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Correct Cranage - Yachts hanging by a thread

Walking by any marina, sailing club or shipyard, a common visual is motor and sailing boats dangling on crossbeams, straps and slings. What at glance isn’t always noted is how the owners fearfully watch on, knowing well the huge risks these practices pose for their assets.


In commercially run winter storage facilities, these lifting operations are normally undertaken by the company's own staff or delegated to a specialist firm. The crane operator is responsible for ensuring that the machine is in good working order and that only suitable lifting gear is used. All the owner has to do is inform the foreman of the vessel's weight and sling positions, and follow their instructions. In a sailing club, however, the owner is entirely responsible for the craning. 


Read on to find out about some of our best advice to mitigate damage during the nerve wracking haul out.


The most important aspect in terms of safety is to ensure that the slings are in excellent condition. Ensure that the breaking load of the sling is sufficient and check the condition. Dirty slings can easily lead to the exterior of the boat becoming scratched. Damage can also be caused if slings are too short and therefore a long sling should be used to decrease the likelihood of it cutting into the boat. This is particularly important if the boat has a protruding rubbing strake or a foot rail. Further, always ensure that a crossbeam is used with a crane hook, otherwise the yacht may slip out of the sling. Even if a crossbeam is used, the slings should be connected to one another for added security.

If your boat is being lifted by crane for the first time, it is important to ensure you position the sling correctly. The manufacturer or even owners of the same type of boat can often be of help here and provide guidance on how to best position the slings. Once the boat is hanging, take a picture of the slings positioning so that you can easily recreate it in the future.

In addition, as propped up yachts normally rests on at least five points (the four hull supports and on the keel), if the pressure on the supports is too great it can result in dents in the hull. This type of damage can be avoided by first placing the boat on the keel and then slowly lowering it down onto the supports.


Although most boat owners chose to take the rig down when storing their boat on the hard for longer periods, there is no real reason why a ship cannot be left rigged up. If left rigged up however, the ship should be protected more strongly against accidents. An example would be to add an extra fastening on the ground as the rig adds a wind-exposed area and this can lead to vibrations and increased pressure on the supports or on the stand. Keeping the mast in position also makes it more difficult to maintain and check your yacht. Carbon fibre and wooden masts should always be taken down and either put in a mast storage facility or at the very least covered by a tarpaulin, as they are particularly sensitive to UV rays.

In conclusion, whilst the lift of your boat may be a daunting procedure, there are ways to mitigate damage. Wishing you smooth and safe future cranage!

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