Saturday, 25 April 2015

There will now be a short intermission...

Well two weeks worth actually. Tomorrow morning Tony and I get the train to Lisbon via Porto to Rendezvous with Sharon and Sue. Tony returns on the 2nd and me on the 7th May.

Sea trials abandoned today due to the rain. Will have to await our return.



Friday, 24 April 2015

That Major Job - Part 2

Well, the rain did stop after a while and whilst Tony cooked a marvellous and very authentic Spanish pork stew, I was able to re-assemble the furling gear. The instructions that came with it stressed the importance of not having the halyard too tight so when I re-hoisted the sail I ensured it was slackened off. It then furled without jamming. I think that too much tension was preventing the swivel at the head of the sail from moving freely. Not a stringent test given we were sitting in the marina with little wind but it was jamming earlier under the same conditions previously, so I am hopeful that we have now resolved the issue. Sea trials will of course be the proof of that and hopefully we will get a good result on that as well as the wind vane. Fingers crossed that the weather will be good enough for us to want to take the boat out tomorrow to test things out.

That major job.....

.... turned out to be a bit more major than we hoped.

To start with we had a lazy morning not really getting going until 1130 local time. My first job was to go off hunting for fuses, plywood (for another spare vane) and lead flashing to replace the nuts and washers I used to increase the counterbalance weight of the wind vane. Two hours and lots of hills later I arrived back with the fuses. Fortunately the plywood and lead flashing were not essential items.

Them it was time for lunch after which we started on the Genoa furling. After an initial inspection we decided to take the swivel apart (the top of the sail is attached to it so it can be hoisted up the wire stay at the front of the boat and it allows the sail to be furled round it when the right bit of string is pulled.

A couple of loose screws later and there were ball bearings running around the deck and into the water!

That meant we had to dismantle the whole furling mechanism to get the swivel off and replace the ball bearings - fortunately I had some spares. We got that done and started to re-assemble the mechanism when rain stopped play.

That gave me the opportunity to look at the laptop charging issue. Another blown fuse - now replaced and now writing this waiting for the rain to stop.

Also an opportunity to show you how quickly the Spanish can build a block of flats. Last night when we went to bed there was nothing there, this morning......


The Spanish also like their street art...



Really want to get the furling issue sorted out so that we can test the wind vane tomorrow, but it's still raining!

Vigo, Tiller Pilot, Genoa and Wind Vanne

NB all references to "Today" "Yesterday" are a day behind on account of laptop charging going on blink.

We arrived yesterday evening after a good sail from Morus.The day started out grey and wet indeed as Tony said, it made one nostalgic for the Channel.



We also started with the two hours of motoring to clear the coast in light but increasing winds on the nose. However, after a couple of hours we were able to turn south and set sail. A couple more hours and the sun came out and we had a most enjoyable sail to the Ria de Vigo and then up the Ria to Vigo itself.


The passages was just short of 46 nautical miles which I was able to measure because the log mysteriously started working again. We had a close encounter at the entrance to the Ria...


We think it was a car transporter and it was on it's way to Zeebrugge.

On arrival at about 1800 BST we were given a berth bin the old Real Club Nautico Marina about which we had read mixed reports. We apparently had use of the swimming pool, showers and Sauna a couple of minutes away. The showers were tepid but welcome and we have not tried the sauna yet.

Today we were moved into the new marina which is very posh but so new that there is no water or power yet available.

Last night we had a telephone conversation with Chris who built the wind vane and he suggested a number of areas to look at including increasing the weight of the counterbalance weight. We did that today and the results were most promising but we will have to undertake sea trial to be sure. We might therefore take the boat out for the day on Saturday to test things out.

Not so good news about the Tiller Pilot. To our great surprise the marina people said they would arrange for someone to  visit the boat. David turned up in the afternoon and the results of my careless approach to fuse replacements were revealed a burned out motor and a damaged circuit board. David took it away to investigate further and to price the repairs, but it will probably cost just as much as a new one. There's not much else to it other than the motor and circuit board! Worst news was to come though. He said it wasn't powerful enough for the boat. OK for motoring but not up to withstanding the forces of sailing!!! No pressure Wind Vane.

It turns out that we still have problems with the furling mechanism of the Genoa and after fiddling about about with it today we concluded that we'll have to take the whole system apart to investigate. That's tomorrow's major job.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Camarinas photso, First Anchorage - Ria de Morus

From yesterday's downhill sailing..



Some shots from Camarinas..


The below is a dog!

Departure this morning...



Finisterre...





It was an almost windless for the whole trip including rounding the Cape.

We left at 0645 BST and dropped our hook here in Morus at 1545. Had a problem with the Genoa on our approach. First it would not furl, then when tried to drop it to get round that problem but  it would not drop either. Finally after much persuasion we maneged to furl it enough to anchor. I then went up the mast to investigate and found a lose screw near the top of the foil (the tube that the sail is wrapped around when it's furled) which was stopping the sail from sliding down the foil. Back on deck we still had the problem with the furling but I eventually spotted that the haliyard was getting wrapped round the foil at the top and realised that this was due to an earlier incident days before on crossing to Coruna when in the blow, the whole furling mechanism got out of control and span around the stay causing the haliyard to wrap itself around it.

A local craft..


No opportunity for furtyher fiddling with the wind vane today, but we had no success with it yesterday and so it's looking rather doubful. I'm now considering getting the Aries shipped out from home. It's heavy which is why I removed it, but at least I know it works.

Tomorrow we head for Vigo, only a short hop down the coast.






Sunday, 19 April 2015

WhatsApp Conversation with son re Tiller Pilot

Son = So what happened to the electronic thing?

Father = Well it blew a fuse. I didn't have a replacement so shoved a bit of metal in and because no fuse to blow it must have burnt something out internally. My fault on that count and probably putting too much strain via having mainsail sheeted in too much = too much force on machine = blow fuse or on this case meltdown!!! Pretty bloody stupid of me really but in middle of night in wind and rain just wanted to get it going so didn't think through consequences. Mick was appalled at my stupidity!

Son = Not gonna lie dad that's very stupid. You could have started a fire on your boat

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Today, next, A Coruna & miscellaneous photos



Today was a jobs day on the boat. These included a temporary repair to a spreader guard that disappeared somewhere between Ramsgate and Dover and which necessitated a repair to the Genoa in Plymouth. Unfortunately the local Chandlers here did not have the right size guard so I had to just tape it up. Also a temporary repair to a signal halyard that tore off the spreader somewhere on the Biscay crossing.



Other jobs included repairing the tail light wiring, repairing the food locker catch and reinforcing other locker stops, getting more gas and perhaps most importantly (hopefully) attending to window leaks. I'd previously made some improvements but during the rough weather the constant cascade of water down the coach roof sides penetrated particularly through the window above the chart table resulting in water logged charts and over Tony's bunk, resulting in a damp bed!

Another rather late start and a couple of hours of rain, meant that was about all we got done.

Tomorrow the wind vane is the priority. We'll try making the adjustments recommended by Chris. On the tiller pilot front, I'm going to order another and get Sharon to bring it over with her. We won't make Lisbon by boat in time to meet her and Sue unfortunately and will therefore have to train it down there from Vigo, to where we hope to get by the end of next week via a few day sails. The plan is leave here early Monday morning and catch the ebb west along the coast and head for Camarinas, then the Ria Muros and then Vigo.

A Coruna has been a good port of refuge and whilst it does have some impressive architecture, the overall impression has been one of slight disappointment. The old part of town lacked a wow factor and the major works going on around the water front meant we were in a bit of building site. Finding good eating holes was more difficult than we expected. Loads of Tapas bars and Ham Jaoneria's (?) but few attractive restaurants - most had gone down the very modern look which left us both a bit cold. It was a joy however to find proper shops rather than supermarkets on every corner. Not a Tesco, Sainsbury, Aldi etc in sight. The real find was the Ferreteria (the Iron Mongers) long extinct back home.








The people have all been very friendly of course.

From Biscay...






Friday, 17 April 2015

A long haul to A Coruna

We were bound for Vigo but in the early hours of Friday morning about 80 miles north of A Coruna the wind had got up from the south west to an estimated strong force 6 necessitating 3 reefs. The sea was up too (although not as bad as it had been in the channel during the first 2 days). That made Cape Finisterre which we would have to round the get to Vigo, a lee shore, not somewhere we wanted to be in rough weather. We had also not been able to get a forecast for the area and therefore did not know whether the conditions were likely to deteriorate still further. With both of us being pretty tired from the constant helming required due to the failure of our self steering systems, the decision though reluctant was the only sensible one in the circumstances. It meant our rendezvous with the ladies in Lisbon by sea would now be unlikely.

We will have to get the steering systems sorted out before we undertake any further long distance passages and it's looking like getting the Tiller Pilot repaired and/or replaced will require us to get to Vigo. The local Agent here appears to have closed down and I think we may have to get one shipped out to Vigo which we could get to in 3 one day hops if the weather allows.

Meanwhile on the wind vane front, I have spoken to Chris who has advised on potential adjustments which we will try and test out on departure from here. If that fails, I then face the prospect of either having to buy another or get the previous one shipped out from home! I know the it works but removed it in favour of the current one because of concerns about the weight. Either of the above will incur considerable delays and expense!

The first two days of the passage out in the channel were really quite unpleasant, consisting first of strong head winds and lumpy seas and then calms and lumpy seas through which we motored for 12 hours.



The only saving grace was that hard on the wind the boat will steer herself with the helm lashed and we therefore had temporary respite from the chore of constant helming. The motion of the first 24 hours was so unpleasant that I was sea sick for the first time in my life.

Once we had Brest abeam going south however,  we picked up the forecasted easterlies and the seas subsided. The next three days were a mixture of light to moderate easterlies punctuated by calms through which we motored to start with but then conscious of the need to preserve fuel we had to just wait for the wind to return. Sometimes we made good speed but often the winds were so light that we were down to 2-3 knots and therefore our average speed was significantly reduced over the passage. We covered roughly 450 nautical miles over the ground in 6 days 6 hours giving an average of only 3 knots. Not fast!

The worst part of the passage which really did take the fun out of it was the constant helming. We were both so knackered after our 3 hour stints that all we really wanted to do was sleep even during the day. Social time was therefore limited to hand-overs some of which were extended when one of us became sufficiently hungry to cook. We did get a bit more used to things by the last sunny day in the bay and hove to in gentle winds to have a decent lunch together. The day before that or perhaps the day before that we were visited by dolphins - the same type of small ones on both occasions. They cheered us up.

Late afternoon on Wednesday we had a period of calm after which the winds went round to the west and gradually built, requiring one, two and eventually, by the early hours of Thursday, 3 reefs. That's when we decided to alter course to A Coruna. Another notable experience of the Bay, half way across (as the winds were getting up) was the amount of shipping. By the Thursday night, we had a constant stream of north bound traffic to port and south bound traffic to starboard and felt like a hedgehog in the central reservation of the motorway. We realised that we'd stumbled into an unofficial separation zone used by the ships going to and coming from the formal zone at Finisterre. If you imagine how difficult it would be for the hedgehog to cross the motorway, that's rather what it was like for us. We were very glad we had the AIS transponder because we at least that meant the ships could see us and occasionally we called one up on the radio to clarify who would pass whom where. Most of the time though we just tried to keep out of there way. Eventually we made a dash across the north bound traffic and made it after about an hour. Soon after that the third reef went in and we headed for Coruna. Our approach there was similarly dogged by heavy traffic going up and down the coast, including numerous fishing vessels that apparently were engaged in fishing and therefore had right of way.

We entered the marina at 2100 BST to find we were the only other visitor...


This is the other ....


Penguin ii a lovely Colin Archer design, sailed by Bob and his wife, from, of all places Gillingham. So the only two visitors were from the Medway. They will be heading back north soon having wintered here.

Coruna has some impressive architecture, none of which I have photographed yet!!

Today has been spent walking around and trying to find a local Raymarine Agent in an attempt to get the Tiller pilot repaired. They've closed down!

We've also taken advice from Chris who built the wind vane on possible adjustments which we will make before we head out next.

It's beginning to look as if we will coast hop down to Vigo in a couple of days (subject to the weather) and get a new tiller pilot shipped out and hopefully get the existing one repaired when we get there. Vigo is apparently the place for boaty technical support.

Last night we had moderate local fast food because most places were closed. Tonight we hope for more success and that's where we headed soon so that's it for now.



Sunday, 5 April 2015

We're off.....



At long last after a long if fairly mild winter of jobs on the boat, we started our cruise to the Azores via Lisbon and Madeira on Monday. Mind you we've started during one of the coldest springs I can remember.

It was also something of a scramble to get the boat even partly ship shape. This is what she looked like on Sunday lunch time..





Unfortunately I didn't get round to taking any "after" photos but things had improved a little.

Maybe it was the cold or more likely my native ineptitude but we suffered a number of minor incidents.

First I could not start the engine. We appeared to have a flat battery but I knew it was fully charged on Sunday. After 20 mins of angst I suddenly realised I had forgotten to turn the battery on. We just managed to get to the Marina lock on time.

I'd overlooked bending on the Genoa but given the strong winds was happy to use the smaller jib instead. It was that sort of sailing.....





However during the course of Monday the winds lessened and therefore I decided to bend on the Genoa under way. All appeared be well until the winds got up again and it was time to furl the Genoa. Of course it was stuck and would not move. The only choice in increasingly strengthening winds was to get the Genoa down completely. Murray and I got a good soaking on the Foredeck but managed the task without further incident.

We got Ramsgate on Monday evening just before the really strong winds arrived and discovered that I had attached the Genoa halyard directly to the sail rather than to the swivel, which of course accounted for why the sail would no furl.

We then discovered that because we had arrived out of hours we could not get out of the Marina on the land side - or more accurately we could get out but would not be able to get back in again because there was no one around to tell us what the code for the gate was. Fortunately we were well provisioned and so Tony proceeded to cook a splendid Roast Chicken dinner that was enjoyed by all.

My friend Chris who left Chatham at the same time at the start of his long sail back to New Zealand, had decided to only go as far as Stangate Creek on the Medway that night and reported he'd had  a night from hell at anchor there!  Marinas have there benefits even when stuck on the boat.

Next morning we got ashore for a light breakfast  snack.....





It continued to blow hard all day so we stayed put, had a look round the town and did a few odd jobs around the boat. That evening we found an Italian restaurant on the front and had an excellent meal despite being the only customers for the  majority of the evening.

On Wednesday we stocked up with another hearty (and late) breakfast and left for Dover at about 1330. We had a cracking sailing in a strong westerly breeze under a double reefed main and the No 2 Genoa. 

On our approach to Dover we were hailed by name by Dover Harbour control over the VHF thanks to the new AIS transponder I had fitted. It was comforting to know they could both see us and identify us easily and  ensure we stayed out of the way of the big boys entering and leaving the harbour.

We  went out for a Curry that night and I made the mistake of ordering the"Staff Curry"  and then chewed on a hot chilli pepper. I thought I was going to die much to the amusement of the rest of the crew!

The following lunch time with more moderate winds we departed for  Chichester. Indeed the winds were a little too light and we motor sailed most of the way. Even when the wind got up when I was off watch Tony was keen to make good progress and continued with motor sailing. I didn't sleep and noticed we were heeling a fair bit but left him to it. However, when I got back on watch at 0400 to find us making 9 knots over the ground, I decided enough was enough and turned the engine off (we still made 7 k). It was true we only had another couple of hours of tide to get us to the Looe Channel some 15 miles off but if we got to Chichester too early we wouldn't have enough water to get in, so there seemed little point in rushing. 

We were through the channel before day break and then had to slow the boat down so as not to get to Chichester bar too early. Even then we did and had to kill time for another hour before we had enough water to get in. We moored up at Sparks Marina at 0800. Murray and I headed home for the Easter weekend and Tony stayed on the boat.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015