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Maintenance in Exotic Places Refitting a neglected boat in Florida can’t be that hard, can it? By Benjamin Hayward

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n retirement, my father returned to the passion of his bachelor years: sailing. When he first invited me along in 2006, I had planned to spend a month helping him sail a 52-foot ketch, but I fled after only two weeks of maintenance when the former “seafood-restaurant-attraction” still wasn’t seaworthy. This past summer, planning for a little hard work, I endeavored to try again. My girlfriend and I departed for Indiantown, FL, to join him on his latest project: a 36-foot aluminum-hull cutter. We were unsure of what we were getting ourselves into. “Sailing isn’t all blue skies and calm waters,” I warned her in advance. “There’s seasickness, emergency repairs, and otherwise always something that has to be done.” In addition, my father is one of those men who works without a radio or a coffee maker. He’s the “make sure you’re life jacket is on tight” and “Who

saw my tape measure last?” kind-of captain. He’s also a cold-water sailor. The plan was, after a little elbow grease, we’d test the vessel northward on the Intracoastal Waterway over July, take it out to sea and up to Labrador in August, cross to Greenland then Iceland in September, and make it to Scotland before the end of October. But plans, as they say, change. When we caught up with my Dad and the other recruit near the expected departure date in late June, the boat wasn’t even in the water yet. The mast—bare of rigging—lay next to it, and the engine was on pallets. After an entire spring in the work yard, the hull was freshly painted in bright blue anti-fouling, but the inside looked like it was in the process of being stripped so the boat could be sold for the aluminum, which was probably worth more than my Dad had paid for it. On our first day, we set to work

tracing the torn-out woodwork in order to rebuild the galley cupboards. And then it started to rain. My Dad’s time frame hadn’t accounted for Florida in the summer. Almost daily, a few scattered drops in mid-afternoon gave us less than a minute’s warning of impending downpour. We ran to cover the plywood, get the tools up into the boat and close the hatch. Enough rain could fall in an hour to fill a drinking glass and flood the nearby drainage ditches. Huddled around our makeshift table in damp clothes, we took the opportunity to have a late snack and plan the next task. Before the boat could be launched, our workyard todo list included removing and cleaning the daggerboard and centerboard, insulating walls, tracing and replacing woodwork in the galley and captain’s See MAINTENANCE continued on page 77

GOT A SAILING STORY? If you have a story about an incident that happened that was a real learning experience, or a funny story, or a weird or unusual story that you’d like to tell, send it to editor@southwindsmagazine.com. Keep them short—around 800-1000 words or less, maybe a little more. Photos nice, but not required. We pay for these stories. 78 March 2015

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Southwinds March 2015  

Sailing magazine serving Florida and the Southeast United States

Southwinds March 2015  

Sailing magazine serving Florida and the Southeast United States