Chartering is more popular than ever and charter companies have gotten creative about how to get people on boats easily. Crewed charters have always been offered, but companies now offer middle-of the-road options for sailors who lack the confidence for a full-on bareboat experience. Flotillas organized by schools and charter companies provide the comfort of sailing in a group with help at the ready should it be needed. Some companies, like Cruise Abaco, offer a hybrid solution where a captain sails with the boat during the day then is whisked away in a dinghy once the boat is at anchor for charterers to enjoy the evening.
Engine maintenance is rarely at the top of anyone’s list of favorite fitting out chores, but skipping it is hardly a wise option. With luck, major jobs were done before the boat was laid up, so the list of spring jobs is short enough that most DIYers should be able to get through them relatively quickly. And then you can sit back and enjoy the sailing season, knowing that you’ve done what you can to avoid engine problems.
Some upgrades and repairs on a sailboat are no-brainers. It’s not difficult know when you need new sails or the paint job and brightwork need attention. But figuring out if a battery upgrade is necessary and how to do it is at times less obvious. Odds are, though, that if the house batteries are more than five years old, you are going to want to think about replacing them. Wet-cell lead acid batteries have a life span of about five years. Some can be coaxed to perform longer, but their performance will degrade over time. If you’ve found that you are constantly charging the batteries or can’t run many of the systems you’d like to for long periods, it may be worth considering a battery upgrade as well.
My definition of “boat” entails three essential capabilities—flotation, propulsion and steering. If you lose one of these, things are going to get difficult. We all know about keeping the water out, the rig up, and engine working, but we tend to take steering for granted. I have had a wheel go loose in my hands, and I can attest to the helpless feeling that accompanies it.
Sailing at night is challenging, rewarding and dermatologist approved. Gliding through the dark under the stars can be a surreal experience. And you don’t have to go very far from the harbor for the experience. It is a different world that requires new skills and awareness to be fully enjoyed.