Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Oh dear

Another weekend at the boat, planning to do some major surgery to replace the aft beam under the mast step. My jack had arrived but as I was not sure it would be stable enough to lift the coach roof I borrowed an acro prop from the marina. I fitted that under the mast step and started lifting it but could not really move the coach roof even though I had slackened the shrouds. I did not want to put too much pressure though as I did not want to stress the hull over the keel. Anyway, I started cutting away the broken beam that came off surprisingly easily - it was all rotted. After removing a large section of it I discovered that the top of the bulkhead behind the beam has also rotted away. Oh dear - not another bulkhead job.. get feed

Saturday, 19 June 2010

I'm connected

Till now Ting-A-Ling has served as a retreat; from the city, work, people, anything. However this has now changed. The internet is here! This weekend I brought my laptop as I had some work to do.. And I just got my marina Wi-Fi connection going. So now I am connected. I can't say I'm too happy for that but surely it's good to have an internet connection on the boat.. Only problem is I have to be at the cockpit to get a decent signal. Crap! get feed

Monday, 14 June 2010

Another spring tide, another grounding

I feel like I've lost focus lately as I haven't done any work on the boat. Of course, I promised to reward myself by enjoying a bit of summer sailing before embarking on any more jobs, particularly those that would result in de-commissioning of the boat for some time.

So sailing it was this weekend too. I was contemplating going single-handed but luckily, after little persuasion and a lot of deliberation, my flatmate decided to join me. We arrived at the marina after HW and the first thing I did was to start the bilge pump to get rid of the water that had, once again, risen above the floorboards. This has become a standard procedure now. The other standard procedure is charging the battery from the mains as my alternator is still not working. While this was going on we met the neighbour in the berth next to us who offered coffee and interesting stories and advice. One of the useful things I found out was how the depth sounder system was installed. My depth sounder is out of order and this can be a big problem in the East Coast..

We finally left the marina around 16.30 which was a bit late as spring low tide was just 4 hours away. The wind was not very strong but strong enough to make me a bit cautious with the sails. We arrived near Essex marina quite quickly with the help of the tide. I then decided that it was about time we turned around as the wind had got stronger.

My newly acquired iPhone Navionics chartplotter indicated a top speed of 5.8 knots which is not bad at all. On our way back progress was noticeably slower as we were beating into the wind and the tide flow had also slowed down. At some point I went in the cabin for some reason and when I came out again I realised that we were not moving. We had ran aground! According to my flatmate who was on the helm at the time, it was the wake from a speedboat that had pushed us to the side near the river bank.. After some attempts to get unstuck that had no positive outcome we decided to sit back and enjoy the sunset. The time was around 20.05 and low tide was at 20.25. I estimated that it would be about an hour before we could move and I was about right. Around 21.25 we set off and motored towars the marina. Coming to the entrance of the creek that leads to N. Fambridge marina, I could only see a very narrow water passage and a lot of sand on either side. I thought I'd better wait before I attempted to enter so we went in circles for about half an hour. Then I just thought I'd give it a shot - the tide was rising and even if we ran aground again, it would still be better than just going in circles in the river.. Luckily, we made it just fine through the narrow passage and I also managed to get my mooring right this time.

I then put up the tarpaulin over the coachroof. This is something I always do before leaving as there's quite a few deck leaks. Nevertheless rainwater still finds its way in. I also did a bit of exploration and located the depth sounder transducer and managed to get my hands very greasy as I took it out of the through-hull fitting. I didn't have the time to fiddle with it as it was getting quite late so I put it back in. But that's another task that has been added to the increasingly expanding boat repair task list. I also tested the Raymarine ST1000 tiller pilot that came with the boat and was pleasantly surprised to find it functioning; well, at least the pushrod was moving. I may test it at sea next time.

Here's a clip from this weekend's sailing:
get feed

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Navigation aids

Ting-a-Ling is not yet equipped with a GPS receiver or a chartplotter; hopefully one day she will. The only navigation aid on the boat is a bulkhead compass.. However, at our last trip Peter brought his hand-held Garmin GPS receiver so we had the luxury of knowing where we were, our bearing and speed. Not that we really needed to know all this while sailing on the Crouch but it was a nice-to-have thing. Having never really used a navigation device before I was very impressed with Peter's GPS.  I quite liked the fact that you could have all that information at hand very easily.

So I bought an iPhone app that kind of does the same thing. It's from Navionics, includes charts for UK, North France, Belgium and Holland and was only £15! You can see a snapshot of the app in the pictue showing the entrance to Cowes. Now I can do some proper passage planning, although it is not advisable to rely solely on this app for this purpose. But I may leave the actual passage for after the coachroof repairs.. get feed

Monday, 7 June 2010

Second test sail

I should really be doing some more work on Ting-a-Ling but having recently paid my first marina fees (till now I had a free ride as the previous owner had already paid till end-May) I am eager to get my money's worth of sailing. This time a friend came along, who had recently completed his competent crew course so there was quite a bit of help. We arrived Friday evening and stepping in the boat I was grateful to have my wellies on when I heard the splash instants before my foot touched the cabing floor. Not again!? There was plenty of water covering the floorboards. Was it rain or seawater? I didn't really find out but immediately I put the trusty bildge pump to work.

We had a relatively early start, around noon with the tide on our side. Getting out of the berth was a bit tricky though as the next berth next to mine has recently found an occupant that I struggled to avoid  as I was reversing out of the berth. I literally had to fend it off with my hands! Bloody reverse! When I bought a fin-keel boat I thought it would at least be able to reverse - that was one of the advantages vs. full keels. I guess full-keels must be just unmanageable.

Anyway, the weather was lovely; very warm and quite sunny and we were really enjoying it. This time I switched off the engine as I was quite sure the battery had enough juice to get it started a few times (I fully charged it the previous night). Bliss! That moment when you switch of the engine and the wind pushes you along.

We had plenty of time so we decided to go all the way to Burnham-on-Crouch which was the furthest I've ever ventured on Ting-a-Ling. There was quite a bit of wind but I've no idea how strong it was as my wind instrument is dead.. According to Peter's GPS we logged a high speed of 5.1 knots which is quite impressive. We would easily do around 4.5 knots with not very much wind.

When we arrived at Burnham-on-Crouch I was stunned by how busy it was. There were too many boats on swinging mooring and plenty of dingys sailing around. We decided to pick a buoy so we could rest and have some tea and also do some buoy-picking practice. Peter thought we could do this on sail, without starting the engine but I had serious doubts as the wind was substantial and I didn't think we'd have time to put the mainsail down when we got the buoy. Anyway, after a few failed attempts we lost the boat hook, which luckily got stuck on a buoy. We put the sails down, started the engine and then it was pretty easy to pick the buoy with our boat hook on it..

When it was time to head back we didn't start the engine but hoisted the sails instead. However, we had to head into the wind which proved quite tricky in the busy area around Burnham so after a few failed attempts to sail towards our destination, we started the engine. Later we hoisted the sails again and quite enjoyed sailing into the wind, again with the tide on our side. At some point the wind died so we had to start the engine again which was a shame as we were having good fun.

This time we arrived at the marina just before high tide which gave us plenty of maneuvering space to make an easy mooring into our berth. Overall it was a very pleasant sail this time, although there were moments when I was quite uneasy about the coarch roof/mast step. Need to fix that soon if I want to relax. get feed

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Test Sail

This is it: the moment of truth! Have I done a decent job or will the mast fall over with the first gust of wind?

I chose a very bad weekend to do the test sail as the weather forecast predicted winds up to Force 7 on the East Coast.. Am I sure I want to do this? Well, having worked on the boat the whole winter I could not wait any longer and was determined to get the boat out of the marina.. I had not repaired the alternator so I was releuctant to turn the engine off after I hoisted the sails. I was trying to reduce the wind pressure on the sails as much as I could as I could not yet trust the repaired chainplate knees nor the mast support. So anybody that saw us sailing would had thought that we did not know anything about sail trimming..  And to be honest, they wouldn't be far off the truth.

Another problem with the mainsail is that there are no reefing points so it's either all or nothing.. I could not relax at all. The constant sound of the engine was getting quite annoying, then it started to rain but I had to stay on the helm adjusting the course in order to avoid any significant strain on the mast.

Anyway, it was not really that unpleasant, I was just uneasy and anxious all the time. On the entrance to the marina, we went slightly off course and were grounded on a very low neap tide about an hour before low tide. We were planning to just stay there as there was not really much we could do. It would be at least 3 hours before we could go. Fortunately, an inflatable with a powerful engine managed to drag us off the ground and we made it to the berth. Mooring was not very easy as the tide was low, maneuvering space restricted and as I've said at previous posts, Ting-a-Ling will not go backwards easily..

Overall it was a good experience and I was quite happy with the repairs. The main problem now is the coachroof under the mast step which I should repair pretty soon even if it is a temporary fix. get feed