We’re on the final countdown now. As of the end of March, there are 63 days before cast off. We know that although we can definitely leave before all our tasks are complete, between now and June there are a few absolute “must do’s”.
We need to paint the bottom of our boat with something called Micron CSC, a bottom paint that is good for both salt and fresh water. This bottom paint will prevent slime and barnacles from gaining too much of a toehold on Strathspey’s bottom and we picked this particular paint because we don’t want to repaint the bottom when we come back into fresh water. Before applying this paint, we need to remove the existing bottom paint and to that end, Blair ordered a soya-based product that will strip off the VC17 bottom paint currently on Strathspey (it’s from California of course).
Quite a few of the other boatowners in the yard have been sanding their bottom paint off this month but we decided to go the environmentally friendly route with the soy product. I applied the tofu this past weekend and the stuff works pretty well; I left it on one small area for about ten minutes and then scraped it off with a modest amount of effort and rinsed it with water. That was just a test – I need to work out a system where I can dispose of the old bottom paint safely and the air temperature should be closer to 10°C.
We also need to get our boat power in order. We’ve installed five new batteries; one starter battery whose sole purpose is to start Strathspey’s engine and four auxiliary batteries that we’ll use to power our lights, refrigerator, computer and the biggest power hog of all, our SSB radio. Blair has fashioned a nice little nest for all these batteries complete with strong Velcro straps to keep them in place in case of rough weather.
Another important task is to set up our radar system, most of which is sitting in our forward berth in pieces. This involves attaching a stainless steel post to Strathspey’s stern and mounting the radar dome on the post. We’ve waffled back and forth over whether to put the dome on our mast or on the stern post and this month, the consensus is that it should go on the post. Either way, this installation involves cutting a hole in our boat; either in the mast or that shiny blue stern so it’s a tough decision.
As March advances, we’ve ticked off one task after another. We’ve applied for our special confirmation of OHIP coverage because we’re out of Ontario for more than the standard seven month period allowed for snowbirds. We’ve stood in line for hours to renew passports that would have expired in the middle of our cruise. We’ve applied for our US cruising decal and our updated radio license. We’ve researched boat insurance rates which are not too prohibitive unless we decide to go to Cuba. We’ve applied for a US Boat Tow subscription; a definite must have for anyone traveling down the ICW as apparently it is a matter of “when” not “if” you go aground in that shallow ditch from Norfolk, Virginia south.
Preparing for this year long cruise has expanded our world in an unexpected way. The FedEx deliveryman knows us quite well now after dropping off parcel after parcel of boat parts. Rick, our friendly Doyle sailmaker, has provided ocean sailing advice as well as our new 100% foresail which we’ve added to the pile of sails and cushions emptied out of Strathspey last fall. And now Blair is on a first name basis with Mary Jean at the UPS store in Ogdensburg where we have all those boat parts sent that can’t be delivered to Canada.
Right now the interior and the exterior of Strathspey is upside down, full of tools, cleaning products, instruments to be installed and a whole heck of a lot of dirt. One end of our bedroom is stacked a foot high with guidebooks and manuals that we must somehow find a place for onboard Strathspey. Most importantly, our infamous LIST is currently static: as it grows on one end, it shrinks as we strike tasks off the other end.
But now that March is here and there is warmth to the sun, all seems good. We feel like we can see an end to the task of outfitting Strathspey and beyond that new horizons.