Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Winter works

It’s been a while since I updated the blog but that’s not actually because we haven’t been sailing. It’s more that I’m waiting for a long voyage to make it feel worth posting… but we don’t have any long voyages planned this summer, so I’d better get on with it.

Kalessin stayed in the water until well after Christmas. I asked Lindsay Rufford, who has been our marine engineer for many years, to service the engine and check if anything else needed doing. Alas and alack it transpired that one of the engine mount brackets had sheared, so she had to come out of the water in February so Lindsay could replace the bracket. We arranged with Bob at Suffolk Yacht Harbour that she would go back into the water only three weeks later, before the Easter rush started, which was very effective in concentrating our minds on getting the bottom cleaned, touched up and antifouled. We were lucky with the weather over the last weekend before the launch, and also lucky to have Ben home from Nottingham to help (he didn’t think it was lucky for some reason). With some hard work from me, Sam, Guy and Ben, Kalessin went back in the water on 14 March.

Meanwhile Parker and Kay, who fabricated our spray hood, pressed on very slowly with constructing the cockpit tent. It was finally fitted in early April and has proved to be excellent in every way except getting it up and down, which is a bit of a pain. Not only is the cockpit now a comfortable and sheltered additional space, the whole boat is warmer and quieter when the tent is in place, which we hadn’t anticipated, and we can store cockpit cushions and some other stuff permanently in the cockpit. Best of all, it is still relatively easy to get Sam in and out of the cockpit, although the halyard carrying his weight sometimes puts a bit of a strain on the tent fabric if we swing him the wrong way.

The other major work over the winter was checking and replacing the gas hose, as required in last year's survey, and this proved more challenging. After our trip to Woodbridge it became apparent that gas was leaking from somewhere. I made a really determined effort to contact Will Hayward, the gas engineer recommended by several people, who had been elusive all winter, but his phone was switched off and he didn’t respond to messages via email or via his website. Finally I used the Gas Safe Register website to track down John Wright in Ipswich, who actually took a look at the set up within a day or two, told us to stop using it at once as it was dangerous, and eventually fitted a whole bunch of new hoses, connectors, regulator and various valves, £500 thanks very much. Ouch. Still, gas is one area where the work has to be done by someone qualified and there wasn’t much choice.

When the boat was relaunched SYH put us on pontoon I, in a nice location with a good sturdy finger pontoon. Sadly that space belonged to someone else, and they moved us a few berths down to a spot with a much more wobbly finger pontoon, which was adequate until our neighbour, a Sigma 38, was launched and it transpired there wasn’t really room for both beamy boats side by side. Now we are on pontoon H, which I always used to regard as a prime location for old salts who had berthed at SYH forever. Not sure what that makes us, but Sam can walk to the boat and back when the tides are right, although the finger pontoon is still pretty rubbish. We haven’t seen our neighbour yet but there seems to be more room than in the previous berth. One way and another it is handy that I’m doing regular work for the SYH website as I’m getting to know all the employees and have a good relationship with Jonathan, the MD.

One bit of work remains unresolved. The bloody sea toilet is once again acting up and this time I can’t close my eyes and ears and leave Sam to swear at it. Naturally it was working fine last season and we didn’t know there was a problem until Kalessin went back in the water.  I’d never really understood the configuration but fortunately, back in 2009 when we last had a big issue, Sam had posted on the YBW blog with an extremely helpful summary of the set-up. It’s strange to have Sam’s voice reaching me from the past. Guy and I have taken off every pipe, valve and bit of pump we can get to and can’t find a problem. We think we have narrowed it down to the inlet seacock, but as that means another expensive haul-out to fix (and possibly replacing the seacock, which Guy is actually well qualified to do), much to Guy’s disgust I have asked Lindsey to give us a second opinion before committing to anything. He’s very busy at the moment so we await his verdict.

In the midst of the spring preparations Sam and I went off for another cruise, on P&O Ventura, from Malaga to Venice via some nice bits of the Med. Not really sailing, although we did get plenty of chance to admire some very nice yachts in the many marinas we passed. For the record, we enjoyed the cruise much more than last year, at least in part because we had a balcony cabin.

Below, a few attractive mooring options - from the top, Palma (Mallorca), Toulon, Monte Carlo, Dubrovnik and some obscure spot in Italy. I tried to find the price per night but gave up....