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Barry's Blog # 27 – Measure twice, cut once!

Drilling the first hole into the GRP (glass reinforced plastic)

My stomach knotted and a pained grimace crossed my face as I watched the drill bit pierce the GRP (glass reinforced plastic) transom of our home. There was no going back now, I just hoped that the guys installing the stainless steel davits and solar arch combo had heard of the expression 'measure twice, cut once'.

A month ago as I watched the stainless steel specialist measuring up the back end of our yacht, two thoughts had crossed my mind. The first thought was 'He must be very experienced at this sort of thing'. Because it looked to me like he was only taking rough measurements and didn't seem to be taking into account the various angles and inclines that form the back end of our home. I assumed that he'd made davits for our model of yacht previously and had all the info about angles and inclines in a database at his workshop. The second thought was 'There may be problems when they come to do the install'. My second thought was the correct one.

Since the 'measure up' day, several promised install dates had come and gone, so when the davits installation guys turned up on Tuesday Aannsha and I got quite excited that things were moving forward at last. The stainless steel arch looked beautiful as it sat on the back of the trailer with the midday sun glinting off it and I could see that it had been very solidly constructed. However our excited smiles quickly disappeared as the five man team eased the two forward legs over the transom rail and attempted to get all four legs to sit flush with the boat. It was blatantly obvious that someone had miscalculated the angles as the forward legs sat on top of the aluminium toe rail and the rear legs hung uselessly 10cm above the transom. There followed much head scratching and lots of talking until it was announced that they'd be taking it back to the workshop for adjustments and they'd return the following day. We were quite surprised when they returned at 8.00pm that same day and began the install process. At first the angles were still a little out, but with some brute force and the help of an industrial strength ratchet strap, a very big adjustable spanner and a small hydraulic ram the whole construction was persuaded to fit. As the last of the daylight faded and with the arch now temporarily held in place the team bade us farewell with a cheerful hasta mañana and headed off for the night.

The following day the team were back on the job at 8.00am and 12 hours later after a lot of drilling, hammering and the occasional shout out to an unnamed god the davits were fully installed and I have to say they do look beautiful, although the little voice inside my head (the nice one) is telling me all about how much polishing is going to be needed to keep it all looking nice and shiny. With the davits installation job ticked off the list, several other projects have now moved forward, because the stainless steel davits were the linchpin for quite a few things. As you read this blog the wiring is being run for the 600 watts of solar that sits on top of the davits and we now have our new dinghy and outboard hanging off the back end of A B Sea.

Surely that's it and you guys can leave the marina now? Not just yet. We have to replace the old life raft, wait for some last minute packages to be delivered from the UK, USA and Australia, pay the final invoice, transfer ownership of the yacht, register the vessel in the UK, get boat insurance and sail off into our future. It doesn't seem like a lot if you say it fast.

Houston... We have a mast!

To be precise we have our original mast stepped back onto the foredeck complete with brand new stainless steel standing rigging. That particular job went very smoothly. Jose the broker motored us over to the other side of the marina to where a crane waited with our old mast and new standing rigging dangling from its hook. It was fascinating to watch as the rigging team reattached the different stays to the deck fixtures, reconnected the boom and ran the various lines back to the cockpit. A B Sea now looks like a yacht again. The cables for the electronics at the top of the mast still need to be reconnected and that job will be done when we get hauled out onto the hard for antifouling and the replacement of several through hull fittings, hopefully next week.

As a side note, Jose told us that we will have to come back to the marina after a month of sailing to have a rigging guy set the correct tension on the new standing rigging, as it will stretch a little once it comes under load from having the sails unfurled and filled with wind. With that now in mind we have slightly altered our sailing plan and instead of heading straight to France, we will now head over to Formentera, Ibiza and Mallorca while we wait out the month. Whilst in the area of Mallorca we plan to meet up with a friend I have not seen in 30 years, Des Mitchell. Des and I first met in Tenerife in 1986 when we worked together as DJ's in Bananas nightclub in Las Americas. At that time Des had just competed in the DMC UK mixing championships and I remember being totally blown away at his mad mixing skills, especially watching him simultaneously use four Technics SL-1200 decks. He is a master at his craft and now spends the 6 months of summer DJ-ing in Mallorca and the 6 months of winter DJ-ing in the Maldives. Nice gig if you can get it.

There's a hole in my bucket!

The water pressure in your house is created by situating the local water tower on high ground and allowing gravity plus the weight of all that tonnage of water trying to 'fall' through the pipes to create the pressure that you get coming out of your taps. On our yacht the water tanks are situated under the bed in the forward master berth (AKA the Princess Suite) and so our water pressure is created by a combination of the water pump and an accumulator tank. As we use water the pressure in the pipes drops and the pump kicks in to raise the pressure. Under normal circumstances the pump should automatically switch off after 60 seconds or so. Ours wasn't doing that, it would just stay on and we found the only way of getting it to switch off was to fully open the tap, run a heap of water, wait for the pump noise to increase, then close the tap and the pump would eventually stop. This was bad for two reasons. Firstly when the pump is constantly running it's draining electricity from our batteries. Secondly our 'fix' was wasting our finite water resource. This is not a problem when we're connected to shore power for electricity and we can refill our water tanks from the tap whenever we want, but once we're out sailing it would have been a big problem. When we mentioned this to Jose he sent Fernando round to look into the puzzle. It turned out that both of our 300 litre stainless steel water tanks had developed small leaks in their seams. The fix was to cut away the base of each tank a half a centimetre above the weld and then weld on new bottoms. We ended up having to use buckets for our water for 3 days whilst the repairs took place but we are very happy that this issue was found and was able to be rectified before we left the marina and it also means that we now have very clean water tanks too.

At the time of publishing this blog we still don't have any idea of when we will be able to start sailing, the one thing that is certain is that it won't be by the end of May as previously thought. It's a little frustrating but there's nothing we can do to hurry things along, we just have to allow things to unfold in their own good time. Patience, it seems, is a lesson that's taught very slowly.

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