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Twenty Five Boating Chores to do before next season arrives in the San Juan Islands

             Some chores are critical and some don't apply to all of us, but everyone has boating and sailing things to do before getting underway.     

         This website is supposed to be about  sailing and boating in the San Juans, so if I am stepping out of line here -- be sure to quit reading.

           For me and probably most of us, I pretty much quit boating during the winter months but I do go out a little and still must take care of routine chores.  I procrastinate more than I should and sometimes I win, but more often my procrastination causes me more problems and to spend more money.

         Recently I've done a few very important chores, and some busy work which is more fun, and I'll list off a few right now. Maybe a few readers will be reminded of something they forgot to take care of last season.

The numbers and order mean nothing but I think it looks cool to make lists.

  1.  I just pulled completely apart my  trailers four wheels and bearings. Oh gawd what a greasy mess. I went through one and a half  rolls of paper towels.  One wheel had runny grease, so runny it ran out like heavy oil and it was lighter colored than the grease in the other wheels.  But it was full and showed no signs of not doing its job. I figure water must have gotten in and mixed with the grease, but I have seen frothy water contaminated grease and this didn't look like what I've seen. I cleaned it all up inspected the seal lip and repacked everything. All the brakes were totally covered and saturated with grease and brake lining debris making a black mess, which explains why the brakes never work as good as my other trailers. I have made a mental note to replace all backing plates and brake components next time. (more procrastination) Honestly now, they still work good enough, I hope. I ended up repacking two wheels completely, one I looked at and put back together and one just got some grease added . I feel confident about my bearings now and don't have any worries for upcoming road travel.
  2. I cut off the dinghy line that was too long and got caught in the prop last summer.
  3. My last window leak has succumbed to Captain Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure because I got smart enough to apply it to both the inside and outside surfaces.
  4. I have refilled about a dozen non refillable propane tanks. (fyi - my cost is about $1 per canister and I do not in any way suggest that anyone refill non refillable bottles)
  5. I built a kicker motor adapter bracket so my 5hp Honda sits sideways and now clears the water as well as the dinghy's gelcoat while being carried on the mother ship.
  6. I have added rigid SS standoffs after dropping the dinghy and rope burning my hands.
  7. I have built two kerosene lamp holders so I can hang my lamps from the ceiling hooks.
  8. A few months ago I touched up the bottom paint.
  9. I added a vinyl drip rail gutter to the cabin roofs, a project that I worried about being able to apply straight but it turned out to be really easy and looks great.
  10. I added a site tube to my water tank, so I can see the water level without putting a flashlight behind the tank and then guessing.
  11. I haven't yet, but I do have the yellow pad I'm going to use to create a ships manifest list of everything stored on board including where each item is stored. Then I plan to transcribe the list and print out a good looking copy to be kept in my ship's log book.  Yes it is true, I can't remember where I put things.
  12. I built a new front hatch using half inch Lexan and something that looks a lot like oak.
  13. I have taken satellite screenshots and loaded my laptop with all the likely ports of call for my up coming Sunshine Coast cruise to Princess Louisa Inlet in the middle of June.
  14. I bought two used Canadian charts, since my chart plotter doesn't have anything north of Vancouver.
  15. I changed my motor oil last fall so it would sit with mostly fresh oil through the winter.
  16. I have upgraded my bicycle to  tires full of that anti puncture anti leak glop stuff.
  17. I already wrote about fixing the stoves oil drip valve adjustment so it actually is adjustable.  I was forced to do that from prior procrastination caused problems, but I still want credit.
  18. I got on my stomach in a half open hatch, and with a mirror and flashlight checked the water level in my batteries.
  19. I traced my windlass wiring and discovered an off/on switch I had forgot about. Now my windlass works again after hand hauling chain last year.
  20. I added a mid-ship cleat on the starboard side, the PO must have always tied to port or didn't see the need for proper spring lines.
  21. I installed some good looking golden maple click-lock flooring that closely matches the old teak, at least in color.
  22. I accidentally broke off my am/fm radio antenna, but it still works pretty good so I just cleaned up the fiberglass shreds and pushed a rubber cap over the jagged end.  
  23. I replaced all the uv damaged tie cords on my cabin top kayak rack.
  24. I have built and installed all the components to convert my Livingston dinghy to sail, some fine tuning is still needed but I have had several successful (and fun) sea trials. I may just procrastinate and go with it as is, I can finish up the little stuff later.
  25. I just started what was to be a simple port side light relighting. It seems banging on the light wouldn't cause it to work anymore. When I turned the brass screw heads, both stripped so I drilled them out. After pulling off the lens I grabbed the drilled studs with vise grips and broke them off.  Now there is no way to reattach the lens and I have not even gotten to why the light doesn't light up. More on this later, I'm on way to Ace to find 2.5" x #6 brass screws, I know, "fat chance."
Still to come this year I hope:
  1. Fix the bimini tie downs, not done yet
  2. Drill or make a drain hole for the front hatch (limber holes were forgot, don't ask)
  3. Fill flat fenders with more air and look for leaks.
  4. Find plates that fit in sink or cut a quarter inch off the pretty fishy painted ones my wife likes.
  5. ???

I hope your commissioning chores are as fulfilling as mine are. Lets see wax or polish, what's the difference again?
Saddlebag Island quiet times


What Is The Perfect San Juan Islands Boat - What Equipment is Mandatory

    I  was talking to someone the other day that was earnestly looking for a boat for a passage to Hawaii. He remarked that the vessel he was considering did not have an anchor windlass and he sure would like one.  That comment got me thinking about how often one needs to anchor on the way to Hawaii, and then I thought what else do we think we need but really don’t need at all. 
                In the San Juans we anchor all the time, plus an anchor can be a last chance emergency brake when the motor conks out.  On the way to Hawaii I just don’t see any use for an anchor or windlass, and I doubt motoring very far is in the cards either, so a dependable motor ranks somewhere behind standing rigging because if the mast folds up and goes over the side in the San Juans it’s a big deal and probably will require motoring  back to home base.  If the same thing happens a thousand miles from shore its more than a big deal, it could mean a rescue, so having stout rigging is a must going to Hawaii, but not in the San Juans. How about tanks, do we need a holding tank in the San Juan’s, the answer is no, but they are very handy if you do not want to be tied to resorts and shore side facilities. On the way to Hawaii, I think a holding tank won’t be missed.  Fresh water tank, yes. I think you need one going to Hawaii, but in the San Juans, no, you can make it from place to place with a sports bottle in your pocket.  How about a compass, I think yes in both scenario’s.   Radar is a resounding not needed in either case but a gps and radio I think you need, and since they are relatively cheap and portable there is no real good reason not to have them with you. A chart plotter is not needed but a paper chart is needed whether going to Hawaii or hanging around the San Juans.
How about a refrigerator, nope you can get by without one and save a lot of juice at the same time. 
Did I leave out anything big?  Yes! No!  Of course you need basics like a bilge pump or a bucket, but let’s face it a dinghy is handy but not required, so is a new suit of sails.  I think a good argument can be made for having an emergency life raft out in the middle of the ocean, but not so good an argument in the San Juans.
The purpose for this line of thought as I said in the beginning was to think some about
what gear is really needed on my boat, or on the boat  being considered.
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