Spring Ritual

By Jack Klang

Each spring I sit at an old picnic table gazing out over the still cold water of the bay. Eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drinking my Pepsi, I watch the sparkling waves. I’m at the boat yard again, preparing my boat for another season.

During the winter months I made several to-do lists, but, as usual, I’ve forgotten to bring most of them along. I only have one list with me, but that’s okay. I’ve done this for thirty-five years. I should be able to remember the tasks.

Last week I re-painted the boat strip, added a coat of anti-fouling bottom paint, and recharged both batteries. According to my list, today I’ll check the fuel filter, inspect and replace the water pump impeller, change the oil and filter, and tension the v-belt. I also need to check all the hull fittings and seacocks, then test the bilge pump float switches. On the back of my list I find a note that my fire extinguishers and emergency signal flares are outdated.

On my next visit I’ll install the VHF radio and depth sounder, then connect the mast wires for the anchor and spreader lights. This year I’ll remember to re-install my halyards before the mast is stepped. That’s a task you only forget once, unless you enjoy a trip up the mast in the bosun’s chair. In a few days I’ll return with bags of sails and whoever I can find to help install them and tune the rigging.

Without the help of a list I know that my final tasks involves soap, water, rags, and polish. Even though I don’t particularly enjoy house work, it’s fun on a boat. I look forward to having her bright and shiny. She just seems to sail better when everything is clean and freshly painted.

Soon the shine will shine, reflecting off the chrome deck vents as a breeze fills the sails. I’ll have the tiller in hand and will be sailing again.

Getting ready for the season isn’t a dreaded task. It isn’t even hard work. I wouldn’t trade my peanut butter sandwich and Pepsi for a steak and vintage wine. I wouldn’t trade my paint brush for a golf club. This is an annual ritual, and I enjoy every minute of it.

About the Author: Jack Klang is a Cruising Consultant for Quantum Sail Design Group. He has shared his vast experience with thousands of sailors through his seminars, a syndicated newspaper column, magazine feature articles, television and movie appearances. He is the author of  “Cruising with Quantum” a series of how-to articles covering all aspects of sailboat cruising as well as an instructional video. Jack is recognized as one of the country’s five best sailing speakers, appearing at boat shows across the country. For the past five decades, Jack has sailed the Great Lakes, Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. He earned his first Coast Guard captain’s license at age 18 and has logged over 30,000 miles under sail as a cruiser, ASA instructor, charter captain and delivery skipper. Contact Jack at captjack1(at)charter.net.

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