Our haul-out date was scheduled for Friday, April 22nd. We have hauled out many times, but we always had a house and a car to ferry back the stuff we were storing (sails, cushions, etc.). We could work at our own pace and then go home to sleep and eat in a serene, uncluttered, civilized space. Since we hadn’t done this before… prepping the boat for haul-out while living on it… we figured we should give ourselves a decent amount of time. Why stress ourselves unnecessarily? But how many days IS enough?
When List-Making Goes Bad
Leaving Puerto Escondido we began our haul-out chore spreadsheet. Day by day we fiddled with it, adding tasks and rearranging and adding some more. Our simple list became not-so-simple, the mountain of growing projects and sub-projects turned into an avalanche of letters, spilling down off the page with ampersands and bullet points running for their lives. Aaaakkkk! Our simple list turned into 4 pages of pre-haul prep. That’s right… FOUR PAGES… the source of imagined ulcers and not-so-imagined nervous ticks. The closer we got to San Carlos, the more fidgety and worrywarty Brian became; even I was getting nervous we couldn’t do it all in two weeks.
15 Days of Prep
From April 7-21st, with only a couple days of playing hooky, we worked every day: sometimes only a couple hours, sometimes 4 hours, sometimes 8. Every day we tried to tackle at least one project. Working this way, we never felt rushed, even on the last day.
Living in constant chaos for 2 weeks is not my idea of fun, but it’s necessary. We must LIVE with the things we are storing, like sails and dinghies and kayaks and big bins. Despite the accomplished feeling after completing a task and removing this or that (like solar panels), it still has to go SOMEWHERE. My favorite gripe: our 3ft-sq. solar panels. Their temporary home is on the floor leaning up against the life raft/footstool, constantly in the way. I am forever snagging a corner, initiating countless close-call collapses. Fortunately, it’s not rainy or hot yet here in San Carlos, so we can pile most large items on deck while we labor below. We get good at shuffling objects around. I can’t even count how many times we moved those sail bags!
Living on the boat while prepping requires a specific mindset.
1. Ignore the clutter.
2. Be meticulous about making a list.
3. Pre-determine when to do what. Certain things need to be done before others, and many tasks can only be completed during the last few days. Spread-loading those chores is key. (Good advice in general, but especially on a cramped boat.)
What Prep DO you DO?
Maybe you are wondering…what the heck DO they do to the boat before it gets stored? So I wrote down our progress by the day, including some extra snippets, so we could remember just how long everything took and when we accomplished what… for future reference and to belay your persistent curiosity.
- Clean main sail (scrub while hoisting it in the slip - requires zero wind, early a.m. is best)
- Watermaker pickle (flushing out seawater from filters)
- Trip to Walmart w/ S/V Angelina - buy huge cleaning bin (doubles as a liquid storage bin)
- Trip to Construama - buy 4ft of 5” PVC pipe for our experimental cap-rail cover
- Met Dan and Deb from S/V Caper! These guys are famous to us, having hailed originally from our Marina at Camp Pendleton. It took us two years to finally run into them!
- Clean genoa (scrub while gradually unfurling at the dock, dry)
- Blow up & clean kayak, wipe-on 303 plastic UV protectant (hereafter known as simply 303)
- Give away extra dinghy motor gas (don’t leave fuel jugs filled on deck during summer)
- Take down genoa, fold on dock (harder than it sounds, the thing is huge)
- Wash staysail, dry, take down, fold (sails are done, yay!)
- Wash lines: jib sheet, staysail sheet, both furler lines, staysail halyard, kayak tether
- Lay out all 300ft of anchor chain, wash, dry, put back into anchor locker
- Wine and snacks with S/V Sea Dancer
- Dinghy - blow up, scrub, dry, 303, dry, fold into bag; oars – clean/303; dorade vents - clean/303
- Brian climbs the mast to remove blocks & 3 halyards to wash, run temporary lines, wrap deck light
- Clean more lines - 6 dock lines, main halyard, jib halyard, spinnaker halyard (can I be done yet?)
- Change oil in outboard engine, remove from stern, run in fresh water bucket, add fuel Stabil
- Change oil in generator
- Bimini solar panels - remove, wash, spray Eisenglass protectant, store below
- Lazy day! Exhausted from line cleaning yesterday!
On Washing Lines:
We met our neighbor Shadowfax at Hammerheads today. They asked us: Was that you on B dock washing all those lines all day yesterday? Me: Yes, for two days actually. Them: Ah, we heard about you. Me: Excuse me? Them: You’re making all the women look bad, washing all those lines! Me (laughing): OK, I won’t do it again I promise! Two days of line-washing is as much as anyone needs.
FYI: lines, halyards and sheets = ropes. I must have been the talk of the docks; but when lines can stand up on their own, it’s time for a good scrubbing. I had to wash 6 dock lines (attaching the boat to the dock), 4 halyards (holding up each sail), 3 sheets (controlling the lower portion of each sail), 2 furler lines (to roll up the genoa and staysail), and miscellaneous lashing ropes. All are soaked in a bucket with mild detergent, brush-scrubbed, agitated with my clothes plunger a couple hundred times, then plunged/rinsed another couple hundred times until the water runs clear. Depending on length, from 25 – 80ft, some ropes must be done in two or three sections. Oy, my back!
Why don’t I use a washing machine? Believe it or not, machine washing is a controversial sailing subject. Many people do, but I've read that the wringing motion can cause the inner core to poke through the outer sleeve; even if this doesn’t happen, the twisting motion could degrade strength. Since our lines are very expensive, we won’t take the chance… so I AM the machine!
- Clean entire cockpit, wash bimini & dodger canvas
- Polish cockpit stainless: wheel/binnacle, back rails, monitor & fin, winches, radar
- Wipe 303 on plastic bits: winch grips, wheel, monitor knobs, antennae, radar dome, chartplotter
- Cover winches with fabric (others use aluminum foil to protect items from sun damage, but we are trying this breathable, reusable fabric that our friends on S/V Cuba Libre told us about)
- Dodger & bimini – spray w/Fabric Guard (retains water-repellency)
- Polish more stainless: all stanchions up to the bow pulpit, ladder, boom vang, granny bars
- Take laundry to hotel - 2 loads is $161 pesos/$10 (I’ve had enough hand-washing lines!)
- Cleaned out about 1/2 of my food bins
- Wash top deck, side decks & bow
- Acetoned spots of tape residue left by teak painters
- Polished more stainless: bow pulpit, anchor windlass, cleats, anchor holder, jib & staysail furler
- Fiberglass polish - top deck & sidewalls (smooth fiberglass surfaces of the deck, avoiding non-skid)
- Picked up laundry
- Food giveaway – usable items offered to nearby boaters like sugar, coffee, etc.
- Fiberglass polish – entire cockpit
- Cleaned out food storage cupboards & bins w/ bleach
- Decided what to keep to eat for next week, made a donation food bag
- Finished fabric-wrapping exterior items: winches, grabrail, roller furlers, misc.
- Vacuumed / mopped floor, shook out carpets & fridge pad, set in sun to air
- Bathroom day: completely clean toilet, bleached floor pan, counter & other bits, polished stainless. (Half a day’s work)
- Wrapped main sail (our mainsail has non-removable battens, so storing it below is pretty much impossible since it’s an unbendable 15ft-long massive hot dog)
- Change engine oil
- Finish putting the “head” back together (sailor’s-speak for “bathroom). The head is now off-limits – to the marina we go!
- Tired. No more work today.
- Cover our newly varnished cap-rail - cut fabric into strips, cut PVC into over 30 pieces, run lines, place fabric & tie to boat (this took all day, but mostly because we hadn’t done it before)
- Clean fridge - give away perishables (mustard, mayo, etc.), defrost, bleach interior, dry overnight
- Start packing bags for our trip home
- Put dried fridge components back together
- Verify haul-out time w/ marina office
- Talk to/hire maintenance guy - $25/mo to check/fill batteries, unclog cockpit drains, check bilge, re-secure tarps, look for bugs/rodents. (They also take my food donation items to a nearby orphanage - win/win!)
- Remove bed linens, take to laundry
- Clean stove with stainless polish
- Wash sink & clean drains w/ baking soda, hot water & vinegar
- Picked up laundry
- Washed hull
- Trip to Guaymas w/ Jim from S/V Leaway to pre-purchase bus tickets for Saturday then a wonderful dinner at his home overlooking the ocean
April 21 – Final Day! Now it gets real…
- Take down bimini & dodger canvas, polish stainless underneath canvas
- Finished up fabric coverings: teak, windmeter/AIS
- Fill gigantic storage bin with all-things liquid (we’ve heard horror stories of oil jugs bursting in the severe summer heat, even LED wax candles can melt – don’t want to come home to a surprise mess)
- Add water & chlorine to tanks: 10 gallons each, no more using water on the boat
- Stuff V-Berth: fridge insulator pad, bimini & side solar panels, bimini & dodger canvas, cockpit cushions, pillows. Blankets/quilt stored in plastic bags.
- Dinner with S/V Leaway at Soggy Peso
You Mean There’s MORE?
Lots of projects were on-going processes, like: cleaning out every single food storage bin after using up contents; relocating items to a spot less likely to get overheated (for instance, my Kindle moved from its spot against the hull into my clothes closet); deciding what to throw away or keep food-wise and where to store it. And then there’s countless minor to-do’s… mundane chores, like washing the wastebasket.
No Fuss, No Muss
We are so glad we gave ourselves over two weeks to get everything finished. Having done it once now, we could reasonably accomplish our lengthy list in 9-10 days without any stress. But, everyone’s boats, and therefore task lists, are different. I spoke with a liveaboard couple who routinely preps at the dock in only 1-2 days before hauling. Impossible. Yet another couple goes right from anchoring directly into the boatyard, I assume finishing everything while living on the boat in the yard. No marina days? Inconceivable! Their lists are obviously severely abridged. With so many things to think about and prepare (and so much dock water required for cleaning!), if we tried that, only one of us would be coming back to the States!
The Last Night
That final night we slept on the side sea-berths. Our comfy V-berth was filled to the brim. The kitchen was closed for business. The bathroom, blocked shut by a sail bag. The floor and cockpit, piled high since we needed some sliver of space to sleep. Finished with our mountain of chores and imprisoned in our respective sea-berth-coffins… we iPadded in place for the rest of the evening.
April 22nd: Haul-out Day!
To be continued…