Each winter is a good time to start planning out what you need
to do on the boat for next season. How have you been going
this year ? What are the most important things you need to do to
catch up to the boat just in front of you. Before the season
finishes grab a pencil and paper and go over a few of the good
boats in the fleet. Write down, do some drawings of things you need
to fix on your boat for next season. The next most important
thing is to head on down to your local pub and buy a flagon of
port. Top up your Port barrel and move it out to the shed.
This will keep you warm through though those long nights
Back to the boat. Let's look at all of the bits on the boat and where/what you could look at. Here are a few ideas for your list :
The Jib, Do you need to put some streamers on ? Is the rope or wire fraying at the top of the mast where it clips into that V Lock. Perhaps you could replace this halyard. Check the class measurements, is the jib as low down to the deck as possible. Does the jib halyard lock into the mast cleat OK ?, does this need cleaning, check the forestay or jib wire is any of it fraying. Are the measurements from the top of the mast to the top of the jib correct. Have you checked your mast rake, are you able to change this from a calm to a windy day ? Do you still have Dacron - organize a sausage sizzle and raise the funds to buy a second hand mylar set. Are you able to change the Jib Rope attachment to the Clew while racing ?
The mainsail, how do you think this performed ? What condition is it in, are the batton's at the right tension ? Have you checked, does your sail look right ? Any little holes or tears that need a patch sticking over them or does it need a professional look. Check class rules prior to doing any alterations like this. Any more streamers required ? Any Batten pockets with holes ? Any rope at the batten ends that are hard to tie. Perhaps you should replace batten ends with V-lock cleats so they are easy to tension prior to any race. Check all your battens on fully battened mainsails. Pull them all out, have any shattered ? They will need replacing. How are the eyelets on the sails holding up ? Any wearing through ? What about the sail itself was it hard to pull up ? If it was hard rub some wax into the mast slot and onto the edge of the sail. Any Rust spots that need removing ? If so get some rust remover from the hardware shop.
The Spars. Check for corrosion, any rivets loose. Rivets only last 5 years or so and do need replacing. Is your mast still straight ? You may need to have a look and straighten it out a bit for next season. How is your boom, is your spanner fitting all loose and wobbley ? Does it need tight, are all fittings clean and functional. Check all wires that are connected or flow through spars have any frayed anywhere ? Do they need replacing. Did you have enough point ? Do your side stays need to come back or forward ? Do your diamonds need to be tightened or loosened as per your crew weight. Is that little pin your whole rig sits on broken…give it a wobble.
Have you got any leaks in the hull, the best way to find leaks is soap the outside of the hull and then seal all your hatches except one. Invent a way to blow air into the hull through a hatch so it can be pressurized. Any bubbles coming out around your hull ? If so this will be a leak spot, even the smallest of bubbles can lead to a few litres of water through a race. Don't preassurize your hull too much and blow it up ! What do you use to fix these things Epoxy, fibreglass or silicone. Be careful here different things require the correct solution. What about your centreboard case hole, is everything square, neat and tidy, do you have to put any packing in the centreboard case, do you need any sort of film over the slot for better slip streaming ? Do the venturis actually work, these can be removed relatively easily and cleaned. When you put them back, put in a new rubber seal. How about your toe straps are they comfy and easily adjustable while racing for both skipper and crew.The Vangh, does it work ? Do you need more power, can it be adjusted from both sides of the boat ? The Outhaul, Does this work ? If you pull it on does it easily pull the sail along even on a heavy day ?
The Traveller, do you have one ? Does it work OK, do you need some more purchase to pull it across. Is the track attached OK to the boat, is anything pulling away ? Clean all fittings and ropes.When cleaning all your fittings, pulleys, ropes etc the best thing is warm soapy water. Make sure there is no oil, grease around. Really clean fittings run just that much smoother. A few old tooth brushes and steel wool work best on most fittings.
Also really clean those jib tracks.Foils, does your centreboard stay where it is during the race, do you need a way to ensure it is fixed. Does the carpet in the centreboard need replacing, are there any scratches or dent's on the centreboard that need looking at, same with the rudder.
On a windy day is you tiller extension nice to hold, plenty of grip. Try gluing some rope spiralling around the handle. Is the tiller extension fitting allow easy movement. Or lash out and buy a groovy telescopic extension. If you have a rubber fitting here check to ensure it is not splitting. Is the rudder easily locked down into place, does it come too easily when released. Does the rudder also need a spruce up ? On some boats you might also want to check the gudgeon bolts. Sometimes these 1/4inch bolts can actually have stress fractures and bust during a race.
Safety gear, do you have a tow ring properly fitted. Do you have a tow rope, can you use the righting rope on your boat, have you got a paddle How is your trailer, has it lasted the distance ? Anything need replacing here ? What about the lights do they still work, does your trailer fit onto the new 50mm balls ? Is the boat balanced on the trailer. Do you need to build a cradle to keep the boat off the sand ? Is you trailer capable of towing your boat for long distances i.e. interstate, safely. What about the rules, get a book and read them, download them for free off the internet. Your gear, do you need a new wet suit ? Boots, life jacket, what about a go fast captains hat or a white polo neck woollen jumper with some Old Spice for those 'after' race discussions with the boys ! Do you need to exercise through winter and stay/get fit ? Get that keg back down to a six pack !
Winter maintenance is all up to you. Some people just hose
the boat off and pull it out again next season. Some people
build whole new boats through winter. What ever you think you
need to do to improve your sailing have a go. If you get stuck,
phone for help. Everyone is only to happy to come over and offer
Especially if they know you have Port in your shed !