Saturday morning I woke up to see a sailboat at our community pier bow down in the water. The Moody 346 sank in its slip, a victim of some failure, a seacock or hose perhaps, and it was a sad sight made worse when it started to snow. Only the keel kept it from being awash.
I informed the owners, and efforts to pump the boat out were successful by that afternoon. The damage to the boat was obviously significant, although it had been unused and left alone for quite some time. But this particular boat isn't the story here or what was on my mind as I watched the event unfold.
Which struck me was that a boat owner can't ever really ignore his or her boat, or ever believe the sentiment that out of sight, it will be fine. When I read Pam Wall's recent post about setting up one's boat for long term storage, I was reminded of the focus and degree of care to ensure the boat, in its entirely, will be safe, snug, and remain fresh and clean during a long period away from its owners.
Boats are not like houses. One can walk away from a house, and it remains dormant but it doesn't go anywhere. Sure, a falling tree limb can break a corner of the roof, or window, and cause a hole and entryway for rodents and birds. Squirrels and raccoons can take up residence, as can homeless people, or a meth lab, or even zombies if you have the imagination. But as the house deteriorates over the years, it is still there. A boat does not have the legs to follow suite. It either eventually sinks or breaks away from its mooring and drifts away onto some rocks or shore, where sand and rocks can do their thing to the once loved yacht.
A boat can not be ignored or walked away from, and hoping for the best will not keep it safe. The many boats at anchor or on moorings in Boot Key Harbor in Marathon, left on their own during the recent hurricanes, could not care for themselves. Even a properly winterized vessel, power or sail, can fall victim to the elements of winter. Just take a look at the images routinely presented in BoatUS publications, where leaves clog a cockpit drain, and the resulting pool of water freezes, burst drain hoses and causes other damage, even sinking the boat out of sight. A boat's inherent buoyancy is not guaranteed or immortal.
The only safe way to leave a boat on its own is to have someone keep an eye on it, or go through the numerous tasks on the hard as outlined by Pam's post, or have the boat stored inside a building somewhere, an option that grows in popularity each year.
Seeing this sailboat perch forward on its keel, its bow full of water, was a sad reminder that boats need us to keep them safe and ready for sea. We often expect them to keep us safe at sea, but it cuts both ways. Such is the boat ownership relationship.
Have a great week.