What a busy week it’s been since I last wrote!
“Raise the Mainsail!”
We can legitimately shout that now, as we have our mast and sails back! Well, technically, as we’ve got in-mast furling I suppose it should be “Unfurl the Mainsail!” but that doesn’t have the same piratey ring to it, does it? And we won’t be sailing anywhere just yet, as we’ve still got lots of little and medium-sized jobs that will be attended to when we’re hauled out and on the hard next week for the anti-fouling. However, not let’s not have our gusto dampened by dreary facts just yet; let us don our imaginary pirate breeches, doublets and parrots, and swagger like Jack Sparrow as we enthusiastically holler “Raise the Mainsail!”
The mast was re-installed a few days ago with sturdy new standing rigging (strong wires that hold the mast upright). That process was hitch-free. Jose drove our boat to the work yard on the other side of the marina where there was a massive crane waiting for us, all ready with the mast and new standing rigging hanging precariously from a great height.
The team of guys made the installation process look easy as they reattached the mast and boom, forestay and genoa, and ran all the lines back to the cockpit. When they were done, our boat looked like a proper yacht again!
Once we do leave however, we’re going to have to return to the marina after a month’s sailing, as they will need to readjust and tighten the standing rigging, which will stretch and settle under the strain of wind-filled sails. This means we’ll be altering our plans to sail directly up to Port Grimaud in France – where Barry and I first lived and worked abroad in the early 1980s. Instead, we’ll head over to the Balearic Islands, and visit Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. One of Barry’s DJ mates of old, Des Mitchell, lives and works there half of the year, and I think the excuse to sail over and meet up with him offsets Barry’s frustration at having to forestall our plans. I’m looking forward to meeting Des too – apparently he’s a bit of a legend in the DJ-ing world. You can read about him in Barry’s blog #27.
“Lower the dinghy!”
Now we have our fabulous shiny stainless steel arch fixed to the transom (back end of the boat), we have a whole new array of exciting and essential additions available to us.
The first being the solar panels, four of which we now have firmly attached to the top of the arch. These will provide us with 600 watts of freely made electricity thanks to the sun and the amazing technology available to us. We also have a cool new dinghy/tender that is hanging securely from the davits (stainless steel posts set at an angle off the back of the arch) and an outboard engine fixed to its own little winch system. The installation of the tender took a bit of tweaking, but it’s a good fit on the davits and we can’t wait to get in and test her in the water!
Once we set out on our travels, we’ll be able to power most of the electrical devices on board (and we do have lots – laptops, chargers for phones and camera batteries) as well as the necessary lights, fridge and navigation systems.
The wiring is being hooked up today and Baz and I are pretty curious to see just how much usable juice these four panels will provide.
Having the tender means that we’ll be able to travel from our mooring/anchorage to shore, dive sites and back to the boat with ease. We’ve ensured the dinghy is large enough for our diving equipment as well as the two of us (and guest/s) and that the engine is large enough to handle the weight, and move through currents and waves at a decent speed.
“Err, I think those two legs are a bit short!”
The installation of the stainless steel arch was not such a simple process as the mast and standing rigging though.
After a couple of weeks delay, the guys turned up with the beautiful stainless steel arch and separate frame for the solar panels. It was a fairly hefty thing to manoeuvre onto the back of the boat, and Baz and I waited excitedly for it to slip into its position to be fixed on. But that’s not quite how it happened.
Two of the legs were in the correct position, but when those were placed against the transom, the other two legs sat about 10cm off the deck. Baz and I aren’t engineers, but even we could see this wasn’t an easy problem with a simple fix. After a lot of deliberation, the arch was hauled back onto the back of the trailer and they all drove off. That was lunch time.
We were just about to dish up our evening meal when we heard the trailer parking by the boat. We went up top and were amazed to see the guys had returned with a modified arch, which they set about fixing to the transom. The legs were now the correct length, but the angles of the plates that would hold the bolts needed to be ‘persuaded’ with a monkey wrench and muscle. Baz assured me that the joins of a weld are stronger than the steel itself, so all would be fine. And sure enough, after a lot of grunting and sweating, and with the use of a big adjustable spanner, a ratchet strap and portable hydraulic ram, the arch sat smoothly against the boat.
Then the drill came out.
I held my breath as I watched the first hole being drilled into the hull and realised how attached I have already got to our yacht-home. But pretty soon, and just as the sun was making its way slowly to the edge of the horizon, the arch was temporarily attached!
Early the next morning the guys returned, and spent another 12 hours permanently installing the arch, davits and solar panels. I must say, everyone worked exceptionally rigorously including Jose, the agent, who is not only a hard-working hands-on guy, but also a diligent man with an attention to detail, exactness and timeliness. For example, Baz had been wondering about where the aluminium solar panels fitted against the stainless steel arch. Jose spotted this and, realising that the two different metals would react in the salt water environment, ensured that each panel sits off from the stainless steel with the help of foam tape around the base of the solar panel frames.
Now we have an awesome davits and solar panel system. And I think I heard Baz say something about polishing it already. Good on ya Baz!
“Where am I going to sleep tonight?”
I asked this question while trying to filter out fresh air from the fumes that were invading my lungs. The fumes were coming from waterproof paint which was being liberally applied by one of Jose’s guys (the young apprentice). The paint was being used to coat the two storage compartments under my bed in the Princess Suite where the water tanks usually sit.
The reason this was being done is because both of the stainless steel (inox) water tanks that between them hold 600 litres of water, were leaking. We noticed the leaks indirectly by hearing that the water pump which is meant to power off once the water tap has been turned off, kept labouring for a couple of minutes or so. Something was obviously wrong. Jose sent Fernando round to scout out the problem. Pretty soon, the two tanks were removed. Luckily they had been made to fit exactly through the companionway, so while they were heavy and cumbersome, removing them was relatively trouble free. Once again, Jose was there putting in the hard work with Fernando.
After some discussion, it was decided to cut off about half a centimetre from the bottom edges of the tanks and weld new bottoms on each one. That was the best solution as there were little leaks from rusted parts around both of the old welds. That explained the brown sludge that came out when we got to the dregs of the tanks as we used the water. Yuk.
Anyhow, while I slept soundly in the port aft cabin that night, we let the fumes in the Princess Suite dissipate from the many hatches that we left open in there. In the morning, the paint had dried and the smell had gone. The fresh tanks were replaced and we now have ample, fresh water from tanks that we know are clean and sound.
“Do you like this, or should I redo it?”
This is a question I posed to my Facebook and Instagram friends when I uploaded a pic of a newly upcycled silver bangle that I’d woven with blue wire and crystals. I’d picked up a little piece of blue fisherman’s netting off the beach on our walk on Sunday and this had inspired me to make something that represented the wasted nets and lines that are often left in the seas to the detriment of sea creatures that either eat it or get caught up in it.
The piece itself is quite pretty, I think. I purposefully left the weaving rough, rather than make it look perfect because the blue net that was washed up on the beach was torn and frayed.
The answer I received from my friends was a resounding “Keep it as it is!” So buoyed on by that, I will be turning my hand to some more ocean themed pieces of jewellery.
I was just about to finish another piece using beach glass and a pearl suspended by silver wire in a lovely large cockle shell. I was on my large bed making loops to suspend the glass and pearl, when the guys came to fix the water tanks. There was no room on the dining table to work as that had our laptops on it. There was no room on the deck table as the contents of the lazarettes were spread all over the cockpit for the men to gain access to the tight spaces so they could do up the bolts that hold the davits in place.
So for now, my new piece of jewellery sits waiting to be put together. I’ll do that after I upload this blog. And maybe if it’s as pretty as I imagine, I’ll share it with you.
May you find valuable treasure on the fertile islands of your imagination!