Sunday, 21 April 2013

Down the Blackwater in company

Waking up with a hangover is not my idea of fun, but at least it's not a migraine!

The lock staff moved us forward in the lock using ropes, and then four other boats crowded in with us. Mary Ritchie, Bonify, Witch, and a bermudan sloop all wanted to leave, and given it was neaps, with high pressure, there was no chance for a second lock out; everyone had to come in at once.

I ended up holding onto Mary Richie's bowsprit along side Robinetta so Witch could crowd into the lock behind Mary Richie. I'm glad Robinetta's bowsprit can be reeved easily! I was talking to Alastair off Witch, and he says it takes half an hour, and a work boat, to get Witch's in!

Julian got some bunting up, and I chatted to people who had come to watch the departure. Given it was only 0900, and there had been much drinking the might before, there were a lot of people there. Not just OGA, but readers of the Yachting Press. Sue Lewis's publicity machine is in high gear, and Dan Houston, editor of Classic Boat was there with a photographer. The the East Anglian Daily Times, The Maldon and Burnham Standard and the Essex Chronicle were also there. A lovely little gunter dingy also came to wish the circumnavigators well. The crew said they were bringing a boat to Cowes in August.

We led the way out of the lock. I had had a good look at the channel out at low water, and we reached safe water without problem. Unfortunately Mary Ritchie behind us was forced into slightly too wide a track by the other boats and went aground. We turned back to see if we could help, but luckily a work boat came out and pulled them off before we got there.
There was a fair bit of jilling about while the boats with main sails got them up. The RNLI turned up, as OGA 50 is raising money for them on the way round.

We set off down river with the boats, trying to stay out of shot for the Classic Boat photographers, with Julian working hard as "official photographer" for Eastcoaster. There was not enough wind to sail, but at Osea Island the other boats got their foresails out and posed with the RNLI rib. There should be some great shots for Classic Boat and Julian got good ones too; he posted some on the East Coast Old Gaffers facebook page.

After Osea the foresails got furled away, the RNLI and Classic Boat left, and the engines revs went up. Robinetta was soon left behind as Bonify, Witch, and Mary Ritchie set off to make passage.

There were still interesting things to look at in the Blackwater though. We passed closer than felt comfortable to an event I never knew existed. Water Ski racing looks like an exciting sport, if you like noise!

We headed straight back to our mooring after that. The wind was getting up, enough to sail if we'd had any, and although lots of cups of tea had taken care of my hangover I could feel a nasty cold coming on. It was time to go home after a fun weekend away.

Farewell, RBC/RBR crews and boats

Another gorgeous morning. Alison very under the weather after drinking too much (at least two glasses of wine - what a lightweight!). Managed to just get ready to motor out of the lock. Lots of people came to see us off - many were expecting a few more boats, but we filled the lock so that was OK. Alison got her act together enough that I could focus on taking pictures. Some of the best ones I posted to the East Coast Gaffers Facebook page. Here is one of Robinetta.
We had a lovely time taking pictures of the boats as they went down to Osea Island for the official Classic Boat photo shoot. I think we managed to keep out of shot for those.

Went back to Mersea and came home, bringing the saddle with us. Next time we will sail!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Gaffer's dinner

Not content with one fitting out meal in a day we suppered with the gaffers at the Maldon Little Ship Club. Mike McCarthy provided his usual filling fare and we had the privilege of sitting with Mike Peyton for the meal.

Alison was given complete records for the 1963 to 1994 East Coast races courtesy of the late Charlie Stock. Something to mine for Eastcoaster. I am now under strict instructions not to let Alison buy a bottle of wine at a gaffer's dinner. She doesn't drink much, she doesn't show any effects and she still gets the most terrible hangovers. It isn't fair.

WOA Lunch

We had a lovely lunch at the Blackwater Sailing Club with the East Coast group of the Westerly Owners Association. A great bunch. Ian Bartlett gave a talk on his solo round-Britain adventure. David Jibb (Sharina II) who did a lot of the work on the Westerly wiki came and had a look round Robinetta after the committee meeting.

Into the lock

We got up at 6 to motor up to Heybridge.

With the tide with us we got there very early and picked up a mooring to wait. Lost the lid of the grease pot overboard - it took us ages to retrieve it - we needed the practice! When the lock opened I didn't have my sea-eyes on and went the wrong side of the withes (clearly painted with red tops) and put us aground. Alison did a great job digging our way out with the rudder and then she managed to put us aground by heading in too far away from the withes on the correct side. The engine was not happy - lots of smoke. but we got off again and made it into the lock.

The basin was still full of overwintering boats, as well as Bonify, Witch and Mary Richie, so the harbour master told us to turn round and go back into the lock to moor. Heybridge Basin is a lovely spot with great showers.

We said hello to the other crews and then I sat down to revise for my OU exam while Alison checked out the engine. There was a big lump of mud in the raw water filter, the impeller needed a bit of TLC and there is a water drip from somewhere. It is time the 1GM10 had a bit more care.

I also had a go at fitting the gaff saddle with some hope of binding the main sail on. The saddle doesn't fit. When we first had it I had to open up the jaws to fit the mast. Now it is as good as new, I'll have to do that again. Oh well.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Lovely but freezing!

Got to Robinetta at 20.00, just after high water and decided to motor up river and moor. It got dark and cold by 22.00 so we picked up the first vacant buoy we got to - at Stone. Alison cooked some rice, and warmed up the dal and the aubergine. It made a lovely meal and then we went to bed.

Monday, 15 April 2013


Alison has been with Robinetta as the yard put her back in the water. News from the front: "the sea cocks don't leak and the engine starts!" Moray has straightened and re-galvanised the gaff saddle and will leather it and get it to us in time to take it on Friday. We are at risk of having a sailing boat!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sun at last! and wind

Julian and Alex both came to Robinetta with me today. Forecast was for sun, and 16C, and we got it, so I can't really complain about the strong wind....

I had hoped to get the main sail on, but that would have been stupid in the wind, especially since we still don't have the gaff saddle back from Moray. I must ring him in the morning.....

Alex finished sanding off the loose varnish on the foredeck cap rails, got four coats of varnol on the cap rails in the cockpit, a top up coat on the varnol on the cabin sides, and a coat of varnish on the foredeck cap rails. Oh, and put top coat on the bulwark repairs and touched up the paint on the hull. What a good worker!

Julian fitted the bowsprit and bobstay and the jib traveller, tensioned the fore-stay and replaced the peak and staysail halyards. Unfortunately the mousing line came off just before the new peak halyard went through the last block at the top of the mast. (The yard has promised to run it for us tomorrow before they put Robinetta in). He also fixed the positioning of the blocks on the horse across the front of the cabin, which I had got wrong yesterday. He checked the thru-hulls, so hopefully they won't leak, and reconnected the gas to the cooker.

I did a little more to the galley, but spent most of my time washing down the paint in the lockers and the cabin. It was a good day for drying it out, and at least now I can see what needs repainting (next winter I'll need to do inside the hull and the ceiling.....). After that I got the seat cushions and backs in place, and stowed what I could of the stores. It's coming together, but the galley is not really useable yet. I have half a day more with shore power, hope it's enough!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Rain and wind

The problem with going away on holiday is it eats up boat prep time.....

Went to Robinetta today with Alex so he could redo the varnol in the cockpit and touch up the hull paint work, while I did some more to the galley. The car was absolutely full of things to be loaded onto the boat, because she's going in on Monday, ready or not. I knew the conditions were not going to be great, but it was warmer than when we went away, and there were only light showers forcast.

I stripped the foredeck cover off (in what sounded like a howling gale) to put the refinished hatch cover on, and realised that the varnish on the foredeck cap rails was never going to last the season, so after Alex sanded the old varnol off the cockpit cap rails I put him to work on the foredeck ones. Then it started to rain. And it did not stop.

Having Alex in the cabin with me did speed up some of what I was doing, and he was really useful lifting the cooker in and out, but the driving rain was depressing. No chance of the cabin drying out if I washed it down, so in the end we just piled the seat cushions and sails into the cabin and went home.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

It's supposed to be Spring

No sun today, and a NE wind that meant the 4C promised was barely 1C with wind chill. I didn't take Alex, who would have been working outside stripping off old Varnol.

I shut myself in the cabin, turned on the electric fire, and finished painting the galley above the worktop line. It had to be done! I can't say I'm happy with my work though, too many drips onto the locker paint below. I don't like them even though they'll be invisible once the cooker goes in.

After that I fitted the work surface into place. It's not fixed down at all, and the plumbing isn't done, but it should not need to come out again. I came home with a long list of things that still needed doing to make it work.

There were other hardy people at the yard, including Kalindy's owner who was anti fouling despite the low temperature. He said it was drying well though, maybe the 16 knots of wind helped!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Anti-foul on

A sunny day for a change! And 6C forecast!

Took Alex along and he anti-fouled the hull then put Toplac on the blue primer. Having complete Toplac coverage on the hull is good, but painting the whole thing would have been better; it'll look a bit patchy when the sun's out, with some of it faded from a season's exposure. There are also obvious rust marks from old nails that we'll have to sort out.


I'm in the slow part of the kitchen fit, getting the painting done and sorting out how the plumbing will work. The thru-hull seems to be working now, just as long as it doesn't leak when she's in the water...

Monday, 1 April 2013

Another cold day

After a day at home yesterday working on bits of the boat Julian and I headed back to Mersea to put them in place. It's still bitterly cold, just 5C with no sun at first, and wind chill that froze my fingers, but while I worked inside Julian got the new bits of bulwark in place.
We had primed them at home, so that saved some time in the fitting.

Since it was above 5C once the sun came out I put blue undercoat on all the bits of grey metallic primer above the waterline. Alex can put on some Toplac tomorrow, when he comes with me to do the anti foul, and the outside painting will be done.

Inside I dry fitted all the galley, then did some final adjustments. I also primed the paintwork, so I can finish painting it tomorrow. The thru-hull is back in place, and will turn, so that's progress, and the formica is stuck on the galley floor. That's a non critical area, so once I'm sure it's worked properly I'll glue the rest of it on the sides.

The tap moved from the galley to the hand basin is now screwed into place.

It still feels like there is a lot to do though, and I've at most got five days to work on her before she's back in the water....