This fall, in the middle of yet another heat wave, I came across a Swedish saying:
“A year without summer is like a life without love”.
While I do remember Canadian winters and the intense longing for sunshine and warmth, I had to laugh. After years of living at the opposite end of the climate zone, mid summer we find ourselves yearning for cooler temperatures. In fact, with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees Celcius for months on end, if we were to go without summer for a year, we’d probably celebrate.
This year being an El Nino year, we’ve had an extremely long, hot summer and lots of wind. Month after month, three out of four weekends we’ve had winds over 25 knots. Combined with the heat, the winds have made everybody cranky, so we’ve tried to make the most out of any good weather. And there have been some wonderful days with perfect sails in a 12 knot breeze and long swims off the boat in flat calm seas. Those are the days that make it all worthwhile.
Mid September we spent a long weekend at anchor and it was one of those weekends that you never want to end. The anchorage was quiet and the winds were light. We had good books onboard, swam for hours and shared dinners with friends anchored nearby. It was the closest we had come to cruising all year.
Each time we take Yofy out, we talk about sailing the Med. It’s been a dream for so long and always just out of reach. With terrorism on the rise, sailing in Egyptian waters is a bigger risk and so we’ve talked about alternate ways to get Yofy to the Mediterranean. We’ve also bantered around the idea of buying a bigger boat already lying in Greece or Italy.
Over the years we’ve made many improvements on Yofy and by now she is pretty much just how we like her, but there remain a couple of problem spots. As we haven’t found that bigger boat yet, and with thoughts of doing some offshore passages, Manny wanted to find some solutions.
Our water tankage is one main issue. Yofy came with two inflatable water tanks – one under the Vberth and another in the starboard heads compartment. A few years ago Manny built a fiberglass water tank to replace the tank that sits under our V Berth and it has been a terrific improvement. The tank that sits on the starboard side in our head compartment has caused nothing but problems and Manny has wanted to replace it for some time. As he examined possible solutions, he added in restructuring all our water hoses, and redesigning the head sink. I requested upgrading all the cabinetry in the head so that we’d have white fiberglass or formica surfaces that would be easy to clean and water resistant.
Winter project #1 came into being:
Building a new water tank for the head compartment
Moving all the water hoses and seacocks for convenient inspections
Rebuilding the sink compartment
Resurfacing most of the cabinetry and walls in the head compartment
Another problem is how to carry our dinghy underway. The fortune 30 is a center cockpit sailboat with a small aft cabin. This makes for a terrific cockpit configuration, but little foredeck space. We’ve tried several variations over the years, but no matter how we do it, we can’t carry our dinghy on the foredeck without making sail handling impossible. So, Manny has decided that our only choice (other than towing the dinghy) is to make davits. We are clearly divided on this plan. I think that davits will make the already stern heavy Fortune 30, even worse, while Manny thinks that with a heavier anchor and other gear on the foredeck, she’ll balance out.
Recognizing that we don’t have much choice, I seem to be loosing the argument and so:
Winter project #2 came into being:
Reconfiguring our solar panel and wind vane post
Building a “radar arch” (although we don’t have a radar) with davits
Along with these two major projects, we are renewing all the boats interior upholstery, putting another coat on the interior varnish, as well as completing all our regular winter maintenance projects. I’ve started with polishing and waxing the exterior stainless and next will come the brightwork. Winters are short here, so we have to really hustle on any projects that need to be done outside.
Finally mid November temperatures began to slide just below 30C and we could enjoy working outside. Just as we relaxed into our favourite season, a cold front from Siberia travelled south and hit us with cold weather. Overnight temperatures dropped 15 degrees and weather warnings were declared all over the region.
Later temperatures crept a little higher and soon all our neighbours fell into maintenance fever as well. These days mid day temperatures are in the low 20’s and on a sunny day sanders and grinders rev up, varnish tins are opened and everybody is in the rush to get things done before the heat returns. As the sun sinks behind the mountains, we all begin to pile on layers until evening temperatures plunge to single digits.
As I write this blog, I am wrapped in fleece and have the heater going. Our boat has been somewhat of a construction zone for almost two months. During the day Manny puts in long hours trying to finish the water tank and sink cabinet between his other jobs. I squeeze in a couple of hours each day to do a little varnishing. Evenings we each retire to a small corner of the cabin and escape via a good book or movie, trying to ignore the discomfort of the disorder around us.
As the projects progress, we allow ourselves to dream a little and to hope that maybe… just maybe… this year we will be cruising in the Med.