Sunday 7 June 2015

Boaty bits

Some, especially those involved in helping me prepare the boat over the years like Chris, Mick, Howard, Alan and Tony, may be interested in how the boat and fixtures and fittings have performed. So in no particular order and no doubt with omissions, here is the reckoning to date...

The boat herself. As I knew, she's under canvassed in light airs. However, she's proved faster than I realised in stronger winds. Whilst deeply reefed she has kept up 6+ knot averages for long periods. She rolls a fair bit in following seas but I knew that already. Otherwise she's as comfortable as it's possible for a mono-hull to be in heavy weather. No slamming and for the most part she ships very little water over the sides of the cockpit (with a few exceptions that Tony discovered)

After the Biscay crossing to A Coruna, I pumped 40 ish strokes of water out of the bilge. Some will have got in via the anchor locker, some via the cockpit lockers and I suspect some via the stern gland and the rudder gland.

A very little through the windows. Not quite waterproof but now thanks to lots of CT1 (a filler) much better than they were. An earlier filler using a special compound for fixing leaks in the hull was not successful. The quarter berth has remained almost dry as a result and similarly so too has the galley cupboard under the side deck. Annoyingly however the chart table still gets drips on as does the starboard berth. However, I have applied more CT1 and am hoping. The long term solution though is to remove the windows and re-bed them in.

Water also gets in around the mast boot in heavy weather which is ruining my new brass clock and barometer!

The loo still works fine.

We haven't quite managed to get rid of the chlorine taste from the new water tank but it is much better than it was. We have been using water stored in re-cycled plastic water bottled for drinking and tea. The chlorine taste is most obvious in tea.

The new bronze structural fittings; all the chainplates and the rudder shoe are all doing their jobs, as is the crooked rudder stock I fitted and then "modified" so that the tiller is nearly in line with the boat when steering ahead!

The Verometal copper anti fouling seems to be working fine although I have not yet summed up enough courage to done wet suit to take a look under water. However, I may do so during our enforced stay in Calheta.

The mainsail could do with a deeper 3rd reef or I should have a trysail. To the best of my knowledge we've not had a full gale but in the strongest winds we've had I have thought less sail would be good.

The gate in the mast track (for removing the sail slides when reefing) is fiddly and probably a bit bent which can make getting the slides in a pain. Most of the slides have broken during the trip and have been replaced. However, I figured out that putting the lowest ones in first makes the job much easier - they just fall to the bottom then and once in the gate can be secured so that it provides a flush fit and a smooth path for slides.

Adopting the above approach and heaving to to reef makes that task much easier. If I leave reefing too long the slider that attaches the clue of the main to the boom pulls out. A bloody nuisance but at least I know I should have reefed!

The genoa and it's reefing. Reefing in strong winds has been a bit of a nightmare because unless tension is kept on the reefing lines the drum rotates and the reefing lines wrap around the forestay.  On the last occasion on which this occured it was impossible to untangle it all with the weight of the wind hence the need to head for cover. There's none in mid ocean so belatedly I have contacted Tim the rigger who fitted it and he advised that it sounded like a screw that prevents the drum rotating must have worked lose. Sure enough whilst it was difficult to find it because it was hidden behind another part  of the mechanism,  there was a screw and it was lose and once tightened the drum did not rotate, at least not by applying force by hand. The screw us only a simple grub screw though so I am surprised it is up to the job (and maybe my experience demonstrates that it is not!!

In the early days of the trip the genoa was not bent on and so in the then strong winds we used the hanked on No 1 Jib, which was much better suited to the strong winds and so the problem did not arise.

We had also had other problems with the furling of the genoa which had been the result of user error and wear and tear all of which now resolved.

Hopefully therefore all is now ok with the Genoa.

We've done lots of down wind sailing and have therefore rigged up a permanent preventer on the main to stop accidental gybe damage. Also rigged a "down haul" on the pole for the Genoa that leads back to the cockpit.

The issues with Angus and their resolution have been covered in full in other posts. Now that he's doing as he's told it's a big relief.

The engine. The little 10hp Buhk has been fine thus far, except of course for the cooling system (see previous posts).

The solar panels and batteries. The total of 150 watts from the 3 panels wired in parallel to two 110 amp hour leisure batteries via the 20 amp MPPT Regulator have proved sufficient to replenish the batteries every day even when we do not have sunny days. All our electricity load with the exception of the engine starting, is on these batteries. Nearly every light below and above decks including the the tricolour is now LED which has reduced electricity consumption. 

The little Isotherm fridge compressor I replaced earlier this year has been wonderful. With the above power supply it's left on all the time and the fridge box is cold. Luxury!

The power supply to the electric cool box has gone on the blink though and requires more thorough investigation than we can be bothered to give it at present. Only 6 volts at the switch and less than a volt being delivered to the box!

The gas cooker continues to function. I cleaned out the burners before we left and although the flames are not as blue as they should be they are not bad. The stove was designed for straight propane (or is it Butane) but now uses Camping Gaz which is a slightly different mixture. This is I think because a previous owner installed a gas tight box for storing the cylinders in the cockpit locker and size/space was an issue. The Camping Gaz cylinders fit but I doubt that the propane/butane ones would. Fortunately Camping Gaz is readily available in Portugal. To the best of my recollection we have re-filled 4 cylinders at Plymouth, Coruna, Leixeos and Funchal.

The AIS transponder. Wonderful. It's a great relief to know that the big ships out there know where you are.

The VHF radio has been fine too. The new cockpit mike/speaker extension to the VHF fitted with great care by Mick has proved useful although why the supplied lead is so short beats me.

We have only used the new 6k Kobra anchor twice. On neither occasion were the conditions testing but it did its job fine.

Have used my Nexus tablet running Navionics as the primary Chart Plotter. Works fine but the USB charging cables are temperamental. I use a windows tablet with OpenCPN as a back up/ for areas where I don't have Navionics charts.

I've got paper charts of all areas too. We have been pretty lazy in our approach to navigation and have used Navionics on the Nexus a lot. It's so seductively easy. However we have transferred our position into the paper charts on an irregular basis! We've used the RCC pilots of the Atlantic Coasts of Portugal and Spain and the one for the Atlantic Islands and they have been reliable in all important matters though of course in some cases they have been over taken by more recent developments. We've used REEDS too of course but less so which is probably a mistake given it should be more up to date and now covers all our cruising destinations. Tidal information outside of NW European waters us however sketchy.

The echo sounder can only seem to read under 100 metres. Odd but now that I know....

The speedometer started working again in Camarinas Spain and has been fine since.

The wind speed meter lost one of it's cups at the mast head before the start of the trip and has therefore been unreliable ever since.

The ancient Navtex receiver for weather and safety information -it's got a hefty green screen display like the first personal computers - didn't display anything across Biscay. I subsequently discovered the antenna cable had come out. We then got a couple of transmissions whilst coasting down to Lisbon but by no means all that were scheduled. However, two days into the passage to Porto Santo we were picking them up and even under the cliffs here in Calheta we are. Whether the kit has an intermittent fault or that we were just too close to the mainland coast before I just don't know. It will be interesting to see if we continue to receive transmissions en route to the Azores.

I had one attempt to pick up the BBC on the short wave receiver in Biscay with no luck and have not tried again. We don't seem to feel the need for it at the moment but will try again some time.

The Sextant is still in it's box as reported in "Reflections..." but I will make an effort on the next leg.

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