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Splish Splash 💦

The 2024 boating season on the Great Lakes is getting closer!  After a pretty mild, midwest winter (with 1 really big snowstorm), we are definitely ready for the sailing season.  In southern Lake Michigan some marinas start to open as early as April but most don’t open until May 1st.  We’re getting ready to put SV Zeke E Boy in the water for our 3rd season sailing on Lake Michigan, and although we’ve been through twice, I think I’ll always be a bit nervous.

Kara in front of SV Zeke E Boy on land
SV Zeke E Boy in sling
SV Zeke E Boy touching water

No Winter Projects?!?

Unlike last year, we did not plan for any winter projects on the boat. That’s not to say that there’s no projects wanted on the boat. Boat projects are continuous and never-ending, but if we completed everything that we wanted to do, we’d be broke and never get to actually use the boat! 

Spring Commissioning Checklist 📃

So, what is needed to launch our sailboat?  Here’s our current list:

Clean the deck from winter grime.
Remove and recycle shrink wrap
Remove the skeleton structure that was built on the deck for the shrink wrap to attach to. We were able to reuse pieces from last year, so we’ll try to do that again.
Clean and wax the hull.
Lightly sand the bottom and paint another coat of antifouling paint.
Load the six batteries onto the boat. Commission the electrical system.
Thoroughly clean the interior. Always try to clean up things better than before.
Replace the engine cooling water impeller.
Check the oil level, fuel level, cooling level and inspect the belt for any wear. Replace as needed.
Install the exterior canvas and solar panels (will keep the batteries charged while we wait to launch).
Inspect the rigging and load the sails onto the boat.
Prepare all of our docking gear – lines, fenders, boat hooks, etc.
Test the navigation systems.
Check safety equipment – first aid kit, lifejackets, fire extinguishers, flares and fog horns. Replace as needed.
Load personal items in the galley, saloon, cabins – which include food, water, equipment, clothing, bedding, pillows, etc.

We’re planning to do this for the month of April – during the good weather days. We think it’ll take ~ two weeks to complete the preparations, we will see how it goes and share our journey.

navigation electronics
ComNav Autopilot 1420: Originally thought to be one of our weakest components, but it proved to be one of the best on our journey home!

Getting the boat ready

Once we’re ready, we will work with our boatyard to get on their schedule for launch.  They are very good at getting boats in and out on time, and don’t appreciate an unprepared boater delaying their work.  It is our job to help make theirs easier so they can focus on safely getting us launched. 

SV Zeke E Boy weighs 22,000 lbs and any mistake would create a major problem!

SV Zeke E Boy in sling

Waiting for a good weather window

Lake Michigan in spring

Weather on the Great Lakes is always top priority, attempting to challenge the weather is very dangerous.  This year we’ll need five – six hours to motor back to our home port, so we just need to select a good day and be patient with the weather.  It will be late April or early May … although the water looks amazing, it is still pretty cold, which means being out on the water will be frigid.

Time to GO!

Our stop in West Basin Marina, the St. Joe municipal marina, worked perfectly last year so we’ll plan to scout and prepare arrangements with them early. We found working with them last year was seamless; they are organized and very helpful. The only challenge this year is that we only have 1 vehicle so we’ll be reliant on another party – likely Kara’s parents, to help shuttle back and forth. Oh and what will we do with Finn?!? We think for our initial delivery, we won’t try to work out kinks with him on board, but more to come there too!

West Basin Marina in St. Joe

Tell us what you think

Please leave comments on your thoughts / recommendations / improvements to our Spring Commissioning process.  There is always room to grow and learn, and we’d love to hear from you!

– Kyle from Zeke Life

Live like Zeke
You’re such a good boy!

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