Sunday, February 28, 2016


In Indiana, we’re seeing sunshine and gradually warming temps. I’m starting to look forward to getting Zen back in the water. I’m anxious to go but it’s still way too early. The docks aren’t even back in the water yet. What to do, what to do.

Start planning because now is the prime time to take on that task. Think about what worked for you last year and what didn’t. For me, it was the fact that we bought Fender Tenders but never pressed them into service.  They are sitting in a storage container, still in their original packaging. It would have been so nice to have them ready to use when we were sailing around Lake Michigan last year but we just didn’t get around to breaking them out.

There are some things that you can do right now that don’t require you being anywhere near your boat or the water.  When we take Zen out for the season, we remove our gear, bring it home, clean it and then stow it until spring. If you do the same thing, you can begin prepare for the sailing season now.

Let’s break our planning down into categories with checklists. Go through these lists, review your gear and act accordingly.

Do you have reliable rain gear?
How are last year’s sailing gloves holding up?  Could you use a spare pair?
Are your non-skid boat shoes still in good shape?
Do you have sturdy, polarized sunglasses?
Do you need a safety strap for your glasses?
Do you have a protective sun hat with a strap? Do you have at least one spare hat?

Do you have an inflatable PFD? If so, does it need a new cartridge?
Are all of your PFDs in good shape, with no rips, tears or worn-through spots?
Do you own enough PFDs to accommodate expected guests?
If you expect children to visit, do you have child-size PFDs?
Are your throwable boat cushions in solid condition?
Is your life sling in good repair?

Do you have all of the galley equipment that you need or would an additional piece of equipment, like a collapsible tea kettle, be a nice addition?
Is your stove clean and working properly? Do you need to stock up on butane or propane?
If you use butane lighters, are they in working order or do you need to buy new ones?
Are your coolers clean and leak free?

Are the deck cushions clean or could they use a good scrubbing?
Are your berth cushions holding up well enough to sleep on or could they use a refresh?
How are the pillows that you sleep or lounge on? Should you splurge on new ones?

Do you need new swim noodles or floaties?
How are those towels holding up? Do you have enough?
Is your swimsuit suitable for you or is an upgrade in size or style needed?

Did you have specific storage issues last year, such as where to stow your sunglasses at night?
Could you add more 3M Command Hooks and lanyards to hang things up?
Could you downsize what you take along? (Think collapsible cookware, a smaller stove, smaller coolers, etc.)
Could you use some new lock-top storage bins or cargo organizers?
If you had little niceties on-board that you want again this year, what kind of condition are they in? For example, do your flameless candles need new batteries?

Those are just some little things that you do now to prepare for the coming sailing season. If you’d like a little more guidance on anything on these lists and more, see my book, Simply Wonderful Sailing.

As the time grows nearer for actually getting back out there, I’ll do another post about the more practical issues of getting the boat ready to sail. Hang in there – spring sailing is just around the corner.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


I know that there are plenty of sailors who can sail year-round but that’s not so with those of us who are lake-based trailer sailors. In my area, the docks come out of the water on November 1 and don’t return until April 1. So here we sit. If you’re like me, you’re watching the calendar and counting the days when you can get back to it.

What can you do in the meantime? You can still enjoy some sailing related activities. 

Here are my favorites:

  • Visiting boating and sailing shows
  • Reading sailing books, both fiction and non-fiction
  • Watching sailing videos to learn new skills
  • Checking out equipment to make sure it is clean and working well (stove, lanterns, etc.)
  • Sewing projects – winch covers, boom tents, privacy curtains
  • Learning and practicing new knots
  • Visiting Facebook pages hosted by other sailors and making new friends

You could also

  • Check out your sheets and sails, ordering new or repairing old as needed
  • Shop for handy new stuff with that gift card that Santa put in your stocking
  • Name your boat and order some letters to be applied in the spring
  • Recover your cushions

Hang in there – spring is coming!