Tuesday 28 May 2013

Swell swimming down the Swale

Resident Historian, Mick, reminded me that in Nelson's day it was not only people that swam but so too did ships. The photo above was taken on Sunday 27/5 as we left the Swale with a boisterous following wind. The video below ends with a rather embarrassing squeak from yours truly as the swell suddenly made itself known and our hitherto smooth swim suddenly took on cork-screwing qualities as Arctic Smoke raced down the East Swale,

[Sorry about the videos I'll try and sort them out later - but Google's system appears limited]

Mick, Bernie and myself had a great bank holiday weekend. On Saturday morning we took the boat into the marina to give her a spring clean and clear out some of the detritus from thewinter maintenance. Bernie brought his pressure washer so we managed a pretty good job on the outside too. Before the tide left us stuck in the Hoo mud we moved back to the mooring to continue a succession of odd jobs mainly connected with the engine; oil change, filters etc. The local Dragon fleet passed by including a visitor from Belgium in a lovely wooden boat.

Bernie did the honours in the galley and cooked up an excellent feast and we were then treated to a gorgeous sunset followed by an even more splendid orange moon which unfortunately did not get photographed.

On Sunday morning we continued with jobs which included fishing Arctic Smoke's very deep bilge for a couple of long lost screw drivers. They stayed lost! We did though manage to extract a good deal of oily bilge water (into containers).

The turn of the tide brought a close encounter with a neighbour. Tony Cottis our mooring master happened to be around and we were given directions to an alternate mooring. Simon our neighbour was I think quite relieved to see clear blue (actually brown) water established between us.

We finally got underway around 1445 and in gentle conditions sailed and motored as required down the Medway with the ebb with Harty Ferry on the Swale our destination.

The engine went off properly at Garrison Point and we had a very enjoyable gentle sail round the outside of the Isle of Sheppy. The rare combination of a following wind, benign conditions and a three man crew was the perfect excuse to dig out the as yet unused (even unseen) spinnaker. Fortunately it had a stuffing chute so even we were able to get it up and flying without undue difficulty. It was in good condition too. Five minutes later the wind died completely and because we were keen to get to the pub in time for food as well as drink the engine went back on.

However, we were still motoring up the east Swale at 2000 and whilst the locals looked like they had had their dinner we were getting concerned about ours...

After a look at the seals we went and said hello to Howard and family who had arrived the previous day. Then we picked up a buoy.  Before rushing to the pub we were treated to another great sunset.

The trip was treacherous. A very low tide meant lots of Swale mud before we got to the slippery causeway. What a disappointment when we got there; we were there before 2100, no food no decent ale and a bar maid who was more interested in cleaning the tables than serving us. Eventually we got served with a pint of cruddy beer. We knocked it back as quickly as possible and headed back to the boat after vowing never to return. Next time we'll go to the Shipwright Arms at the head of Faversham creek despite the longer row.

Anyway back on the boat Bernie did his stuff again. Fortunately he didn't cook all the steak the previous night. This time bake beans had to substitute for fresh veg but we had great meal. I left the crew to wash up and went to bed

The next morning  I got up at 0730 to make the breakfast. After a quiet night a strong westerly breeze was blowing and I was keen to make the most of it to get out of the Swale before the flood got too strong.

We dropped our mooring at about 0945 and headed out. Decided to try the spinnaker again and once up it pulled us along at 5 k over the ground against a 2 k flood (the boat speedo which was working fine the day before refused to work). Bernie got lots of helming practice in.

To begin with it was smooth fast sailing. Having previously been on the quarter the wind veered right behind us and increased further against the strengthening flood. The swell got up and we were soon swimming along like the proverbial drunken sailor.

Once we rounded Columbine we skirted the shallows close hauled up the coast to the mouth of the Medway. 

Then a beat up the river and we picked up our mooring at around high tide at 1515 having cut inside Hoo Island. The new Sailspar furling gear worked well. The continuous line system being far easier to use than the systems that wind the line on and off the drum.

After a quick lunch I rowed Bernie ashore and then picked up the club launch so that Mick and I could move the boat's mooring tackle to the new buoy.

A very enjoyable first outing of the season.

Thursday 23 May 2013

The Eagle has landed....

...that's to say Arctic Smoke has .... in the water

and with no leaks which was a big relief given the amount of through hull jobs undertaken.

Everything out of the lockers so below waterline fittings can be checked.

The Mate at work.

All went according to plan. No mishaps.

Back on the water after a look at the view....

....Mick spotted that I had installed part of the throttle linkage upside down during emergency repairs whilst on the Blackwater with Howard last Autumn. Sorted that. Discovered the Loo plumbing a little leaky so need to buy some new bits. Actually, Mick over-tightened a jubilee clip on a plastic fitting and broke it. He has since reported a new one will cost me £30!

As earlier posts have indicated, there's still loads to do. Mick and Bernie to join me next weekend for more jobs and hopefully a little sailing.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Wing Nuts

Bought 5 today (see previous post). Hope I remember to take them with me tomorrow!
Getting very anxious about the prospects of leaks developing around the various under water installations.
However, the weather looks benign for tomorrow.
Fingers crossed.
[My sudden rush of Activity on the blog has been brought on by the impending launch,  re-reading the content so far and thinking it's not too bad and the possibility of sending a link to the indomitable Web Chiles.]

Monday 20 May 2013

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5,4,3,2..

..days to launch

Mick came down with me at the weekend and we re-installed the anode.  Amazing how long a simple(ish) job can take. Mick also conducted a battery of electrical tests and pronounced that the anode would definitely work. On Sunday I then covered the prop in the fancy prop-shield anti-fouling and no-doubt promptly isolated the bronze prop from the sea water thereby disrupting the electrical circuit and rendering the anode redundant!? Well if so and if the prop shield wears off presumably it will start working again.

I also repaired the gel coat coat chips around the counter - not perfect but meets the Webb Chiles test (ok from a boat length away).

Mick gave me a lecture on the complexities of electrical circuitry when I questioned the need to completely map and understand the boat's existing wiring before installing the new solar panel. Suffice to say the outcome was Mick undertaking a detailed inspection of the wiring. The next challenge will be how to get the cable through the deck into the boat without causing too much damage. Mick also improved on my installation of the water filter bowl and dropped the wing nut from said filter bowel in the bilge never to be seen again!

Anyway now good to go. Lift in is on Wednesday at 1100.

Thursday 16 May 2013

So as of today 16th May:
  • Seacocks done these are some of the old ones- what a job, thankfully Chris on hand to advise and direct operations.

    Now got two blakes (not shown) - one for the re-sited engine water intake and one for the loo inlet. They are horrible things to fit - lining up the holes drilled through the hull so the bolts go through the inner and outer fittings is a nightmare.Drilling out the old engine water intake that was situated in a completely inaccessible place under the engine - if it failed there was no chance of getting a bung in it

    was a bit nerve wracking and filling the hole too - but again on advise from Chris.

    Replaced the loo outlet skin fitting and ball valve with like for like except that use corrosion resistant brass ball valve. The old one had sheared which was what raised the prospect of new sea cocks in the first place. The galley one - I left the bronze skin fitting and just replaced the ball valve with corrosion resistant one which the old one was not.
  • Can't remember what I was supposed to do to the starting battery but I eventually started the engine the other week and it coped with that ok.
  • George not tackled yet - he can wait
  • Nor deck - crack (but actually it only needs painting over the filler previously applied)
  • Nor Mast Gaitor/partners - perhaps a job for the bank holiday weekend at the end of May

  • Nor mast bulbs - they will have to wait
  • Prop shaft stern gland not checked either but on the list for this coming weekend.
  • However, the rudder stuffing box which I was completely ignorant of until Chris mention it has been adjusted and greased. At some future date need to install a standpipe around it to prevent potential leaks entering the boat
  • God this is awful gas lines neither nor windows, nor wind vane self steering. Have tracked down an Aries via ebay but am waiting for Rod who's selling it to obtain the servo blade from the previous owner. Fitting it will have to wait to next year.
  • The seam on the bottom of the keel has however been done - the "repair" not shown but it was to the white bit behind the red bit of the keel below
  • Chips on gel coat on the list for this coming weekend
  • Have been advised by Chris that the chain plates including the one on the bow will have to be replaced before ocean crossing - deferred to next year!
  • The bottom was scraped completely clean down to the gel coat - took a number of weekends, but a couple of weeks ago applied Verometal anti fouling - copper dust suspended in fibreglass resin. Expensive but supposed to last for years.

  • 3 Solar panels bought but run out of time to fit. However, will fit one a semi flexible 50w in the near future. The big 100w rigid ones will have to wait to next year (a theme is developing).
  • Rudder blisters done AND not on the previous list, the crack down the front edge of the rudder has been repaired and two re-inforcing brackets have been fitted.

  • Compass not sorted yet nor companion way hatch.
  • Also not on previous list was replacing hull annode (just in shot top left above). Did that last week with the help of Mick and Bernie (thank goodness cos it took the three of us 6 hours and about 10 drill bits to fit the stainless steel re-inforcing brackets on the rudder). However, Mick subsequently researched annode fitting and it turns out that we did just about everything wrong so this weekend I will have to remove it and re-fit.
  • Also bought and got fitted new furling gear for the Genoa. This is the old gear at deck level
    A Sailspar continuous line system replaced it - looks good  but no photo!.
  • Also removed all the hard fibreglass filler from the keel/hull join and replaced with flexible filler and then treated iron keel with ant-rust treatment

  • New sails on order from Jeckells too. Should arrive for the bank holiday weekend. May even to be able to go sailing for a bit then
Believe it or not, it's taken almost every weekend since Christmas to get those jobs completed!

Re-launch booked for Wednesday 22/5 which means just one weekend left the final must do below water line jobs - (annode re-mounting, anti fouling under the pads and on the skin fittings and rudder brackets) Plus the gel coat dents and chips around the counter. Also need to get the mooring prepared with new lines.

Still loads to do after, like servicing the engine and fitting the flexible solar panel and no doubt numerous other things that I have forgotten or not thought of.

However, looks like in with a fighting chance of being sufficiently ready for the one month summer cruise west commencing mid July. May make Ireland but be happy if get to the Channel Isles or even the Scillies.