Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nearly going

I finished my contract with Aviva UK on Friday 26 June - and I don't start the next one with Aviva Europe until 10 August. So that gives us six weeks to go sailing. Ben has finished his GCSEs and has availability. Guy doesn't do sailing.

So have we gone yet? Err... no.

We've taken Kalessin out a couple of times so far this season and both times the throttle felt very sticky and unresponsive. I do most of the throttling :-) and wondered if I was making unfair comparisons with the Broads launches, which have about three times the power. Anyway, Sam got Lindsey, our engineer, to check over the connections, and the bad news is that we really need a new Morse control. The current one was fitted when the boat was new, i.e. 21 years ago, is very worn, and may fail any time in the next year or two. I can think of lots of situations when the throttle connection might fail, and very few of them are the sort of situation where you could say "oh well, never mind". So we are waiting for Lindsey to complete the fitting, which won't be until the end of this week.

While Sam was down at the boat last week I asked if he could check that the radar was OK. We didn't use it at all last season, and most of the time it was disconnected because the scanner was attached to the mast in Calais, while we were on the canals. "Oh", he said, "I've checked it already, it was fine." I suggested that it might be a good idea to run it for an hour or two just to be sure. Then on Saturday, I took a call from Phil, who does our electrical and electronic stuff. "Sam says he's concerned that the radar isn't working," he said. Ah... possibly he forgot to tell me? Anyway we were very concerned for a couple of days because we thought the processor might have failed (£1,000 for a new standalone radar, or anything up to £4,000 for a new radar/plotter combination, plus we might have to chuck away £1,000-worth of existing electronic charts). Thank goodness, it seems it was a faulty connection. The radar lives to fight another day, which is just as well considering the current hot weather is also generating a lot of fog in the North Sea.

Actually we're quite glad not to be going yet, because the current hot weather is also distinguished by fairly steady easterly winds, force 3-4. Absolutely perfect for sailing from the Netherlands to East Anglia, but rather a nuisance for going in the opposite direction. It also gives me a chance to clean the house, weed the garden, plough through vast piles of personal admin, catch up with my blogs, go for walks and even (tomorrow) go to work for a day.

It also gives me more time to plan the route - wind and weather permitting, it looks like Harwich to Ijmuiden, which is a long but straightforward passage with the delightful characteristic of being to the north of all the traffic separation schemes and precautionary areas (for non yachties, this means you can go in a straight line once you're clear of the Shipwash bank).

I'm hoping that we'll have time for a bit of a shakedown cruise to the Blackwater, to help us remember what it's like being at sea - yes, the Wallet isn't quite open ocean, but it's a lot more like real sea than the Orwell.

In the meantime, it's good to know that I'm not working in what looks like being the hottest week of the year so far - apologies to all of you wearing suits in very hot offices....

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