Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A productive couple of days - off to Flores tomorrow

Top priority was the water tank leak so I tackled that first yesterday morning after a leisurely breakfast on board.

I hoped that the problem was simply a bad connection between the hose and the tank and that nothing had broken that would require spare parts - or worse that the tank had ruptured. Given it's a new tank, only fitted just before the commencement of the cruise, "simply" replacing it wit another, even if I could get hold of one may not be the answer.



I could see nothing obviously wrong with the fitting that's on the bottom of the tank, but did notice that I could tighten it up a little more. When Tony and I installed it I was concerned about the consequences of the weight of a full tank on that plastic fitting and had tried to provide some padding around it with sponges and rags. Despite that perhaps the fitting was being distorted by the weight of the tank. So I removed the fitting and then re-assembled it this time with some synthetic grease around the O ring seal. Then I butchered a low profile plastic food container to sit under the tank and around the fitting so that the tank would not sit directly on the fitting. I also inserted a couple of blocks of wood in side to provide extra support...


I then re-connected the outlet tube on the fitting and partly filled the tank having first inserted a sterilisation tablet and hoped for the best. After the tank was about an eighth full I turned off the tap and listened and prodded. No leaks were apparent. The water that was previously left in the tank was smelly so I pumped the quarter tank of water out and then re-filled it completely. Still no leaks. A result and a great deal of relief.

Next up I decided to give the cabin a spring clean including washing all the mattress covers and sleeping bags. Tony and I had sweated and in the early days of the trip froze on them, and then the boys had added their aroma during their stay so I thought I should try and spruce things up a bit for my new crew - Bernie and David who are due to join in a couple of weeks at Horta. I had advised them to bring their own sleeping bags but I have two spare ones and if I washed them it would mean the guys would have less to carry.

I was pleased to see that my hand washing of the mattress covers produces a noticeable improvement in their colour and aroma! I put the sleeping bags through the machine. Two washes and two drys cost 20 euros and that was the first time I thought the cost of anything was a bit expensive. Mind you, I have no idea how much it would have cost at home.

While the washing machines were doing their stuff I washed down the whole interior of the main cabin including the ceiling which on close inspection  was a light grey rather than the white it was supposed to be!

I took a break for a beer at the marina restaurant mid afternoon and got chatting to a couple of Americans, Doug and John from Boston who had just flown in to join "Tioga" a very pretty traditional American yacht. Vincent and I had chatted with her skipper, Philip Kersten the day before whilst boat watching in the marina. He's an American of German extraction and is sailing to Germany this year before returning to Boston in 2017. They're a great bunch of people and I wish them well with their journeys.

I was invited aboard a charter yacht for drinks in the evening, crewed by a lovely bunch of people from "up north". I was still drinking and yarning with them at 2200 when I remembered I had promised to ring Sharon and so made my excuses and made the call home. I had intended to shop before being waylaid, and so dinner was hot dog sausages and tinned potatoes!

After another leisurely breakfast this morning, first job was to sort out the engine stop circuit. There was at least one lose connection and it had taken half an hour to stop the engine on our arrival. Anyway I tightened up all the connections and subsequent test stops suggested all was now OK. Next whilst I was fiddling with wires and switches I thought I'd try and get the electric cool box working. Mick had wired it in a couple of years ago in lieu of a working fridge, but it had stopped working last year. First I had to teach myself how to use a volt meter, having previously relied in Mick for such skills. After a few sparks I consulted "wiki how to" and was off. It was soon apparent that no power was getting to the switch. I could not locate the supply end of the positive wire and so ran a new one from another live terminal by installing a "piggy back" connector. I couldn't ascertain what the existing terminal fed and hope it is not something with a large current. Anyway it all worked!

Next up was the starter solenoid. It had been getting temperamental over the last few months. Indeed, the first signs that something was amiss were evident before we left Chatham, but as is my want sometimes I chose to hope it would fix itself! Over the ensuing months there were occasions when the starter motor would not kick in unless I waggled the solenoid around. Anyway I finally got the message and bought a new one whilst back home. There are hundreds of them though and I had really no idea which one I needed. To know that I needed to know the make and model of the starter motor, but I didn't twig that until I had got back home; too late of course the starter motor was on the boat hundreds of miles away. Anyway I adopted a stringently scientific approach to choosing one - and plumbed for one that looked most like the one I had a picture of in my minds eye. It was a Lucas one and had the word "classic" in the description which sounded pretty encouraging given the age of the engine. Once out of the package it was clear that whilst similar it was not exactly the same as the existing one with some of the terminals in different positions and one of a completely different size. Anyway I connected it up using a mixture of guesswork and intuition and wonders of wonders it worked. By this time I was feeling pretty pleased with myself and event contemplated making my electrician (Mick) redundant. This was just as well given that he is about to set sail with Chris from Falmouth, bound for New Zealand. They may however come via the Azores, thereby allowing me to hand Mick his redundancy notice in person!

In between these periods of hectic activity I checked the weather and we appear to have a week or so of settled weather with moderate winds from the W/SW. Good conditions for a berth at Lajes in Flores. If I'm lucky I may make it close hauled but I expect some beating will be required. The plan is to leave at 0700 tomorrow (Thursday) and hopefully arrive before dark on Saturday, giving me one night at sea on my own for the first time. It will be interesting to experience that. The Austrian couple on their self made 56 foot steel ketch "Voodoo (something)"alongside Arctic Smoke have very kindly offered to get up early to help me get out of the berth which is a very tight fit!