For the last 9 days, we have been at the boat every day. In addition to working through our regular commissioning list, we are completing a HUGE boat project - we are changing the antifouling paint on the bottom of our boat.
When we bought Wild Horses back in 2015, she came adorned with an antifouling paint (Interlux VC-17) that is commonly used on freshwater boats. It does its job and lasts really well in the fresh waters of the great lakes for the 5 months she is sailed every year. We find that we can add a new coat of VC-17 every 4-5 years with no issues. BUT, this will not be the case when we take her to the Caribbean. The salt water will wear off the VC-17 in a few months if not weeks. Yikes!
Knowing this, we decided to switch her antifouling paint to one which is rated well for saltwater (Interlux Micron CSC). This paint is long-lasting, requiring us to re-paint only every 2-3 years even though she will be in saltwater 12 months of the year.
The kicker? You can’t simply paint Micron CSC over VC-17. Ugh. This means removing every little bit of VC-17 from the hull of the boat. The double kicker? Although we have only applied VC-17 to her hull once in the 5 years we have owned Wild Horses, the two previous owners applied VC-17 every year. Wild Horses is a 2002 boat. There are many, many layers of VC-17 on her hull. Many…many…layers…
Hence, our HUGE project of removing the VC-17 was born. Plan A was to hire a sandblaster to remove the VC-17 but the cost of the service and the inflexibility of their schedule made us look to other options.
Plan B was to sand the VC-17 off ourselves. We made our first go at this last fall, after the boat was hauled out of the water for the winter. Our test sanding was not successful. Yes, the VC-17 was removed but it took 2 hours to do a 2 square foot section. This is an unimaginable pace and effort for a 47 foot boat (Wild Horses bottom is 440 square feet). Plan C? Using paint stripper to take off as many layers as possible in the fall and then finishing things off with the sander in the spring. So, after 4 weekends of applying and removing paint stripper last fall, we felt we had removed enough layers of the VC-17 to make our spring sanding job fairly easy.
Well, spring has arrived and that means sanding had to start! We didn’t waste any time – the sander was put to work on the first day we were allowed at the boat. Thankfully, we were given the gift of perfect weather over the last week so each day we sanded the boat bottom. And each day we returned home dusty, sore and bone-tired. But success! After 8 days and 22 hours of sanding, all the VC-17 has been removed. We have a perfect, beautiful canvas to apply our new saltwater-friendly antifouling paint. This is one boat project we are thrilled to have in our rear-view mirror!
Much like everything in 2020 so far, the Victoria Day long weekend 2020 has been a very different one for us. Saturday was the first day we were allowed access to Wild Horses in two months. We had last visited her in January 2020 for a quick mid-winter check. Now, two months later, we were hoping for more of the same and were thrilled that she still looked perfect, although I am sure she had an air of “where the heck have you guys been?” about her. 😊
Traditionally, this is the weekend we launch Wild Horses. In past years, we would have been watching the weather like hawks, looking for the clearest, least windy day to have the marina set Wild Horses in the water, and for us to attach her sails, ready for the 10 hour journey up the St. Lawrence River, through the beautiful Thousand Islands and, finally, docking at Trident Yacht Club in the Bateau Channel near Kingston.
But not this year. Right now, it looks like our launch date will be closer to the middle of June, when our boat club will have their docks in place. But that is okay as we have lots of work to do on the boat this year! In addition to our regular commissioning checklist, we also have a HUGE boat project that will take several weeks to complete (more on that in the next post).
What the heck is a commissioning checklist?
These are the steps we undertake every spring to ensure we have a safe and well-maintained boat before she hits the water. Forgetting an important task or step could have disastrous results on the water, the ultimate being that the boat takes on water and sinks (yikes!). We have LOTS of “on-purpose” holes in the boat called thru hulls (because they go through the boat…genius!) that need to be checked for exactly this reason. Less dramatic but still in the “important” zone is not having running water, or a working toilet and being in need of one or the other…
The commissioning checklist also helps us use our time efficiently, just in case rainy weather steals several working days from us. Critical items get scheduled first, followed by important items and then the “nice-to-have-done-while-we-are-in-work-mode” items.
Every possible task is detailed and scheduled in the commissioning checklist including the most mundane tasks that clearly have to be done. For example, “remove winter boat cover”. Duh, obviously this has to be done before you can start any prep work and definitely before the boat hits the water (now THAT would be an interesting sight!).
We do this for two reasons: (1) to remove assumptions. It is far too easy to forget a small but critical item. And when you have two crew members, being clear on what has been completed and what still needs to get done becomes even more important. (2) to make you think of the task execution. What tools will you need? Are they on the boat already? Can you do this task in cold weather? If its windy? Etc.
What is on our commissioning checklist? Check it out below.
Stunned. Excited. Disbelief. Happy. Busy.
These five words sum up how Mike and I felt when we heard the premier of Ontario’s announcement today that both marinas and boat clubs would be open this Saturday. THIS Saturday. Wow. For those following this blog, you know that Wild Horses needs both marinas and boat clubs open in order to make the boating season happen for us. That is, Wild Horses is launched from a marina and docks all summer at a boat club.
And, in one fell swoop, we have both opening this Saturday!
To be clear, this doesn’t mean that Wild Horses will be in the water this weekend. What it means is that we can pull out our trusty boat commissioning checklist and get started actioning it. With a few long days and lots of good weather, we estimate that we would be ready to launch in just 7 days.
But, likely, we will have more time than that.
A few weeks back, our club announced to its members that they were targeting June 12 to have everything in place to receive boats. Safety is paramount so in addition to installing docks and getting water and sewage facilities operational, they need to have physical distancing measures in place and communicated to all members. We are awaiting their update regarding those measures and if the June 12 date stands.
In terms of launch, we will also need to “get in line”. Every boat wants to launch ASAP so we will need to be patient while a launch schedule is arranged by our marina.
What today’s announcement also means is that Wild Horses will be our summer home. This was always our Plan A. With restrictions in place until now, our Plan B was to move to Trenton, Ontario for the summer, and perhaps the next year if the Canada-US border remains closed. With the border opening still in the distant future, we still plan to move a few things, mostly bedroom furniture, to Trenton in case will have to remain in Canada for the winter. I love living on Wild Horses but I am not sure I am hearty enough to attempt to live on her through a Canadian winter. Burrrr!
Right now, our focus is firmly set on getting Wild Horses in shape to be on the water. We will tackle that over the next week and then also do our last few steps to get ready to move out of our townhouse by month end. We have lots of hard work ahead of us for the next few weeks but we will be doing all of it with big smiles on our faces. In the next month or so we will be enjoying life full time on Wild Horses!
It was a beautiful spring weekend here in Ottawa. In normal times, there is only one place you would have found us with weather like this landing on a weekend. Yes, at Wild Horses, hard at work preparing her for the summer boating season. Her cover would have been removed late last week and we would have completed a check for damage from the winter layover. This past weekend would have had us elbow-deep in preparation for launch over the May long weekend. Cleaning, waxing, painting, and running through commissioning checklists. Sigh, music to my ears 😉.
But not this year. Restrictions in place to stop the spread of Covid-19 have us still dreaming of boat stuff instead of “doing” boat stuff. We are buoyed, however, by the Ontario Government’s announcement that Marinas have been allowed to start operating as of today (May 4). This doesn’t impact us directly but it does give us hope.
What the announcement means is that boatyards that function as marinas can start setting up docks and facilities (gas, sewage pump out, water lines) and open up their parts and service activities. This puts marina staff back at work (with physical distancing in place of course) and opens up the possibility of summer boating activities.
Still, right now, all marinas remain closed to the public, which includes boat owners.
What does this mean for us? Not much right now. Our boat is stored at a partial service marina. They store and launch boats but they do not service them. We will need to have access to our boat in order to prepare it for launch and, once launched, we also need someplace to go. Since our summer dock is at a yacht club and not a marina, it is excluded from the current easement rules. It is 100% closed.
We are hopeful though!
Marinas are opening with their new “normal” in place and if all goes well, it will be likely that boat clubs like ours will be allowed to open and for boat owners to access their boats. Wild Horses may be docked in the water this summer after all and Ocean can enjoy another morning coffee in the cockpit!
Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.