Thursday, 30 May 2013

Out of the water

Robinetta came out of the water on Wednesday for her engine service, and will be back in tomorrow (Friday) so we can sail at the weekend. I got a call from the engineer saying he had tracked down the water leak to the raw water pump, and that a new one would be a good idea, so I ordered it from French Marine, and on a one day delivery was there this morning as promised. Hopefully, between that and the full service the engine will now work without kicking out steam when run at full power.

Since she was put on in such a rush in April it seemed sensible to take advantage of her being out of the water to do some extra painting, so I took Alex along today. The damage done by the ladder on the rubbing strake over the winter has now been sanded back and primed, the new bulwark wood has its second coat of toplac, and the main hatch has been sanded back to bare wood. (electric sanders are wonderful things!) I have also caulked and filled the gaps in the hatch in the hope that that will stop it leaking.

I disconnected the toilet and took it apart as we had noticed some leaks around it last time we were out. I now know a lot more about Lavac toilets, and have hopefully fixed the leak. There was a slight split in the outflow pipe, just under the jubilee clip, so I replaced the pipe as well as cleaning everything thoroughly and tightening all the bolts.  I left the bowl with some water in; hopefully it will still be there when I go back tomorrow!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

A relaxing sail, and then....

Got to Robinetta by ten, and Julian fixed the gaff span in place while I re-ran the jib out haul. There was not a lot of wind, but there was enough for a sail going no where in particular so I tied Worm to the mooring buoy while Julian raised the main and stay sail. Robinetta obviously wanted to sail, but we had to put the engine on and reverse away from the buoy to avoid running Worm down.

We motor sailed to the Mersea Quarters buoy, but once we had fewer moored boats to avoid the engine went off, and we had a gentle fine reach along the Mersea shore in bright sun shine; one of those days when you know why you own a boat.

We headed down river, letting the tide help the light winds. There were lots of boats out, including at least two barges and smacks near Brightlingsea. Every now and then we heard a horn sound as a boat crossed the finish line of a race near St Peters chapel. We had to beat out towards the line to avoid the Mersea Flats, and had a fine view of the spinnakers being dropped as soon as the racers were over the line. It was a mixed fleet, and well spread out, so we tacked round to stay clear and headed towards Cocum Hills.

The wind got up a little and we made 4 knots over the ground, in bright sun shine on a flat sea. Heaven! But the tide was turning, and we decided to turn with it. It would have been a dead run back to Mersea, so we broad reached towards Bradwell power station instead, then gybed round for the Nass beacon, and gybed again to head in towards Mersea Quarters.

We knew the boats would be lying across the Thorn fleet, and we'd have to gybe again to head up it, so we decided to drop the main and motor to give the batteries a bit of a charge. We put the engine on, hauled the main in and dropped it on the run (not something to try on a Bermudan rig!) I tried keeping the jib up, and sailing in on head sails but the jib kept backing, so Julian furled it away and I put the engine revs up.

That's when the engine warning buzz started. GM10s are not sophisticated units and only have one way to let you know something is wrong, the same noise you get after you stop the engine, and before you turn the key in the ignition. If you hear it when the engine is on the only thing to do is turn off the engine!

So there we were, at the Blackwater end of Packing Shed Island, surrounded by moored boats lying across the channel. Luckily the stay sail was still up, so we had steerage way, and there were a couple of empty mooring buoys. Julian took the boat hook and went forward while I sailed us to the buoy.

Once we were safely tied on Julian did a bit of investigating. He had already checked the water intake filter, which was clear, so now he took the cover off the impeller and checked that. It did not seem to be attached to its spindle properly, and we had a spare one on board, so he changed it.

The engine turned on without screaming at us now, but there seemed to be a significant drip from a pipe beyond the impeller. We're going to have to get the engine looked at.

Once we knew we had the engine available if we needed it, but that it might not run happily for very long, we got the staysail back up and sailed off the buoy and up the Thorn fleet. It was a slow trip, but much less fraught than if we'd got the main back up too. We made our own mooring without needing the engine.

I've read accounts of boats in the 1930s sailing right up to town quays and mooring using their stay sail alone. I'm almost beginning to think I could do it in Robinetta, but I'd rather have a working engine!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Up the mast

Weather forecast was not too great today, but I'd had a phone call that the new radio antenna we'd ordered was in, so we went to Mersea to pick it up and hopefully install it before the rain started in the afternoon. While in Wyatt's for the antenna I bought a metre of thin elastic cord too, and my first task of the day was fitting a ring and a couple of hooks so the chopping board could be held in place behind the sink when not in use.

Meanwhile Julian put a temporary connector on the new antenna and called up the coastguard for a radio check. There was no point replacing the antenna if the problem was with the radio!

After that I could not put it off any more. I was heading up the mast again.

Julian and I do have this down to a fine art now, and with the proper bosun's chair it isn't scary, but I'm always reluctant to start. There was a fair amount of wind too, but nothing too bad and Robinetta felt steady on her mooring as Julian pulled me up on the jib halyard.

I could see a fair amount of damaged varnish on the way up. Looks like we'll need the mast out again this winter. 

I was going all the way up to the top of the mast, and the jib halyard doesn't go that high, so when I reached the end of that I changed the hauling rope to our "spare" halyard. This has no purchase to give mechanical advantage and Julian found it very hard work to get me up the final metre so I could reach the antenna mount. I helped all I could, hauling on my safety line, which is the top sail halyard (also without any extra mechanical advantage).

Once up there it was a simple job to take off the old antenna and put the new one in its place, but it took quite a while to come back down the mast, un-taping the old antenna lead and taping on the new one.

We had some lunch, then ran the cable the rest of the way to the radio and tested it. After that I got the sail cover off and Julian spent some time raising and lowering the gaff to find the best place to put the gaff span. It was coming on to rain, so after we marked the place we put all the covers back on and headed home.

It was a stiff row against the wind, but the tide was in our favour and we got back to the pontoon without problems.

This was the third time we'd used our Riber Bugzy wheels on Worm but the first two times we'd launched from the hard and only used the wheels to get Worm back to the car. This time we'd used them for both trips, and taken them to Robinetta with us. They don't take up much room in the dingy, and it was really quick to just lift the dingy on. We've got them properly fitted to Worm and tightened now, and we know where to strap them on for best position. They felt really good!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Getting There

We took a walk last night and saw a lovely big yawl anchor near Pioneer. She came in under jib and mizen so we don't know what sort of main she has but the mizen was gaff. We might have seen the crew in the Kovalam.

Met Rik Graham on the pontoon - he had sailed Kelpie II down from the Orwell and was heading back in the morning. I hope he had enough wind to get home.

Had a nice chat with Paddy and his wife this morning. They own Angie, a lovely old Fred Parker sloop. They are friends with Barry (Random) and Graham (Jacinta).

I took the cleats off the gaff and tacked some cable clips on so the front of the span was further forward and the back further aft. I should have moved the whole thing aft as we still had problems raising the main but once it was up it set nicely. The small cable clips failed but the principle is good - small wedges on both sides of the span will do a better job.

We also picked up a new glass for the oil lamp, a new painter for Worm and a new ensign stick and some diesel. A cracking sail out to the Molliette but then it went light airs and we drifted back to Mersea in the sunshine. The most relaxed I've felt for ages.
Got to the Ray at low water and picked up a buoy two down from ours with only 2 ft of water beneath the keel - we would have never made ours and this one is not occupied as far as we know.

Relaxed on the buoy while some water came back, then put the covers on to avoid the bird mess issue, and headed home.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sailing at last

The gaff saddle finally fits (thanks Nigel), the sails are bent on and they work. A very pleasant sail over to Brightlingsea and now sitting happily in the  Coach House Coffee Shop sipping mocha.

We will have to adjust the span. Bringing it further forward has taken some of the load off the saddle and I think it is sliding more easily but the two span loops are too close and the purchase is chock-a-block before the peak is tensioned.

Perfect weather

Got to West Mersea nice and early, just before high water, so launched Worm off the hard.

We rowed out to Robinetta in bright sunshine, not much wind, but since we wanted to get the sails bent on that was a good thing. She was in a bit of a state when we got on board; two weeks without the covers on up a quiet creek had turned her into a prime relaxation spot for gulls. Julian got on with sluicing down and scrubbing the necks while I went below and un-packed, then got on with finishing off the sink drainage.

I'd bought a plastic pipe connector from our local plumbing shop (much cheaper than a chandlers) and once I'd trimmed it to fit I connected it to the bronze thru-hull and it was done! No leaks! I'll keep an eye on it, because with a none marine rubber washer I can't be sure the seal will last, but hopefully it should do a couple of seasons.

We now have a fully functioning galley.

We had the sails bent on by twelve, so we hoisted the main on the mooring. Julian had moved the gaff span forward on Murray's advice to stop the saddle slipping round, but it made it very difficult to hoist, as the centre of power was too close to the mast. I had to go forward to hold the throat down so Julian could pull the peak up, not a problem we'd ever had before.

The wind had got up a bit, and Robinetta obviously wanted to sail, so we decided we'd head for Brightlingsea. I'd had the engine on to keep us head to wind while we got the sails up, and used it to help us clear the mooring buoy, but with the staysail up too we had enough power to sail though the moorings. I kept the engine on though, and had to use it a couple of times. We were quite close hauled, and the boats were lying all over the place in the Thorn Fleet. There is not a lot of spare water at half tide!

We were head to wind once we reached the end of Packing Shed Island and heading for the Nass beacon, so the engine got used again. Once we were close to the Beacon it went off though, and we sailed off towards Bradwell to begin the beat to Brightlingsea while Julian got the no 1. jib up.

We were finally a proper sailing boat!.