Friday, March 26, 2010

Seven Sins I Will NOT Commit This Spring

I believe in sailing, not sitting on land. I believe in material maintenance and functional improvements and not in primping. Yup, another rant.

1.  Wax-on/Wax off
From what I've seen gel coat can do 40-50 years without real attention, and then there's Imron if I'm still on this side of the dirt... which I doubt. I'd rather paint the boat once than wax it 45 times. Caveat: windows are easier to see through and last much longer with regular wax and covers. They are also harder and more expensive to replace, per square foot, than paint. I pamper the windows a bit.

2.  Scraping Bottom Paint
I use ablative or self polishing paints, and if sailed enough and scrubbed just a few times, there is zero build-up. My last boat was never stripped in 29 years, and frankly, she didn't need it. We hit 15 knots in 12 knots of wind on her last sail with me at the helm, a sea trial for a prospective buyer. Some people worry that soft paints release more copper into the water, but if used until spent, there is little difference; all of the copper in either type is in the water. Caveat: if you race, you'll want a hard paint that you can scrub every few weeks - but not me. That first spring scrub is going to be in cold water, or if you wait until it's warm and things can grow, it's going to be a bear.

3. Draining Fuel and Carburetors / Refilling in the Spring
The trouble is, unless you truly get the carburetor dry, it will always dry out and leave gum. On the other hand, if you leave the carburetor full and start the engines each month, even in the winter--what I've been doing for 25 years--the carburetor won't dry out. A carburetor vent filter slows the process even more, reducing water absorption and oxygen as well, combined with a fuel tank vent filter. After a few seasons of winterizing the boat and having troubles in the spring, I've learned sail all year--even if on a limited basis-- is simpler. Filter/separators help, even with gasoline. If I hauled out for 3-4 months my practice would not change--fuel doesn't evaporate or deteriorate that fast when it's cold, and when it gets warm, I'm back in the water. I love it when calculated sloth is best.

4. Projects Requiring Epoxy...
... or any other temperature sensitive adhesive, sealant, or paint. I hate big spring projects. They delay the sailing season well into summer, waiting for enough good days, on week-ends and in a row, to get anything accomplished. There is a temptation to start earlier, to do it anyway, since 50F seems warm after winter, but the results typically suffer. Even if the days are fine, the nights are too cool for optimum curing. Some products - 3M 4200 and butyl rubber tape - have lower temperature limits. Paints are generally very fussy. Check the labels. Epoxies will eventually cure, but unless specifically formulated for low temperatures they will never reach full strength. Some adhesives will never cure properly. Instead, haul-out briefly in mid-summer, when the weather is dependable. Pre-fab what you can and knock it out swiftly. Chill the epoxy before use, so it doesn't go off too fast in the heat. Paint in mid-morning.

5. Varnishing Exterior Wood
I love to watch other people bending over the rail, sanding away. I admire the results and I love classic boats.

6. Scrubbing
Surely, you jest. I clean the windows, vacuum as needed, and maintain zero clutter on deck and in common areas. Cushions covers get laundered when needed. That's it. I hose off the bird poop when it becomes unbearable, but I can bear much.

 7. Recommissioning
I sail all year. Spring commissioning, for me, is filling the water tank when the dock water comes on (flushing take only seconds), swapping the storm windows for screens (10 seconds each), taking the electric space heater home, and by summer, taking some blankets home. Caveat: if I lived in the far north, where harbors freeze for months, I would act differently.

And then there is the more traditional list:

1. luxuria (extravagance)
2. gula (gluttony)
3. avaritia (avarice/greed)
4. acedia (acedia/discouragement)
5. ira (wrath)
6. invidia (envy)
7. superbia (pride)
Unfortunately, I enjoy these.... The boat is an extravagance, I like beer, I covet large and small catamarans, I discourage myself continuously, I enjoy swearing at old engines, I wish I could take a season off like others, and think my PDQ's pretty cool. I'll focus my effort on my personal list--I have a better chance of success.

I love to tinker--the evidence is all over this blog--but it will not cut into my sailing time. The focus will be function, but I will slip in some primping here and there. Please don't tell.

So many Chesapeake sailors park their boats in September and don't get them wet until May or June; over 60% of the sailing season is spent on blocks or at least with no intention of moving. I don't get it.


  1. Soooo... does this mean we aren't likely to talk you into helping us scrub our PDQ when we get to your area later this year?

    We'll be sure to bring beer!


  2. When we bought Shoal Survivor (then "Auspicious") we brought 2 bushel baskets of cleaning supplies and waxes home from the stern lockers and every other locker (NOT including the stuff we kept on the boat). I figure we will go about 5-10 years on that haul, at our meager cleaning use. She was very clean.

    On the other hand, the reefing gear was reeved incorrectly, the spinnaker had one sheet, there was no mooring bridle or chafe gear for any line, the compass was swung incorrectly by 20 degrees, the engines both failed on the delivery trip, the furler line was miss-aligned so it would not furl properly....

    Priorities. She was well cleaned. Now she's ready to cruise.

    If I even smell wax on your boat, I will leave, beer or no! I really don't like waxing!

  3. LOL

    What do you mean the reefing gear was incorrect?

  4. The internal lines were not routed correctly and you could not winch in a slab reef (they had been recently replaced). I had to do it the old-school way (pull the sail down by hand, lash front and back, then tension up and out) during our delivery trip, which really isn't any worse.

    All that was needed to set things right was to put it back the way the factory had it.

    But be able to do it the old way; a bird built a nest in there last summer and reefing was impossible until I dug it out, which was a treat.

  5. Does your reefing line lead from the end of the boom up to the Leech cringle(?) and then down to the boom?

  6. Yes, that is the idea, though I would be lying if I said I didn't just look in the manual (which is linked on the sidebar - print a copy if you don't have one).

    I know some have lead all of these lines into the cockpit, but that seems like too much knitting in the cockpit for my tastes. I'm comfortable on deck in any weather where I would have sail up, but then again I like climbing around in crazy places.

    BTW, I added a winch handle pocket on the starboard inside corner at the starboard end of the tramp bench. I hate walking around the side deck with a winch handle in one hand. Anyway, the pocket makes it very convenient when you are raising the main or reefing and it doesn't have any tendency to fly out - we took some monster waves.

  7. Ours do all lead to the cockpit. The reason I asked about how the lines run as ours were rigged incorrectly last year. They stopped at the reefing cringle instead of going through it and down to the boom. We'll fix that this season.

  8. Exactly. I'm always amazed at how many ways they can be rigged incorrectly.

    After we re-rigged the lines, we went out in fairly light (10-15kt) winds and went through the sequence of reefs and back up. I'm sure it looked odd at first, but then all sailors will realize what your are doing - testing new gear. I got offers of help once when we were doing an MOB drill - it went well, they just thought we had an accident. Also, once I practiced running out a kedge and winching up to it - offers of help from folks that thought we were aground... in 5 feet of water.

  9. I didn't narrow it down to a number of sins but did make a promise to myself that I Would sail more and work on the boat less. Wasted a lot of time on another boat we had keeping it "just right". Don't get me wrong, tinkering with my boat is something I enjoy, but that's mostly updating and making it more comfortable for the time we spend sailing, not just making it pretty.
    I'm up here in Perryville, should be in the water in a few weeks