I’ll kill myself if we sail all the way to the Caribbean and sit on a hammock watching Netflix on an iPad all sodding day!
Times rapidly ticking away and I’m hoping we’ll be back in the water in 2 weeks time. We have 50 days left which is a total head fuck. In 50 days time the boat needs to be some 300 miles along the coast, packed and loaded and ready to go. That means sails, engine, rudder, batteries, mast, boom, satellite phone, water, food, all our shit has to be done and dusted ready in time for our Biscay crossing. We may have some extra time in August whilst waiting for a weather window to further prepare, but who knows. We’re really doing it all wrong in some respects, life would have been much easier if we’d delayed it for a year, we’d probably have taken June and July off, but instead we’re working right up until the end. Perhaps I shouldn’t have taken Lynn Pardey’s motto so literally “Go small, go simple, go now!”. Cheers Lynn! 😀
Word in the cafe is that a boat that left the marina for the ARC a while back is now in Portugal. It’s strange to think we’ll meet these guys at some point in the Canaries.
Update on jobs as follows (all mundane boat job chat)
I keep pruning our todo list almost day by day, questioning the importance of each job. Here’s the essentials.
- Bilge pump
- Genoa track
- Engine mounts
- Rudder bushing
- Sat phone setup (new to the list)
- Raymarine compass issue
- Diesel tank clean
- Heat exchanger clean and new anti-freeze
- New stopcock for the exhaust
- Finish off cockpit lockers.
- Grind out small stress cracks around rudder hinge and repair
- Remove backing pads form Hydrovane, sand, epoxy as cracks have appears, make good
- Fix outhaul
- Rig check
- Ready storm sail and cruising chute
- Grind and fill gap in keel at the front
- Service seacocks
- Pack ditch bag
- Lights for danbuoy and rescue sling
- New charts
This feels more like a list for the MAIB (Marine Accident & Investigation Bureau) to go through if we disappear. All the really important jobs like the ones above must and will be complete by the time we leave. I recall the day of departure on Oliver and Carlotta’s boat, there’s always work to be done right up until the moment you cast off. I don’t expect our trip to be any different.
Trina’s been carving out the deck on a blisteringly hot Sunday afternoon. She’s removed a genoa and stanchion backing plate that’s sandwiched in-between the deck. The foam core disintegrated around these plates where water got in. I’ve enlarged all the holes, bevelled and filled them with epoxy. The fibreglass skin is incredibly thin, scarily thin. To think that in the middle of the ocean, all that’s keeping the water out is a thin layer of fibreglass doesn’t bare thinking about. I’ve started to build up the void with thickened epoxy and will use with biaxial cloth. The backing plate that was in the deck, will be replaced with a stainless steel backing plate on the inside of the boat which will be easily removed should the track need re-bedding in the future.
This weeks been a bit of a slow week, mostly comprised of desk research, phone calls and lots of talking.
The liferaft has been opened and checked, everything needs replacing and will cost £380. I think I budgeted £450 so that’s sort of a winner I guess.
The engine mounts have a bit of a headache. Initially I thought we’d replace the mounts like for like which cost a mere £50 each. However the yard ordered in Volvo mounts which cost about £130 each. Volvo mounts for a Volvo engine is what we need apparently! But the costs spiralled out of control and replacing like for like has now been deemed unacceptable. So we’re now getting the cushyfloats. The mechanic also noticed the engine is sitting quite close to the top of the engine mounting bolts, and they should actually be right at the bottom, as an engine vibrating at the top of a bolt is understandably going to shake that bolt to bits eventually, so the engine may need propping up further.
Medway Slings have made up our guardrails. Great company, great communication! Not a lot more to be said there. Awaiting the jackstays to be made up.
The other day I heard a familiar voice talking about how busy they were next to me in the yard. Some chaps from PSI Marine who did some work on Excalibur a few years back were working on a boat http://www.psimarine.co.uk . Super nice guys. They’re going to help me solve the issue with the boat pointing in the wrong direction on my chartplotter when we’re back in the water (rather important).
We’ve also tried out the bolt cutters on the guardrails to see how easy it would be to remove the rigging if we ever get de-masted. The bolt croppers work, but it takes a long time to get through 4mm wire. We’ve now bought a cordless angle grinder which slices through cable like butter.
Following on from that, there’s a pretty good video on rigging by Jerry the Rigger which I’ve now digested.
I’ve anti-fouled the boat which takes about 7 hours over the course of a few days. The anti foul I use is now £100 a tin! Like fine wine I bagged a couple of bottles a couple of years ago when it was relatively cheap.
Ben came round on Sunday and helped fit a bilge pump. The Guzzlatron 2.0 is a beast, and like every other job on the boat it’s about 70% completed. Thanks Ben for coming over and donning on a pair overalls and messing about on Excalibur. I’ve very lucky to have friends like these who find joy in sticking their heads down my bilges! I sincerely hope I can repay the likes of Ben and Ollie in time, beer or house/car/boat jobs some day in the future.
Message from Ben
Testing the bilge pump
We also found a fiver floating in the lock, and borrowed a boat pole gaffa taped to a fishing net from a bloke who was painting his boat (we gave him the fiver).
After 4 weeks I can say Gillingham as a marina, with the bar and friendly locals has been one of the best stays I’ve had. Time spent fixing a boat up on the hard with the boat in disarray, bottles of piss everywhere can be a challenging life and sometimes a bit lonely. There’s nothing that will make you question your life choices when you’re mopping up a spilt cup of piss with a t-shirt. Though when you have a down moment you can just roll into the bar, pull up a seat, get a ham and cheese sandwich and a pint from Kim or Andy and take a breather. All marinas should have a bar where you could sit down and have a chat.
Fingers crossed I’ll see the yard fit the engine mounts and rudder bushing this week.
50 days left, around 20 important jobs left. Sprint status amber!