Sunday, June 30, 2013

Under way

We made our first voyage today - all of 100 metres from the quayside berth beside the mast crane to a proper box mooring. Not much, but it felt like a journey. We had to leave it until early evening because this morning was sunny but very erratically gusty, definitely not ideal for a first move.

I focused on sorting out and tidying the galley and the heads, which makes me feel better if no one else. Sam exercised his right hand by winding a winch and wiggling the tiller, both of which he did surprisingly well. And Guy and I found and patched one dinghy puncture, after I found the patch kit in a locker which Guy assured me he'd already searched, and even trying the little chandlery who didn't have a patch kit either. We'll try to find the hole in the other sponson tomorrow.

This afternoon the wind dropped and it started drizzling, so we got the mainsail up. Around 6pm the boys took Sam for a shower - there are no unisex disabled facilities here, so they had to take him to the men's, which gave me 30 mins on my own. And finally we started the engine and motored very slowly into our new berth. Hopefully before Guy leaves we can practice getting Sam off over the bow, and if the weather is ok at any point maybe sail for a couple of hours.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sat and sun

We all slept on the boat for the first time for about six years, sleeping quite well considering, and woke to pouring rain and no wind at all. Once we dragged ourselves out of bed Guy and I got the genoa up and furled, and Ben & I got Guy halfway up the mast so he could rig the lazyjacks (the light lines which hold the mainsail in place as it comes down). Normally this takes Sam quite a while and lots of swearing. Guy's technique is different, he does all the swearing first and then rigs the lines in about 10 minutes.

After that it stopped raining = good, and the wind got up < good, gusting up to about 20 knots even in our very sheltered mooring - the whole sound is pretty sheltered so goodness knows what it's been like in more exposed areas. Anyway, we decided to leave the mainsail until tomorrow. However as a bonus the sun came out = very good, and cheered everyone up.

Guy has been a fantastic asset on board and I would love him to stay with us for the first week of sailing, but as we feared, this may be at the risk of a mass family killing. So if we can book it he will set off homewards on Tuesday, taking a train to Amsterdam, staying overnight there, and heading down to the Hook to get the ferry the next day.

Our plan is to have a short day sail if we can on Monday, take Guy to Flensberg on Tuesday to catch a train, while we cross into Germany to stock up with booze etc, and then on Wednesday Sam, Ben and I head off.

Ben and I are still trying to replace the elderly gas hose, and headed down to the camping shop this afternoon to try and get different parts. Strangely it seems the shop is closed on Saturday but open again tomorrow, so we may try again. Or we might just give up.

This evening I ran away from everyone for a short walk around the sound to Augustenborg Slot (castle). I sat in the sun for a while, and felt better. All the worrying and planning, resolving family friction, looking after Sam and physical hard work takes its toll, but the walk helped, and I came back to cooking spaghetti bolognese with renewed vigour.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Well, I feel almost as tired as if we'd just crossed the North Sea, with less to show for it. Still, Kalessin is afloat with the mast up, the engine works, some of the lines are rigged, and the fuel filters changed (as a result of which everywhere smells slightly or strongly of diesel. Sam didn't remember where the fuel cut off was until Guy had been struggling for half an hour.It's been hard because Sam knows so much that he can't communicate, and some things he can't remember at all or it takes a long time. I think sometimes it sounds as though he's criticising when he just wants to contribute. But all of us find it rather hard to cope with.

We got Sam on board using the harness with very little problem, and as it has been raining all day (again) he was ok below.

More tomorrow - I'm just too tired to write tonight.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gas attack

Today hasn't been a very good day, not least because it has rained pretty much non-stop all day, with a high of about 14°. Exactly two years ago Sam and I were in Lauwersmeer in the north of the Netherlands, only 160 miles away from here and about 80 miles further south, and the temperature reached 31°. Ho hum. 

We've been trying to replace the flexible gas pipe, as required by the survey. I can't see how it can be so hard to find a pipe which goes from a standard Campingaz bottle and regulator to an ordinary marine gas stove, but apparently it is. The part we want isn't used in Denmark at all. I feel confident that a UK gas engineer would recognise it as obsolete and wangle together an acceptable though expensive update in half an hour, but unfortunately that's not an option at the moment. We may just have to use the existing pipe very carefully until we get home. 

Poor Sam has been very frustrated today as there has been not much he could help with, and not much more that he could talk about, and so of course he's been very bad-tempered and taking it out on me. I was millimetres away from tipping him into the sea, but managed to contain myself. 

In other news, Guy has replaced the seacock, Ben has rewired the fridge, I have cleaned and polished the mast and boom, and all the bits around the prop are checked and/or greased. Possibly tonight one or both boys has checked the Lavac for limescale, yippee. 

Tomorrow we have to rise early and check out of the hotel in time for The Launch. It will be lovely to be in the water but a bit of a shock to have everything wringing wet when it rains. Not sure yet if we can all live on board without killing each other...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Work so far

Well, the antifouling is done (mostly by me with help from Sam and Ben). Also:
• New guardrail connections with snap shackles at one end, taped split pins at the other, and new string. Dodgers removed for now. 
• Two new batteries fitted and electrics working. 
• New LED lightbulbs fitted to nav lights and below. 
 Attempt made to replace corroded handle on seacock... with the result that tomorrow will be spent fitting a new seacock. 
 Winches serviced. 
 Flexible gas pipe removed and possible replacement identified in chandlery catalogue. 
 Numerous items mislaid already. 

Tomorrow: seacock, rope washing, cutless bearing, deep sea seals, and limescale removal from loo plumbing. Connecting fridge, checking electronics, making sure all skin fittings are sealed. 

Friday, 1015: launch, followed by lots of tidying and cleaning so we can get Sam on board

Sam has really enjoyed today. He sanded down the keel and touched up the rusty and scraped bits with antifouling. It doesn't sound like much but is probably the most DIY he's done since the stroke. He has also had to think very hard about boat bits and then try to explain what he means! Tonight he was asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow and is now snoring like a bear. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Finally... we're in Denmark

Having dithered for ages about our choice of ferry, we've had a few days of feeling rather smug. Sirena Seaways, the DFDS ferry which normally does the Harwich-Esbjerg run, hit Parkeston Quay rather hard last Saturday and as a result is out of action for a whole week. So the Stena ferry to the Hook of Holland is not only cheaper, more comfortable and more flexible, but also the only game in town. 

The Stena downside is that you only really get six hours of sleep, and the drive to Augustenborg is nearly seven hours. In fact it took us nine because I felt it was necessary to make several stops, although there were no other problems at all, and we rolled into Augustenborg Yachthavn just after 5pm local time. 

Initially we couldn't see Kalessin because she wasn't outside and wasn't in either of the cold sheds. In fact it transpired that Anders, bless him, had transferred her to the heated shed so we could work on her in a dry and relatively warm environment (the radiators aren't on at the moment but it's pretty warm in there). She looks good, very dusty but otherwise fine, and I'd forgotten that her topsides were polished at the end of 2011 so the hull looked very shiny. 

Guy and Ben are both sleeping on board, and we were able to drive into the shed, transfer the huge amount of Stuff from car to boat, pop down to the supermarket to get them essentials such as bread, milk, an electric kettle and cold beer, before heading off to check into hotel. This is the Scandic Sønderborg and slightly to my surprise it has proved very pleasant - peaceful, surrounded by greenery, helpful staff and a nice disabled room. 

Sam has coped pretty well with the extremely long day but was asleep within about two minutes of his head hitting the pillow. I've stayed awake just long enough to write this blog post and polish off a bit more of Kalessin's gin. Tomorrow, the antifouling begins....

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Good news and... more good news

The survey arrived this morning from David Dabney. The boat is fine and nothing much is wrong, which is nice. There are a few things like gas pipes which we probably need to change, he wasn't very happy with the arrangement under the galley sink, and he apparently failed to find our Fortress anchor which is a little worrying. On the other hand he has checked lots of things which were on our checklist so should save us time.

I was so absorbed in the survey that when our carer arrived to give Sam a shower I totally forgot to provide any clothes until she came to remind me. Sam has one more care visit on Friday, and that will be the last one. He still needs a little bit of help in the bathroom but it seems silly to pay for half an hour of carer's time when he only needs five minutes of help.

Today also saw Sam's pre-discharge meeting from Icanho. I have been slightly dreading this as we know several stroke survivors who have been told by Icanho at this stage "don't expect to see any further improvement".  However, that wasn't the message today. Sesa, Sam's physio, wants to see him again after the sailing trip as she anticipates it may have a good impact on his mobility. She has just completed a batch of tests on Sam. On his balance he has improved from a score of 14 in September to 45 now, not far from the adult norm which is 56, and also above the threshold (43) where falls are considered a serious problem. On mobility he is at 14, which is halfway to the full score of 28, but when tested in September he was at 2, so it's a huge improvement. Neither his leg nor his arm are actually moving much better than when he started at Icanho, and Sesa said all his improvements are down to Sam's sheer determination and to my support, which was nice. 

Speech is harder to measure and obviously all language is still affected, but Sesa also said she had observed how much better Sam is at understanding and responding to commands and generally engaging with life. We discussed in the car on the way to the meeting that once we are on the boat Sam needs to take responsibility for some specific things, which will be good for him and also of course for me.

We finally have almost all the stuff we ordered from numerous chandleries and the heap in my office is starting to migrate to the living room. We'll probably spend the weekend doing trial loads of the car and then quite possibly going out to buy a rooftop luggage box....

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Planning, panicking

I'm torn between days when I spend every spare moment thinking about the boat and days when I don't seem to be doing enough. I keep being surprised by Guy's level of knowledge though... which is very reassuring.

Our insurers GJW required that we had a full, out-of-water survey conducted in order to continue our cover. Of course I could have looked around for different insurance, but under the circumstances I felt it was no bad thing to get a survey done - at least it would alert us to any major issues. After various emails back and forth with a German surveyor we ended up getting the work done by David Dabney who is British and based in Svendborg. He charged us £550, which was reassuring after Anders Dahl at Augustenborg mentioned it might cost as much as €1,000! The survey was carried out yesterday and when I asked him if there was anything serious we should be aware of he said "nothing springs to mind" - which is reassuring. We await the full survey with slightly less nervousness.

However, of the four batteries on board three are completely dead. The survivor is a high-tech Optima engine start battery. The other supposedly whizzy battery, an Elecsol used to power the fridge, has not survived despite its claims to last 5 years. After worrying a lot about options I got in touch with the wonderful Phil Munslow, our electrician on Kalessin for many years, who suggested I get two reasonable quality batteries to replace the three dead ones. They weigh 27kg each (and cost £110 each) so it really isn't a good idea to take them out if we don't absolutely have to!

Other shopping so far:
  • 4 snap shackles for releasing the guard rails quickly - £38
  • extra spare impeller for the engine water pump. In the end I managed to order this through Sam's account at ASAP and was reassured to discover I could order exactly the same one he ordered in 2011 - £20
  • Lavac Zenith toilet service kit - £52
  • extra Garmin electronic chart covering Denmark & N Germany, in case either the Nordics chart isn't on board, or it proves impossible to update (highly likely as it needs a big fat internet connection to download the new chart!) - £109
  • up-to-date pilot book for Denmark and Germany - £32
  • up-to-date copy of the Nigel Calder Boatowner's manual - £29
  • climbing harness for Sam - £45
  • lightweight wheelchair with large, removable wheels - £200
Each item takes me hours of research... and I blithely thought it might be possible to order the whole lot (or at least the first four items plus the batteries) from one chandlery, how silly. In fact the only two items which might arrive together (and come to think of it almost the only two which haven't arrived yet) are the shackles and the toilet service kit.

On top of this we have all the kit which Sam had already bought to take out to Denmark last year, including:
  • two cans of Cruiser Uno (one-coat) antifouling
  • a new foldable Compass bicycle
  • an extending boarding ladder
  • a long line on a reel for Swedish rocks
  • two new high-class mooring warps
  • assorted engine spares, electrical spares and other bits and pieces
  • polish, cleaners, cloths
  • a Remoska cooker - still unused
  • and much more.
Somehow we have to fit all or most of this into the Passat estate, together with four of us and enough clothes to last us a month. Hmm, could I survive for a month with just what I can fit in a handbag? There are a few bits and pieces of clothing on board...not to mention two-year-old toiletries. Yum.