At the end of every season we put the COLUMBIA III “to bed” for the winter. As we live on a remote island and produce our own limited power through solar, micro-hydro and back-up generators, we do not produce enough power to plug in heaters in the ship over the winter. The modest salon fireplace running on stove-oil provides the only steady source of heat. It flickers away 365 days of the year. As a consequence of this limited heating, we remove as many items made of fabric or paper from the ship to avoid attracting moisture and mildew.
Therefore, every book, cardboard box, mattress, towel, sheet, face cloth, quilt, pillow, life-jacket, spray skirt, . . . (I expect you get the idea) is removed from the ship . . . .
up to my small cabin and stored here for the winter!
Funny how my small place gets even smaller with the extra “supplies” on hand . . . I certainly rock the concept of an emergency preparedness kit . . .
For those of you attentive Readers, I know you will be concerned. Yes, the little stove-oil fireplace runs 24/7/365 even when the ship is only checked once a day during the quieter winter months. And I am the kind of Skipper that would worry dark and troubling thoughts in the wee hours of a winter’s night . . . so many years ago I designed and installed an automatic thermal fuel-shut-off system for the fireplace. If the fireplace even “thinks about overheating” a thermal switch shuts off the fuel supply with a fire-proof rated solenoid if the air temperature ever rises above 85ºF/30Cº. Worry-wart Skippers (me) need to be able sleep in the winter too . . .
Oops, I got side tracked . . .
For me, the ship is not truly “stood down” until she is emptied and every cupboard and compartment is left open and special ventilation fans (with their own dedicated power receptacles) are installed and running that I consider the current season is over.
The lazarette (nautical talk for storage area in the back of the ship) houses a wwwwide range of items during the summer; from spare wine glasses to extra engine oil, from beer to bilge cleaner, from wine to wire, from dish soap to dinner plates, from gumboots to garbage bags, from hose to hand sanitizers, from v-belts to sea-chests . . . uhh, a lot of spares . . .
So we empty the “laz” to ensure the area is well ventilated and to weed out the “necessary” from the “accumulation of the extraneous”. Here Steve is spelunking the “laz”.
We also have a system (of course we have a system!) of ropes and pulleys installed in the rafters of the boat shed to hoist each kayak up out of the way for the winter. This makes winter and spring maintenance a lot less cluttered.
Steve is on the roof connecting and lifting . . .
and I am on the dock pulling like mad and tying off one kayak at a time.
I often get the sensation that I am swimming under-water watching the fleet of mothership kayaks passing by. A seal’s eye view if you will.
The ship’s non-perishable food stores are pulled out of their nooks and crannies and organized and inventoried. We will compare preseason shopping lists against post-season inventories and adjust the master shopping lists for next year.
Phew! It is always a busy final push when everyone’s energies are waning; the pull of home projects, family and friends beckon after the long busy season.
Once the crews finally left after the day’s toils, I sat by myself on the sofa in the salon, glazing about me with relief that another touring season has come and gone. I am not religious per say, nor especially superstitious, but I am still completely comfortable with pausing by myself and thinking. “Thanks.” Thanks to the ship, her crews, her guests and the good fortune of this BC coast. My personal motto for my little business has always been: Safe, Fun, Viable.
Safe: I want everyone; crew, guests and bystanders to be safe.
Fun: Life isn’t worth living if it can’t be fun (and admittedly I am willing to work for this!).
Viable: I want my business to flourish enough to treat my crews well, provide my guests with an exemplary experience, maintain this heritage ship as best I can . . .
And have some left over for me too.
Thanks. 2022 was a good season.