This is the time of year when the sailing mags trot out their feel-good articles extolling the giddy anticipation of getting a boat ready for another season—pure poetry about the catharsis that is bottom painting and deck swabbing and pulling rotten things out of moldy things. I’m not sure if I disagree with this based on the fact that I’m not an optimist or that I’m not a masochist, but we’re clearly not on the same page. For me, this time of year has all the excitement and wonder of standing in line: a line in which I am repeatedly punched until all of the money falls out of my pants. I get that it’s part of the gig, and I might even try to make the best of it [maybe], but I’m not going to break out into haiku over the bruises and the filth and the distinct lack of actual sailing.
Anyway, not to bury the lead: we have stepped the mast on Fortuitous, and by some definition I guess we’ve kicked off sailing season 2013. To prevent slipping into iambic pentameter, I will simply make a list of how it went down.
- Our cover stayed on. This was impressive to us, since we were literally too embarrassed by our cover job at the time to post normal pictures of it and just about every other cover in the yard is shredded, although…
- The weight of whatever had accumulated on the cover apparently snapped off a majority of our stanchions: three of four; broken off at the welds. It makes me wonder if we should have even bothered with the cover, because…
- The boat is incredibly grimy. Dirtier than I’ve ever seen her. It’s possible that most of it was from her romp in the woods when she was hiding out from the hurricane, but it seems worse to me. It’s going to take a long time to get her dolled up again.
- I think the furler may be ok. Last year, while we were hastily taking the mast down to run away from Sandy, the furler parted from the stem fitting (with the jib most of the way deployed, which was awesome). In the process, the foil separated from the drum. I tried to put it back together, but we had to roll, so I splinted the whole mess to the mast with a boat hook just so that the forestay wouldn’t weaken from endless bobbing. Today, without the pressure of a tropical storm bearing down on my exact position, it snapped back together as if it were made to do so. We’ll have to see how the foil fared, but I think I can probably massage a sail up it.
- The mast is only slightly longer than the boat, which works out great for storage, but in order to get the mast into the upright and locked position, it’s got to first move a good distance aft so that the bottom can be bolted into the tabernacle (the thing that holds it to the cabin top). The mast itself is unwieldy and the wires and ropes that all run pretty cleanly when the mast is up are a confusing nest when the mast is down. When you start the process, both the person in the front and back lift “up” to move the mast, but as more of its mass passes beyond the transom, the front person has to eventually start pushing “down” as the person in the back becomes more of a fulcrum.
- In our first attempt, we got the mast moved about 10ft back, but realized that we were almost hitting a powerboat parked in Downe’s Fishing Camp. Holding the mast for extended periods of time is not conducive to pondering, so we quickly decided to put it back. The only solution was to tie it all down again and then tow the boat out into the parking lot so that we would have more room behind us.
- The second attempt was successful, if not particularly smooth. It’s tough to get everything lined up to get the bolt through.
- With the mast in the tabernacle, we were able to raise it (with a lot of help from one of the marina guys working the forestay).
- The mortality rate of T-bolts was 50% this year. Jen was specifically standing by to make sure that they didn’t get hung up and bent, but it just all happens too fast. I don’t think we’ve ever raised the mast without bending at least one of the T-bolts that connects the shroud’s turnbuckle to the chainplate.
All joking aside, I am glad that the mast is up. We have a lot of stuff to do to get ready for the season and none of it could happen with a huge piece of aluminum and several hundred feet of cable and halyards in the way. I don’t really begrudge the people who like this time of year, but I’m personally going to be racing through it to get to the sailing part.