own work. We kicked off our DIY boatyard database project in June 2009 with a do-it-yourself boatyard report highlighting Galesville Harbor Yacht Yard in Maryland. In the upcoming December 2013 issue, we will look at boat upgrades and repairs from a different perspective, offering advice on choosing a full-service yard and hiring contractors to do the work for you.

If we’ve missed your top pick for a do-it-yourself yard, please leave the name of the yard, its location, and any comments below. Emails and URL links will activate our SPAM detector. I’ll eventually okay those posts, but better to just to put name of yard and location. We’re looking mostly for positive comments here. Send your horror stories directly to me at [email protected].

READER PICKS:

Berkeley Marine Center, Berkeley, Calif. – This yard allows and encourages do-it-yourselfers to handle their own work, but the knowledgeable and friendly staff headed by Cree Partridge and Karl, his yard manager, are available for consultation or pulling the proverbial horse out of the ditch when you have bitten off more than you can chew. – John T. Sutton; Toronto, Ontario

Dutch Wharf Boatyard, Branford, Conn. – This moderate-sized, family-owned yard specializes in wooden boats but is absolutely competent in all things mechanical, electrical, and fiberglass. Dutch Wharf also has an exceptional paint shop. I have used this yard for over 30 years and highly recommend it, its people, and its quality. – James M. Malkin; New York City, N.Y.

Napa Valley Marina, Napa, Calif. – Located up the Napa River from San Francisco and San Pablo bays, this marina is a friendly, family-owned place. Very helpful people, complete facilities, and the ability to haul any kind of boat. Ive had my boat hauled there several times and always went away happy and full of admiration for their talent and character. – Bruce Sinclair; Pretty Penny; Vallejo Yacht Club, Vallejo, Calif.

Jensens Shipyard, San Juan Islands, Wash. – Jensens Shipyard in Friday Harbor is a great place to work on your own boat. – G. Booth, via email

Schroeder Yacht Systems, Deltaville, Va. – This DIY yard staffs friendly, congenial people, who do very competent work. Their labor charges are reasonable, and monthly storage is inexpensive. – Jack Berkey, via email

Bob Waltons boatyard, Delta Marina, Rio Vista, Calif. – This yards prices are low, and their willingness to help is astounding. This boatyard is within a days cruise of San Francisco (50 nautical miles from Bay Bridge) and is a little-known bargain in a high-priced region. – Larry Smith; Pleamar, 1983 Aloha 32; Vallejo, Calif.

Seal Cove Boatyard, Cape Rosier, Maine – These guys are pros, willing to assist and help with the smallest problem-real or imagined. – Aaron Glazer; Adagio, Albin 27 trawler;Cape Rosier, Maine

Catawba Moorings, Port Clinton, Ohio – Bob James, via email

Knight & Carver, National City, Calif. – Ive been taking my boat here every three years for bottom paint. The yard caters to megayachts, but smaller-boat sailors like us are welcome, too. The people are most professional and helpful, never measuring you by the length and value of your boat. – Jack Grenard; Islander 36; San Diego, Calif.

Pleasure Cove Marina, Pasadena, Md. – Pleasure Cove is located on protected Main Creek off Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Patapsco River. Baltimore is close by, and Annapolis is a nice half-days sail away. This yard is also one of a few on the Chesapeake that can haul wide boats. They have mechanics, a parts store, a fuel dock, and a very friendly staff. Ask for Don. – Jess Berndt, via email

Swantown Marina and Boatyard, Olympia, Wash. – Swantown will let you do your own work, and they have all the amenities (air, electricity, disposal facilities) and some pretty good contractors for when your job gets too big or too technical. – George Lukacs; 31-foot Hallberg-Rassy

Nelson Boatyard, Bon Secour, Ala. – This yard is located on the southeast corner of Mobile Bay, about -mile off the Intracoastal Waterway. The depths are good. Its a small yard with tons of experience. The Nelsons have been here for generations. Ive often thought that snowbirds should store their boats at Nelsons and fly home out of Pensacola, Fla., or Mobile, Ala. – Bob McDonald; Windy City, Island Packet 35; Gulf Shores, Ala.

Mattapoisett Boatyard, Buzzards Bay, Mass. – This is a wonderful yard, very friendly and helpful employees, and they encourage DIY work. They have installed numerous electrical outlets and water nozzles around the yard for this purpose. David Kaiser, the general manager, is very knowledgeable and very willing to provide all types of information to help you do the job. Lastly, they have a well-stocked parts department thats been a life-saver. – Rick McCowan; Breezes, Sabre 402; Mattapoisett, Mass.

Frank Hall Boatyard, Westerly, R.I. – An excellent family-run boatyard on the Pawcatuck River. Weve been customers since 1991. This yard has made keeping our boat possible, as we did everything we could ourselves. It also has high-quality services in all areas. – Rick Gleason; Nell, 1981 Bristol 32

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at darrellnicholson.com.

35 COMMENTS

  1. I’m a PS subscriber but just saw your newest article on this through a Flipboard link, I think an updated article of today. A good DIY yard in Miami, on the river at 22nd Ave is Hurricane Cove. Like everything, prices are up but it’s still a good and accessible DIY marina.

  2. My favorite DYI Yard is Sain Marys Boat Services near St. Marys, GA.
    Their address is: 1084 New Point Peter Road, Saint Mary’s, Georgia 31558.
    Their web address is: saintmarysboatservices.com
    Their phone number is: (904) 219-2869
    If you have more than about 5 foot draft, you will have to wait for Hightide to get in and out.
    They are very knowledgeable and very nice people and are easy to work with.

  3. Check out Bock Marine in Beaufort, NC on the ICW. A great yard, 3rd generation family, for DIY. I have had a great experience using there crew and vendors for work I can’t perform. They have plenty of local commercial boats (shrimpers, pilot boats, dive charters, etc) stopping here. It ought be a good yard if the local commercial boats are using it.

  4. What a great article indeed! Right on the mark. I’ve been going to Hurricane Cove in Miami over the past year for my haulouts. When it comes to “the basics” its definitely a no frills boatyard, no pools or amenities here, barely a bathroom. However, they do allow DIY and if the job is beyond your skill level there are some very good onsite Vendors. I highly recommend Drakkar Nautic which has done a few jobs for me and they are quite reasonably priced in comparison to others.

    That being the case I see HC has plans for future renovation. I wonder how affordable it will be then! Miami Florida is desperately lacking in anything affordable for boats. I see the “1%ers” as the only folks that will be able to haulout here in 5 years or so.

  5. I couldn’t find the DIY boatyard survey under “Resources” on the right side but I have to mention Murrelle Marine in Lantana Florida. I’ve had a sucession of 3 sailboats there for a couple decades and they are the real DIY deal. They have a welder, electrician, canvas guy, smart old guy who can figure anything out, a couple painters, a Yanmar diesel mechanic, outboard engine mechanics and 2 (count em!) travel lifts. They have recently doubled their paved area for long term storage and you can do anything you want with the exception of spraying paint and grinding your bottom paint in the general area. They do have a covered spray shed if you really need to spray. I have used everyone at some point and count them all as competent and user friendly. The fact that they have recently added a second travel lift and a lot of paving makes me happy that the place won’t be a condo any time soon but there’s not many like this left in SE Florida.

  6. I’m at the Marlboro Yacht Club on the Hudson River – 144 Dock Rd, Marlboro, NY. A very reasonable yacht club with 2 60 ton travel lifts and reasonable haul out rates. One does have to purchase a 1 time membership, but after that you can do your own work or bring in ship wrights from the area. Plenty of members have done major work to their boats. Plus the club is kept in Bristol condition, is sound financially, and making constant improvements.

  7. Great article, and timely too.
    I can strongly recommend the Zimmerman Marine yard in Oriental, North Carolina. Total pros. Fair pricing. Super nice. And a knowledgable staff, to do those projects that you don’t want to do. Could not have treated me and my Bristol 45.5 better.
    I would also state to beware of the Sailcraft yard also in Oriental. They allow DIY but are creative with their billing; and not to your benefit.

  8. Check out Duck Creek Marina in New Bern, NC. Reasonable rates, great folks, and a variety of skilled labor (engine, woodworking, fiberglass & paint, rigging).
    699 Galloway Rd, New Bern, NC 28560
    252-638-1702 [email protected]
    A bit tucked away, but a good place to to your work or get it done.

  9. Oriental, NC just off the ICW has two great yards: Zimmerman’s and Sailcraft. They can do all the work, split the work with you, or let you complete what’s needed. I take turns between the two yards and am never disappointed. Dan Allen, S/V Alacrity, Saga ‘43

  10. I don’t see Port Townsend, WA Boat Haven listed. A facility is operated by the Port of Port Townsend that runs the yard but you DIY or select the contactor to do it for you. It’s the town’s way of providing gainful employment for the many tradesmen and businesses in town. A facility dedicated to the recreational and fishing marine industry.

  11. We love Indiantown Marina in Indiantown FL. We have used their DIY yard for years. Only downside are the bridge height limits to get in. Sailboats with a mast height of more than 50 ft need to take the mast down. Lots of powerboats here

    • We have used Indiantown multiple times. Thier travel lift crew is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The front office does a great job of keeping things flowing. The service department varies between absolutely stupid to gross incompetence. It’s hard to believe this service department is part of the same company as the travel lift team. Just my experience.

    • In North Carolina, just North of the South Carolina line is Tripp’s Boatyard in Shallotte, NC. A very good DIY yard with two people on staff who are happy to give you helpful input and willing to do some jobs for you for very reasonable prices. They can haul pretty big boats and all of their rates are good. No bathrooms or showers though. Tripp, the main operator, does allow you to live aboard while on the hard though.

  12. My all time favourite here in southern British Columbia is the Newcastle Marina in Nanaimo. The staff is friendly, very savvy, and helpful. On one haul out l needed a hand reinstalling the rudder. Two workers spent nearly an hour with me, grunting it back into place. When finished, ready to splash, l went to the office to pay my bill and for their time and was told, “Its okay. No charge.” The place is well equipped, sells bottom paints and supplies at good prices, and there are chandlers nearby. Five-stars.

  13. Check out Heritage Enterprises dba Riverside Marina, a little north of the North bridge at Ft Pierce FL, permit DIY almost anything, also excellent fabrication, welding services, limited repairs, but permit local contractors still without a fee. Good local contractors available in cluding Mack Sails as well. An old cement plant, so very dusty, but hard pan, poor shower, change and non-potable water, allow liveaboard for short periods only. Can haul to 20ft beam catamarans as well, reasonable $ summer storage on the hard too.

  14. Charlotte Harbor near Port Charlotte, FL was great when we were there, very professional outfit and lovely group of regulars. You have to go in thru a long canal but it was worth it. I heard it made it fine thru Hurricane Ian

    • There are two boat storages located here. J & R Boat Storage and Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage. Either one you stay at you have to get hauled out by J&R. They did not do so great in Ian. I would say about 30% to 40% of the boats fell off their stands. My 31′ boat was totaled after it fell off the stands. It was expensive to do work on your boat we were paying $35/day for a 31′ boat. They were very nice though.

  15. I would like to second the vote for PS’s mention of Dutch Wharf. I’ve summered and wintered there for three seasons, taken on a share of projects in the yard, asked the yard manager for tips, brought quick questions to the riggers, painters, mechanics and woodworkers and asked them to do a few projects out of my comfort zone. I’ve watched them work on more humble boats like my P30 and restore and maintain EXQUISITE larger boats. I’ve been so pleased with their honesty. Not a wonder that they’re in demand around here.

  16. Avondale Boat Yard: (ABY) Your article on declining DIY boat yards is spot on. I have a wooden schooner for 20 plus years at ABY. The owner has pushed me along to up grade my sanding equipment-which is good for my health and his environmental testing that he does ever maybe every 5 years. He has a very competent shipwright team including wooden boats, all kinds of engines, sail racing rigging and even a structural fiberglass repair. The team has been very helpful answering all my DIY project questions- including my dumb mistakes.

  17. Rentner Marine in Chicago is a small family owned and operated yard since the 1940’s that knows and accommodates wood boats and repairs on fiberglass boats. There are competent with both Atomic 4’s and diesel installations, maintenance and repairs. Both indoor unheated and outdoor storage on gravel/earthen substrate. They are not the best communicators and can be grumpy: “What did you do THAT for?!” but have hearts of gold and have been most helpful in my multiple DIY projects.

  18. I agree with Al Judy above. St Marys Ga Boat services is a great do it yourself boatyard. Good service and reasonable pricing.

    St. Marys Boat Services

    1084 Point Peter Road St. Marys, GA 31558
    (904) 219-2869

  19. I would like to recommend Reincke Marine Fabrication in Fields Landing, California. This is a large facility in Humboldt Bay near Eureka – big 150 ton lift, a favourite of the local fishermen and used by the Coast Guard for their vessels. The RMF crew are definitely welcoming of DIY folks with a decent plan – even for long term projects. We’re in the middle of a long project ourselves and are appreciating how super friendly this yard is. Lots of competent help available if you need it – engine work, welding, painting, fibreglass, etc … Awlgrip topsides are a specialty of theirs – beautiful work. And, of course, the prices are much more reasonable than the Bay Area – for the cost of a short bash up the coast – not really that far if you pick your weather window. Check out their website – ask for the owner, Tod Reincke, if you call. They have a website you can find by googling “Reincke Marine Fabrication”