Scrub it Down
True pre-season preparation starts at the end of the previous season, if possible. The best plan is to clean out the boat in the fall. Take out everything that is not bolted down and put it in clear plastic boxes. Clean the entire interior of the boat, wiping down all the cabinets, lockers, and bilge. Starting with a literally clean slate will help you start the season on the right foot.
Save the Date
In the spring, the top priority is to set a launch date. This will help you set a timeline for when you need to finish certain projects. Then, as soon as boat prep is finished, you’ll already have a launch date set.
If you took everything off the boat last season, go through each box. If not, unload all of your gear, and inventory every item. Consider donating or throwing away anything you haven’t used since last year. Things like old sheets, triplicate gears, etc. take up valuable storage space. If you tend to hold onto stuff, ask a friend for help or get a second opinion about the importance of questionable items.
Start from the Bottom Up
Prepare the bottom of your boat by making it as smooth as possible. Mask the waterline and drape the sides of the hull to make sure you don’t get any on the sides of the boat. Apply a new coat of paint, then wash and wax the sides. If you do your own maintenance to the winches and running rigging, keep the deck clean of grease. Clean and wax the deck where needed.
Once the boat is clean inside and out and the hull is prepared for the season, it’s time to launch. Before you sail, however, check the rig.
Tune your Rig
Make sure your rig is centered and tuned to maximize sail control. Church uses a ProFish International Big Game Fishing EZ Set Drag Scale 25lbs to accomplish this. To tune the rig, attach the scale to the main halyard shackle (or any halyard that is centered on the mast head). With the fish scale attached to the shackle, extend the halyard to one of the shroud bases with about 15 pounds of pressure on the scale. Then measure the rig setting. Take it to the other side in the same location and see if it comes out to the same setting. If not, you will need to adjust to center the rig.
Take your Shakedown Sail
Once the rig is centered and tuned correctly, attach your new or freshly-serviced sail to your rig. Head out in light/medium conditions, and take photos of your sails from mid-foot looking at the head of your sail. Keep a record of these photos to log the condition of your sails. In the future, if the jib or genoa starts to cup in on the leech, or if the draft positions itself too far aft, the photos can help sail experts determine the best solution.
Using this quick and easy checklist can help you get on the water faster so you can make the most of your sailing season!
This cruising tip was brought to you by Quantum Sails.