It’s been another fun week organising work to be done on the boat and calling up more insurance companies.
Boat job update
Saturday morning Jerry came over just in the nick of time to get some jobs done.
- fitted the new external outhaul system, as we’re using all 3 sheaves in our boom for reefing lines (if that’s the correct terminology)
- turned the mast tri-colour nav light round to face the right way
- added two nylon washers to the gooseneck
- riveted the angled bracket on the boom
- put a metal wire through the furling genoa to stop the plastic knob from falling out
- done various other jobs such as adding missing split pins and tightening guard wire fittings
- moved the mainsheet to use the angled bracket
We picked up the main from North Sails shed in Gosport marina and fitted it back on. When we finally do manage to do a bit of sailing the boom shouldn’t hit the spray hood anymore. Another job done! Thanks North Sails for such a speedy turnaround.
Gosport to Plymouth
HW Dover was at 12:40, and we left at 13:00 for Plymouth. We zipped through the needles at 10+ knots (SOG!) and settled in to our 24 hour trip.
Saturday was a busy day on the radio. One boat was on fire, the occupants escaped by dinghy. Another boat was listing 40 degrees, none of the crew had lifejackets, and another chap went for a swim and was caught out by the tide. A busy day on the water.
We passed the time by listening in on other boats radio chat. Yacht Aphrodite was possibly the poshest boat in the Solent that day.
You couldn’t possibly get more British than this:
Come the evening the sea turned into a millpond and we were treated to a fiery red sunset. Throughout the night I could see flashes of light far off in the distance towards France, which we think might have been Bastille celebrations or distant lightening.
I took the first watch from 11-3am. I sat there looking up at the mast and noticed the tri-colour navigation light was on, turns out it’s been connected to the bow and stern nav light switch. I’ve run out of space on my switchboard, and must have doubled up on one of the switches to test the nav light last year.
There were a few boats out and about, but we were far enough away for our double nav lights to be of nuisance to anyone.
We swapped over at 4am and then swapped over again at 8am.
I’m very much a fan of our new cockpit cupboards. They took a lot of swearing and effort to make, but I’m loving them. I’m going to install a usb charging socket and cigarette socket so we can charge kindles, phones, bluetooth speakers and operate our search light from the cockpit. The search light can then live in the cockpit cupboard ready for action if needed. I’m also installing a 3.5 mm audio jack so we can connect our mp3 players to the stereo.
We’ve named the starboard cockpit cupboard “That fucking cupboard”, as it was a pain in the arse for Trina to fibreglass in.
“Where’s my Kindle Trina?”
“Oh it’s in that fucking cupboard”
We still need to come up with a name for the port side cupboard I installed.
By 11am the following day we were coming past Salcome, and around 12pm I switched off the engine and let the boat drift in the dreamy swell and woke Trina up for her birthday presents and cake.
Her owl and the pussy cat cake consisted of two Jamaican gingerbread cakes stacked together, and sculpted by yours truly. Then iced by mum 🙂
After that we threaded our way through a busy harbour, with races taking place on all sides around the entrance to Plymouth. We realised when radioing up Sutton marina for a lock in that we’d crossed over an imaginary line into friendly folk territory. Everything feels greener and friendlier down this way. We were greeted by a battle scared one-eyed birthday seal in the lock, who hung out watching us whilst we were waiting for the water levels to rise.
So we’re now in a great place. We can either jump off from Plymouth to Spain, or head to Falmouth and depart from there. We both prefer to leave from Falmouth. Falmouth’s prettier, and has some historical significance for us sailors. Plus we can catch up with Matt and Jo for beers before we leave!
Not long now! Can’t wait to settle some scores with insurance companies and arm chair critics.
The muppets we encounter owning a small boat!
I might have to start documenting all the crap people say when they see the boat we’re crossing the Atlantic in.
Top of the list is definitely Topsail when turning us down for insurance. For me this is paramount to being told your child is too fat, too ugly, and too stupid to be allowed to take part in sports day. Go find a burger van fatty! This is what I hear when I read what they said about Excalibur.
The decision is due to the vessel being built in 1987, being 30ft in length and the intended cruising that you are planning on doing is very extensive for this size of boat.
Next on the list has to be the time we were anchored in a beautiful bay near Lulworth Cove one summers evening. A guy on a 40ft standard production boat anchored nearby ruined my peaceful evening by shouting over:
Lovely weekend boat!
Way to ruin my evening shit bag! Fecking weekend boat my arse!
Then the other week when we were in Ramsgate walking back to the boat, a couple with a big boat were very concerned.
Have you checked the ARC regulations that your boats not too small? You should definitely check!
No dipshit! We just thought we’d spend 8 months getting ready for this trip, and just turn up in the Canaries with our golden willy wonka ARC ticket and hope they’ll let us in! honestly!
The positive side of owning a small boat though is that you get to weed out a lot of the muppets. The pretentious simply don’t wish to converse with the little people, and normally the ones that do are really really nice people. Many sailors have started off with pocket sized boats like Excalibur or smaller, and over time they’ve upgraded to bigger and bigger boats but still reminisce fondly about the simpler times.
RayMic 2nd station kit
Excalibur has a new toy, which might seem a bit OTT for a 30ft sailboat. We bought the RayMic so we can control the VHF from the cockpit. We were getting fed up of having to dip down the companion way to change channels and adjust the volume all the time. Another advantage of having this is that we can turn the volume off down below, so whoever’s off watch doesn’t have to put up with radio chatter whilst they’re trying to get some kip.
On another note the range of the Ray60 VHF radio is amazing, or perhaps our aerial cable is. We’ve been able to pick up Dover coastguard as far west as Plymouth which is nuts.
Personal insurance has turned out to be a similar challenge to boat insurance. I haven’t managed to find suitable cover yet. A few operators just don’t seem able to comprehend the trip we’re doing:
“So you’re taking a cruise ship to the Caribbean?”
“No we’re sailing a boat to the Caribbean”
“A boat? ummmm. If I can put you on hold for one moment”
Each call was a lost cause.
The best conversation I had after explaining we were sailing to the Caribbean went something along the lines of:
“So we can only insure you if your trip departs from the UK and ends in the UK”
“Sure thing. I’m departing from Falmouth in August, and I’ll fly back next August”
“and how much is the trip costing?”
“That’s impossible to say. Just put zero in”
“We need a figure. The system wont allow zero”
“I can’t really put a price on the trip. I’ve been preparing for a trip like this for years. Is this because you need to know a price if the trip is cancelled?”
“Yes the system needs a figure”
“But I’m not going to ever put a claim in for a cancellation. If I cancel my own trip it’s down to my own choice”
“If I can put you on hold for one moment”
Our job list is shrinking week by week, which is great as we now only have 2 weeks left!
We’ve got the following left to do:
- Fit jackstays on coachroof
- Fit genoa track
- Fit mast cleat
- Rewire tri-colour
- Buy Sat phone credits and hook up wifi for grib files
- Buy personal insurance
- Buy personal AIS, lifejacket and PLB for Trina
- Get shots for myself
- Clean diesel tank
- Engine service
- Move fuel cap to inside cockpit
- Adjust bilge pump switch
- Buy danbuoy light
- Fix cockpit locker catches
Where we’re at…
The motor seems to be working well, we haven’t done any sailing at all this year so the engine must be good! We need to head out and do some practice man overboard drills and going through the motions of reefing, poling out etc.
Excalibur will be in Falmouth by next weekend. Trina finishes work next Friday, and I’m finishing on the 31st.
I think we’ll have about a week of prep at the beginning of August before we can look for a weather window to cross.