Splashing a Boat After a Year on Land: What to Expect

As I write this from inside our boat at Riverside Marina in Fort Pierce, Fl, I’m sweating profusely under the Florida sun, and trying not to think about all the things that have befallen our little house on the water, on land.

Every time I look out the window, I expect to see the view gently rocking up and down, but instead I am met with the sterile stillness that defines a boat on the ground. It almost makes me dizzy.

It’s nothing major, yet. But our small list of preparations and general boat maintenance has exponentially multiplied into a cascading waterfall of broken things and missing parts.

As it turns out, a boat is meant to be in the water. Leaving it on dry land is fine for a month or two, but anything longer than that will breed a deluge of repairs.

Before we got to Fort Pierce, our pre-splash to do list looked like this: 

  1. Check Engines
  2. Add Solar
  3. Install Watermaker
  4. Boat bottom job

It didn’t take log for that list to look more like this: 

1)Check Engines

2) Close seacock on starboard side to supply impeller with artificial coolant

3) Seacock thru hull is stuck, and needs to be replaced

4) All thru hulls probably need to be checked

5) Turns out, all thru hulls need to be replaced

6) Need to order 7 through hulls from West marine

7) Have to wait for west marine to order parts….

8) Now we can try to start the motor…

9) Motor won’t start because a valve is stuck shut….

10) Have to open stuck valve

11) Youtube how to unstick stuck valve

Anyways, you get the idea. Mathematically, every repair is leading to at least 3 more repairs. Which means our list is multiplying like bunnies.

It’s nothing new, really. Everything on the boat is epic and Murphy’s Law is constantly applying.

After trying to close the sea cock on the starboard engine, and getting a cold hard rejection, we decided to check all the thru hulls.

And yeah, they were pretty much all done for. So off to West Marine, again, for more parts, and more waiting for more parts.

While we wait, allow me to break down a standard list of boat maintenance that should be addressed after leaving a sailboat on the hard for a year or so.

  • Check your thru hull valves! If they are working, lubricate them with lithium grease by pulling off the zerk fitting and goo-ping it up.
  • For goodness gracious sake, check your engines before you splash
    • This entails an artificial coolant system since your impellers won’t be cooled with sea water. That can be done with a hose or a bucket. (Our bucket system barely kept up which created some air in the lines, adding to our list of things to address.)
  • Check your steering cable, make sure it’s not too tight on either side, or corroded. (We had one snap on us, in the water, it was horrible.)
  • Check your standing rigging
  • Check your running rigging.
    • If you are about to leave your boat on the hard for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to replace the running rigging with holders so your lines don’t weaken in the sun.
  • Check voltage of all batteries
  • Check your bottom paint
  • Check your zincs
  • Check your anchor chain and windlass

These are just a few of the more obvious things, but it’s a good jumping off point.

Back to our thru hulls. This was an unexpected repair, but it’s all a learning experience so we will take it in stride. Here’s a video on how we tackled the job:

Sail Boat Thru Hull replacement ‘how to’ video.

Next item on the list:

Dinghy Davit upgrades.


#1 reason: so we can power a water maker. Allow me to paint you a picture:

Imagine this: You are sitting at anchor on your lovely boat, and it’s time to hit the grocery store because you need more drinking water. So you get the kids loaded up in their life jackets, sunglasses, hats and sunblock. Then you get the bike ready, fold it up and load it onto the dinghy without breaking your back or falling in the water. Then you get the bike trailer ready, fold it up, heavy as hell, and load that in the dinghy. Now that you are sweating all your morning coffee out, you get in the dinghy with your kids and set out on the 20 minute ride to the dinghy dock. Now you tie up your dinghy and unload all of the afore mentioned luggage, kids, and yourself, and you unfold the bike, unfold the bike trailer, and put the two together, and load up the two kids in the trailer and buckle them in with their helmets . Now, you pedal down the hot sunny sidewalk all the way to the grocery store where you will park your bike, unload the kids, and get to shopping. But here’s the kicker: In addition to massive amounts of food, you need massive amounts of water. So much water. The more the merrier because the more water you buy now, the less often you have to come back and do this all over gain.

An hour or so later, you’ve got a shopping cart full of groceries and water.

Now you have to fit it all in your bike trailer WITH the kids, and carry the rest on your back in a back pack. And then you get to look forward to the long bike ride back to the dinghy dock, where you will then unload all the groceries into the dinghy, and the two kids, and all the water (if you haven’t drank it all to avoid dehydration on your bike ride back) and the bike and trailer, which you have to disassemble and fold up, … and then you haul it all to your big boat, hoping that the fish and meat you bought hasn’t gone bad yet…. And then you get to unload it all over again.

Now, most of this grocery store madness is inevitable when you live on a boat, but the water doesn’t have to add to the madness if you have a water maker.

Each person should drink about 1 1/2 liters of water a day (maybe a little less for the kids) which means a week worth of water for 4 people is approximately 18 gallons of water. 

That is a lot of water. More than can be carried in one bike ride. 

Also, with a water maker, you can avoid the weekly trips to a marina for refilling water tanks for showers etc.

It really is a necessary addition for the life we want to have on the boat. 

Last year, our solar barely kept our refrigerators cold. 300 watts just wasn’t anywhere near enough. And to have a water maker, we will need a lot more than we already need. But we have no space on our dinghy davits for more solar.

So we decided to take the plunge and have our dinghy davits replaced with a mountain of hardware that will allow us to mount 1200 watts of solar. 

We will be rocket powered by the sun!

The only problem is, we have been waiting for the ONE guy who can do the work for us. If Jo, or whatever his name is, at Riverside Marina doesn’t do the work, our only option is to splash the boat (500$ give or take), and take it to Cape Canaveral Marina (or some other fancy marina that can haul a boat with a 21 foot beam), pay another 1000$ -$2000 haul and block fee, and wait for some other boat welding magician to hopefully put us on their books, and get the work done when they say they will.

We decided to take our chances with Jo. Who said he could have the work done by March. Then in March he said he could do it by April. Then in April he said he could do it by May…. And well, you get the idea. By August the work still hadn’t been started.

Enough is enough! 

Without going totally unhinged, we had to make something happen. 

I figured, if he works for the marina, then surely the two will be held accountable by each other in some form or another. 

So, we put a splash date of late August, even though the davits hadn’t even been started. 

And just like that, the very next day, they started working on the davits.

And now, a few weeks later, the davits are on the boat, not finished, but a lot closer to being done than before. 

So here we are, currently on track to splash in late August, right in the middle of hurricane season. I know, I know. Not ideal. But:

Supposedly, Riverside Marina does not have a hurricane haul plane for their clients anymore, but they have agreed to haul and block us, along with just a few other clients, in the event of a hurricane. We just “can’t tell anyone.” So, shhhh.. 

For the next few weeks, we will be sweating under the Florida sun, cleaning, installing, repairing, and doing the impossible to make our splash date a reality. 

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