Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fall Maintance and OCD

In the spring I enjoyed posting a rant about the 7 sins of spring boat work. However, either not all sailors read this blog and follow my sage advise, or perhaps I simply need to these few items to my  growing list of obvious time wasters.

1. Pulling halyards and replacing with messenger lines. Let's look at the case of a typical 45-foot mast:

Capital. 4 halyards x 90 feet x $1.30/ft = $468. Of course, these will last 8 years anyway, so perhaps hiding them for 5 months will stretching that to 10 years. We'll save $117.00 over 8 years. We'll need messenger lines; I'll give you a discount and assume that most are old halyards, so only $150.00, or a $33.00 loss for our efforts.

Labor. If we are very efficient, it takes us 1 hour each way for all 4 halyards, or 16 hours over 8 years. -$33.00/16 = -$2.06/hour loss.  If all the messenger lines were free (and I have watched people buy them) you would have earned $7.31/hour. Whoopee. And I bet that won't seem like much if just once in 16 x 4 = 64 cycles, your stitching breaks free and the line goes to the mast head and back down to the base.

Those messengers need stored and to be hauled to home and back. More work.

Perhaps the most obvious flaw in the practice is that the lines need not wear at the same points in the winter that they wear in the summer. They can be shifted by simple means: the roller furling jib will be lowered, the topping lift can be raised 1-foot, and the main and spinnaker halyards can be extended 1-foot to hide the normal wear points; pull them out a little further and tie them to the rail instead of clipping them on. That will take only minutes in the fall and seconds in the spring. With simple practice, I suspect the lanes will fail first at one of their normal wear spots and all of the effort of storing the lines will have been for naught. Good exercise, I suppose.

Perhaps they are high-tech lines on a tricked-out "racing" boat. Though she may have Kevlar sails, she's an over weight monohull and pretending to race is rather like a whispering contest. Real race boats can go 20 knots. They have 2 or 3 hulls or or flat bottoms. One designs race too. Handicap racing, particularly hauling lead and cookware around sheltered waters is plain silliness, in my not altogether humble opinion. I feel the same about bowling and golf too, by the way; really, you either win or you don't. Age and weight classes I get.

On my last boat I got 10 years out of my Kevlar halyards. I simply trimmed them a few feet every few years.

2.  Hauling for the winter. My last boat was seriously damaged by improper blocking. Really, how many boats are better supported on stands than by water?

Freeze damage is a lesser risk in boats in the water, since the temperature very seldom dips below freezing; the water keeps them (relatively) warm. Every spring I see a few rudders and keels that have been split by ice while stored on the hard; they've seen temperatures they would never see in the water. Yes, you need to be sure of your through hulls and drains.

Off-season sailing. Anyone who would willingly miss the Chesapeake in October shouldn't call themselves a sailor; it's the finest season. Additionally, the cost-per-sail is half when you sail twice as much, or nearly so. Spring commissioning largely goes away. Engines and electronics prefer regular use.

Expense. About $325 to haul/block/launch. Another $1,000 in storage. A total waste. Yes, hauling for painting is unavoidable, but there are plenty of 2-year paints, and that only takes a week.

Insurance. No, hauling is not required and staying in increases rates only about $50/year (they know yards aren't safe places).  You are typically required to "lay-up" for a few weeks (the specific weeks are designated in my policy), but that can be in the water. The only requirement is that "the boat not be available for immediate use", which is simple to document in the log. Don't be dumb enough to have an accident sailing during the designated week.

3.    Taking everything home, for safe keeping. Thanks, but no thanks. I've got enough stuff at house. My marina is safe--in over 20 years nothing has moved on anyone's boat.

4.   Extra lines, but no chafe protection for those they already have. Would you rather have one good climbing rope or 2 ropes that were pulled up from the ooze under the marina?

5. Tarps. Yes, they can help, if well thought out. I've also seen gelcoat rubbed to bare glass, stanchions pulled in, biminis crushed flat, and stands pulled out (the high-wind domino is always a fright to see). Invariably, they blame the damage on the winter, not the tarp. I'm very judicious in my use of tarps.


I simply feel better knowing that my toy, my alter ego, my escape, is in a continuous state of readiness, to go where I want and when I want. Any illusion of freedom requires that.

But humans are herd animals; if we see a group, we follow the crowd.