Wednesday, 4 September 2013

WD-40: A Eulogy

Everything we held to be true and precious about boat maintenance was shattered to smithereens this week when the rigging expert said, and I quote:  (well, he said it in French, so I translate and I quote):  “WD-40 has no business on a sailboat.” 

As the blood drained from my face and I began hyperventilating, he backed off a bit and accepted that WD-40 could be used on the motor, but nothing above deck.  Apparently, when exposed to sun and salt, WD-40 can become corrosive and gummy.  We now have a new product on board that we use liberally everywhere on deck.  It’s a high-performance dry lubricant, a mix of Teflon and Silicone. I’m sure I’ll learn to love it as much as WD-40…but it’s not going to be easy.  

The rigging expert was called on to inspect our rigging, which was changed in 2010 by the former owners just before their round-trip Trans-Atlantic cruise.  After our surprise gale a few weeks ago and a few odd noises that have since cropped up, we decided to have an inspection.  Everything was okay except (1)the lower shrouds, which the expert says were not changed with the rest of the stays and shrouds, and (2) the attachment of the genoa furler to the forestay.  Boats of Spray’s age have a fork-type attachment between the furler and the deck that limits lateral motion, but they are missing a fitting found on more modern boats that limits fore-aft motion.  The only option is to have that piece custom-made.  When asked if changing these things was urgent, or rather, if leaving them as they are would be dangerous, the expert simply replied, “It’s always fine until it breaks, and when it does, you’re looking at a de-masting at sea.  But up to that point, it should be fine.”  Hmmm.  Dark humor.  When pressed, he said it is fine for coastal sailing but if we intend to go into the Med next year, we should have the shrouds replaced.

One boat upgrade we undertook this week that worked marvels was changing our 21 year old portholes.  The plexiglas is crackled so that visibility is very limited.  We only changed the 4 smaller portholes in the main saloon, but what a difference !  The problem is that it now makes the others look even worse, but changing those is quite a different budget.    With some rigging upgrades coming our way in the next few weeks, we’ll wait on the esthetic stuff.

Portholes: before and after.

The new next to the old... quite a difference in visibility !
Along with the portholes, we changed our port home.  We traded our visitor status in the city port of Vannes (convenient but very expensive) for an annual contract in the river port of Arzal.  It’s further from home but they had a great offer on space in their “dry port”.  Instead of a boat slip, we have a place on land, 10 round-trip launches (pull out and launching), 20 days of slip space in the port, and multiple free nights in any of the partner ports in our area (and there are quite a few, including Vannes.)  We will pull Spray out of the water in November and probably won’t put her back in until March, so 10 round-trips in 12 months is more than we will use.  When we go sailing, it's usually for weeks or months at a time, so we don't anticipate frequent stops at home port.  It’s also nice to know that if you ever want or need to check something underneath, you’ve got free haul-out.   

Arzal is a beautiful port with full boating services all around: 2 ship chandlers, electricians, mechanics, sail makers, restaurants, convenient stores, and everything a boater needs in port.  The port is in fresh water (more or less) which is good for the motor, too.  The river is dammed by a large loch, and I thought having to go through the loch every time we came into port would be stressful, but I actually find it quite a lot of fun !  

...and if you miss the loch opening, you just pull up to the waiting dock and have a glass of wine, for example.

Spray crammed into her first Arzal loch passage.

The port office, Arzal.

The riverside docks of Arzal.

And now we’re enjoying beautiful weather, snorkeling, and ice cream along the Loire coastline, waiting for a bit of wind to show up to push us further south.  Not in a hurry !