Opening Day Inspection Prep
“Looks like you're working on Opening Day projects, Krabby.” said the East Coaster approaching Sally’s slip at the end of D-Dock.
"Yes, and I’m glad you’re here, I could use a hand. You know I like to get a head start on the Opening Day tasks and then check them off the list little-by-little; or 'eat the elephant one bite at a time,’ as I have said before. Now, will you help me unbolt the saloon table and slide it out of the way so we can remove the floorboards?" I asked, hoping to get a little help.
"Are we cleaning the bilge?! Guess I showed up at the wrong time," sulked the East Coaster with a sigh.
"Come on it's not that bad, it actually looks pretty clean," I said.
"Oh $#!%, a spider! You know I hate spiders….Whoa! Sally has some interesting structural elements for an 89-year-old boat. I never realized how extensive the steel/wood composite structure was. There are some of the through hull fittings and plumbing under the steel webs of the mast step." she said - forgetting about the deadly spider.
“I agree, the engineering is pretty clever for 1928. While we're here vacuuming up the spider webs and dust, we can inspect the through hull fittings, plumbing, and mast step. What is that blue thing under the mast step?" I asked.
"It's a credit card - didn't one of our race crew lose a card last season? I also found some coins over here - I like this little treasure hunt." stated the bilge explorer.
"Yes, an old boat builder once told me, ‘anything you lose down below eventually makes its way to the bottom of the bilge.’ Let's check the bilge pumps and the rest of the systems while the floor boards are up. That way we can check it off our Opening Day Inspection list."
"Ok, what's next? It's a little damp for varnishing on deck today…are there some tasks we check off below deck? she asked.
"Going through the safety equipment is a good project down below, here’s a list:
✓ Check our emergency signal kit, make sure all the flares and 10 gauge meteor shells are current.
✓ Look over the life jackets and life ring and check that they are in good condition.
✓ Test the batteries in the EPIRB, man overboard strobe, and flashlights.
✓ While we're at it, test the VHF radio telephone by calling the automated test service on channel 27.
✓ Turn on all the navigation lights and deck lights, see if they work - then make sure we have spare bulbs in the repair kit.
✓ The kit should also have engine spares like a belt, water pump impeller, hose clamps, underwater epoxy putty, and of course duct tape.
✓ There is also a ditty bag with sail repair gear, cotter pins, clevis pins and leather chafe gear – check the inventory here as well.
“Some of this stuff in here is older than you,” said the sarcastic East Coaster.
“Some things get better with age - as long as it still works. You never know when that kind of stuff comes in handy. Remember when we saved the cruise on your dad’s boat? We did it with a well-stocked spare parts kit and ancient junk collection.
“That soup can sure did come in handy,” she recalled.
“While you check our safety and repair equipment, I'll give the engine a good look over and make sure the belt is adjusted correctly, and that the plumbing and electrical is in good order."
"Wait, I’d like to go over the engine with you - you never know when I might need to fix something without you," she said.
"Good idea - new plan - why don't I make some drinks while you finish your project, and then we can do the engine together. All of this preventive maintenance makes me thirsty" I said with a parched voice.
"It sure is easier to do this maintenance now, than when we are in a time crunch, or worse - if something breaks at sea. Our time on the water much more fun when we don’t have breakdowns while sailing." said the satisfied engineer.
"That's the whole idea - take a little time for preventive maintenance on a day like today, when it's not so nice out, and it's one less thing we need to do to be ready for Opening Day – and another year of racing this 89-year old boat. Our new Commodore is on a campaign to ‘untie the dock lines’ and use our boats more this year. I couldn’t agree more, and with a little effort to maintain their boats – everyone will be able to enjoy more time away from the dock.
“Here you go - cheers! Now, let’s take our drinks to the engine compartment and see what needs attention. See here: the belt looks good; fuel filter bowl is clean; there are no signs of oil, cooling water, or fuel leaks; and the wiring is tight. The log book says we need an oil change in 20 hours. Now we just have to make sure your evicted spider friends don't move back into the bilge before Opening Day," I said with a smirk.
"How about if I dive in and check the prop zinc, while you deal with the spiders, Krabby? I'll even make the next round of drinks," negotiated the arachnophobic East Coaster.