Last Thursday my bride and I sailed away from Essex for some “together time” to wrap up our boating season on Lake Champlain. Today Errant is on the hard, winterized, and covered for a long North Country fall-winter-spring. What a week!
As always, I’m super grateful to Paul, Tami, Andre, Michael, and everyone else that ensures smooth operations at Willsboro Bay Marina. What an incredible team. Always reliable, always friendly, always generous, always over-delivering. Launching and hauling has is such a positive experience each year. Thank you, Team WBM!
There’s a long-ish laundry list that we need to take care of during winter storage including:
finding and fixing a fresh water leak
repairing the bimini bracket that ripped its screws out of the deck
troubleshoot ceiling light in head (one works; one doesn’t)
repair broken ceiling light in salon near clock/barometer
fix v-berth latch
refinish companionway boards
repair main and genoa
install smart latch brackets for helm seat
source new cockpit cushions and porthole blinds
repair/reseal wiring in bilge (especially wind instrument connections)
replace all running rigging, dock lines, etc.
replace halyard/sheet/line pockets
and various other projects…
But for now, it’s time to celebrate a memorable sailing season on Lake Champlain, and to breathe a sigh of relief that hauling and winterization are complete. And — it’s worth noting — de-rigging, winter storage cover, etc. took half the time of last year. Progress!
Spring at last! Errant will be launched on May 15. I will be traveling much of the time between now and then, so lots of pre-launch preparation and dewinterization needs to happen quickly, quickly. Today I got a good jumpstart.
The morning started with removing the winter cover. Temperatures were cool, but skies were clear and the winds were light. Pretty optimal conditions. Step one was to loose all of the teathers that secure the winter cover to the boat and cradle.
Once all of the winter cover tie-downs were untethered, the lacing at the bow needed to be removed.
Mission [almost] accomplished… unfortunately the lacing finishes way out of reach — even using the step ladder — so I had to climb up inside to work from the bow deck. Here’s a glimpse of the cockpit looking aft from the companionway.
And here’s a view forward once I finished unlacing and unzipping the winter cover from the bow.
The next step was to disconnect the bow section from the stern section by unzipping a series of connections roughly perpendicular to the mast. I folded the bow section on itself in 2–3 foot rolls, and then we folded the long roll of surprisingly heavy waterproof fabric until the bundle is compact enough to fit in a stuff sack for storage.
Then I continued the process with the winter cover’s stern section, starting at the mast and folding my way aft.
Once entire cover is removed, folded, and stuffed into the storage bags it’s time to remove the support substructure that supports the campus. I tend to go a little overboard installing styrofoam insulation on all obvious stress/abrasion points to reduce the chance of damage from wind and snow and ice during the winter. Before dismantling all of the supports, it’s necessary to clip the wire ties that hold the stars one place and then gather all of the styrofoam insulation for reuse in the autumn.
Mission accomplished! The winter cover is off.
Wire tie detritus.
With the winter cover removed and stored, it’s time to install the bimini. Stay tuned.
Spring is in the air. Not only is the weather warm enough today for me to work on Errant barefoot, but I broke a sweat removing the winter storage cover.
Gravity helps rather than hinders. And disassembly is just plain obvious.
It’s worth noting that removing the winter storage cover is a fair share simpler, quicker, and less aggravating then installing it last autumn. Gravity helps rather than hinders. And disassembly is just plain obvious. Figuring out how to jury-rig all of those supports last fall made removal all the more challenging. Today was pleasant in comparison, sort of like feeling extra super well after recovering from a cold.
More good news: the winter storage cover made it through the winter without coming unlashed and without getting ripped or chafed. Bravo!
Stopped by Willsboro Bay Marina today to check on Da Capo/Errant. So many whistling, flapping halyards!
The date is March 8, sort of spring, at least it seems like it should be spring. But the cold, humid wind and a lingering blanket of snow suggest that spring launch is still a good way off…
I was relieved to see that the winter storage cover has held up well, not a single tear or loose line. Frankly, I was a little surprised. I guess all of the hours trying to decipher the cryptic instructions paid off.
I didn’t climb aboard, but I will return in a couple of weeks if the temperature rises to inspect the interior and start a few projects like refitting the v-berth door and deep-cleaning the bowels so that I start the sailing season with a super clean vessel.
I’ve been worrying about installing Errant’s winter storage cover ever since hauling the boat. It’s not the sort of project you can whittle down slowly, a little bit at a time. It’s really a start-to-finish proposition. Or — as I learned once I finally made enough time to tackle the challenge — it can be divided into two separate stages completed on two different days.
Given the fact that the instructions were not a perfect match for the winter storage cover we inherited with Errant, this first-time installation took a looong, aggravating time.
In hindsight, the problem(s) all derived from a single issue. The instructions explain how to install the cover without a stepped mast. Except that’s not exactly true…
Basically the superstructure, a support skeleton consisting of tube steel ribs that need to be bolted together in the appropriate order, etc. was built 100% symmetrically side-to-side. In other words, the port and starboard side of the frame is identical, a mirror reflection on both sides of the center rail. In order for this frame to fit properly not the deck, the mast must be removed from the equation (which it wasn’t and isn’t.)
Lots of tinkering and “cob jobbing” enabled us to finally install the superstructure in a stable enough fashion…
In order to accommodate the mast, the superstructure must be installed off center. But this results in ribbing on one side or the other being too wide to fit on the deck… See the problem?
Lots of tinkering and “cob jobbing” enabled us (yes, my patient bride helped me muddle through this less-than-enjoyable debut performance) to finally install the superstructure in a stable enough fashion that we could proceed with relative confidence that it would not collapse beneath snow and wind loads over the winter. (Note: wire tires were used generously to secure the superstructure to the boat and to secure styrofoam pipe insulation to high abrasion areas.)
Winter Storage Cover
So the two-day discovery is that the best way to break up this project, if unable to do everything in one fell swoop, is to build/install the superstructure on the first day and then install the canvas cover the next day. Partially installing the canvas isn’t an option. The two sections must be connected and secured for it to be wind resistant. Attempting to install one section and then interrupting the installation until later would be extremely risky because wind would likely damage the partially installed cover.
But returning the following day to drape the winter storage cover over the ribbing worked well. It’s still a slow process, especially since it was the first time and the instructions were not particularly helpful as far as sorting out how to orient the large, unwieldy fabric sections, etc.
The good news? The fabric cover fits the boat quite well, mast, stays and all! Phew…