I guess this is relatively common plan: buy a boat
on the lakes, learn, outfit and then cast away. We ourselves certainly still moving along such plan. However, here is a bit of a cold shower
and a warning to those who contemplate such route
. See, unlike for those fortunate enough (basically all sailing channels on YT), on the lakes there is winter. Some longer, some shorter, but for the most part the moment your splash in May, clock starts ticking towards inevitable haul out
in September (or October if you are a tough one). It might be OK, but see, all boats require work
loosely falls into three categories a) regular maintenance
, b) breakages and c) projects. The "a" work is not that complicated, but usually tedious. Imagine buffing entire hull
or changing oil
in main engine
(hint: this would take a better part of a day when you factor in trips to buy missing stuff, dispose oil
etc.). Work "b" ranges from nuisances to grave dangers. You can safely assume most of work "b" must be dealt with before even short weekend sail. Finally, work "c" ranges from tiny to humongous.
Here is a great revelation I had the other day: you must live on that boat
entire summer to be able to sail and do the work. If not, you either don't sail or skip some of the work. The next best scenario is when you are close to the marina so that you can swing by the boat on Tuesday evening to do some work. If you do not live aboard and, say 2h away from the boat, I have very bad news: you are thoroughly screwed. You become a "weekender", the most unfortunate of all. You arrive on Friday night and by the time you move all provisions aboard, it's already too dark to depart or do most of the work. We depart 5AM on Saturdays and have breakfast while underway.
One might think to change time for money
, let yard do the work. Regretfully, it is not an option. They seem always work on someone else' boat and that work order of yours is always two weeks out. I remember asking them to re-attach lazyjacks we accidentally let running down. The job would take two weeks, would cost 400$ because the boat must be at the service dock
and the guy would need to come up on the lift
. Needless to say, I went up on the mast
myself, but the weekend was lost
for the sailing.
So how do people solve this dilemma? They donít. Most boats keep rotting away at the dock
leaving maybe once per summer. Of course, a lot of work can be done while the boat is out of the water
. Regretfully, on the lakes it is too darn cold to do any work from November till April. Epoxy
does not cure, wires and hoses are way too stiff etc. Renting
warm hangar is an option, but the mast
has to come down and the rent keeps their cash register ringing. Can be done for very specific large projects, hiring help almost certainly would be needed.
So here we are, three years later on the lakes. Did we learn how to maintain a sailboat? You bet we did, sweat and some blood sprayed all over the boat. Did we learn sailing? Not so much.
And final piece of advice
. Use every opportunity to do even minor work during winter. Use winter time to acquire all the parts
you might theoretically need. Everything from spare filters to bolts and lines so that you never spend precious summer time waiting for stuff to show up.
Fair winds and following seas.