Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Oh, dear

Right now, this project seems like one of those ambitious things that one starts but never completes. I've had the boat for about two years now. I've sailed it 6 or 7 times on the River Crouch for 20-30 hours in total, worked a few hundred hours on it, spent a few thousand pounds on it. And it has now been sitting on the hard, since July 2010.

The plan that went wrong assumed that I would be working on the boat in July/August 2011 so it would be ready sometime in August. Instead, I decided to spend those two months on a Greek island in the Cyclades. It was pretty nice, and that is an understatement. The only thing I really missed was Ting-a-Ling.

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Sunday, 29 May 2011

Installing a thru-hull (skin-fitting)

Since I'm just idling at home, I thought it would be a good idea to provide some DIY advise. There are much better places to find out how to install a thru-hull (skin fitting) but I'll just go through the way I did it.

I didn't really need to replace the thru-hull but just the gate valve which looked a bit dodgy. A ball valve is much better, particularly for engine cooling water intake as it is very easy to see if it's open or closed. However, the gate valve was stuck on the thru-hull. Because of my poor tool-set and a mediocre skill-set and imagination I could not figure out some way to separate the two. So I decided to replace the whole thing. That way, I would also make sure that the new thru-hull would be up for the job (hopefully). 

Initially, I chipped away at the backing block of the thru-hull. That way I would be able to pull it a bit further out under the hull, enough to cut it with an angle grinder. Unfortunately I have no angle-grinder ( I know...what's a man without an angle grinder?) so I had to borrow one from the boatyard. It was then a piece of cake to cut it off. (I won't mention my desperate attempt to cut it with my bosch multitool).

Once that was done I started working on a new backing block for the new thru-hull. Some people recommend a  GRP backing block but I wasn't prepared to go into so much hassle just to save my life (OK, joking, I just don't think it's necessary if you do a good installation). So I cut a square piece of some leftover 12mm marine ply (I'm running out of that but hopefully will not need any more of it soon). I then cut a hole (about 19mm) in the centre of the block (well, to be honest it wasn't exactly in the centre but nevermind that) and then covered the whole thing with 3 or 4 layers of epoxy (letting each layer cure for about 1 hour before applying the next one). The hole should be a little bit wider than the threads of the skin fitting otherwise the epoxy layer may be compromised if the threads of the fitting dig in the block. It took a bit of trial and error before I got this right, but in the end the thru-hull could pass through the block with little contact.

After that I covered the hull side of the thru-hull with a thick layer of Sikaflex 291 and shoved it through the hull (the hole in the hull was already there remember, but if you open a new hole then it's another story).. I was alone so I had nobody to push it from the outside while I went inside to install the backing block but no harm done as the Sika kept it in place. I considered epoxy gluing the block to the hull but thought I better not in case I need to replace again in the future. So I just put another layer of Sika291 on the hull side of the backing block and pushed it over the threads of the thru-hull which now protruded through the hull. I pushed it down as hard as I could so that it made a good contact with the hull and the excess Sika was squeezed out. I then repeated the same with the flange (Sika291 on the hull side) and screwed it on the thru-hull initially by hand and then, when it was quite tight using a wrench, until I heard the block suffering under the pressure :) I took off the excess Sika around all fittings and distributed well around the block-hull surface and flange-block surface. And that was it. Now you can tell me I messed it up and I'll live in fear of drowning every time I sail.. I will post some pictures soon so that you can admire the craftsmanship!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The weather..

..is crap! Gloomy and overcast and with a threat of an imminent thunderstorm over your head. Not a good time to go to the boat, particularly when you have to ride 50 miles on a motorbike to get there and all you want to do is sheathing and painting the decks. So frustrating! But there's the champion's league final tonight to compensate for that.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Almost there!

To that statement, one might ask "almost where?".

Well, I haven't restored the boat to perfection, I must admit. But I've been spending a lot of time on it, getting dirty and tackling any job that comes up. I've made new holes in the deck and took a lot of rot out and then patched it, installed new thru-hulls, made a hull repair, spliced ropes, installed a water tap and connected the water tank to it through a foot pump, bla bla bla. The major work that's left is varnishing/painting and reinforcing some weak spots where I've made repairs. I'm having my genoa serviced but still need to get a new main as the old one is not that great. Will also need to implement some reefing system as there is no reefing at the moment. I'm hoping to have it back in the water in a couple of weeks but will see how it goes.

Monday, 28 March 2011

The 6 days of creation

Two lessons learned during my last visit to the boat:

1. You can't really do much work on a boat without getting your hands really dirty
2. Nothing is too hard or complicated. You just need to get on with it

There's also more advice I can give such us: you need to have the right tools (or at least borrow them). You need to know more or less what you're doing and how you're going to do it. I have often put off doing some repair because I could not decide upon the method I should use. If you cant decide based on the pros and cons of each method, then just do it the easier way :)

Anyway, it's been a very productive 6 consecutive days on the boat. I realised that if I'm going to get things done in time for some summer sailing I need to get on with it and spend more time on the boat and that's exactly what I did.

I've now managed to repair most of the woodwork (deck &  interiors), at least the areas that I was mostly concerned about.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Day Skipper course

I just came back from a 5-day Day Skipper practical course. What a week! While this was not something that was absolutely necessary for me to do at this precise moment, it fulfilled several purposes: Firstly, I would do some sailing which I haven't done for quite a while now since my boat has been on the hard. Secondly, I would gain a lot of experience and knowledge on several aspects of sailing and thirdly I can now charter a boat anywhere in the world!

The boat, Wild Spirit, is a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40. It is very well equipped and maintained and provided a great living environment for the 6 people on board for 5 days. The on-board shower is a luxury that comes in very handy when the marina facilities are quite far away.

The course itself, was really exciting, entertaining and educational at the same time. I was the only one doing the Day Skipper course and initially I was slightly concerned about this as I was not sure that I would get the most out of it since a significant amount of time would have to be spent on basic competent crew skills that 3 of the crew members had signed-up for. And there was one more person that had already done a DS course but wanted to gain more experience. All of the people on board had some sailing experience but not necessarily as active crew members. In the end, the mixture of skills worked out quite well and I had the opportunity to remember some of the basic skills while also building up on new skills. It was also quite interesting to work with people with little sailing experience as this is often a situation that a skipper may have to deal with.

I really enjoyed the 67-mile non-stop passage from Gosport to Poole going clockwise round the Isle of White. I think that such a long passage is quite unusual for this type of course but it was a very educational and fun experience at the same time, providing a good opportunity to test my navigation skills. The entrance and exit to the very shallow Newton river was also quite challenging and required some very fine maneuvering. The competitive spirit in us all came out during the dingy racing at Cowes and then on the pool table at the Anchor pub.

Despite the name, the spirit on Wild Spirit was very chilled out and friendly. Of course that was the result of the really nice people that were on board. Phil, our instructor was great fun and relaxed but very confident and knowledgeable, always in control of the situation, even if he had to raise his voice in order to avoid potential disasters "do as I say!!", "blast astern!!", "hard to starboard!!" were words frequently coming out of his mouth. He had gone into considerable effort preparing meals for us - nothing like the stuff you usually get on these courses. Yvonne, immediately took on hostess duties and provided us with fine gourmet dining for the duration of the course. She was really helpful both over and under the deck and great fun to be with. Justin was chilled out and impressed us with his knot skills, doing one-handed bowline in seconds. No matter how many times he showed me I never got it right. He will be sailing off New Zealand in a borrowed catamaran! Lucky guy. John inspired confidence on the deck and very helpful guidance to all of us - he was also my drinking companion (when we were allowed to drink that is) and is the only policeman I have met who did not issue me some kind of penalty or warning. Caroline, the girl from Baldock with the distinctive laughter, provided us with non-stop entertainment and some fine helming. When she went quiet you just knew that something was wrong.

Overall it was a fantastic experience and with the weather on our side it was very enjoyable. Only during the last day there was some rain so at the end of the course we ended up quite wet. I strongly recommend this boat for doing an RYA CC or DS course as you will have great fun along with the skills that you will gain. The website is here: http://www.wildspirit.co.uk/. They also offer cruising and racing opportunities.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

I've got plenty of time, some money and a half a boat. What shall I do?

I was made redundant at the end of Jan 2011; part of the government's budget cuts to save the UK economy - or at least that's what I'd like to believe. Anyway, as sad as that may be it is essentially an opportunity for me! Firstly, I've got redundancy money so I no longer need to save for two years to go on a long-term sailing trip. Also, I've got all the time in the world at present as I am unemployed. Expenses are running though so I need to think quickly about what I'll be doing, before my bank account runs dry.

If the boat was ready to go I would probably not think about it twice; I would pack up and go! However, it is not ready yet and that means I have to spend more money and time on it. Or I could just buy another one.

Here's a great post by John Vigor that is quite inspirational. Makes me want to just stop thinking and start doing!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Big wave sailing

I recently came across this video and was surprised to see that the boat is actually a Thompson T27, Ting-a-Ling's slightly bigger sister.. I think the boat sails very well in these conditions and I'm quite excited about it as I think the T24 will sail equally well. Although I'm not as confident about my sailing skills..