Monthly Archives: September 2015

Cruising Withdrawal: How Do You Deal with Post Sailing Blues?

Sailing is like a drug.

After a weekend sailing trip I feel like I need to be checked into rehab – going back to work on Monday is really hard. I sort of sink into a minor funk for a day or two, almost what I imagine it’d feel like to be depressed. I daydream – reliving the adventures and challenges of the weekend. I spend my time looking forward to the next chance I’ll have to get out onto the water.

After our month long Vancouver Island cruise, it was really hard reintegrating back into normal life. This is common amongst cruisers, especially those who travel for years before returning to land life. But we had been gone only a month – yet that was enough.

How Cruising Differs From Land Life

One of the big reasons I realized is that boat life is a forced state of relaxation. Although you have some work to do every day, and things may break causing additional challenges, the number of demands for your attention are much smaller.

In our shore life, we have work 8-9 hours a day, commuting, Internet, news to read, bike rides to go on, friends’ events to go to (birthdays, baby showers, weddings, etc), new restaurants to try out, happy hours to hit up, breweries to visit, movies and TV shows to catch up on, family events, holiday parties, and of course all the normal chores of life (laundry, cleaning, etc).

Not all of those things are necessary, but all of them are competing for our time and presenting an overwhelming array of decisions.

On the boat, most of those things were out of the picture. We could cook meals, read a book, go for a dinghy ride, go for a hike, or do basic boat tasks. Our boat life is intentionally simple. No Internet, no TV, and a low-ish number of marina stays (where it’s easy to get sucked back into land life).

Outdoor vs Indoor Lifestyles

When you live from a boat, all of your experience is taking place in the outdoors – often surrounded by amazing natural beauty and constantly changing weather. While in land life, most people who have office jobs spend nearly all of their time indoors.

There’s something that feels incredibly unnatural about sitting indoors all day when it’s a beautiful sunny day out. We don’t even realize how distinctly painful it is to sit in a cubicle all day because we’ve been slowly conditioned into it. Like a lobster slowly boiled in a pot. But this is a 21st century, first world problem kind of thing. What can you do about it? Not much, if you still want to work a traditional information age job.

Dealing with Sailing Withdrawal

When I’m in sailing withdrawal I dive into CruisersForum and sailing publications (like our local ThreeSheetsNW), reading articles to vicariously live out other people’s sailing adventures. Or work on boat projects. Or just get out on the boat again asap. But schedules are tough, and none of these things are ever quite good enough.

How do you deal with sailing withdrawal?

How to Clean a Winch

I have a confession: I love cleaning winches. It’s really weird, but the idea of cleaning a winch with a beer or two sounds like a great way to spend a Friday night.IMG_20150702_202251

Taking apart a winch combines two of my favorite things among all boat tasks: 1) engineering – basic engineering skills in taking apart and putting it back together again, and 2) cleaning. The reason many boat owners actually like cleaning is that it’s easy – it doesn’t require any advanced skills like other boat tasks (diesel mechanics, electrical), and there’s pretty low risk of making things worse. Unlike mechanical or electrical jobs where messing up can make the situation worse than when you began, cleaning pretty much always improves the situation at least a little.

Supplies Needed:

  • Mineral spirits (aka paint thinner)
  • Winch grease (eg, Lewmar or Andersen)
  • Some plastic cups or dishes for soaking the parts in the mineral spirits
  • Plenty of paper towels
  • Spanner tool – for opening the circular plate at the top (on Barients). A deck key (eg, like you use on the fuel fill port) can also work if the plate isn’t too tight / stuck.
  • Hex wrench (make sure you have some of the larger hex sizes – ¼ inch was the largest I had, and it was the only size I needed)
  • An hour or two worth of good music.

This is what it looks like when a prior owner used way too much grease. Don’t do this!



  1. Disassemble winch, keeping related parts grouped together.
  2. Clean off dirt and grease. The small parts – bearings (the shiny roller ring thingies), gears, and pawls – can be soaked in mineral spirits. Just about 5 minutes is all it takes for the mineral spirits to work their magic.
  3. Reassemble, lightly greasing gears and bearings. Don’t grease pawls. You can use WD-40 or oil on them if you want.

I have 6 Barient winches, ranging from about Barient 12 to Barient 28. Only 4 of the winches are actively used however. Those 4 are all 2-speed and self tailing. The smaller ones can take as short as an hour and the larger one as much as two hours, all depending also on how much of a mess they are to begin with. You can find parts diagrams and disassembly instructions for most Barient and Lewmar winches via a Google search, or go directly to

Cleaning a winch is just about one of the easiest boat jobs there is, *if* you’re good at taking things apart and putting them back together. The first time you do one, take some pics on your cellphone as you go and keep related parts close together. Be especially careful with the pawls and springs. I didn’t lose any pawl springs or need to replace any, but some people like to keep spares on hand in case they lose them.



The reassembled base gears - notice you can barely see any visible grease. That’s because it becomes translucent when it’s spread thin

The reassembled base gears – notice you can barely see any visible grease. That’s because it becomes translucent when it’s spread thin

Winches are amazing pieces of engineering. You can take it apart a 20-year-old winch and clean it and it’s basically as good as new. And you only have to do that about once a year (winch manufacturers recommend more, and some racers that really abuse their winches might need more, but once a year is more than enough for us).

This is about the most grease I’d put onto a part, and this part was one that takes more weight.

This is about the most grease I’d put onto a part, and this part was one that takes more weight.