Getting the Boat Ready for Summer

A while back, we made the decision to put our 38-foot sailboat up on the hard (dry storage). The obvious question would be why we would abandon the security and certainty of our marina slip. When you purchase a new boat with an existing moorage in our marina, the seller has the option to sublease the slip to the buyer for up to one year, which our sellers graciously extended to us. The unfortunate thing is that the wait list for 50-foot slips (our size because of the 8-foot bow sprit putting our overall length to 46’) is somewhere in the realm of 10 years currently. In order to get back into our marina, we’ll need to move the boat to another marina for a few years and be placed on a “transfer list.” While not ideal, it’s workable.

When the sublease on our slip ran out, we decided to press pause on the never-ending waterfall of boat projects by pulling her out of the water, swearing we would start working on remediating some of these issues once Washington’s rainy season started coming to a close. Thankfully, that time is finally here, and it’s time to start working on the boat to get her ready for some larger trips we have planned for later this summer– namely sailing to Victoria, BC and Desolation Sound.

Our boat has a LOT of wood on it. It’s a fiberglass hulled boat, but all of the brightwork and both of her masts will need to be stripped, sanded, and varnished. This is going to be a huge task as each newly varnished area will require several coats. In the case of the masts, this means multiple trips up and down each one, stripping, sanding, and probably something like 7-8 coats of varnish each.

As you can see in the above picture, the old varnish last applied by the builder of the boat has far exceeded its maximum lifespan and is overdue for reapplication. Once it’s started to flake off like this, it’s just a matter of time before rain and moisture deteriorate the wood and if left untreated, can ultimately compromise the structural integrity of the boat. It’s important to note that this deck cleat is designed to make fast parts of the running rigging, which can have huge forces exerted on it due to the load of the wind on the sails and ultimately the running rigging.

As our boat was owner-completed as opposed to factory-completed, there are a few elements of its construction that leave me wondering why certain decisions were made. The above photo is of the underside of the portion of the boom gallow that mounts to the deck. This is a load-bearing part of the sailboat, as the main boom will want to pull upward on these fittings. These bolts need to be shaped up, evenly cut and fit, etc. I’d also like to fabricate a metal plate to sit between the washers + nuts and the wood itself to further reinforce this component.

Thankfully we’re not alone in this endeavor. We’ve had some pretty great help and advice from the owners of the boatyard, and while we’re quite new at this kind of work, their help has been invaluable, and we can’t overstate how much we appreciate their guidance in showing us the way to do this work ourselves. Fixing the boat is great, but learning how to fix problems of this kind on our own is worth a whole lot more.

Winter in the Pacific Northwest is hell on a boat, as can be seen in the sheer amount of gross happening on our deck and cabin top. Step one in Operation Tender Boat-loving Care is to make her sparkle again. Next weekend will be our first few days aboard to knock these work items out, and cleaning everything up will be the first order of business. From scrubbing every part of her interior and exterior, to cleaning the teak decking with oxalic acid to re-caulking all of our deck fittings, we don’t intend to stop until she’s boat-show beautiful.

The Trello board I keep for boat work is too heavy on the “Planning” and “In Progress” cards, but much as I do in my professional life, I’ll soon start moving cards to the right and knocking these issues out one by one until she’s ready to head for the warm waters of Desolation Sound.