Regular blog readers already know that Libby and I are spending much less time on the boat than before. Also, that we are extremely reluctant to admit to ourselves or anyone else that we are giving up the cruising life.
I said that this winter's stay in the RV park is only an experiment. Well, the experiment is successful. We both like it here very much. To me, it is especially pleasing to see Libby enjoy the pleasures of gardening, decorating, cleaning, and cooking. It would be fair to call it nesting. Merely having more space and also being on land offers much more opportunity to do that kind of stuff than living on the boat. On the boat there is no real gardening, there is no furniture to rearrange, there is very little wall space to decorate, and so on.
We plan to sail to the Abacos next spring with Waves of Grace and Vixen. What happens next? Libby very sensibly suggested that we make Lake Champlain the year round base for Tarwathie, and that we find winter storage space for the boat up there. That allows us the part of cruising we love most; on our home waters of Lake Champlain.
But if we do that, it becomes clear that we will cruise only 3 months (maybe 4) of the year, and leave Tarwathie on the hard for the rest of the time. That is the part that has me worried.
Any cruiser will tell you that a boat begins deteriorating the first day you place it in storage. Storing it in freezing temperatures during the winter magnifies that problem many fold.
Recently we've hear from friends on W32 Calypso about major projects that they are working on because of leaks. Ditto our friend Jay on W32 Pygmalion. Jay too had a leak which caused damage forcing him into a major renovation project. So far, on Tarwathie, we have been blessed by never having a major leak. We have never removed the chain plates or port windows for re-bedding. Tarwathie really has been an exceptionally fit vessel.
The reality I foresee is that 8-9 months storage in cold weather for several will undoubtedly lead to leaks, rot, and major renovation projects for Tarwathie. In addition, in the next 5-10 years we will probably need new standing rigging, new main sail, new electronics, new barrier paint. It would also be wise to replace the bowsprit and boomkin with stainless steel upgrades before rot sets in and we are forced to do it.
I'm also humbled by the extent that our recent major project to paint the topsides, exhausted us. The fact is that we are getting too old to handle major projects ourselves, nor do we live close enough to a boat yard where we can pop over there and do work on the boat once or twice a week. If we keep Tarwathie in Vermont, and can use her only 3 months per year, we will not be happy to fit in occasional 1-2 month renovation projects. When you live on a boat for 12 months, 1 month of maintenance work is not such a big fraction of your time. That makes maintenance easier for full-time cruisers.
If we sell Tarwathie now, she is in excellent sail-away condition. If we continue for 5-10 years with long annual storage periods, the eventual sail will be a distress sale, and with or without sale we will be distressed for allowing her to deteriorate.
My head is pulling me one way. My heart is pulling the other way. Libby's heart also pulls the other way, but she does not appreciate the future problems I foresee.