If you are not sailing while the winter and you have had your boat docked, if you are thinking in the spring races at your club, Holy Week are good days to eliminate the cobweb from your head and remember that we have to prepare our boat.
There is always a lot to be done. Do not panic, is normal, just get yourself over it. No one should know your boat better than you do, the boat condition and it’s weakness points but it is better to start by doing a “to do” list. Go to the harbor, open your ship and let the air run through. Tell her that besides you have been long time with no seeing, you have been thinking on her.
It is better to do different lists, one for each area (engine, rigging, sails, facilities and systems, deck equipment, kitchen, interior comfort, security…). In this way you will not need a full toilet paper roll and you will not get upset when you see how many tasks you have pending. If you are not scary and lazy, you can organize it with two different lists, one that you are going to be able to do with help from your friends and crew, and another one with the tasks that you will have to order to professionals. If you were farsighted, you should have a list of little repairs and tasks that you did after the last summer, that will save you time and memory problems. If you did not, do not forget to do it this next summer.
You should prioritize and coordinate your tasks related between them. Do not change the engine filter today if you are going to change the engine oil in two months. Do not check and wash the jib sheets and in two weeks the spi sheets. Get all your ropes, check and clean them the same day. Try to do all your tasks in once, you will save time and you will have organized all the tools you need.
If you are going to have helpers, think in what tasks can be done by them and try to schedule them all at once. Specially that ones that can not be done alone. To climb the mast and check the rigging, antennas, change the blown bulbs etc… is better to do it with help. Be prudent, do not trespass on your friends and crew or you will end sailing by yourself or on Saturdays you have partners to have dinner.
The first thing you have to do is clean and tidy her up. Empty and check what you have on each corner. Do not panic if you suddenly find something you had lost few years ago. Boats are capable to abduct many things and there are plenty of spaces where to hide. It is time to get rid of this stuff. Many things arrived one day at the boat and they have remained there intact because we have never used them in few years. If you ended the last season after a vacation cruise, take your time to bring to the storage all that stuff that weights, occupy space and will not be useful at the spring races.
Deploy your sails and check if they do not have any seam or hole, taking special attention to the dukes, leaches and seams. The ropes are not eternal and they suffer a lot of erosion, check the splices and the ends (extremities), taking special attention to the friction zones or the ones with special loads, as for the ropes that work at the same position at full load at pulleys, sheets, rollers and clamps.
Do not forget that safety is something more than just the lifejackets, flares or the life raft. Check the balconies from stern and bow, the lampstands and the hiking lifeline. Think of the radar’s reflector before climbing the mast. And once you are up, how long has been since the last time you cleaned the mast? Make sure that all the deck hatches are closed…
As you will have probably used all the tools it is going to be easy to do a selection, replace any essential tool that you are missing or offload any you have double. Make sure to include any of the DrSails kits that fits you more to your sailing schedule, it will save you from many contingencies.
When you offload the last day of work, do not get surprised if you hear any estrange noise. Boats, even they do not talk, they are grateful and they express themselves.
Photo courtesy of Nico Martínez