Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Swear or rejoice, I don't know which...

View from the boat 

We are freezing cold in North Carolina.  Craig's mom, Anne, let us know yesterday that it was +10 Celsius in Calgary this week.  Here, it is hovering below freezing.  The wind is howling, and humidity is running icy cold through our bones.  This is the best incentive to get back into the water and head south.  Chris Parker is telling us that Tuesday the 3rd is a possibility.

Thanks to the watchful eye and elbow grease of our good friend Martin, the boat was in excellent shape when we returned.  We had vacuum packed our clothes and bedding against mould and we will do that again.  Our air conditioner kept the boat dry and cool but bedding picks up any bit of mould quickly.  It seems to be clear this time.

One of our (meaning Craig's) tasks was to repair the water maker.  To his surprise, it only needed new o-rings and not a complete overhaul as expected.  Since repairs usually entail much more work than planned rather than less, he muttered, "Swear or rejoice…I don't know which."  Checking systems out is a precarious job.  We hold our breath.  The boat gremlins were on our side for a change.

This is the to-do list we are working from now.  It seems onerous but is actually much shorter this year than in years past.  In her fourth season, I think Alberta Crewed is just feeling more at home with us.   TLC goes a long way and Craig is a master at preventative maintenance.

- Repair water maker.  We haven't used it in a couple of years and is one of those use-or-lose systems.
- Check battery water levels
- Change fuel filters and raw water impellers (two engines, generator).  Craig changed the oil last spring
- Install all sails.
- Install bowsprit.
- Sail Koat mainsail track.  This helps raise and lower the sail, important in an unexpected wind where we would want to drop it quickly.
- Install trampolines.  We removed them for the first time to protect them.  They have lasted remarkably well.
- Put the outboard on the dinghy.  Ugh.  Involves hoisting the engine up and out of the rear locker using the mainsail halyard.
- Clean and put the dinghy back into the davits on the back of the boat.
- Clean the boat, inside and out.  Then wax.  This is the only time we envy monohull owners.
- Charge generator and outboard batteries.
- Check safety gear according to Canadian standards, because we are a Canadian registered boat.  The Industry Canada website lists 12 required pieces of equipment including flares, an axe, navigation lights, fire extinguishers.  These need to be checked regularly for expiry dates and working order.
- Activate Satellite Phone, check EPIRB (Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon).  It activates when submerged and sends a distress signal to the Canadian Coastguard.
- Clean and grease propeller shafts and props.  Replace zincs, the sacrificial anodes that oxidize instead of our prop shafts and props, particularly in marinas.
- Install Hypervent under all mattresses.  We discovered this to keep moisture down in humid climates.
- Restock first aid kit.  On the advice of our world-travelling doctor, update emergency medications including an epi-pen, antibiotics, eye injury kit, ear infection kit, pain killers, cough and cold medicine, and sea sickness medication.  
- Provision and stock food for 5 months.  The Bahamas are light on grocery stores.

Those are the big items.  Provisioning will also take time as we think about 5-7 days at sea with 5 people (friends Martin, Maite, and Ed will be with us), and 4 months in the Bahamas where grocery stores are not in abundance.  The trade-off is that there are hundreds of people-free islands to explore.  In the meantime, I don my down filled jacket, wool sweaters, and fleece slippers trying to stave off the chill.


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