We’ve been busy bees since we packed up work a couple of weeks ago, and it definitely hasn’t felt quite like a holiday just yet.
We had a mini celebration watching my screensaver count down to zero, after that it was straight down to boat jobs and preparations.
Cleaning the diesel tank
I opened the diesel tank and found a huge amount of crud at the bottom of the tank. I hooked up a 12v drill pump and some hose and took out the remaining diesel. We discovered when the fuel senders on empty we have about 15 litres of diesel to go, which might be why this crud hasn’t given us any bother.
I cleaned the tank out with a couple of rolls of tough kitchen towels, rinsed with clean diesel and then repeated the process.
I’ve also installed a fuel cap directly onto the tank after seeing a boat tour on YouTube of a Golden Globe entrants boat. We can now fill up from down below, which is a huge relief as I hated filling up on deck.
The new genoa track has finally been installed after we dug out the rusty backing plate that was embedded in the deck. We’ve had a stainless steel backing plate made up by Seaweld in Mylor, and had a little adventure to go and get it which involved taking a river ferry to the other side of the harbour, and traipsing across potato fields. The new track looks solid, and Trina’s fibreglassing skills look A1 to me! We’ll worry about colour matching and deck patterns another day.
We’ve installed jackstays on the coach roof with stainless steel backing pads. As long as we’re clipped onto these safety lines, then our tethers at full stretch should keep us on the boat rather than being dragged along over the side. We should have bought folding pad-eyes, but they were pretty expensive so we have u-bolts for now.
Trina’s revisited the med kit. Whilst I was doing some work on the laptop Trina asked quietly
“Can I ask you a quick question?”
“Do we need a head stapler?”
“How much are they?”
“ah it’s £10 sorry”
“Cool get it!”
and then Trina whispers
“£15 for a enema kit?”
The last question broke my concentration!
The med kit is now pretty huge, and has been divided up into tupperware boxes marked up with labels such as “Pain” “Tummy” etc. Trina’s created volumes of extra space in the heads cupboard, which is our ‘oh shit’ cupboard, as it had the med kit and engine spares, fuses etc.
Other safety equipment
We’ve got a new lifejacket, PLBs (Personal Locator Beacon) and Personal AIS units. PLB sends a distress signal by satellite to Falmouth coastguards, and the AIS unit alerts nearby boats with AIS receivers of the position of the person overboard, or whoever’s off watch on Excalibur. This is the best we can do now safety equipment wise. We’ve gone above and beyond the ARC Rally’s requirements, so we just need to stay on the boat.
We’ve also gone through our grab bag one more time and checked we have everything required and suggested (such as enema kits!)
As mentioned Trina’s done some work on the heads cupboard. She’s got an acute addiction to tupperware boxes since we’ve been here. She’s also built some makeshift drawers in the galley. Basically we’ve squeezed as much space out the boat as possible.
Trina’s addiction to tupperware boxes is matched by my addiction to nets I might add.
We’ve gradually been working our way through the boat from bow to stern questioning what we do and don’t need. Tough decisions have been made as to what to keep, my beloved crusty old kettle is going into my folks attic for instance.
You can tell we’re coming towards the end of our todo list when we start looking at sat comms. Trina’s set up the sat phone comms and the RedPort Optimiser. The RedPort Optimiser does exactly what it says it’ll do. The Sat phone plugs into this box of tricks and sends out a wifi signal for your laptop to connect to. The RedPort Optimiser only allows internet traffic from particular email and grib software, so we’re not using up our satellite airtime on windows updates etc.
Mast cleats and electricity woes
Possibly the most frustrating days I’ve had were when we couldn’t get any electricity and putting on a new cleat on the mast.
We spent an entire day fault finding why we couldn’t get any electricity, stripping down shore power connectors and Excalibur’s trip switch, only to find out it was the marina’s faulty sockets. We’d tried a couple of sockets which led us to believe it was Excalibur and not the marina. Turned out the electricity meters were labeled incorrectly in the end.
A new mast cleat was supposed to have been installed in Gosport, but as Jerry ran out of time we had to do it ourselves. I spent a day trying to rivet the bloody thing on. I went on a walkabout to Penryn to find longer rivets. In the end we bought a tap and dye set from Amazon and managed to get the job done in 5 minutes. I guess we have to go through the pain sometimes to learn new skills that the professionals take for granted. Something such as tapping a thread into a mast isn’t actually the dark art I thought it was.
The last few weeks have been pretty hard work. We’re normally like zombies come 7 O’Clock, and by 11 we’re sparked out. We’re normally up by 9am and even after a long night of sleep we still find it hard to get up. Perhaps the last few months are finally catching up on us, and our bodies are telling us to rest. Though this is no time for rest. Oddly we’re also dreaming a lot! Vivid random dreams.
I’ve been pretty grumpy and stressed for the last week or so. Self imposed stress perhaps. The fear of getting marina bound, or missing our opportunity to get to Spain is on my mind a lot. The stress levels fluctuate depending on whether jobs are going well or not. When I take showers (once every 3rd day presently) I stand in the shower racking my brain as to what I’ve forgotten, actually scrub that, I think about that all the time, working through as many plausible and implausible scenarios as possible. Everything will be fine, but call me Timmy-job-lists for now, that’s really all I can talk or think about. I’m looking forward to slipping the lines and getting out there, at least by then we’ll know we’ve done as much as we can.
We both agree Falmouth wouldn’t be a bad place to live in a few years time. The people here are incredibly friendly and after 3 weeks this place feels like home, which for now it is. Drinks in the chain locker with the marina staff and berth holders felt like we were back in St Kats the other day. I guess when you share a common bond such as sailing, you’ll have friends in every marina Should we get stuck here we wouldn’t mind too much. Trina would go to art college, and I’d do a boat building course. That’s our backup plan anyway.
Excalibur has been getting a lot of attention in the marina. Whilst I’m down below, I often see people walking past and staring, really really staring at the boat, or the cockpit which is chockablock with fuel cans and bits of wood. When Trina’s working outside all I hear all day is blokes walking past saying ‘Where can I get someone like you?’ and ‘coorrrr can you come work on my boat’ and the usual response from Trina ‘yeeh, ahh, ha’ which translates to ‘feck off I’m busy!’. One day I crept out through the forepeak and walked past Trina whilst she was sawing something on the pontoon and said ‘I wish my wife was like you’ in a deep voice, she brushed me off with some comment and when I nudged her she chased me down the pontoon with the saw 😀
We’ve met a few people getting ready to cross to Spain, but not a huge amount. We had a cup of tea with a chap who’s been a professional skipper for 26 odd years, first guy to take a super yacht into Burma, very knowledgeable guy. He’s helped us decipher weather reports and perhaps given us a bit more confidence.
I first declared we’d heed what all the books say and head far far our west (inline with the west coast of Ireland), and then head south. But for the last few weeks we’ve had a lot of westerlies and south westerlies, and very little in the way of strong winds. With this in mind we may not spend our days waiting for the winds to change direction, but take a more direct route to Spain.
I’ve been in contact with Stephanie who runs a company called MeteoGib. She’s a meteorologist who set up an affordable weather forecasting service for sailors.
For £5 a day, she’ll keep an eye on the weather for you and warn you of any impending storms. You set your preferences such as swell height and wind strength, and she’ll help you sail within those parameters. For an extra £5 a day she’ll provide weather reports and email them to your sat phone.
We haven’t managed to get gribs through our sat phone, so for this trip we’ll get our weather updates daily from Stephanie through our Garmin InReach, which can receive texts and emails (Dave you were right, Garmin InReach rocks!)
We got away for a weekend and anchored in Tresellick bay.
Trina caught a fish that had legs and looked too nice to eat so threw it away. Upon reading our fishing book, the Gurnard is a real choice Fishermans catch and quite a delicacy.
We spent the rest of the weekend trying to catch fish with no luck, and had to cobble together whatever was in the cupboards for dinner (Thanks Ben for the pate, look forward to opening another tin when you and Jo come join us)
We also took Matt, Jo and their nieces for an evening spin on a perfectly still evening. I wish we could conjure up some more time for more trips before we head off. I must also thank Matt and Jo for having us over for an evening, and letting us use their washing machine. We’re now proper sea gypsy’s, and will never turn down a washing machine or a bath from now on 🙂