The past week has been the busiest we’ve had all year. From the day Brian accepted his contract until we left for the airport was only 5 days. In that time we went from a fully stocked and functioning cruising vessel to completely shut down systems and the boat ready to be left alone in the tropics for four months. Anyone who has gone through this process can tell you that this is a super compressed schedule.
Fortunately the logistics weren’t too bad thanks to the advice of other cruisers who had already put their boats to bed and left for the season. We were able to go straight to a local captain who offers boat minding services and arrange babysitting. That done, we could depart confident that someone reliable would be checking on the boat inside and out weekly and running the engine monthly. Bonus, if by some small chance the boat had to be moved, he could do it.
Logic, and many discussions with other boaters informed us that the better we prepare the boat for our departure the more pleasant our return would be. So we did pretty much everything we could think of and then some…
The hardest step was getting the sails down. It took both of us half a day to take our big roachy monster of a mainsail down and wrestle it into the bag. The jiblet (fractional rig) was a breeze to wrastle after dealing with the main and only took an hour. We didn’t have time to wash and dry the sails before putting them away, but the sails are relatively clean and the main is new so in the bags they went.
I stepped up the shade making game as well by completing shade cloths that cover the boat from bow to bimini. They’re not the prettiest in the world but they keep most of the boat shaded, will withstand a stiff wind and are sacrificial by design. They tie in place to the stanchions and life lines with para-cord sewn into the cloth. I feel pretty confident that if we do get a major blow the cloth will rip out before the stanchions get bent. Which is good, because we have one bent stanchion base and I just discovered that a SINGLE BASE costs $275. BOAT man, BOAT.
Sails and shade we’re the biggest projects, the rest was a super fun (insert slight sarcasm) rush through all the systems and shutting them down.
Here’s the list of bigger stuff we did:
Top off water tank
Add bleach to tank
Run bleachy water through all faucets to fill plumbing
Clean & Dry bilges
Run engine up to temp & replace engine pads
Replace seals in head (to avoid stink when we return)
Double up dock lines & add chafe gear
Clean/Spray Dinghy with aerospace protectant
Cover Dinghy & Strap down really, really well
Winterize Dinghy motor
Give away fuel in jerry jugs to happy neighbors
Stow empty jerry jugs downstairs
Move everything portable, steal-able, or blow-awayable topsides into the vberth
Strap down bimini
Spray all exterior rubber with aerospace protectant
Strap down anchor
Cover furler drums
Remove wind-gen blades
Top off battery water
Stow AC downstairs
Disconnect propane tank & spray down system with anti-corrosive gunk
Tie down solar panels
Give alway all perishable food to happy neighbors
Thaw/Clean/Dry fridge & freezer
Wipe down all lockers used for food (anti roach measure)
Clean the !@#$$% out of the galley (anti roach measure)
Lay roach traps (anti roach measure)
Close all seacocks (anti sinking measure)
Strap kayaks down to foredeck
Pull halyards away from mast and tighten
Foil on inside of all windows
And a million little things not worth listing
By the time we finished stowing everything the vberth was 100% stuffed with, well, stuff. The boat usually floats with a few inches of bottom paint visible at the bow. With the weight of all the items crammed up there the bow is floating heavy and the paint is just barely visible. Good thing we don’t have to roll like that all of the time or we’d be the slowest kids on the block.
Fingers crossed all of this work will mean that when we get home all of our equipment will be in good working order and the place won’t stink too bad from being closed up.
This is the first time we’ve left the boat for more than ten days since buying her three years ago. It felt soooo wierd locking the companionway and walking away knowing we would be gone for months. I miss my cockpit already. But, adventures await in Pittsburgh and we will be back for the preemo months after hurricane season.
We’re already looking forward to getting back and heading to the mainland and points south. Where exactly is TBD, but we’re certainly going cruising again come November.