The Long Cold Dark of Winter

Posted on Monday 15 November 2010

I dread this time of year. This Saturday, I will be hauling s/v Pretty Gee out of the water for the season. That means no more sailing on her until sometime next spring. There will still be work to do—winterizing her for the long cold dark of winter—doing the various maintenance projects that have to be done when the boat is out of the water, finishing up projects that were started this season, and starting new ones for next season.

Some of the projects I have lined up are simple, like replacing the current 6:1 mainsheet tackle with a new 4:1/8:1 mainsheet dual-speed tackle Others are more complicated—like the new cabin overhead and the new, larger propane locker.

The new mainsheet will allow me to sheet the mainsail more quickly in light conditions, but give me more leverage when the sail is very heavily loaded. I like the design of the new mainsheet—it is basically two 4:1 fiddle block sets side-by-side with a single block instead of the normal becket. The normal cam cleats have been replaced with a wider cam cleat with a post in between the cams, that allows it to lock two lines at independently of each other.

However, doing this will require a new line for the mainsheet, since the old mainsheet is about 40′ too short to work. I’ll replace the old jib halyard with the current mainsheet and get a new mainsheet that is spliced to itself to form a continuous loop. This will make using the new dual-speed really simple, since I won’t have to worry about the line running out on one side.

The new propane locker is really a necessity for longer cruises. The current propane tank is the original 5 lb. propane tank and isn’t really sufficient for extended cruising. The new locker will mount outboard of the main hull on the starboard side, opposite the outboard motor sled. I’m designing it to hold two 20 lb. composite LPG tanks. This should give the boat enough capacity to run the grill and stove for two months or more of continuous cruising. The starboard location should help balance the boat a bit better, since the weight of the locker and tanks will help offset the weight of the outboard engine.

Another project is glassing in new storage bins inside the cabin. They will be on the starboard side of the cabin sole, raising the cabin sole height about 10″ where the bins will be. This should help balance the boat out a bit and keep the cabin better organized. The bins will be opposite where the water tank is located and allow me to keep the heavier tools and such down low and centered in the cabin.

This area of the cabin sole is along the settee and most of the time people are in this area of the cabin, they are sitting, not standing. There will still be full standing headroom at the galley/nav station and forward of the salon table. Stowage is a serious issue on most trimarans, and this, along with the previous installation of the bridgedeck, have gone a long way to remedying this on s/v Pretty Gee.

The overhead is the most time consuming of the projects, and It will be something I’ll restart in the spring. The winter is just too cold to do that work. I think the battens that I’m installing will help stiffen the cabintop as well as improve access to the cabintop hardware. It will reduce headroom by about 1/2″, which might be an issue for some of my crew.

As for winterizing, s/v Pretty Gee is pretty simple to winterize. The batteries are left aboard and charged via a small solar panel. The fresh water system is drained and non-toxic anti-freeze is run through the fixtures to push any water out. The engine oil and filter are changed and the fuel tanks have stabilizer added and are topped off. The sails are taken off the boat and stored at the house, as are the bimini and dodger.

Only four-a-half-months until we can launch the boat again. I really hate the long cold dark of winter when it comes to sailing.

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