Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Boating Season, right? Right. For those in the Northern latitudes of the United States, boating season is short, much-anticipated, and well-loved. As the snow begins to melt, and the lakes thaw, our brains are turning to warmer weather and what needs to happen to get our sailboat ready and optimized for sailing this summer on the lake. So we are asking ourselves: What do we need to do to prep for boating season?
Things we’ve been discussing:
Ideally, your engine has been winterized. Getting the engine ready for being in the water is important!
We have an outboard on our day-sailor. I tried to use it without Jeremy last summer. Oh what a comedy of errors. So we are in talk and research mode as to what would make a better engine, what it would cost, what’s really essential, and what do I need to do to be able to use it by myself.
Before putting a boat in the water for the season, it’s important to check the bottom, if that wasn’t done in fall. Scrape any growths off (barnacles, zebra mussels! etc), not only do they slow your boat down, but if you are moving your boat into different waters, you could also be transferring invasive species- this is a real and serious issue for the ecology of our freshwater resources. Here is an article from BoatUS that has information on cleaning your boat, and links to information on various invasive species for inland US waters.
Does the bottom need to be re-painted? It is not a fun job, but one that helps your boat last longer and perform better. Painting needs to be done once the air temperatures are higher so the paint can properly dry and cure before being put in the water. Read the directions on the paint you are using!
We painted our boat last year, so her bottom is good to go this year.
Another important part of prepping for boating season is checking all your connections and standing and running rigging. Is there wear that needs to be addressed and replaced? Does everything still look and feel secure?
The Head. Our boat currently does not have a head. Last summer we had a bucket on board. Sailing with kids, and a mama…requires a head. Jeremy salvaged one this fall off a different boat, so he is figuring out how to plumb it into the boat! How luxurious! We’d really like to do overnights on the boat this summer, and that requires potty access!
Comfort and Cushions
The boys and Jeremy have had several sleepovers on the boat, while in the marina. They boys LOVE it. The thing I hear from Jeremy is how uncomfortable he is, and how poorly he rests. If I’m going to sleep on the boat, and I’d like to, we need to make it more comfortable, without going overboard (ha!). Maybe hammocks for the boys so we get the v-berth? There’s 5 of us, and not a lot of sleeping space down below. But I’m committed to making it work.
Our sailboat has original cushions from 1977. While the cushion itself still seems to be good, the coverings are old, falling apart, and smelly. I’m enlisting the help of a friend who is an excellent sewer to help me make new cushion covers this year. Some fresh color really livens up down below.
Maybe something like this?
This is the most fun to discuss. Where are we taking Bandersnatch this summer? Where can we go in a day? An overnight? If Jeremy has 3 or 4 days off where can we end up? Can we make it to another city, leave her, and head home, only to journey farther in a week or two when we have more days off? (There’s a lot of logistics to that…)
What does your boat prep look like for this boating season?