Thursday, 29 May 2014

Bought a boat

It seems that I do not learn from my mistakes - the mistake being buying Ting-a-Ling in the first place. Occasionally I look at boat ads to see if there's any bargain around. A couple of weeks ago I saw an ad for 1974 Moody 33 in Lefkas, Greece. The asking price was quite low for that boat. I checked other Moody 33's and the cheapest one I could find was more than double the price.

It was either a bargain, a scam or there was something seriously wrong with the boat. I called the owner and a few more people and, to cut a long story short, I finally bought the boat, and even though I had not seen the boat personally I trusted that it was in a good shape. I'm now looking forward to going to Greece and seeing what I bought. Will post an update when I have more news on this. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Double trouble

It's been a while since the last update, almost a year, but not much has happened in the meantime, at least not sailing-wise. In the summer I hired a little day-sailer, a Beneteau First 21 in Lefkas, Greece and had a great time sailing in beautiful weather and waters, but that was only for a day. I was quite impressed with how easy it was to handle that boat.

Back in the UK now; last week I went to check up on Ting-a-Ling. I was hoping that a friend could join but no luck so on I was on my own. I had installed a new float switch a few months ago, which seemed to be doing a good job as the boat was relatively dry. However this time there was water in the bilge - one of the wires had corroded so there was no power through the float switch. I fixed that, started the engine and took off.

The tide was coming in so I headed up the river towards Fambridge. I tried to hoist the mainsail but I couldn't - it seems that the halyard has stuck somewhere. This means that a trip up the mast is probably due. Nevermind, I thought, and I unfurled the genoa.

The wind was not very strong but good enough for a pleasant sail, facilitated by the incoming tide. At some point I decided to head back towards Burnham and having failed to tack, against the wind and the tide and with only the genoa, I started the engine.

The engine started fine but it was doing nothing! I was not grounded as I was drifting with the tide but there was obviously something wrong with the engine. I revved up but no luck - I was dead in the water. When I revved there was black water coming out of the exhaust - not a good sign. Luckily a speedboat was passing by and they offered to help and started towing me towards Burnham. Meanwhile I furled in the genoa but at some point it got stuck - I had caught what I think is the spinnaker halyard and could not furl it any more. Finally I managed to wrap it around by hand but it's a mess.

At some point on the way back I was handed over to another sailboat that was heading towards Burnham to continue the journey back home.. Many thanks to both people that helped me out there - not sure what I would've done if it wasn't for them. I had no radio so not easy to call assistance - I guess I could call 999 on the mobile but not sure how that would pan out.

In any case, I got back to my mooring and tied up. The engine is a big concern now as it was the one thing that I relied on in case something went wrong. Need to fix that immediately. I'm pretty sure it's related to the head gasket which I believe I blew a while back. However, I read somewhere that the black water coming out may be due to exhaust corrosion, and cooling water being mixed up with exhaust fumes. I probably need to spend some money getting someone to look at it. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Navionics UK-Holland

I have been using the Navionics UK-Holland iPhone chart-plotter app for a while now and overall I must say I'm very happy with it. I don't have a dedicated chart-plotter so this app is all I've got in terms of electronic navigation. I also have a set of paper chart for the East Coast though.

I first downloaded this app about two years ago but refrained from updating it as I was concerned with some bad reviews for the updated version. However it now seems to be sorted and I got the updated version as of November 2012.

The new version is a lot more feature rich than the one I previously had. It includes unlimited access to tides and tidal streams for a large number of locations. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Out to sea, kinda

Yes, still here.

About a month ago I made my first visit to the boat for 2013, apart from a short check-up visit in February. Back in Feb there was a lot of rain water in the boat and stuff was floating in the water inside the boat. Pretty dire situation. The house battery was dead so the bilge pump/float switch combo was obviously non-operational. On the positive side, the engine battery was fine and the engine started first time. This time I did not expect anything different. The boatyard told me that they had to break into the boat to pump out the water as the boat was sitting a bit low on the water.

Perfect weather
Following the unusually harsh British winter the weather was great on that day and there was a bit of wind, about force 3 I reckon. I was determined to head a bit further this time and taking advantage of the favourable tide, I slowly ventured east, to the mouth of River Crouch and beyond. The wind was easterly so we were motoring. When we went past the Crouch buoy, marking the entrance of the river, we opened sail and motorsailed. As we approached Ray Sand and then Buxey sand we were surprised to spot tens of seals lounging on the sand and enjoying the beautiful sunshine. I'd read about seals being found around there but did not expect to see so many of them.

My depth sounder was giving spurious readings so I had no idea that we were approaching shallow waters since my Navionics chart was indicating at least 2m of water below us. And so we were grounded somewhere round the Raysand buoy - unfortunately I was too busy trying to set the boat free to make a mark on the chart so that I know next time. But, fortunately, it was on a rising tide and with the help of the engine we managed to free ourselves in less than 10 minutes. I really need to look into my sounder issues; I believe it was some kind of interference as the engine was running at the time.

Seals lounging on Buxey Sand
We ventured a bit further to the Sunken Buxey but with the tide having turned, the wind picking up, the sun setting and the depth sounder lying we decided that it was prudent to sail west and into the mouth of the Crouch and our mooring at Burnham. On the way back we spotted what looked like a spaceship at a distance, to the SE and kept wondering what it was. To this day, I have yet to find out so I'll just call it an Unidentified Sailing Object - Strange stuff.

Unidentified sailing object

It was a pleasant and uneventful sail despite the soft grounding but next time I'd rather a bit more wind. When we got to the mooring I had a look at the float switch of the bilge pump and found that it was not switching off when it should and was draining the battery. Need to get a new one or find an alternative solution. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

First sail out of the Crouch (just)

About one month ago, I managed to repair the engine temperature issue without spending a penny! Instead it required a dear amount of elbow grease removing and de-scaling all the cooling water pipes. Works like a charm now. On that day, I sailed to the east just past the River Roach entrance and then back west, past Essex Marina. I only used the genoa as I was single-handed and it was quite windy so I wanted easy sail control. I still haven't tested the furling mechanism on the mainsail.

The past weekend we took advantage of the fine British weather (sunny, freezing & no wind) and motor-sailed from my mooring at Burnham-on-Crouch to the Crouch buoy, marking the entrance to River Crouch. A mere 5nm distance that took about 2 and half hours going against the tide. Of course, it was much faster on the way back taking about an hour or even less. The really annoying bit was having to motor all the way there and back, so still no proper sailing since I launched the boat.

Approaching Crouch North Cardinal Mark from the west

Nevertheless, going all the way to the Crouch buoy was a big step for me. It was the first time that Ting-a-Ling and I got a glimpse of the open sea, beyond the river. Straight ahead, in the distance we could see the wind-turbines of, what I believe to be the Gunfleet Sands offshore wind-farm. Visibility was very good on the day and I believe I could also see the London Array offshore wind-farm through my scope, to the south-east.

Next on the agenda is to sail out of the Crouch, perhaps to the Whitaker Channel. To manage this in the few hours of daylight I'll have to start early, catch an ebb tide out and the flood back in. Problem is all those shallows just outside the Crouch.

It will require some preparation and a good look-out. Tidal streams around the area seem to flow in the North-South direction rather than East-West which is the direction I'll be heading. In any case, I'll have to revise my day-skipper notes and think about planning. Just bought the Eastern Reeds Almanac which could help.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Floating nicely

So yes, boat on the water once again. I think it's been 27 months now. Such a long time. And looking at the boat I tend to think that I could've done o lot more in that amount of time. If only I lived closer or visited more often. In any case, this should be a moment of happiness. And it is to some extent although I haven't sailed her yet. I just went on a short motor-sailing up the river. And on the way back it was up-tide and it took me hours to cover a distance of less than 2NM. And the water temp alarm kept on buzzing which had me de-throttling the engine and putting on neutral. Until I realised we were not going anywhere and I just ignored the alarm and revved up. And we made good progress. But I heard a popping sound coming from the engine, which makes me think: head gasket blown? I have no idea what that is like, I was expecting the engine to seize under extreme heat and poor water circulation. But enough with the random ramblings.

It was nice to be back on the water. I slept on the boat overnight. Luckily my sleeping bag was up to the job at 6 deg. Celsius inside temperature. My greatest joy came when I was putting up my mainsail. It was always a concern that my mainsail had no reefing points and I could face some trouble in strong winds. But then I noticed a little hole on the boom that said oil. And I thought "what for"; and a smile was drawn on my face! I had a furling mainsail! At this point you're probably thinking "Jesus, what an amateur this guy must be not having noticed that in 3 years of owning the boat!". And to some extent you would be right, but I assure you this looks like a pretty standard boom and the furling mechanism is a really basic one: the mainsail rolls around the boom, not inside as most modern mainsail furling systems. So not apparent at all (although, an amateur, I will not deny that I am). And the next question was: "what happens with the kicking strap (boom vang)" if the main rolls around the boom? To this I have not yet found an answer and I do invite your views. My hunch is that there's no kicking strap when the main is reefed (i.e. rolled round the boom). A contraption to this end could possibly be devised - for now I am thinking of attaching the kicker to the boom end (aft) but that doesn't sound too safe. I guess I could manage without a kicker however if need be.

And that concludes my first post back at sea (well, a river in fact but a tidal one so full of seawater). 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Back on the water?

The moment has arrived. I decided that I've had enough of "just work, no play" and I'm putting Ting-a-Ling back on the water.

Last weekend was my last chance to take care of any last minute tasks before launching. By the way, this does not mean that work on the boat has finished - far from it. I just need to get back on the water otherwise I might do something stupid like another boat! For the past few weeks I've been frantically looking at boats on the internet, just as I was doing before buying Ting-a-Ling. In order to avoid any rash decisions I made the rash decision to launch just when everyone else is lifting their boat out, at the end of September. But the thought of some fine autumn and winter sailing on the river and maybe beyond, is just too good to resist.

So I hopped on my bike and rode the 50 long miles to the boatyard on the weekend to seal some deck leaks (round the samson post and baby-stay chainplate), charge the batteries, shut the sea-cocks, install a wind-vane and antenna on the mast-head and do some surgery on the toe-rail and the deck where a wiggly stanchion post sits. Not major jobs you would think but having the mast sitting horizontally on the deck, a few metres above the ground doesn't really help. In any case I managed to do everything I had planned for so the boat could finally return to the its element after two years on the hard.

At the time I'm writing this, Ting-a-Ling must be floating (hopefully) on the river Crouch in Essex but unfortunately I couldn't be there for the launch and haven't called the boatyard to check but I hope everything went smoothly. I can't wait to get there but some prior arrangements for this weekend means that I'll have to wait for another week before I get to see her.

I still have to fit all the running rigging and god knows if I remember how to do that but that's hardly a problem - I'm sure some of the good fellas around - if anyone is still out there by early October - will show me the ropes if need be.

Of course, the work will continue but perhaps on a more leisurely pace.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Long overdue update

I spent two weekends on the boat doing work in the past month. My new strategy revolves around this objective right now: "Get the boat on the bloody water and do some sailing". So no more attention to detail here - I realised that at the pace I'm working on the boat it will take me ages (years literally) to get it into the shape I would like it to be. It's just not gonna happen and I should just settle for less, i.e. a boat that doesn't look great but is seaworthy enough for light sailing.

The only thing missing right now is an echo sounder. There are two on the boat but none seems to be working. Once that is doen, the boat is good to go. Of course, it is almost September now and I've missed one more sailing season. But I intend to sail well into the winter to catch up.

get feed

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Long time-no work

It's been about 8 months since I last did any work on the boat. I don't even know what to expect when I visit next time. Meanwhile I've been paying my monthly storage fees which seems like a waste of money if I'm not working on the boat or using it. My lame excuse is that I went away for a couple of months, to a place where it's warm and sunny and it doesn't rain - and when I came back I just couldn't amass the willpower to drive 70 miles on my motorbike in the cold and wet weather conditions. But today its sunny and warm (well warmer than usual) in London and I'm inspired - so I thought I'd better write something about the boat and that might spark my motivation. so there you go. I'll be back soon.