FINALLY back aboard Winterlude! WooHoo! Priorities! Now to get the boat ready to live-aboard & sail & commuter cruise!
Each time we return to the boat, our first priority is to get settled enough to stay aboard. Alot of commuter cruisers stay in a hotel the first night back. We’ve prioritized our return because we both enjoy the boat enough to want to stay aboard the very first evening — sitting in the cockpit watching the sunset and the manatees is something we always enjoy … especially with a bit of wine!
So, first priority is to get the boat 1. Liveable…
next priority is 2. Sailable
and the final priority is: 3. Testing All Systems.
The first glimpse & unlocking the boat is always discouraging, there are always issues whether it be rotted stitching on the dodger, or mold on the exterior teak … you never know what to expect, but if you don’t expect perfection, you’ll be much happier adjusting to the fact that anytime you ignore a boat for six months in the tropics it’s going to look a bit neglected. This year, the exterior companionway teak is covered in black mold … what’s THIS all about? We never have black mold. Luckily, David unlocks the companionway and below doesn’t even smell except a bit stale. It’s a crowded since all the sails, the shadetree awnings and all the new canvas from last winter’s mini-refit, plus all the new stainless is down below, insuring we cannot walk below before removing some stuff. LIVEABLE is the first objective….
Liveable... the first challenge is that the boat is centered in the slip with double lines insuring that it won’t get too close to a dock in the event of a hurricane … but I cannot begin to climb aboard with the six foot gap between the boat and the dock…. so the first step to making the boat Liveable is to adjust the lines so that I don’t have to climb over the bow! Now that we’re close enough to the dock to climb aboard, it’s time to unlock & see what challenges we’re facing. Keep in mind, if you expect everything to be perfect, you probably won’t like commuter cruising …. if you expect everything to be a challenge, you might be pleasantly surprised!
We remove the mainsail and temporarily bend it on the boom and cover it with the MackPack so it’s out of the way to put the rest of the canvas on the boat — it’s all below, including the stainless framework, so we can’t get in until we remove it and put the dodger and bimini on. Interestingly, the stainless that was stored below had some rust spots that I cleaned off before putting the canvas back on. But the stainless that was outside is almost spotless – apparently they’ve had more than the normal amount of rain here over the summer!
Next the new last year dodger & bimini go back in place. Good thing we used blue tape to label every piece of stainless and the bolts/screws so we knew just how it went back together. Consequently, the dodger and bimini were back in place within an hour or so. I did clean the stainless wherever there were rust spots before we put the canvas back on for the season.
Before we put anything away we like to make sure it still works … we’ll need it next spring before we put the boat away for hurricane season… so we doublechecked the dehumidifier before we took it off the counter, and the “broken” shadetree awnings – we’ll need to order new tent poles before putting them up next spring, so we know what we’ll need since a major thunderstorm shattered a couple of tentpoles when we left last spring.
We added the new shadecloth covering the windshield and side windows for the dodger to keep the sun’s heat out in late afternoon, then we needed to pump up the dinghy enough so we could hoist it up a bit to allow some airflow through the hatches. We removed all the canvas covering the hatches to let light in. Then we folded up the shadetree shade awnings and the dinghy cover for storage under the pullman berth later.
It’s late in the afternoon, time to make sure the propane works, both for the stove and the grill. Sure enough VOILA! No problem this year – unlike last year when the propane was leaking & it was a major chase to track down the problem! So we grilled burgers on the grill and had rice/veggie pilaf cooked on the stove … along with some cabernet sauvignon to celebrate the occasion! I even saw a manatee off the stern — I’m sure they were welcoming us home!
So the only problems we noticed so far beside all the shockcords disintegrated is that the Seagull Drinking Water Filter seemed a bit less than normal — I think we decided last spring that it needed a new filter but that we’d make it do until we returned. So tomorrow we’ll need to replace the filter — too bad, they’re expensive, but they generally last a few years, so maybe $20 a year for better water than I get at the lake cottage? Seems like a fair trade.
We have airflow, I can get on & off the boat, all the stuff we brought back is re-installed, including the “new” varnished cockpit table, there’s airflow with the dinghy up and moved forward, all the hatches are open and it’s a wonderful night in paradise! WooHoo! Still haven’t totally accomplished #1 Liveable yet, but we’ve only been aboard 8 hours and it’s looking good!