Pause For The Season

I thought I would break in on my series of posts on the “new boat” to relate that there has been a bunch of other stuff going on as well. I have been back in the engine room of our friendship sloop, and the reader of this blog will know that it is not my favorite place, however, when I did the renovations and the overhaul of our engine room last spring there were still one or two minor items that I wanted to address. Now they are done, I will fall back onto my regular engine maintenance schedule.

Back in the engine room.


The last month has been mostly about getting the friendship ready for the water and then launching her. Each year we do as much prep work for the season while the weather is cool and damp in the early spring, then hope for enough warm dry weather in the late spring to actually get paint and varnish on her. For me the bane of prep work is not sanding and scraping, but cleaning. Winter seems to leave everything coated with dust and dirt, and even though the boat is inside, we still have to deal with the occasional bird droppings on deck and on the hatches. Cleaning takes time and care, we need to wash surfaces carefully and dry surfaces even more carefully. I don’t want to introduce standing freshwater to any part of the boat. I think that the importance of careful cleaning at the beginning and the end of the season is an important key to a healthy wooden boat. I also think what defeats a lot of first time wooden boat owners is not the fact that a wooden boat needs a lot of attention, but rather the surprising discovery of just how much of that attention requires a large bucket of soapy water, and scrub-brush and swabs.

The romantic, if somewhat naive notion, is that working on a wooden boat is somehow all about working with exotic tools like adzes and caulking mauls, or that somehow tar will be involved. The reality is far more banal and always has been. My own experience with this has been that visitors see the boat in her shed, get excited, volunteer to help, and then are crestfallen when they are handed a scrub brush, sponge and a bucket of soapy water.

Cleaning aside, we managed to get the boat ready despite a late spring, she was given her four-year insurance survey, and launched last weekend. It felt strange this year because it is the first time in more than a decade that commissioning and launching was not supervised by the ship’s wolf (I hope I did it right).

Picture taken this week of our boat on the mooring. Friends took this picture with their phone.

Now that the boat is in the water, I should be able to get back to doing a little work on the Penny Fee. The operative word there is most likely “little”. We want to spend as much time on the friendship as we can, but there may be some time in the early mornings to swing by the boat shop and do a little work…


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