but will we ever get there?! That is the question.
Here’s a quick fire found of updates.
I’ve moved out of Reading, bye bye Reading.
Boat jobs have been moving on.
Excalibur now has a couple of fans for those warmer climbs. We’ve fitted 2 x 100w solar panels on the back, one uses a Rutland controller, and the other one is yet to be wired up but will use a Victron bluetooth controller, so we’ll be able to monitor how much electricity we’ve generated over a week using our phone. We bought a vacuum sealing machine and vacuum packed a pencil. In the future we’ll vacuum pack pre-prepared meals and cuts of meat to extend the shelf life of our fresh food. We also saw a massive fish in the marina, and my folks came up to help with our extensive boat job list.
We’ve been given a Garmin InReach from my folks as a joint birthday and Christmas present. Thanks mum and dad! This means we’re able to send our position to a map via Satellite, so friends and family will be able to keep track of our progress. The Garmin InReach can also send and receive text messages, though these are limited by our data plan and only wish to be contacted in emergencies. Talking about emergencies, we can also send a SOS distress call much like we can do with our EPIRB distress beacon, and should our electrics fail, we have another way of establishing our latitude and longitude for navigation. We already have a handheld GPS device to establish our position in an emergency, but this is a backup of a backup.
We chose the Garmin InReach over the Yellow Brick (which does almost the same thing) because the InReach has a screen, so you can either bluetooth from your phone, or text message directly from the device. Also the monthly payment plan seems more economical than the Yellow Brick as you pay a flat fee with Garmin, but with the Yellow Brick you pay per ping (position sent).
When we’re en-route we’ll have the Garmin switched on all the time, and the Sat phone (Iridium 9555) switched off unless needed. So if anyone needs to contact us in an emergency, they can send a text to the Garmin telling us to switch the sat phone on.
This brings me onto the sat phone. We bought a Iridium 9555 from Oliver and Carlotta. We’ve yet to fire it up, but with that in mind we bought what is called a Red Port Optimizer. The sat phone will plug into this box of tricks, which will in theory set up a Wifi hotspot. The box acts as a firewall, which is one of the main features. The whole purpose of this is to get weather reports at sea on our laptops, without using up precious bandwidth by inadvertently downloading windows updates and the like. We haven’t had time to test the phone or the optimizer, but it’s on the todo list.
Trina’s been up the mast, threading a line between the mast steps. Mast steps are great, but our halyards are forever getting caught in them at the most inconvenient times. We’re hoping this will remedy the issue.
I’ve ripped out the webasto heating. Where we’re going we’re not going to need heating. So that was an utter waste of money. Bought, installed, used once, uninstalled.
I waved a sad farewell to Nereid. Richard and Alice have bought a renovation boat, which they’re turning into a high altitude go any boat for climbing adventures. We both first came to the marina in 2010, and were completely new to boats and sailing, so it’s amazing we’ve both set off at pretty much the same time, bound for new horizons. I’m looking forward to following their sailing plans. Richard, please start a blog! 🙂
Storage has once again been a big theme over the last few months. Trina’s built some cupboards in the forepeak so our bed now feels more like a coffin, but it’s bloody paradise to have more storage! She’s also started work on making up cupboards in the heads, and is working on a bin cupboard in the galley. I’ve started glassing in one of the cockpit cupboards. Under the bed, more baskets have been added. Order is everything!
Ollie came down one weekend and schooled me on my 2 stroke mariner engine. Amazingly it works! Thanks Ollie!! A week later I’d take Trina for a little spin, only for it to conk out and had to paddle back with table tennis rackets. Some things never change! Ollie also found some raspberries that went missing the previous weekend.
One thing thing that happens to every boat owner, is that moment when you find some sort of mystery object in the boat and wonder what the hell it does. Do you throw it away? or keep it it in the hope you’ll find the true purpose for that thingy-ma-jig. We’ve been trying to work out how the detachable inner forestay secures to the bow (so we can fly two sails at the front, or in heavy seas set our storm sail). We had one strop, and then whilst clearing out a tool box, Trina found another. We now know how to fix our inner forestay to the bow.
The next question is what do we do with it. Speaking to the previous owner who took Excalibur to the Caribbean, he flew a 80/90% jib hanked onto the inner forestay and poled out, and let the genny fly loose, sometimes experimenting with a block from the boom to help stabilise it. They kept the main bagged, and flew from Cape Verdes to Barbados in 16 days! He’s suggested adding a second genoa up the foil of the furling genoa’s second luff groove, which might help reduce the rolling. I’ve looked into it, and decided not to go down that road. The advantage of having a small jib on the right and the big genoa on the left, is that come night time when those inevitable squalls hit, the person on watch can deal with it by simply furling in the genoa to the appropriate size to deal with the squall, or furl it all together and let the small jib propel us forwards. This approach means you can deal with night time squalls singlehanded, letting the other person sleep. The alternative is to have the main up one side the genoa out the other, the downside of this is it takes two people to reef the main. We’ll see how we get on.
I had my last music session with the guys. We’ve been playing the same folk tunes on and off for the last few years on the boat with varying levels of improvement. It’s been a lot of fun. The guys particularly like playing The leaving of Liverpool, which of course felt quite fitting when we played it just a few days ago for the last time.
We’ve also had Trina’s friend who’s a doctor over for an evening crash course in expedition first aid. Thanks Bea!!! We now have a long shopping list of drugs to buy. I particularly enjoyed practicing sewing up a gash on some foam. For anyone who’s interested, here’s our first aid todo list…
In other news I think we found the limit of our patience last weekend. This isn’t a pity party invite, but the stress of getting ready reached boiling point. Two tired wannabe sailors snapping at each other on a tiny boat, over trivial things might have seemed amusing to the tourists walking around the marina last weekend. We used to find discussing how many teapots is acceptable for an Atlantic crossing funny. Now we occasionally loose our rag over how many tape measurers we need, the pros and cons of impact drills, does anyone really need 3 size 8 spanners, and is it necessary to pack the fancy dress dinosaur outfit.
Anyway, it’s not all cocktails and bikini’s right now, but we’re getting there!
ps I say it’s not all cocktails and bikini’s but we did have one evenings relief, swanning around with a bottle of wine after a hard days slog.