It seems pretty cliché to say that winter seemed long—no doubt every winter in every generation has seemed long, especially in New England—but this one in particular has struck me as exceptional. Even so, months and months of endless snow and wind notwithstanding, it hasn’t been so long that I got all my list of projects for Ganymede completed. Thuth be told, partly because in the fall we were busy moving into a house, and partly because the weather went abominably cold very early and stayed that way until about yesterday, I did exactly none of the ambitious projects I had hoped to in Ganymede. Paint, varnish, better stove shielding—all the things that would have required my presence aboard got put off till better weather. We are having better weather now, in between rainy days, gales and icy fog, but all those days—or rather evenings after work—must now be given over to rigging and general preparations for summer.
What I did get done, and rather at the last minute, was a good overhauling of the shrouds, a few new dyneema strops made for here and there in the rigging, and a quick repair in the lower deadeyes. These last are machined from solid aluminum, and are beautifully made by Colligo Marine, but I unwisely allowed the bronze cotters in the clevis pins to touch the aluminum here and there. And everywhere that the two metals touched, corrosion ensued. It is astonishing how very quickly bronze and aluminum will go to war, and also how rapidly aluminum will melt before the onslaught of bronze. Interestingly enough, wherever I had used Tef-gel or Lanocote, the metals had remained isolated, but gooping the cotter pins with any sort of goo would have meant having it on every sheet and halyard that came even close.
With a Dremel tool, I ground out all the corrosion pits. None were deep enough to even begin to weaken the deadeyes; they were merely surface blemishes. Then,to even everything up, I painted the lower half of the deadeyes with Awlgrip 545 primer. A black topcoat will have to wait for another time. I installed them with some far smaller cotter pins, which have no chance of getting at the aluminum, and gooped everything generously with Tef-gel again.
As long as the mast was down, I gave it a once-over: the stainless steel fasteners I put into the aluminum mast five years ago could still be backed out easily, thanks to the Tef-gel that is still goopy. Lanocote would have hardened up ages ago (I scraped lots of hardened Lanocote flakes off of the chainplates), so Tef-gel gets the prize in my book.
It was on a predictably windy Saturday that we stepped the mast again. With the tabernacle, it was a non-event, though I gave myself the luxury of building a sheer-legs instead of using the boom. The sheer-legs is easier to rig and less dangerous, though it requires more equipment in the way of 2X6s and bolts. It went up so fast and easy, in fact, that Danielle again didn’t manage to get pictures of the mast at half-hoist—in fact , she just might never.
All that remains now is to tune up the rigging, bend on the sails, and see what we can do with the engine. Though it was running wonderfully when I winterized it last fall, the chassis, after five years of hanging six inches from the salt water, is rusting into little pieces, and it no longer wants to tilt either up or down easily. Of course I’ve known all along that it will need replacement one day, but that doesn’t make the event any easier or cheaper. Anyway, we’ll see whether it will last yet another season before being gently put down.
I confess to feeling rather like a fool for taking everything out of the boat, and unshipping all the spice racks and lamp gimbals for the sake of a sprucing up that I never got around to—now all that has to be added to next winter’s considerable list, but at least I did chisel away at it, and have a newly galvanized anchor and chain that won’t dribble rust stains on the deck any more, a shiny throat halyard, an overhauled and painted gaff saddle, and upholstery on the aft cabin cushions. And that’s how it goes. Little by little, ever since Ganymede was launched, we’ve been improving, and maintaining, and re-inventing. And what if the project list only gets longer as time goes by? Something worth having is worth keeping nice, and surely by next winter (I tell myself) I’ll find the time and money to give Ganymede the attention she deserves. In the meantime, summer is almost here, the boat is almost ready to go: it’s time to put the chores list on hold and get some sailing done.