Tag Archives: Winterization

On the Hard Again: Winterization 2016

Winterization 2016: Errant (near right) is on the hard again at Willsboro Bay Marina until next spring.
Winterization 2016: Errant (near right) is on the hard again at Willsboro Bay Marina until next spring.

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!

Winterization 2016: Errant (port side, winter storage cover) is on the hard again at Willsboro Bay Marina until next spring.
Winterization 2016: Errant (port side, winter storage cover) is on the hard again at Willsboro Bay Marina until next spring.

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!

Winterization 2016: Errant (stern view, winter storage cover) is on the hard again at Willsboro Bay Marina until next spring.
Winterization 2016: Errant (stern view, winter storage cover) is on the hard again at Willsboro Bay Marina until next spring.

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!

Late March Check-in

On the Hard: Errant winter storage at Willsboro Bay Marina, March 8, 2015
On the Hard: Errant winter storage at Willsboro Bay Marina, March 8, 2015

I keep feeling the hankering to visit my lonely vessel, so I drove up to Willsboro Bay Marina where Errant is still snug in winter storage.

Pleased to see that her winter cover remains intact despite the whipping winds, and the interior is totally dry. So many boats in the shipyard have flapping covers and loose straps/lines, but fortunately our slow, concentrated effort last fall learning how to install and secure the winter storage cover has paid off. We’re not 100% out of the woods yet – at least one more snowstorm in mid/late March (or even early April) is likely – so we’ll keep Da Capo/Errant weatherproof until at least Easter. Then the spring work begins!

I unzipped the cover and climbed inside to ensure that everything was shipshape. I expect to come back in a week or two with my bride to take some measurements for interior cushions and curtains that she is reupholstering before we launch.

Reminders to Self

The “to do” list is already swelling! Here are some reminders: check on sail repairs; check in regarding fiberglass/gelcoat repair schedule; remove v-birth door hardware to determine why door is binding; order new cockpit cushions; continue researching folding help; and look into re-rigging to ensure safe lines throughout.

On the Hard 2014-2015

On the Hard: Errant winter storage at Willsboro Bay Marina, March 8, 2015
On the Hard: Errant winter storage at Willsboro Bay Marina, March 8, 2015

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.

Winter Storage Cover On

Errant's Winter Storage Cover, 2014-2015
Errant’s Winter Storage Cover, 2014-2015

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.

Installing Errant's Winter Storage Cover, 2014-2015
Installing Errant’s Winter Storage Cover, 2014-2015

Superstructure

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.)

Installing Errant's Winter Storage Cover, 2014-2015
Installing Errant’s Winter Storage Cover, 2014-2015

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…

Sail Removal 2014

Sail removal time....
Sail removal time….

Finally a day with sunshine, warmer temperatures and lower winds. Finally it’s winter sail removal time. I’ve been anxious about leaving the sails up while traveling abroad. And now I’ve been home almost a week, but the weather’s been rainy, cold and windy. Not optimal de-rigging conditions.

Of course, there’s still that pesky winter storage cover that I need to install. (Read: […] that I need to learn how to install.) But that will hopefully happen by week’s end. First, those sails need to come down and get stored for the winter.

Get the Sails Off the Boat!

No matter where you sail… if you’re planning to be away from your boat for any length of time, take the sails down and pack them up… That’s particularly true, say the sailmakers with whom I spoke, for seasonal sailors who store their boat for the winter, either on the hard or in the water.

English: Vessal seen from below
Vessal seen from below (Photo: Wikipedia)

“The biggest thing you’ve got to do is get them off the boat for the wintertime. Never, never leave a sailed furled or on the mast,” says UK Halsey Sailmakers’ Adam Loory.

When sails are left furled for long periods of time, water can find its way into them, and they won’t dry. Where there’s water, mildew soon follows, and eventually it gets into the laminates, where it can do serious damage and even cause the laminates to separate. Not to mention that winter gales can turn a mainsail cover to rags or find a way to unfurl even a tightly wrapped headsail. (Cruising World)

I know it’s true. And I probably should have had the boat hauled earlier so that I could remove the sails before exiting to France and Italy. But having bought her so recently I wanted to squeeze in all possible sailing time before abbreviating the season. Now I was paying the piper…

Once your sailing’s done, strip off the sails as soon as you can, advises Chris Pitts at North Atlantic Sails, in Newport, Rhode Island… [The Sails should] be stored in a dry place in which the temperature is relatively constant. A dry basement is ideal. Don’t leave them in the boat… In very cold climes, notes Pitts, the windows in a headsail can crack if the mercury dips too low. (Cruising World)

So today was finally my chance to remove the mainsail and headsail for the winter.

Early this afternoon I headed off to the marina where Errant is hibernating on the hard. I was surprised to discover how many boats and docks had filled in the boatyard. Not much space left! Fortunately I was able to drive to within about 20′ of my boat which made the afternoon’s chores easier. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

You see, the trouble was that I’d never before removed the sails from a vessel this size. Smaller boats, yes, but this was new territory. I poured over the manuals, but nothing explained the process.

Sail Removal Instructions

So I turned to the internets. I searched for instructions on removing sails from a Catalina 310. Nothing. So I tried to find instructions on removing sails in general. I managed to garner some general pointers, but it was this video that helped most of all.

I would have preferred less Charlie Chaplin and more verbal guidance, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?

I also came across a pair of helpful videos posted by members of the Navy Sailing crew. Derigging the Main and Derigging the Jib offer detailed instructions for a smaller, simpler vessel, but both offered helpful instruction that accelerated my learning curve.

Time to head off to the Willsboro Bay Marina to remove my sails. I’ll post a progress report soon. I hope…

Sails Off

Sail De-rigging
Sail De-rigging

Finally a day with sunshine, warmer temperatures and lower winds. Finally it’s winter sail removal time. I’ve been anxious about leaving the sails up while traveling abroad. And now I’ve been home almost a week, but the weather’s been rainy, cold and windy. Not optimal de-rigging conditions…

Time to head off to the Willsboro Bay Marina to remove my sails. I’ll post a progress report soon. I hope… (Sail Removal 2014)

That was just over a week ago. Much has happened since then. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless. Sails. Are. Off.

I should start by admitting that it’s been a steep learning curve. It seems so obvious, right? Remove the sails. Bag up the sails. Store the sails.

I’ve pulled sails off of small sailboats and windsurfers thousands of time. How different can it be on a 31′ sloop?

Different.

Sail Removal
Sail Removal

Sail Removal

Removing the mainsail was easy. Pull the battens. Remove the slides from the mast. Remove the halyard, topping lift, Dutchman, etc… Pack it all tidily into the sail bag and celebrate halfway-to-completion!

But my celebration was premature. I’ve never removed a sail from a roller-furler before, so it took some research and reading to figure it out. I’m certain it’ll be simple a year from now, but this first time was all new. And then I discovered damage to the genoa, ripping and binding along the leading edge that fits into the roller-furler. Removing the final couple of feet further damaged the already exhausted fabric. Looks like sails will need to be repaired this winter!

Actually I had planned to have them serviced to ensure that they were not going to fail next season. I figured a more knowledgeable skill set wold be prudent, but now it was apparent that the the project was going to be even more involved than I initially anticipated. So it goes.

Sail Repair

I was referred to Vermont Sailing Partners in Winooski, Vermont to inspect and repair the sails. That’s the boss man, Bill Fastiggi, in the photo below, inspecting Errant’s genoa.

Inspecting genoa at Vermont Sail Partners
Inspecting genoa at Vermont Sail Partners

Bill agreed with my guess that these are the original sails, but he felt like they’re in good condition and have plenty of sailing left in them. I was reassured but asked him whether it made more sense to replace them given the amount of repair work necessary. He explained that they could make me a new set, but assured me that the repairs indicated were were and inexpensive.

We agreed to repair the genoa, adapt the bottom of the mainsail, and convert from a B to A style Dutchman flaking system.

For the genoa, they will remove and replace the head and tack webbings; repair sail damage; replace Dacron caps at head and tack; repair torn luff tape at tack; and add a cut-back at the tack to prevent future tearing of lower luff tape.

For the mainsail, they will relive the bolt rope tension on the luff which is bunched due to rope shrinkage; remove the foot rope and convert the main to a loose footed sail; and replace the old B style Dutchman flaking system with a simpler A style.

Given that there’s no rush, I encourage them to fit in the work when they could and that I’d retrieve the sails in the spring at launch time. That solves the winter storage problem!

Inspecting genoa at Vermont Sail Partners
Inspecting genoa at Vermont Sail Partners

Hauling for Winter Storage

Hauling Da Capo at Willsboro Bay Marina on October 3, 2014
Hauling Da Capo at Willsboro Bay Marina on October 3, 2014

Another first this morning! Although I spent many summers in my teens and early twenties working at the Westport Marina, often assisting with hauling boats, I’ve never before witnessed my own vessel being lifted out of the water and trundled about a shipyard with a giant travel lift. I’ve never before had a sailboat hoisted into a cradle where it will spend the winter on the hard.

Now I have.

Mark on Errant at Willsboro Bay Marina early morning, October 3, 2014. Ready to haul for the winter!
Mark on Errant at Willsboro Bay Marina early morning, October 3, 2014. Ready to haul for the winter!

Early Morning

After a fun sail, supper and late night bull session with Mark and Jim last night, Jim headed for home and Mark and I crashed aboard Errant. He slept in the aft berth and seemed to slumber solidly enough. I sleeping-bagged it in the v-berth, and I slept fitfully. Comfortable enough, but maybe just anxious about the haul, the possibility of finding surprises beneath the water line, or something.

Mark whipped up some bacon and eggs this morning, and then we idled over to the service dock.

Willsboro Bay Marina’s docks were quiet, but the service dock was already buzzing with staff ready to haul. From the get-go through the moment that Da Capo was secured in her cradle for the winter, I was impressed with how organized and efficient the shipyard team was. Paul, one of the owners and the head of service, was especially capable. I feel fortunate that my sailboat is being taken care of by this team.

The photos in the gallery below tell the story better than words, from sun up to keel down. Thanks, team WBM! I look forward to spending the next six months or so on the hard, tackling my list of deferred maintenance tasks.