Oh Yes. The snow is in our proverbial wake and now it’s time to get at that pre-launch spring checklist. We’ve highlighted seven big ones that should be considered. Don’t think of it as work! It’s caring for a lovely old friend. Do it right and have a great spring and summer season of sailing!
- Purge and Organize
Yes, it can be slightly overwhelming, but once you’re knee-deep in it all, pulling everything out of the boat and assessing whether it stays or goes, you’ll be feeling good. Make piles – keeper, trash, need-to-decide. Once it’s all out of the boat and on the lawn the boat is empty and something feels right. Make the necessary decisions and return the items in the keeper pile to where they should live onboard. The boat is neat and organized and this feels amazing!
- Standing Rigging
Losing a mast because you felt like you could get one more season out of the 22-year-old rigging is not the story you want to tell. Lightly run your thumb and forefinger along the wires of the rigging – if they are full of metal splinters and blood, don’t call the doctor, call the rigger! There are lots of places for things to go awry in a sailboat’s rig – here’s a good article that addresses this issue in great detail – http://www.sailmagazine.com/diy/inspecting-maintaining-and-replacing-standing-rigging/
- Running Rigging
In the aforementioned “keeper” pile there will no doubt be a bunch of running rigging lines. Go through and decide how they look. Are they the correct size or have you been making do. Are they grubby, fraying and on their last legs? Spending the cash to replace new control lines is not fun but having all new color coordinated control lines is the best!
For the trailer sailors, check that thing over before it hits the road for another season. It carries the prize, the love, the muse…Driving a boat on a trailer is a very special yet distinct anxiety. When the trailer is suspect, there are many formally uncovered thoughts and concerns as you make your way. Amongst them, the low level but omni-prominent, “I really hope this trailer doesn’t fall apart right now” thought. It makes the muscles tight around the neck. Go through the trailer, replace the bearings, paint the rust, get a new front wheel crank…it’s addressing these types of things that insures the fun goes mostly uninterrupted.
- The Iron Genny
It’s the thing we look to turn off as soon as possible, but it is important. The motor of a sailboat whether an inboard diesel or an outboard has to be looked at from time to time. If you didn’t winterize it at the end of the season, give it a good looking over now. It’s a lousy feeling to be out with a group of friends and family for the early season sail and suddenly see the temp gauge go to the sky as a broken intake hose attempts to ruin your life. Go through or have someone check it all out so you can head out with peace of mind. Here’s a good article that lists the things to pay attention to. http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/maintaining-marine-diesel-engines.asp
- Life at the Bottom
For those who pull the boat at the end of the season, the first thing you looked at was whether or not you need new paint and/or bottom repair. For West Coast sailors it’s a gradual rating on a dive service ticket, but either way, the bottom has to be right. For bigger boats that have through-hulls, zincs, sea-cocks and below the waterline devices, these areas have to be checked. A fresh bottom job and all of the valves inspected and/or replaced is another peace of mind investment that is well worth the trouble.
This is obviously important. Sailing is fun but it’s more fun if you’re all squared away in the realm of safety. Make sure you have all of the mandated safety equipment and that everything is fully functional. Sure you have a fire extinguisher, but the needle has been pointing in the red for 3-years – don’t be that guy. Check local boating organizations about free vessel safety checks. An onboard situation can either be a nightmare of just a blip on an otherwise great day if you’re prepared. The coast guard auxiliary has this solid list (http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=v-dept&category=virtual-safety-check). However, one thing not on that list is a complete first aid kit – definitely, make sure you have one of those too.