Saturday, June 18, 2011

When the Cat's Away...


Leaving your boat for any length of time in an unfamiliar place (during hurricane season, no less) is...daunting.  In order to quell your worries about theft, system failure, and weather (like, say, a hurricane) so you can sleep at night during your land-based vacation, you need to prepare accordingly.  Simply removing pricey items from the deck and locking up the boat isn't going to cut it.

As most of you know by now, Scott and I are heading to Chicago (!!!!!) for a short stint of weddings, family and friends.  Luckily for us - we have lots of great boat neighbors and friends checking in on our boat, and our latest sponsor Island Dreams is a fabulous company that specializes in long or short-term yacht guardianage (a fancy term for "boat babysitting"), project management (so you're varnish doesn't tarnish while you are away!) and much more.  Anita and her husband Mark are former cruisers who know that your boat is not only your home, but your baby - and they treat it as such.  We will sleep much better knowing that Island Dreams is watching our beloved Rasmus!  They will come aboard weekly to inspect Rasmus, flush our watermaker, air out the boat and do a general check of the bilge, head and interior for anything amiss.  They have an online database where they will post pictures and notes so that, at any time, we can log on to see how our baby is doing.

Although we are only leaving our boat for a month, there is much we have to do to make sure she is safe, secure and does't smell like something died in her when we return (boats have a mysterious way of getting stinky when no one is aboard for a while).  People who are leaving their boats for longer must do more than the basics I outline here - but this is a good starting point.

Here are 10 things to prep your boat for an off-boat vacation:

1)  Remove all perishable food and garbage removal.  Just a few weeks ago I had an experience with rotten eggs.  I never understood how strong the gag reflex was until that moment.  I don't ever want to experience it again.  Eggs, cheese, butter, bread, fruit, veggies...all off the boat.  We will also keep the lid off the icebox for circulation.

2)  Pump out the holding tank.  Holding tanks are gross.  No matter what you do they smell bad and, if you leave them full, you are guaranteed to return to a very, very stinky head.  No bueno.  Ours is pumped out, rinsed, and then pumped out again.

3)  Close seacocks.  There are a surprising amount of holes in a boat.  Water intake, sink output, engine cooling, toilet intake...etc.  Seacocks, for those who do not know, are valves at the hull that can be shut off should a hose fail.  Because we are going to be gone it is in our best interest to close them.  That way we KNOW no water will come in through them.

4)  Polish stainless and wipe down all woodwork.  Rust is not our friend.  We have removed all rust from the topsides and polished it up.  In addition I have cleaned all exterior and interior woodwork with a mild vinegar solution (1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water) so that stays nice and pretty as well.

5)  Clean the boat, inside and out.  Who the heck likes coming back to a mess when you return from vacation?  Not me!  She'll be clean and tidy when we leave, and she'll be clean and tidy when we return.  This includes having the carpets cleaned and cleaning underneath all the floorboards.  Not fun to do in a stuffy boat when it's pushing 90 degrees outside, but we'll be glad we did.

6)  Flush watermaker.  Most people in this situation would pickle their watermaker, but - because we have Island Dreams looking after our boat - it is best to keep it as is and flush it once a week with fresh water to preserve the delicate reverse osmosis membrane.

7)  Disconnect shore power, turn off house/engine batteries.  Shut everything OFF.  That way, you have less of a risk of something shorting out and causing a fire and you will not return to an exorbitant power bill. Make sure to TEST the bilge pump before you leave.  This is VERY important.

8)  Lock up topside items, remove valuables from deck and dog down hatches.  They say that most thieves are normal people who saw an opportunity.  Remove the opportunity for those people who might just be tempted.  Put a lock on all valuables that cannot be put down below like jerry jugs, propane tanks, motors...etc.  In addition, we have removed our jack lines, doubled up dock lines, and will close all the curtains.

9)  Set a few ant/bug traps in various locations.  Bugs on boats = bad.  Though I don't like to kill things, I don't like an infestation more.  Nip those nasty pests in the bud.

10)  Dinghy on deck and outboard secured.  Although we really dislike our dinghy and will return to a new one (thanks to Island Water World!!), we need to take it out of the water (because it will certainly sink) and put it on deck.

Like I mentioned - if you are going to store your boat for much longer, and - depending on if you are in or out of the water and/or if you are in a cold or warm climate - your de-commissioning checklist will look different. You might need to do additional things to secure your boat including: removing the sails, removing the dodger, adding chafe gear, removing cushions...etc.  Check with your boat yard and do your homework!

While we are certainly going to miss our boat - we are so excited to visit friends and family and partake in two very awesome weddings!!  Plus, it's the peak of sailing season in Chicago right now so rest assured we'll get some time on the water!

Love,
Brittany & Scott

4 comments:

percy said...

Anita and Mark are great! They watched our boat and also managed a few maintenance projects for us a few years ago. Please say "Hi" to them and Rock from "Little Seal".

Danny said...

Also, if its not too late and you've already left, put some of those dessicant packs in your lockers down below. They will greatly help control the humidity and mold.

Theresa, Mark and Sailor said...

Mark and Anita are wonderful and took super care of Lucky Jack last year. I recommend Island Dreams to everyone. Hello from Theresa, Mark and Sailor on Lucky Jack.

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

We can only imagine how difficult it must be to leave your home! How cool to have a company take good care of it and provide pictures while you're gone. Have a great time in Chicago!

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