03 May 2019

A New Season Begins!

The other day, Helena and I were both busy doing jobs on Petronella, preparing for our long passage from St. Mary's GA to Block Island RI. We'd both been so absorbed in our work that we'd barely seen each other.

"How's it going?" I asked.

"Great!" she said. "I started the day with ten items on my to-do list. I've done eight of them, and I only have twelve left!"

That's kind of how it goes with boats, as any cruiser will tell you, but we seem to finally be getting ahead of the curve. Since returning from France, we've done one major repair job (well, major for us, anyway), and a dozen routine maintenance jobs, but most of the projects have been improvements to Petronella, which is really great.

My big push this spring has been to make changes that will make sailing Petronella physically easier to do. This is just recognizing the reality that fatigue is the big limiting factor for long range cruising -- especially offshore. You can't just 'give it all', because you never know when King Neptune is going to want a bit more. Sometimes a lot more.

One big (i.e. expensive) change we made was to swap out our old, non-self-tailing sheet winches for a pair of Lewmar 46 self-tailers. It's amazing the strength needed to crank and tail a jib sheet in 35 knot wind. We did alright last year with me cranking and Helena tailing, but self-tailers should make the job much easier. The Lewmars are more powerful than our old winches, as well.

Can't wait to try these out!
The other physically draining activity that I wanted to address was getting up the anchor in the morning. We have a manual windlass, and neither Helena nor I mind cranking in 30 or 40 meters of 1/2" chain every day. We think of it as our morning workout. But washing the thick, stinky, gooey, *$&@^!)!) mud off the chain is a complete drag. And dipping a hundred buckets of water from over the side was not doing my back any good. Helena thinks I'm a sissy, but last fall I decided we were going to have the most powerful washdown pump I could find, and now we do.

The installation was pretty interesting. I installed it under the sink in the head, which is near the bow. There was a stand-pipe for a source of water, and it was near some heavy duty wires that normally drive the bow-thruster. I ran the outlet up to a through-deck fitting. It took some time in the thinking chair to get everything right -- as well as several trips to West Marine to find all the right plumbing bits -- by eventually I got it done. Again, I can't wait to try it!

The under-sink pump. 
We still have lots of chores to do before Nick arrives next Saturday to help us sail the boat up to Block, but nothing that can't be done in New Engand if need be. All eyes are on the weather now! Fingers crossed!

Next Up: A Taste of Our To-do List


  1. The Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways at the lock in Chesapeake Va is open. Tie up next to it and I hope some of my 2775 era models are on display.

  2. enjoy your post


I'd love to hear from you. Please comment!