It is, honestly, a little hard to believe.
In just a few days, (10 to be exact) the crew of the good ship Sionna will be loading up the car with the parents/in laws, and heading south again. This trip to Florida will be quicker than the last – 5 days, instead of 5 months – but it still marks the transition from land-based to water-based no less distinctly. We’re taking the plunge again!
And with a return to the boat comes – of course — boat bling!
We learned an awful lot in our 8 1/2 months aboard the boat last year. We learned what works for us, what didn’t work, what was missing, and what we had that – really — we didn’t need to have. Naturally we’d like to correct any deficiencies, so those items we determined to be “missing” were on a short (but rather expensive) list of things to take with us this fall when we return to cruising. What sorts of things?
Well how about a new sail? One of the things we were warned about (by the sail-maker who looked over our sails for us) before we left was the condition of our headsail, the most-used sail in our rig. It was the oldest sail aboard at 13 years, and was showing it, with weak stitching, stretched out shape and daylight visible through every stitch. “Last season”, he said. “Plan to replace it after one year in the sun”, he said. And he was right.
So when we got back to Maine and started working, the first thing I did was start researching a replacement sail. Not new – not on our budget – but we thought a good used sail would serve us fine, and cost much less…
So what’s wrong with a little ignorant optimism? It turned out that any used sail was going to have to be modified, because Sionna’s furler – which rolls the genoa up like a window shade when we’re not using it – is of an older style with an unusual groove size. Newer sails won’t fit. That meant modifications would add close to $500 to any used sail we found. Given that we knew that a NEW sail would be $1500 – $1800, and a good used one would be about $700 but would still be used…
The numbers just weren’t adding up.
Then we discovered that a company called National Sails out of Florida could make us one for $1300. Brand new. Never used. Serious crispy, krinkly, new-car-smell action.
So we did it! We ordered a new sail, which is even now begging to be taken out for a test drive. At least, it will be, as soon as we have a boat to put it on!
And what else? Why davits, of course.
If you don’t know, davits are the “arms” that extend off the stern (or sometimes the side, on larger boats) of a vessel which have block-and-tackle attached, and are used to lift the dinghy completely out of the water for storage. This is handy, since it decreases the drag when you’re sailing, and it’s safer because you don’t have the issue of this second vessel tagging along behind you in tight quarters. It’s also a security issue – dinghies are a popular theft item in poorer parts of the world, but when it’s up on davits, it’s much less attractive to a would-be “borrower”.
But the biggest reason from our perspective is that davits would free us from the onerous task of putting the dinghy on deck for overnight passages.
Honestly, fighting with the dinghy was on both our lists of least-favorite things about cruising.
Now our original plan was to buy used ones.
And we did find a set that had been removed from another Triangle 32 because they were damaged. My thought was to have them repaired, but it turned out that the repair was going to cost in excess of $300, just for the labor, “…or I could make you a new set out of stronger materials for about $400. Have ’em done in a week…”
Nicki and I talked about it for about 5 minutes, and quickly realized that in terms of “bang for the cruising buck”, this one was a no-brainer. Two days later, we have new davits, custom made, and four-times stronger than the old set which we used as a pattern. (Thanks Richard, for the pattern!)
What else? A new VHF antenna to replace the one which mysteriously disappeared a week before we hauled out in the spring (we suspect a pelican or osprey tried to land on the masthead), and a second solar panel (second hand!) to double our energy production capability. Beyond that it’s just bits & bobs of hardware, some tools I wished I’d had aboard…
Really, that had better be it. As it is we’re going to be hard-pressed to get everything in the car for the trip south.
Here’s hoping we can get it all in. If we had to choose something to leave behind, I don’t know how we’d decide…