07 November 2009

Hauling Out and Winterizing the Sailboat

Pulling the Unsinkable 2 from the lake at season end requires a great deal of self control. A significant part of me thinks I should keep her in the water up to the point that we have to use an axe to break the ice. And the other part of me - the part that I married - reminds me that the boat really should come out on the last warm weekend of October. Sure, we can get one or two more sailing trips in during November, but reality is that its very cold, the ice starts forming, and the boat ramps get rather hazardous.

So on a sunny but brisk fall day, we go to pull her out of the water for the last time. It's very sad, kinda like putting Ol' Yeller down. I start at the dock (picture above - the boat in the center defiantly flying her pirate flag.) It takes about an hour to stow everything and lower the mast. Ron Funk, a good friend and sailor in training showed up at the marina to help me lower the mast and put her on the trailer.

Back on the ramp, we prep the trailer for strap retrieval. At season's end the lake level is so low we can't get the trailer in deep enough for the boat while it is hitched to the vehicle. So we back the trailer to water's edge and block all the wheels.

Then we connect a heavy duty tow strap between the tow vehicle and trailer, and lower the trailer down into the water deep enough that the boat can float onto the rollers.

Once the trailer is in the water, we motor the sailboat into position and then swing over the bow pulpit to secure the boat to the trailer. In my early launches and retrievals, I frequently ended up soaking wet during this procedure. Now, in my old age, I have learned a few things and can generally perform the task without getting wet. Much to the chagrin of on-lookers.

Back on the hard, we ready the boat for towing. Everything is secured for storage down below, rigging is secured, fenders stowed, electrical connections hooked up to the trailer, etc.

We've learned the best time to remove algae growth from the hull is immediately after haulout. So we head to the nearest carwash and get to work. A lot of algae grows during the fall because the boat is not being sailed enough. This year we used a putty knife to quickly remove the algae, and then followed up with about $15 worth of pressure washer time.

I generally consider my wife to be a mature person. But something happens when she gets the pressure washer wand in her hands. It changes her. And it always seems to happen only when I've climbed under the trailer in some impossible-to-escape position near the keel with a putty knife in my hand. It's then that my dear wife decides I need a good hose down. It doesn't seem to matter whether the hose is currently dispensing soap or hot wax, she is able to completely disregard these things. Each time she aims the wand at me and pulls the trigger, she acts surprised and promptly apologizes. But somewhere after the 5th blasting I begin thinking she might not really be that surprised. Actually, I have come to suspect she might be doing it on purpose.