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Barry's Blog # 76 - You must like getting your hands dirty!

If you buy a boat it is an unwritten rule that you must like getting your hands dirty.

This week I'm once again wriggling into a small space back inside my favourite locker on board A B Sea and the reason why is because of a 'clunk' sound when turning the steering wheel.

The Raymarine guy brought it to my attention while he was checking the rudder position indicator on the newly installed pre-loved Raymarine ST6002 autopilot. The clunk was definitely coming from the port steering wheel area.

Time to investigate

With the aft locker emptied and the wooden panels inside removed I wriggled in and shone my head torch up at the underside and internal workings of the helm. The problem 'clunk' was immediately obvious. One half of the big bicycle chain that passes over the cog at the center of the steering wheel was rusty and the linkages were not pivoting freely. Time for some lubrication and I'm not talking about beer.

In Spain I'd purchased a big tube of synthetic grease and at the time, as I stowed it with the rest of the tools and things, I remember thinking "I'll probably never use that. I don't know why I bought it." Roll time forward 1 year and now I was glad that I had bought it. Always listen to your little inner voice. The good one, not the bad one!

Armed with an old toothbrush and my tube of grease I spent a good 20 minutes liberally applying grease to all the chain links and for good measure I did it to both helms even though the starboard side chain wasn't rusted at all.

Brass is the answer

Just 48 hours away from our departure date we had our magic mechanic Aydin back on board for a small but crucial fix to the internal side of the locking mechanism on our washboard. The washboard is the vertical piece of Perspex that seals off the companionway from inclement weather and uninvited guests.

It's a badly designed mechanism and I can honestly say that after a year of living on board A B Sea it's only one of three things that I can criticise of her overall construction. The other two are the passerelle and the way the anchor chain needs flaking into the locker so that it doesn't pile up directly under the gypsy.

The hard plastic knob of the locking mechanism gets bashed on the lip of the companionway almost every time the washboard is inserted or removed and over time is gets stress fractures. Eventually with one bash too many the plastic breaks and the knob parts ways with the washboard. Then we have no way of locking the washboard into place from the inside, which is an option we'd certainly like to have if we were caught out in inclement weather and had to huddle below decks while heaved too.

Aydin took the broken plastic knob and faithfully manufactured an identical copy made from brass and when he'd fitted it he proudly announced, in his wonderful broken English, that it came with a lifetime guarantee. Thanks Aydin.

Stock take & provisioning

Stock taking time

Down below Aannsha was going through every cupboard and locker that contained any item related to food and updating our excel spreadsheet to correctly identify what we had and where it was stored. We've let updating the spreadsheet fall by the wayside while we've been in Kaş and had easy access to supermarkets within a 5 minute walking distance, so it was completely inaccurate and unusable.

A big shopping list was made and the day before we departed Kaş harbour we went to our favourite supermarket, which we'd affectionately titled The TARDIS, and loaded up a few shopping trolleys worth of goods which the supermarket then kindly delivered to the quayside for us to load on board.

It felt really good to provision A B Sea because it meant that this was it. This was the moment we'd been anticipating for some time. This was the moment that the next leg of our adventure would begin.

How dirty is the hull?

We'd been in Kaş, Turkey for 5 months waiting for winter to turn into spring and apart from one short motor sail around to Kaş marina A B Sea had been leading a very sedentary life. That provided an opportunity for things to grow on her bottom.

She had a fresh coat of antifouling paint before we left Spain, but it is an ablative type paint which means that it works best when A B Sea is moving through the water. She certainly hadn't been doing much of that over winter.

Scuba gear on, various cleaning tools selected and I slipped below the surface to take a look at what lurked below. I was greeted by a mixed bag of growth. The rudder was easily cleaned as was the whole hull. The prop shaft and prop had quite a lot of growth which was tough to remove. Most of the keel was easy to clean too, apart from the bottom where the antifouling paint had been scraped away down to the bare iron when a failed mooring had put us on the rocks at Javea in Spain. That's a whole different story that you can read about in my blog #41 and watch in episode 031 on YouTube.

The sacrificial anodes (you'll have to Google what they are, otherwise this blog will turn into an encyclopaedia) were a mixed bag too. The one on the keel still had enough life in it to see us through this year. The one on the prop shaft was almost non-existent, so that was replaced and the small one on the end of the propeller had wasted away completely. That will be replaced when our friend Jim comes back from the UK with a few spares.

So here we are ready to slip the lines and head to Kekova for a 7 night shakedown cruise to test that everything on board A B Sea is functioning normally and to get ourselves back into the routine of living life at anchor.

In next week's blog I'll tell you how we get on and how we manage the two major problems that occurred.

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