When Jon and I headed out for Mexico, our plan was to live out the very hot summer season that attacks the Sea of Cortez May through September. We were going to spend our days looking for sea caves, hiding in what shade we found and drinking cold beer while soaking in the piss warm water. While we were in the La Paz area, other cruisers who have weathered out the summer season warned us about the unbearable heat, the water which is so warm that it is not refreshing, and the bees and bugs are in attack mode. We were ready to learn about all the joys of hurricane season in the sea till the states called us home.
There are many different ways and suggestions on how to prep your boat to survive the heat, wind, down poor of rain, and bugs. I am going to list the ones we did and why.
– Boat Cover/ Tarp: The sun will reek havoc on our boat like no other element. The first thing we looked into was how to cover our boat and keep the sun off our teak decks. During the summer the temperature is a steady 100 degrees every day, if not 105-110. For fellow teak deck boat owners, you know how hot your decks can get and that they don’t like it. Prism has some very large and nice sunbrella covers that the previous owners made, that we use at anchor, but after a quick walk around the boat yard, we saw that most of the “solid” fabric covers were torn and shredded into pieces, along with the classic home depot tarps. We were told that the tarps will normally last through one storm then they are done. There were a few other boats that had covers/ tarps with a different kind of fabric. It was a mesh looking breathable fabric, that keeps the direct sun off and lets the winds blow through. There is a local hardware store in Guaymas who sells this fabric and will make a tarp for you with grommets if you bring him the dimensions. We made our own cover, 2 pieces that ties down to the bottom of the lifelines. The fabric is abrasive, so we made a dacron patch that went over the boom to protect the paint, we kept it off the bright work as we knew it would eat through it.
– Outside Brightwork: Our Hans has a lot of wood and bright work on the outside. We tried to cover as much as possible. We have sunbrella covers for our hand rails, and hatches, so we used those but we do have have covers for our bulwarks, which to make covers for can be extensive. So we put on 3 coats of Cetol Natural Teak pigment as sacrificial layers, knowing we will have to do some brightwork when we get back. Fingers crossed, hope it was enough.
-Foil: Foil and masking tape is a cheap lifesaver. To keep down the heat from entering your boat, we were told and did foil all our port lights, and any electronics and lights you have to leave outside. If you don’t have sunbrella covers for your hatches, then cover them with foil as well. Foil and tape all winches (even if you have covers for them, foil under it). We foiled the port lights from the inside, as we noticed that boats with foil on the outside, did not last through the winds and rain.
-Items out on deck: Like almost anywhere in the world, even back in your home marinas and docks, it is best not to leave much out on your deck. Your nice 9hp outboard is easy picking from the back of your pushpit. Jon and I took off everything we could, including life slings, solar panels, propane tanks, fenders, fishing pole holders, and speakers: keep your belongings safe from the sun and theft, bring them inside!! It’s not like you are going to be needing the space inside once you are gone.
-Dinghy: Most who have inflatable dinghys deflate them, cover them, and put them inside. Most with hard dinghys keep them on deck and cover them to protect from the sun.
-Solar panels: Disconnecting from the batteries and covering the panels is what most people do. Jon and I took ours off completely to spare them the wind, rain, dust and heat exposure they would have endured throughout the season. Obviously this is depending on space.
-Trash bag covers for large items: We covered our Prop, windless and wind vane with black heavy duty trash bags to keep the dust off. We were told that the plastic would melt by some, and other said they do it every season with no melting. So we will see, but a little melted plastic is better than our gear getting all gummed up with dirt.
-Thru-hulls: We closed pretty much all of our seacocks, and shoved mesh fabric into each of the thru-hulls to deter bugs and bees from making nests and making there way inside of the boat. We did leave open the cockpit scuppers, as we did not want to have a mosquito infested cockpit pool filled up from the summer rains.
-Lines: Jon and I took all our lines, sheets, vang and preventer off, washed them with fresh water, dried them out and put them in plastic bags inside the boat.
– Halyards: We have very old and hammered halyards that we were going to replace very soon, so instead of running tag lines and removing them, we left our halyards up and tied them away from the mast. About 20% of people take down, rise and store inside. We did take a few of the halyards down, just not all.
-Sails: We took all our sails, washed, dried and flaked before we put them back in their bags then stored them down below.
– Canvas: When we walked the yard it was about a 50/50 to see boats with or with out their canvas covers still up. Jon and I once again took off as much as we could, there was no reason to leave our nice sunbrella covers, dodger out for the season because of our full boat cover. We took down our stackpack, washed and dried it and we took off our windows to our hard dodger top. We saw many boats that left their dodgers up, sails on with covers over them too, they had been taped down, or tied down to stop the wind from tearing them apart. Almost all who have a roller furler do remove the sail, those who didn’t, well everyone knows what a sad shredded furling sail looks like.
-Food: This is a topic that is also a 50/50 between the cruisers we talked to. Some who have cars and trucks that drive back to the states and have homes tend to bring all of their food, meaning all staples and can food. Jon and I do not have a car or truck, nor do we have a home ( we will be staying with family and friends for the months we return home) so we cannot bring back 30-40lbs of can good and staples. Rumors to why people bring their can food off the boat is because the temp gets so hot, that the can will explode. I really hope this does not happen, and in a “just in case” fashion I did bag all of my caned food to keep the mess down if that did happen. I bagged and sealed all my stables, flour, beans and rice to keep the bugs out( if they get past all the drugs and poisons) We did eat and or gave away to the locals all fresh foods. We emptied out the fridge, wiped it down with bleach and left it open to vent during the season.
–BUGS!: My WORST nightmare! I refuse to let the creepy crawling refuse to die live without heads for 7 days disgusting creature that is the cockroach to board my boat. So before we left Jon and I laid down different kinds of roach traps and pastes. We were told that the people who have done this, have come back to a few dead bodies in their boat, but have never had an infestation. Keeping bugs off board is all about the preemptive steps, like poisons, clearing out all open food, vacuuming, making sure there is zero to eat for the little vial things, bagging/ sealing any food you do have to leave, and closing all openings. The bees and wasps can also make homes in little spots all over your boat. That one vent hole you forgot to cover or plug is the perfect spot for mud-dobbers to make a nice mud home. If your anything like me, you will take extra time to make sure the creepy crawlers stay outside were they belong. I know that I was very adamant about it, and even now and I an writing this, I am wondering if I did everything correctly! I mean I am sure I went over the list 100 times.
-Power: We have heard that some people leave a little power on in their boat, to run a fan or to keep the bilge pump on just in case. Jon and I turned everything off and disconnected the batteries. We know we have a dry boat and have no leaks, so we know we don’t have to worry about water getting inside, and we didn’t want to worry about something shorting out in our 30 year old wiring.
-Electronics: Most people disconnect all their electronics and place what they can into the oven. This is in preparation of a lighting strike. Lighting is a chance happening, we have friend who have had a direct hit to their mast and nothing happened, and we have some who have the complete opposite, who have lost all their electronics. On prism we do not have a big enough oven, nor do our electronics disconnect easily, so we took what we could and put them in the oven. We will cross our fingers about the rest.
-The bilge: We made sure our bilge was clean and dry. We did a fresh water rise of the bilge and pumps. Once they were dry we did a wipe down with bleach to kill anything that was thinking about growing while we were/ are gone.
-Anchors/ Road: Once again this is something that most do not do, but Jon and I Love our anchor, so we rinsed and took off the anchor to store it down below. We also took all our rode out, rinsed it and swapped the leading ends.
-Leaving buckets filled with fresh water inside: This is a topic that gets talked about a lot. Once again it was about a 50/50 hearing that we should do it, and others saying hell no! Of course when we asked those who did leave water in their boats, we asked what kind of boat they had… normally it was a boat much like ours with a lot of wood on the inside. The fresh water in buckets would keep just enough moister in the air/ boat so the interior wood would not dry out and they would come back to the buckets being almost emptied.. Now the other 50% said that when they did it before, they came back to a boat filled with mold and mildew, not to mention a perfect mosquito breading pool, so they have never done it again, when we asked what kind of boat they had… mostly they had almost no wood inside, with just painted fiberglass, metal, or hard liners. So the water in those boats turned into condensation, which gave mold and mildew the perfect opportunity to flourish. Jon and I depend this all they way up till the last hour before leaving. We were told by friends who have just as much wood as we do that they leave 5-6 full 5 gallon buckets filled with fresh water. So Jon decided to fill our 2 large trash cans with water, and we really hope it was enough to keep the wood happy, and enough to keep the mold and mildew away.
-Clothes: Some cruisers have their “boat clothes” and then the clothes they leave at home. Jon and I being full time live a boards, everything we own is on our boat. And we take fly home with all our personal property or all our clothes. We heard that even the elastic on underwear would melt from the heat, and clothes that had any moister would have a farm of mold growing by the time we got back. So I washed and dried and then dried again the clothes we were not going to bring home and doubled bagged them in heavy duty trash bags. That should do the trick. :/….. if not Ill just have to go shopping when we get back 🙂
Well I am sure there are some more things, but that about sums it up. I wish we had pictures of examples of each, and in the previous post there are some of us doing the work, but we were a little busy and forgot to be as diligent with the camera as we normally are.
What did you do about water in your tanks. Drain it out or leave the tanks full? Hope that y'all're having fun where youre at.
Hi – found your blog through WWS and looking forward to following your adventures. This is a great list – very comprehensive. Looks like you guys have had to do a TON of work to get your boat ready to lay up for the season. Cheers – Ellen
Hope you and Angie are enjoying your summer so far! As for the tanks, The fuel tank we filled and put some bioside in it. Water tanks we left what ever was in it that we didn't use, we might have to shock the tanks when we get back And the holding tank, we pumped out, rinsed and then pumped out again 3 or 4 times. 🙂 Cause no one likes to come back to a poop smell in there home.
Hi Ellen, thanks for reading! It was a lot of work, and we can't believe people do it every year! It takes a lot of time and patience to pack away your home, and unpack it every 5-6 months. We can't wait to get back to her and continue our adventure!
It was great to prep and haul out with you guys! We're settling in to our tiny RV and looking forward to getting back to the boat. Sully wants to go back now and keep cruising! http://AboardAstraea.com