Well there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the land and the sea at the minute but the new season is approaching fast. The late Easter this year may put back the start a little but it’s still time to start getting prepared with a few routine jobs.
For the sailors it might still be a bit too cold and damp for work on the boats but it is a good time to get work done on parts you can move into the garage. I am well on the way with paddles and thwarts with either ‘International’ varnish or ‘Sikkens’ wood stain. I have used both these products in previous years and they seem to stand up well to a long seasons use.
The materials used in dinghy hulls has certainly changed over the years and for many people gone are the days of painting and varnishing wooden hulls. This has meant that the sailing doesn’t need to stop and you can see evidence of this with Tom and Zennor and Jack and Chris sailing several days a week even this time of year.
A lot of the training dinghies like the Laser Pico and RS Feva are now constructed from rotomoulded plastic and they are virtually maintenance free. The hulls are slightly susceptible to UV damage so it is worth checking the cover for the new season. If you are looking for a new cover for a Pico, Boatworld have some real bargains. In terms of maintenance on the boats you should check the dagger board insert slot for cracks and for the rudder fitting screws to be tight, along with the screws holding the mast gate. The cleats are worth giving a squirt of lubricant and the toestrap tie can be checked for wear.
The other bits requiring a look are the spars. As the sails are often kept rolled around the spar the salt water stays on the fittings and the kicker and jib attachments can start to corrode. The best bet is to give the spars a good wash and fold the sails separately for the winter and if the fittings are starting to corrode they can be drilled off and, before riveting back on, apply a barrier material like zinc chromate to stop corrosion. For the jib fitting you can rotate the mast and drill new holes on the opposite side of the mast and rivet on there.
Most of the larger dinghies are still GRP or similar construction and it is worth turning them over and giving the hull a close inspection for chips or scratches. Any deep one that exposes the glass matting should be filled and you can use gelcoat fillers or buy gel direct from the manufacturers to do this. If you want a really good job Kim Furniss offers a mobile service and can be contacted on 07968985922. For stains, particularly rust marks, there is a very good product called G4 which is a quick acting gel, paint on and wash off, that does a good job of cleaning up GRP.
It is also a good time to have a look over your sails to check for wear and tear. Batten ends and edges of reinforcing at the corners of the sail are classic wear areas, as are points where the spreaders touch the sail and the bolt rope. Check these out and if there is a bit of damage Collins the sailmakers 580882 will be happy to fix any problems. Better now than miss a couple of weeks at the start of the season. They also offer a winter wash dry and store service, bit late for this season maybe!
Well that should be enough to keep you going for a bit, but if you really enjoy holding a paint brush the Gig club are still busy painting the Rhos and the Killigerran if you fancy helping out. They are also back on the water rowing on Saturday mornings if you feel the need to get afloat.
The windsurfers are also enjoying the mild windy weather and with the wind in the SW you will usually find a good crowd sailing off Tavern or Summers beach. If you fancy giving the sport a try we will be opening for the season again on the 5th of April and details will be on the website www.paddleandsail.com
I am continuing with my kayaking this winter and have enjoyed some really good trips round the coast to Portscatho and down the Fal from Ruan back to Percuil. The idea is to build some mileage and get fit for a trip to the Scillies in the summer. If you would like to join me for a paddle, drop me a line as I am usually out on either Saturdays or Sundays most weekends.
If you prefer to stay dry, St Mawes sailing club are in the middle of their winter talk programme and have had some really interesting chats to inspire you for the new season.
See you on the water soon