Wednesday, March 19

5 Ways a Sailboat Owner Can Prepare for Spring Sailing

This week I'm stepping aside for a guest, Keith Church of Quantum Sails in Chicago. We've known Keith for many years and he's shared some great info for us all. Stay warm friends. Spring is almost here! - Michael 

5 Ways a Sailboat Owner Can Prepare for Spring Sailing
By Keith Church

If you are planning to put your boat in the water early so you can get a head start on fine tuning your rig, start now. Taking advantage of the next 6 to 8 weeks to prepare will make for a much smoother sailing experience. Here are 5 preparations you can do right now to get ready for Spring sailing.

1. Look Down Under
Everyone knows that a clean, smooth bottom is faster than one that looks like the surface of the Moon. It may sound crazy to start working on the bottom now, but there are advantages to doing the harder, more physical work now when the weather is cool.

Start at the bow and inspect the bottom as you move aft. Look for cracks and material build up. If your thru hulls are the kind that protrude out (instead of being flush) consider changing to the latter to shave time off your end game. I usually take a batten with me and look for any hollows that may have formed over the winter.

Look closely at the hull to keel joint, clean and fill the appropriate areas. Be sure to remove bottom paint from areas being repaired; if you don’t the repair won’t stick. Check both the keel and rudder for cracks and water infiltration and repair as necessary. Look closely at the seacocks and apply grease if needed. One year a customer didn’t check the thru hull for the speedo before launch, it cracked immediately after launching because water had penetrated it over the winter and froze. It was an expensive repair and delayed their spring sailing.

2. Clear Away the Clutter
Take everything that is not fastened down off the boat and clean the area. Every Spring I'm invited on boats that are weighed down by things that have been sitting in the boat for years. Let the keel be the source of weight in your sailboat. This will help keep a sanitary and odor free environment and the boat will sail better. When you are sailing, whether racing or performance cruising only bring items that are going to be used with you. Remember to take it home after you leave the boat. 

3. Prepare Running and Standing Rigging
You should always clean and grease your winch bearings and oil the springs at least every spring. Dirt and salt are the killer of these finely tooled devices. I also suggest doing this before every major regatta, port to port race, or long cruise to ensure optimum performance and especially to avoid breakdowns.

Read up on proper furler maintenance. Different brands have different procedures. Clean the turnbuckles, coat threads with LanoCote Corrosion Protection, add new cotter pins, and use Rig-Rap or 3M Standard rigging tape to protect from snags. Check and service hydraulics. Clean track bearings and condition with McLube OneDrop conditioner.

4. “Sail by Numbers"
Set up what we at Quantum Midwest refer to as “Sail by Numbers." Make sure that all your halyards, sheets, cars, and sail tracks have their clear reference points marked. Check stays and re-mark the reference points so moving through tacks and changing gears in different conditions are easily executed.

5. Check your sail inventory
If you didn't get a chance to inspect your sails in the Fall before storage, lay out your sails and inspect them for damage now. Call me and I will help you. You don't want to find any surprises on your first Spring sail like rodent damage or living bats (true stories). Check storm sails to make sure they attach to your boat properly and know how to rig them properly. New rules require orange storm sails that have to be ready to attach to the rig at any time. Race committees for long distance races are keeping a closer eye on your safety. 

The sailing season in the Midwest is short. The more you prepare in the Spring, the more time you will have sailing this season. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Have a great Spring!
Quantum Sail Design Group

Loft:  312.225.0801
Fax:  312.225.0804
Skype: qkeith

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