Final preparation took place this week to get A B Sea ready for splashing on Tuesday.
Last few coats of antifoul. One around the waterline where most of the growth occurs. Once we were moved onto the sled, we were able to paint underneath the keel bulb that had been supported on wooden blocks, and also on the sections of hull which had been covered by the hard stands.
Important anchor and chain
Of course we weren’t going to sail anywhere without reinstalling our anchor and chain. They’d been nicely laid out on a wooden pallet below A B Sea over winter. I attached a leading line to help get the first 50 metres (164ft) of the thick white rode (rope) up to the bow roller. Then as I stayed on the ground, I helped ensure nothing caught or twisted while Baz hauled the rode into the anchor locker, then attached the weighty 50 metres of 10mm chain onto the windlass and used that to bring the chain with the 38Kg (84lb) anchor attached up to its secure position on the bow.
Another task to check off our list! In fact, we’d completed the important/urgent jobs and the rest could wait until we reached Turkey.
Time for lunch!
Be seen, be safe
That’s an old catch phrase I remember from childhood and it’s very apt when it comes to a boat’s navigation lights. When you think that, unlike driving a car on a road where you at least have a vague idea where other cars will be – in one lane or another – at sea, boats could be anywhere and at night it is very difficult to see other vessels. Hence the importance of bright, working navigation lights.
Baz did a full check and apart from the steaming light all are working as they should. Okay, the anchor light is probably as dull as it could be without being invisible, but it works and can be seen. The port and starboard and stern lights are super bright and visible from a distance. The deck floodlights provide excellent lighting in case we need to work on deck at night, and the cockpit has nice under-table lighting for entertaining on deck.
We don’t have any plans to sail at night time right now, so the steaming light is something that can be fixed in Turkey.
The day before splash A B Sea was moved on the sled/trailer to sit right behind the exit gate.
We were so close to the sea now, it was very exciting … and nerve-wracking … as we considered all the large jobs we’d done on our home, many of which were below the waterline. One of which was the stern gland that provides a seal where the prop shaft enters the boat and that needs burping once the boat is in the water, so there was no way we could check to see if we were watertight until we actually splashed. I’d had feelings about the stern gland for months, with a vision of it leaking and as I edited the footage for this week’s video, I noticed Baz also had his concerns.
Re-cleaning the dinghy
If you’re going to clean a dinghy in a boatyard and leave it for any length of time, cover it up. We didn’t and over the months after we’d initially got is sparkling, layers of dirt and sanded-off antifoul from many boats had all accumulated, and needed a good scrub to remove. We set to the task with fervour and pretty soon, our dinghy was sparkling clean again! When we are in Turkey we’ll get some chaps made, which will also prevent UV damage to the rubber.
Bye bye boat yard cats
You may remember that I’ve been feeding darling mum cat and her two gorgeous kittens. Because they were still too young to survive on their own, it was important to continue feeding mum and because all of the long term sailors had already left, I was concerned about who would feed them. As luck would have it, a lovely man Eilco arrived to live and work on his boat a couple of days before we left. We’d met him earlier before lockdown and had discovered that he had already agreed to feed Bobby the boatyard dog.
I pretty much pounced on him straight away and asked if he’d be happy to take over feeding duty for mum and bubs and was very relieved when he said yes. I introduced him to the kittens and mum two days before we were due to leave.
The night before Splash Day #1, I said my official goodbye to the little felines and was happy to see the kittens had finally discovered – and obviously relished – dry cat food!
As I said bye bye, I realised how attached I’d become to this darling mum and her delightful kittens. But goodbyes are part of the life of a liveaboard and I’m slowly getting used to loving, then letting go.
Splash day #1
The big day came and we were up to splash for 6am at the request of Xaris and his team. Gawd, I was so nervous. And I know Baz was too. But we didn’t say much about it, we just got on with our boat prepping, like closing hatches, stowing anything that would fall off shelves if we heeled when sailing.
Normally we close all sea cocks, but Baz wanted to check that the through hulls were all water tight, so I left them open.
Weirdly, the wind, which is usually non-existent in the morning was up and about, and that meant we would have to delay splash as Xaris was very concerned about the conditions. Bear in mind that he gets in the water with the boat and has to swim around releasing her from the trailer, so human safety (apart from safe exit for the yacht) is paramount.
While we waited to see if the wind dropped, we went to check on the dinghy’s outboard. It was then that we noticed fuel dripping out of the casing and after a closer inspection Baz realised the carburettor gasket was leaking. Our dinghy is our car so we needed it working before we left Limni.
As conditions weren’t right for launch, Xaris drove Baz and the outboard to a guy in Limni who is an authorised Mercury mechanic. He confirmed the diagnosis and said that while he could service the engine in three hours, the necessary service kit had to come from Athens and that could take 3 days to arrive. Baz left the outboard with the mechanic and made the decision that when we splashed, we’d head on over to Limni town harbour until the outboard was fixed.
Splash that day was cancelled.
Splash day #2 – attempt #1
The following morning the conditions were ideal and Xaris gave us the go-ahead. We took our positions; Baz at the helm and myself at the bow where I’d release the line holding us to the trailer.
In we went.
Waved goodbye to Eilco and a couple of other boaties who came to see us off.
Waited while Baz went to burp the stern gland.
Baz came up on deck and swore.
The stern gland was leaking. We couldn’t splash until that was fixed, or we’d sink.
He called off the splash, explaining to Xaris that he needed to be on the hard to fix the problem.
I apologised to Xaris for the inconvenience.
The people waving us off looked perplexed and shuffled away.
Troubleshooting on the hard
Baz had a brainwave about putting another piece of rubber between the prop shaft collar and stern gland.
If that didn’t work, Plan B (the only other plan) was to use watertight putty around the collar end of the stern gland.
Splash day #2 – attempt #2
Back we went.
Waved to our onlookers who’d returned to see us off.
Waited while Baz checked the stern gland.
Held my breath.
Heard Baz say “Okay!” and we were pushed further into the water. Xaris told me to release the lines from the bow and suddenly, after eight and a half months, we were reversing backwards away from the shoreline.
Xaris shouted “Bye bye!”
Crying with relief and excitement and sadness too, I shouted “Bye bye Xaris, thank you!” and “Bye bye boat yard!”
Evangelis sounded the air horn three times (denoting a boat reversing from the boat yard), and just like that, we were off!
Next week, we spend a couple of nights at Limni Town harbour waiting for our outboard, and then set sail in a south easterly direction towards Turkey.
If you’d like to see the video, just click here.
Until next week, I wish you a very pleasant week and that you get a little closer to your dreams and aspirations.