Archive for the ‘Maintenance’ Category

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Winterisation round-up 2017

November 17, 2017

Following crane-out there are a number of winterisation tasks on my to-do list. The one that I always tackle first is hosing-down our Macwester Malin’s hull to remove the worst of the season’s fouling. This year, as can be seen above, there was heavier weed growth than I’ve ever witnessed (on our yacht).

Still, nothing that would cause any problem to our type of sailing, and certainly much less than the growth that I spotted on our chum’s Colvic Watson earlier in the year [above]. She sported a rather impressive matching goatee-beard at the pointy end too.

Next up is swapping out the impeller, flushing away the salt water, and filling our Lombardini diesel engine’s cooling system with anti-freeze. I didn’t bother swapping out the impeller this year, as I plan on buying a new one for the start of next season.

When it came to winterising our Lavac heads, I thought that I’d try something new. The idea was to ensure that there was no water left in the system, including the intake. With this in mind I shoved a length of hose (kindly provided by Calloo’s skipper) up the inlet.

The other end was positioned with care in a strategically placed bucket of anti-freeze. All I needed to do was nip on-board and pump the anti-freeze through the whole system and the job would be done. Unfortunately, this didn’t work despite various adjustments. There must have been too much air leakage to enable enough suction in the system. This is something I’ll need to improve upon for next year.

We remembered to bring one of the children’s sledges with us to drag the Hippo buoy through the mud. That goes some way to reduce the energy-sapping nature of removing our mooring ground tackle for the winter. Despite that, this year, the crew put in too much effort and jiggered her back.

Above; note the promenade wall that was a feature of the previous post [see here].

While I’ve still to brim our Macwester Malin’s fuel tanks, and complete one or two other tasks, the biggest item remaining on the pre-Christmas to-do list is to address the gearbox problem. While some might just put the loss of gears on the last day of the season down to a glitch, I’m not the kind of skipper who’s comfortable taking a gamble on that sort of thing …so it looks like the gearbox might have to come out to see if any remedial work is required. Yay!

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Queensferry Crossing Fail

September 13, 2017

We were fortunate to be amongst the fifty-thousand ballot winners given the once in a lifetime opportunity to walk over the new Queensferry Crossing before it was formally opened by the Queen on the 3rd of September. Logistically, our allocated slot and crossing direction from south to north was a tad inconvenient, as it meant that we had very little time to make our way back south to the marina and we would have to set sail immediately to have any chance of getting back on to our mooring before the tide dropped.

The skipper of Huck Finn, a Macwester 27 had loosely organised a muster under the new bridge on both Saturday and Sunday prior to the official flotilla on the Monday. Although we met up with Shere Khan (who’s skipper was hoisting bunting, including a large pair of pants with Jeremy Corbyn’s face printed on them), and Christina II, unfortunately we didn’t spot Huck Finn when we were out on the water.

We had to abort our final approach to our berth in the marina, as a yacht that we had deferred to and that had entered the alley between D and E pontoons, subsequently had a change of mind and for some reason decided to come back out after we had followed her in. As a result we found ourselves unexpectedly in shallow water and I had to resort to using our Macwester Malin’s bow thruster to manoeuvre the front end. A grating noise came from the thruster and I stopped using it immediately. That made berthing a few minutes later sightly more interesting, but we managed nonetheless.

Our heads also developed a problem the same day. We reasoned that something must have been sucked-up through the inlet pipe, as nothing solid has ever gone out the other end. There wasn’t much we could do to fix the heads or the thruster until we could take the ground. Given our mooring is blessed with thick putty, that meant drying-out on one of our club’s pontoons, and with the outer pontoons constantly occupied over recent weeks, we realised that the inner pontoon was our only option. Slowly it dawned on us that the only way of getting on to the inner pontoon for remedial work the following day, was to miss out on walking over the new bridge. As a result, the shot above was the closest we got to the Queensferry Crossing over the weekend.

We met up with friends onboard Tight Fit V a Grandezza 33, and enjoyed a great night with food, drink and banter. The following morning the Tight Fit V crew popped round to our berth, and then we both headed out on to the river (above) to pootle around under the new bridge for a while.

With one eye firmly focussed on reaching the club’s inner pontoon at high water, we set a course heading west well before high water. We passed our chums on Miss Lindsay and later Shere Khan both heading in the opposite direction, and we were also buzzed by a couple of jetskis.

We made it on to the pontoon without complications. The following day, I pulled seaweed from the thruster and was able to check that it was back in service. The heads would take much longer to fix. I disconnected hoses and worked my way from the beginning of the system to the end. I seemed to clear the blockage by filling up the bowl with buckets of water and pumping those out. I can only imagine that some seaweed might have been sucked in and was causing an obstruction. That said, it still seems a little asthmatic at times, so I’ll need to keep an eye on it.

The skipper of Calloo and I watched the Red Arrows fly over the new bridge during the opening ceremony, and then up river towards us before banking over our heads.

Several days later, with our maintenance complete it was time to get back to our mooring. Unfortunately we had to pass on the opportunity to land for drinks at Blackness with Calloo because the crew and I are both carrying annoying injuries. Instead we slowly meandered our way home; not very exciting, but there are times to push yourself …and times to hold back.

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Summer cruise 2017 – Part 1

August 2, 2017

The forecast for the foreseeable future was for unsettled weather, so we chose to set sail on a day with marginally lighter winds and sunny spells. Our final destination was unclear, however St. Andrews and Lindisfarne were both possibilities. We left as the tide was receding, so the first leg to Anstruther would have to take over seven hours, or we risked arriving before there was enough water. This meant intentionally making slow progress, as we can typically reach Anstruther in five or six hours. The shot above shows us approaching a wreck to the south of Inchkeith with a following sea.

We started-out with a much reduced genoa, and the mizzen ready to deploy if required. With the tide pushing our twin-keeled ketch forward combined with 25+ knots of wind, we were doing between six and seven knots over the ground. That was way too fast, however I reasoned that the tide would be against us later in the journey.

We tacked as close to the south-east of Inchkeith as we could. That was a mistake; we should have delayed tacking, as the waves caused by the current/tide circumventing the island grew to over 2m. Unfortunately I don’t have any photographs, as the crew was a tad unsettled, and politely suggested that I might stop taking photographs.

I say ‘politely suggested’, but in reality she delivered an eclectic unbroken chain of colourful expletives strewn upon the wind, which all but obscured the words “Cecil” …and “B” …and “DeMille”.

We brought the genoa in further, now down to no more than a hankie, and hunkered-down until we were eventually afforded some protection from the island itself. The shot above shows a much calmer following sea as we headed along the East Neuk coast later.

Arriving at the marina on the late tide, we were welcomed with much-needed alcohol by our chums from Pampero, a Moody Eclipse. For my future reference, our Macwester Malin’s 1m draft lets us have access to the marina when there’s 2m at Rosyth. The photograph above shows the view from our Macwester’s centre cockpit over towards the Ship Tavern.

With the crew keen for a break from sailing and the high winds ever-threatening, we stayed in Anstruther and took some time out. We scrubbed the deck and I noticed that the varnish on the foredeck grab rails of our Macwester Malin was cracked, so I gave them a quick rub-down then varnished them. It was an in-season remedial approach, so they will have to be done properly at some stage.

One afternoon a pipe band turned up to the cobbled square adjacent to our pontoon (across from the Ship Tavern), followed by a number of visiting dance troupes. Apparently there was an international dance festival underway. The photograph above shows some of the Croatian dancers.

After a day or two the chap on a small Wayfarer dinghy called Dreamtime, that was berthed next to our Macwester Main, told me that he had decided to throw in the towel. His original plan was to sail around the UK, but the weather outlook wasn’t great and he didn’t fancy the journey up north. Instead he returned a couple of days later and I helped him get Dreamtime on to a trailer, so that he could spend what was left of the summer sailing in Cornwall.

As the days passed the crew and I eventually agreed that we wouldn’t be heading any further east, north or south with the possible exception of the Isle of May …but even that fell by the wayside. The shot above shows the Anstruther lifeboat returning from a rescue mission over at …the Isle of May.

Part 2 up next…

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Aberdour sortie July 2017

July 12, 2017

When we set sail on Saturday afternoon, we weren’t entirely sure where we were going to end up. We sailed down river under the three bridges, enjoying the sunshine en route, and eventually set a course for Dalgety Bay. When we arrived, a 26/27ft yacht was already in the small harbour. We considered squeezing in ahead of the yacht, but unfortunately she was badly parked and even although our twin-keel Macwester Malin only draws a metre, it was doubtful there was enough water. So we reversed back out and headed further east towards Aberdour.

There were loads of yachts racing in Aberdour bay as ABC, the local club’s regatta was in full swing, so we kept our sails under wraps and picked our way through the field.

Once we had tied up, we were delighted to hear that the local harbourmaster had bought Vaago, a Macwester 27 over the winter. We found out later that our chum on Joint Venture was the overall race winner. The next day a handful of yachts from RFYC over in Granton turned up for lunch, but didn’t stay. Sunday was a pretty drab and dank affair all day long, but there were breaks and we made sure that we were out and about ashore when we had the opportunity. Whereas when the rain was on, I spent my time carrying out some minor repairs that needed to be done.

The remedial work included replacing the deck fitting for the navigation light at the bow (above), and coming-up with an interim solution to keep the aft cabin hatch open and out of the way until I organise a proper stainless steel stay. This will allow me to use the helm seat (which sits on top of the aft cabin’s lower washboard), that I made a few weeks ago.

We sailed back home on Monday afternoon. Ten minutes after leaving, not far out of the harbour, we spotted our first puffin of the season. He was pretty close, but unfortunately didn’t hang around until I was able to photograph him. Pity. Anyway, with plenty of time in the bag to reach our mooring, we sailed leisurely towards the bridges.

Just north of Hound Point, we heard a shout out over the VHF from Aberdeen Coastguard. They asked if there were any craft in the vicinity of Hound Point as they wanted to follow-up a call for help that they understood came from a small boat near an oil terminal in the Forth Estuary. They ‘thought’ it might be Hound Point.

We couldn’t see anything near Hound Point, but let the coastguard know that we could just see a small craft off Braefoot Bay terminal back at Inchcolm which looked as though it was drifting aimlessly. The coastguard asked us to turn around and go check it out, so we brought our sails in and headed back east. About thirty minutes later we had reached the boat we had spotted and it wasn’t in any trouble. So it proved to be a bit of a wild goose chase …but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry. After the coastguard had told us we could stand down, we made a beeline for our mooring, as the oodles of time that we previously had in hand were now sadly MIA.

Back on our mooring with the tide receding, we didn’t have time to leave our Macwester Malin in the neat and tidy state we would have liked, however we sorted that out a couple of days later …along with spending some time out on deck with a sundowner in the sunshine (view from our deck above).

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Engine bay hatch upgrade

May 24, 2017

The engine bay hatch on our Macwester Malin also doubles as most of the cockpit sole. At some stage in the past a previous owner had covered the GRP hatch with strips of wood as shown above. Over the years since we purchased Indefatigable Banks back in 2011, the wood has slowly deteriorated and one of the strips (see top right of image above), which was broken when we made the purchase, has unsurprisingly totally failed to re-grow back to its former state.

With this in mind, I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and renovate the hatch. The largest part of the project was preparation. The wooden strips were bolted and glued on, and didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to my reasoned arguments. Eventually, I lost patience and got physical with sharp …and blunt instruments.

Removing the wood and glue was laborious. The next stage was filling the holes left by the bolts, and repairing the isolated areas where my prolonged, careful and caressing approach to removing the wood had ripped off the gelcoat. All in all the preparation took around three days. Maybe a knowledgeable individual with more technical ability than me would have cracked through it quicker …but I’m stuck with me.

I purchased some Tiflex flooring to match the flooring that I used in the new heads and in the forepeak (see here). I also bought a couple of 60mm diameter Osculati 316 stainless steel latches. I used the hatch as a template to cut the Tiflex. Then leaving it to cure over a number of days, the Tiflex was bonded to the hatch using Sikaflex 291i.

I decided to use Sikaflex 291i because I read that the two-part adhesive alternatives tend to be near impossible to remove, whereas Sikaflex will give a permanent bond, but when the time comes to remove it, the process will be slightly less onerous.

Fitting the hatch and tweaking the latches to make sure that they were a tight fit took a few hours. Once the hatch had been fitted, I also made some repairs to the area surrounding the hatch where there had been legacy fittings. I subsequently used “Bar Keeper’s Friend” to clear accumulated grime, as the bright GRP of the renovated hatch had made the surrounding area look pretty shabby.

From start to finish the whole project probably took me around five days. That was longer than I had hoped, but I was pleased with the results. In practical terms, the new floor will be less slippy than the wood when wet, there are no longer any holes left by legacy fittings that let water ingress into the engine bay over the winter, and the new Osculati latches do a much better job of securing the hatch.

All-in-all then, another upgrade that makes our Macwester Malin better than it was before I started. So that goes down as a victory in my book.

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Cold and windy start to the season

April 26, 2017

We hoped to get away over the first weekend back in the water, (which was the long Easter weekend), even if it was just to Port Edgar. The late tide on Friday was our chance to set sail, but the forecast for the following day was awful and we decided that we didn’t like the idea of being stuck at Port Edgar, so after much (too much) deliberation we set sail for Capernaum instead.

We hid from the worst of the high winds inside the harbour, and made good use of the time by pressure-washing our Macwester Malin’s hull, cleaning her cockpit, and fixing the port midship cleat which had become a smidgeon wobbly. The best access to the cleat was by taking the cockpit speakers out (above).

We also helped the Joint Venture team put out the club’s race markers ahead of the first race the following weekend. The tanker on the horizon is leaving Grangemouth presumably having delivered shale gas from the US.

In total we spent three nights onboard Indefatigable Banks. It was chilly, but it had been six months since we last had the opportunity to sleep onboard so neither of us were too bothered about the cold and the howling wind. It was just great to be floating again.

As you might expect, we had a few visitors, with the crews of Artemis, JambelJoint Venture, and Pitteral dropping by. As if we needed an excuse, we reasoned that it was the six-year anniversary of our maiden voyage from Naarden in the Netherlands back over to the River Forth. Posts here. Photographs here.

The following weekend I single-handed our Macwester Malin back to Capernaum, where the welcoming crew from Joint Venture was on hand to catch the ropes. I had made provision for getting alongside without help, but having assistance took some of the stress out of arriving, as this was my first true single-handed trip leaving our mooring and arriving at Capernaum.

I spent the rest of the day finishing-off some repairs and renewals. Just before noon the following morning the Calloo crew kindly helped me pop our Macwester Malin back on her mooring. I had thought about single-handing again, but the forecast was for 30 knot gusts and I didn’t fancy taking unnecessary risks …especially when I have friends willing to lend a hand.

With another long weekend ahead, hopefully our 2017 shakedown sail is up next!!

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Prepping for season 2017

April 4, 2017

With the fuel system overhaul behind us, we turned our attention to getting our Macwester Malin ready for crane-in. As you can see from the shot above, she’s got a fresh coat of antifoul paint coupled with a new boot top. The main sail and genoa are back on, and the mizzen followed later.

You probably can’t spot the replacement sprayhood windscreen that we had replaced professionally over the winter. To be honest, we’re a little disappointed as the quality of the replacement material isn’t as good as the Dutch original. However, the windscreen needed replaced and the new one is an improvement, despite falling short of our expectations.

My little helpers kindly re-varnished and painted the dinghy (above left). Then with one week to go, it was time for my least favourite pre-season task, which is as much fun as wading through mud …mainly because it is wading through mud. As the tide receded I reluctantly dragged on my waders and trudged out to our mooring. It was heavy going, as the large and heavy tools and the large and heavy chain relentlessly sank into the energy-sapping putty. All in all it took me two and a half hours to make some alterations to the mooring ground chains including swapping out a couple of shackles, and re-installing the Hippo buoy. On the plus side I avoided face-planting the brown stuff.

Back onboard, I replaced the engine anode, and then proceeded to bleed the fuel system. I had studied the manual and was struggling to understand where the air actually escaped from the system. My chum from Joint Venture offered to help and he realised that our Lombardini diesel has a self-bleeding system, so all that’s required is to prime the fuel …and the air escapes back into the port fuel tank all by itself.

Unsurprisingly, the engine took a few attempts to start due to the fuel system overhaul, however everything was fine when it was up and running. I let the engine warm up a little before shutting it back down again.

We checked the gearbox oil which didn’t need changing. I then set about draining the engine oil. As you can see above, our Lombardini has a dedicated pump on the starboard side of the engine to empty out the oil. I cut a small cross-hatch in the side of a used water bottle and pushed the bottle on to the oil outlet before pumping the oil out. Easy.

I refilled the engine with fresh oil, and then tightened the fan belt which was a tad on the loose side. After a few more checks, I turned on the ignition and the engine burst into life first time.

That’s it. Our Macwester Malin is ready to get her bottom wet. With just four sleeps to go, crane-in and season 2017 is up next!

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