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 weve missed your top pick for a do-it-yourself yard, or youve yet to fill out the survey, please visit take our DIY Boatyard Survey (link at right in “Resources” box; also in lower right corner of the Practical Sailor homepage). If youre too durn busy to take a quick survey, just drop a comment below.


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, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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