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Barry's Blog # 35 – I name this ship...

Ding a ding a ding... I was appointed the task of official bell ringer at A B Sea's naming ceremony! In my humble opinion it's probably the best bell ringing work I've done so far this year and despite the critical acclaim and pressure from the public, I just want to state for the record that any rumours of me giving up my day job to become a professional campanologist are just that, rumours.

Aannsha was of course 'master of ceremonies' and delivered the ancient maritime ritual with the kind of aplomb usually reserved for royal weddings, swearing in a new president or selecting the next pope and she did it bilingually in English and Spanish, the latter just rolling off her tongue as if she were a local. He's a brief excerpt from the ceremony.

"Oh Poseidon mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage - we implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name 'Corajero' which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom. As proof thereof, we submit this piece of clay bearing her name to be eradicated through your powers and be forever purged from the sea."

At this point in the ceremony a small piece of clay tile with the name 'Corajero' written on it in water soluble ink was dropped from the bow of the boat into the sea and a bottle of red wine, less one glass for the captain and one glass for the first mate, was poured from East to West. Once we had Poseidon on our team it was time to appeal to the winds Gods, for some reason they prefer being toasted with champagne.

"Oh mighty rulers of the winds, Aeolus (ruler), Boreas (N), Eurus (E), Notus (S) and Zephyrus (W) through whose power our frail vessels traverse the wild and faceless deep, we implore you to grant this worthy vessel 'A B Sea' the benefits and pleasures of your bounty, ensuring us of your gentle assistance according to our needs. Great Wind Gods, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavours, ever sparing us the overwhelming terror of your fearsome breaths.

Hail! Aeolus and Poseidon!! We seek your benevolence upon this vessel, now to be known as 'A B Sea'."

Champagne was then flung into the air in four directions and I had to ring the bell. There was a lot more to it and the ceremony highlights can be seen in this week's Sailing A B Sea YouTube video.

Is it that time already?

For the re-naming ceremony we were joined by Sue and Dave and their sons Lee and Phill. We also invited Jose and the team from Marina Estrella (Murcia) as they have all been helping us to get A B Sea shipshape for the last 3 months and we really felt that they should be involved after all their hard work. I was a couple of beers in when Jose casually mentioned that the week after next they would need to find a different berth for us, as the vessel that usually resides in the berth we were occupying was getting put back into the water in preparation for the owners doing some sailing in late July and early August. I had a sense that this 'finding' a berth for us was not going to be easy as we were in the busy time of year for the marina, so I suggested to Jose that if we could get the four final jobs completed by midweek then we could make the following Saturday our departure day. Jose seemed pleased by this proposal and I felt my stomach tighten as the realisation of what I had just said sank in. It was an odd and slightly uneasy feeling knowing that in the space of 30 seconds of conversation, after months of work and waiting for parts to be delivered, I had just set a departure date.

A shield for A B Sea

The four remaining jobs were easily doable in a week. Firstly the custom made stainless steel shield was fitted to the bow. It was a fairly fast job in the overall scheme of things; a quick dry fitting to make sure it was the right shape and size, then a liberal application of Sikaflex before screwing the shield to the bow with five stainless steel screws on each side. We feel more confident knowing that when raising or lowering our anchor if there is any contact it will be the shield taking the knock for the team and not the bow.

Three months ago, when we arrived at the marina, I had planned on servicing the four cockpit winches myself but other things got in the way and suddenly we were less than a week away from leaving the marina. So we asked Fernando to do the job, which he did in super fast time, less than an hour for all four winches. Plus I got to watch and learn, so that when they need doing again in six months I'll be prepared.

The Yanmar engine on board A B Sea only has 1,945 hours on the clock, that's very low for a 23 year old vessel. Thankfully the previous owner was very particular about getting it serviced every year and Jose our broker told us that it was due for its annual service. As a teenager I loved doing all the maintenance on my car and friends' cars (it was a brake pad change on Aannsha's car that got the two of us together in 1982). Nowadays when you open the engine compartment of a car it generally looks like a sealed unit that you need specialised tools to open and proprietary computers to plug in and fault find. Luckily that's not the case with marine diesel engines, they are laid bare before you and they are not hi-tech, I was reminded of this when we both did the marine diesel engine maintenance course in Gibraltar in February 2018.

So armed with my socket set, a screwdriver and some paper towels I got stuck in. I decided to do the oil change first. Unlike a car there's no sump plug to drain the old oil, you need a special suction pump that you insert into the dipstick pipe, the previous owner had left one onboard and it worked OK. The 5 litres of old oil was pumped into an empty plastic water bottle and disposed of at the recycle collection point of the marina. The oil filter, which I was hoping would just twist off, had been over tightened and I didn't have a strap wrench, so it was back to old school methods where I punch a screwdriver through the body of the filter and twist it off using the leverage of the screwdriver. It's always a last resort method as you get heaps of oil pouring out of the filter which then adds to your cleanup time. After the oil and filter had been changed I ran the engine to check for leaks, there were none. The gearbox oil level was good too and the oil was not contaminated.

Next I looked at the engine cooling system. The engine is cooled by fresh water with antifreeze added to it, not because the water is likely to freeze, but for the anticorrosion properties it contains plus it gets up to operating temperature faster than plain water. The fresh water is cooled by running it through a heat exchanger which has raw seawater constantly pumped through it. The first thing I did was close the seawater intake seacock and put the engine ignition keys on the seacock handle, that way I couldn't start the engine without remembering to open the seacock first. After taking apart the raw seawater strainer for cleaning I noticed that the plastic gasket was split, that's not good if you want to keep seawater from dumping into the bilge whenever the engine is running. Jose did not have such a gasket in stock but he did run me into town to a vehicle mechanic who had a car part that was a perfect fit. I'm just guessing here but if I'd bought the gasket from a marine hardware store it may have cost 15 Euros (AU$25), at the car parts place it was 4.60 Euros (AU$7), so I bought two!

After I reassembled the raw water strainer I inspected the rubber impeller, the rotating part of our engine's centrifugal water pump. The pre-purchase survey report in March had pointed out that there seemed to be a slight leak from the impeller cover so I was glad to finally be addressing that. The impeller is always a tight fit but with help from a pair of pliers and a few persuasive words it came out and upon inspection was found to be in great condition. I removed the old gasket and liquid sealant and sanded the areas smooth. Reinstalling the impeller was helped along by a little bit of washing up liquid and a new gasket was installed. After checking the fresh water level and visually checking the heat exchanger I started the engine again and was super happy that there were no water leaks.

Clean looking diesel

Next was going to be the fuel system and associated filters, but after taking a diesel sample from the fuel pre-filter and not seeing any signs of water, diesel bug or large particles I decided to let sleeping dogs lie. I am a firm believer in the expression "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." All that was left to do was the cleanup of the spilt old oil (from the oil filter removal process) in the bilge and the job was done with surprisingly very few problems and no swear words. I hope this is a sign of things to come.

Batten down the hatches

It's now Thursday lunch time and I have to get this blog uploaded to our website, there are still a few things to accomplish before we leave the marina on Saturday. We are waiting on delivery of a double pulley to replace the single pulley on the outboard engine davit. It's not a big deal if that does not arrive in time, we can work with a single pulley.

The AIS (Automatic Identification System) transceiver has been updated with our personal info and A B Sea's MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) number but it has still to be put back in place and reconnected. It's an important piece of kit so we are crossing our fingers that it gets sorted.

Our ICC (International Certificate of Competence) licences have arrived and we're really glad to have those in conjunction with our RYA Day Skipper licences. The ICC is compulsory in some parts of the Mediterranean and preferred in other parts. Either way we are ready to comply with any local requests to view our licences.

As you read this blog on Friday morning, Aannsha and I will be cleaning the outside of A B Sea to get rid of the fine red dust that just falls from the sky. We will be paying special attention to making sure the solar panels are clean as they will be our electricity generation plant when we unplug from shore power. Once that's done we have to find places to stow everything down below that's not tied down otherwise it will end up broken on the floor once we start sailing.

Our mobile Internet connection with Vodafone is still an ongoing unknown, I guess we'll just have to leave that situation in the hands of the universe. But with our latest blogs up on our website and this week's video ready to view on YouTube we have seven days until we need to figure out an Internet solution.

Right now I'm feeling excited that the time has finally come to begin the sailing part of this adventure. I am so looking forward to finding out how A B Sea handles and to see if just the two of us can crew her easily. I'm intrigued to find out if everything that we've done and prepared for over the last three months was enough.

I'm scared too! Scared that I'll fuck something up! Aannsha has quite firmly placed me in the Captain's chair for our departure. She does not want to be the one at the helm when we take A B Sea out for the first time. She has stated that she wants us to learn slowly and she is scared of feeling out of her depth. No pun intended. She is right to want to do things at her own speed and I do agree with her, but only one of us can learn slowly and that puts all the pressure on me initially. It's a little daunting but I'm sure I'll handle it in true Sagittarian style.

Ready to untie the lines

If you also keep up with our journey on our A B Sea Face book or Instagram pages you'll be among the first to know how our maiden voyage and the next week turns out. Whether my concerns and fears were justified or not. If those two social platforms are not your thing then you're just going to have to wait seven days until next week's blog and video are released. I don't know about you, but the suspense is killing me already!

To quote Winnie the Pooh "As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was about to happen."

Thanks for reading and take it easy.

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