Well, I must apologize, as we've been incognito and incommunicado for the last two weeks. Not to worry, as we are fine and all is well (thank you to all who wrote to see if we were ok!) but we've taken a brief hiatus from the boat. We've been stateside visiting with family and dear friends; it was a planned visit but as always is the case when we are back in the US, our time has been …um, chaotic!! And, my blogging has suffered because of it. But all is good: it's been good to be with family, good to be with friends, great to reconnect in person, to laugh and share tales of amazing experiences and foreign adventures, and tales of small mishaps and misadventures. Of course, it's always better to have more of the former than the latter!
A big part of enjoying time with family is knowing that the boat is cared for while we are gone. Peace of mind comes from preparation, and prepping for any time away from the boat takes a bit of doing. Actually, a lot of doing!! For instance, you need to clean. Clean, clean, clean and clean before you leave, because who wants to return to a messy boat? Worse, how about returning and finding new “friends” aboard, like bugs, nasty odors or mildew? Not on our boat, if we can help it! So we clean: I wipe out the refrigerator, scour the sinks, clean the counters, scrub the heads, vacuum and dust, take out the trash, launder and make all beds with fresh linens, to name a few things domestic.
I usually make a “provisioning run” too. Not to get items, but to give away items! After cleaning out the refrigerator, I usually have some fresh veggies that we haven’t eaten yet, so we make a run to share our perishables with any and all takers. Most cruisers don’t mind a few extra eggs, veggies, onions, potatoes, fruit or cheese, and we're happy to share the bounty rather than toss out those hard–to-find ripe tomatoes! Plus, who wants a horde of fruit flies awaiting your return?? Everyone benefits from this endeavor, frankly!
We also do a systems check to make sure all systems have been run before their brief shut-down. We pump out the holding tank -- actually, we pump out, rinse and pump out again -- before we leave. I'm more than paranoid about odors aboard so that is simply a major must-do prior to departure. Boats always have a strange way of smelling when no one is aboard for any length of time, and since I can't tell myself (alas, still no sense of smell!)...I don't want to take any chances.
We also make sure the proper breakers are off that need to be off, and that other breakers are on, that we choose to stay on. Right now, Equinox is in a marina slip at Jolly Harbour and as we have someone checking on her daily, we opted to leave a few vital breakers on. (Primarily to ensure that our refrigerator and freezer stay operational so our frozen stores won't spoil.) But other systems are also checked before departure: the propane system is off (solenoid shut off, and tanks closed at the source), the water-maker is in auto-store mode, bilge pumps are on and working, and appropriate seacocks closed. There's more to it than that, but you get the idea!
We don’t just prep inside, but make sure everything is ship shape, inside and out. Outside cushions get pulled in, or are stowed safely out of the elements, folding bikes are wrapped and stored in the pilothouse (not their usual berth), scuba gear is all rinsed, dried and locked away, all loose items are battened down and secured so that an unexpected wind storm won’t wreak havoc. Dock lines are set (with chafe guards in place and redundant lines where necessary), and fenders set at the right heights against the pier.
So, while there are lots of little details, all are necessary to ensure peace of mind while we are gone. Each are worthwhile, and while we've enjoyed our time with family, our efforts will make our return all the more enjoyable too. Guess that's the true meaning of ship-shape!