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Barry's Blog # 75 - The final five

Sometimes you have to push yourself a little harder to get closer to your goal.

That's why we set ourselves a 48 hour timeline for completing the final five big jobs on our 'to do' list. It was going to be extra challenging because some of the jobs involved us bringing in other people to help.

Final five #1

Declared dead

If you've been following our blogs and videos you'll know that we first discovered that our autopilot was acting strangely in our YouTube episode #053. It then took us until episode #058 to remove the autopilot and disassemble it hoping to find a loose connection. After inspection it was sadly pronounced dead. Old age was the culprit.

Moving forward to episode #065 (out tomorrow on YouTube) and we finally get a visit from the Raymarine guy (from Istanbul) to install a pre-loved Raymarine ST6001 autopilot control head.

Pre-loved was the best way forward for us to keep the cost down. If we'd bought a new model control head then we would have needed to change out all the other parts of the autopilot system and that is a very expensive job to do.

Early morning I emptied the starboard cockpit locker and removed the old (dead) autopilot in preparation for Umit arriving at lunch time to fit the new one. He arrived, took a quick look at where the new one was to be installed, drilled a bigger hole through the boat, positioned the new unit, spliced the connecting wires together and pronounced the job done. The whole process went smoothly and took about 45 minutes, which is pretty good for a boat job.

Before he left I asked Umit if he could locate our mythical fluxgate compass, that we still haven't managed to find after more than 12 months of living on board. He seemed very confident when he said "Sure, no problem." But 40 minutes later, after taking most of the inside of the boat apart he admitted defeat. If a Raymarine tech can't find it, what chance have we got? He did however adjust the calibration between the chart plotter, autopilot control head and the deviation in the fluxgate compass. This means that when we leave Kaş harbour in just a few days A B Sea's annoying little navigation and heading quirks (should) be resolved. We'll let you know how that works out.

The mystery of the fluxgate compass continues!

Final five #2

Before Umit had showed up, our magic mechanic Aydin had been on board to give a final polish to the newly installed stainless steel rails along the back of the push pit. Primarily we had this extension done so that we could have comfortable helm position seat cushions and backrests custom made. It got very uncomfortable sitting at the helm for hours on end when we sailed from Spain to Turkey and custom fitted cushions were very high on our priority list.

As we later found out the extended steel rail also makes it easier and safer to enter and exit from the stern of A B Sea. Whether that's across the passerelle, or exiting the water while wearing heavy scuba gear. Plus we are now even more protected and likely to remain inside the cockpit during heavy weather.

Final five #3

The fabric/upholstery guy recommended by Smiley was great to work with. His English was very good, he listened to how we envisaged the look and feel of the finished job and he was very quick in getting the job done.

Measure up and template cutting took place on day one of our 48 hour challenge and on day two he was back with the finished product and fitting them into place with Velcro. The Velcro ensures that the cushions don't slide around when A B Sea is dancing through the water and that no wind gusts will blow them overboard when no one is sitting on them.

As well as making the very comfy seat cushions he also carried out some reinforcing work on the zips of our bimini and completely replaced the zip along the front edge where the extended cockpit sun shade attaches.

Final five #4

This could've gone so wrong and I have no one to blame but myself.

In Spain we bought four 11.1 litre aluminium scuba tanks. They came fully charged with air to 200 bar and over the course of the previous 12 months we had pretty much used them all up with various dives to check our anchor, cut fishing net from the propeller and inspect the hull and keel of A B Sea.

Knowing that the scuba tanks would eventually need refilling and not wanting the hassle of taking them ashore, finding a scuba shop and then hauling the heavy full tanks back on board, we invested in a brand new Coltri petrol driven air compressor. You can see the unpacking of the compressor in episode #023.

So after 12 months of ownership the moment had finally arrived when the still unused compressor would be put to use for the first time. Coltri ship their compressors along with two containers of oil which the end user must put into the compressor prior to use. They also ship with 2 separate instruction manuals; one for the petrol engine and one for the compressor.

I do read instruction manuals. But I have to say that the first 15 pages of warnings and industry legal jargon just make things confusing when all you want to do is read a simple, straightforward, step by step guide to setting up and getting started. And I had to do this with two separate manuals.

Enough of the excuses Baz, what part did you completely mess up?

I put the engine oil in the air compressor side of the system! And while that is not a complete disaster, because you can use mineral oil in a compressor, in time it would've caused issues with carbon build up in the compressor intercooling tubes, separators, barrels, heads and valves.

When I realised my mistake I then had to spend a further 15 minutes trying to find the section of the manual which explained how to drain the oil from the system. Eventually a deep sided roasting tray from the galley was commandeered and the 40 kilo compressor, supported by the dinghy fuel tank, was tilted to a 45 degree angle to drain all of the oil. Every last drop, which took over an hour to complete.

Putting everything back together I managed to get the correct oil into the right places and following the starting procedure instructions got the compressor running. I then spent the next 2.5 hours annoying the neighbours with a petrol driven compressor running at full tilt as I filled our original four aluminium tanks plus an 18 litre steel tank that our mate Mike had given us that was just taking up space in his lock up storage.

All that messing around had lost us a lot of time and as I turned off the compressor the sun was too low in the sky for us to complete job #5 of our 48 hour challenge.

Final five #5

This final task was to scuba dive in the harbour to clean the rudder, propeller, prop shaft, hull and keel of A B Sea. But with the daylight giving way to dusk it couldn't be completed.

I will tell you all about the dive and what I found below the waterline after 5 months of marine growth, but that will have to wait until next week's blog.

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