Archive for the ‘Maintenance’ Category

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Aberdour at the Double

June 21, 2018

I’m writing this on the 21st of June, the summer solstice. Our season is well underway, but I’m snowed-under in other areas of my life and we’re struggling to find the time to go sailing, never mind find the time to write about going sailing. As a result, it seems that my blogging is likely to be less-prolific than previous years until things calm down again.

Some might think that’s a good thing.

We have already been out on the water a few times. Our first trip was to Aberdour at the end of April, and as can be seen by the photographs above and below we had great weather.

When we arrived, Dick, the friendly harbourmaster was a tad soggy, and it turned out that just moments before he had ever-so-slightly failed to complete the step between Vaago, his Macwester 27, and the pier. Fortunately he was absolutely fine.

Despite the remedial work on our Macwester Malin’s stern gland following the gearbox renovation over the winter, we still had a small leak when motoring. That wasn’t a problem when using wind power, so we popped the genoa and mizzen up for the journey back home, and enjoyed our first leisurely sail of 2018.

Our next trip was to Port Edgar to catch up with our friends over there.

We got up at the crack of dawn. Immediately we had a problem to overcome with our dinghy mooring, and by the time we resolved that issue the delay put us under a bit of time pressure given the rapidly falling tide. In the rush to avoid being stranded on our mooring, after I threw our bow strop overboard, I managed to snag our mooring link line with our Macwester Malin’s prop. The engine stopped abruptly and we started to drift. Fortunately we managed to retrieve the bow strop, and once that was back on, I did what I could to untangle the rear strops. Having done all that, we phoned the marina at Port Edgar to cancel and waited for the tide to go out.

That’s the first time I’ve made that particular mistake, and given 2018 is season eight …I suppose we’ve been lucky.

A couple of weeks later in Mid-May, we made a return trip to Aberdour. We passed Calloo out on the water, and Fyne Thyme [above left] accompanied us on the trip down to the bridges.

There was very little wind west of the bridges, but there was a light breeze as we headed nearer to Aberdour. Above; our Macwester Malin, Indefatigable Banks heads east, with HMS Prince of Wales just visible in the background above our mizzen boom.

We had another enjoyable stay at Aberdour, with good weather once again. However one issue that was concerning me was the annoying leak from the stern gland. That seemed to be worse rather than better. With this in mind, when the time came we headed back to Capernaum so that we could get on to one of the club pontoons for remedial work.

After a few days waiting, we got on to the north pontoon and our chum who’s also the local marine engineer helped us with the leak.

We spent quite a bit of time fettling the ManeCraft deep sea stern gland, but despite this there was still a leak when we carried out tests under load. Eventually, we decided to lower the engine to improve the alignment of the shaft, as running over the mooring line and stalling the 30hp Lombardini diesel might have jolted the engine out of position.

The haar came and went as we sat on the pontoon for over a week. The shot above taken from onboard, shows HMS Prince of Wales re-emerging from the mist that had obscured her just moments earlier.

The leak was substantially reduced by our remedial work, but there’s still water ingress when motoring. That might mean we need to take a look at the cutlass bearing, however that’s a job for the end of the season, so we’ll just need to manage the leak when required.

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Crane-in 2018

April 17, 2018

Macwester Malin

As usual, crane-in day required an early start. There were lots of new health and safety procedures this year, so I pulled on my waders for one shift in the mud, taking the slings off boats as they were lowered down into the putty.

The tide arrived by late morning, and with my shift over, it was really just a matter of waiting around until it was our Macwester Malin’s slot. The lift went smoothly, but obviously one of the first checks I performed was the stern gland, as the gearbox had been out over the winter.

Sure enough, there was a notable leak. As it happened, our naval architect chum was onboard with us (he was tagging along for the ride), and after some tweaking he managed to stop most of the water ingress. However there was evidence of further leaking when we reached our mooring. We spent some more time trying to understand the problem and improve the situation, including the skipper from Joint Venture, who made an appearance too. Subsequently we shut everything down and had a celebratory beer before heading home.

I didn’t sleep well that night.

The tide was back in at around 1am and, rather predictably, by 2am I was in the dinghy rowing over to our mooring in the darkness. Predictably again, there was no further leaking underway, so I settled down in the forepeak and spent the rest of the night shivering every last one of my timbers …as it was bitterly cold without access to shorepower.

The crew turned up the following day, and we got on with some further tidying-up and prep for the sailing season. There was still the problem of the stern gland leaking while motoring, so we knew that the following weekend was going to involve more remedial work.

The following Saturday was a cracking day – the hottest of the year so far. We slipped our mooring at 7am and headed over to the club. Fortunately there was one free space left on the pontoons. Moments later, Joint Venture appeared and rafted-up alongside us.

We filled our water tanks, and I power-washed the decks to get the worst of the winter’s grime off. That’s a job that always more fun in the sunshine, and just like last year I had my shorts on for the occasion.

Joint Venture’s skipper came onboard to resolve the leaking issue with the ‘ManeCraft’ mechanical seal that we installed in 2013. In the image above, you can clearly see a green colour on top of the gold colour; that green ring shouldn’t be there. Some mild abrasion got rid of the nasty green stuff …hopefully along with the leak. It seems that the green corrosion probably took hold over the winter when the gearbox was out and the plates weren’t in contact with each other, as they typically would be.

So our Macwester Malin is on her mooring and pretty much ready to go for the new season. Yes we have a few small things to organise, but nothing that would stop us from getting out for a shakedown sail when the opportunity arises. Good news everyone!

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2018 pre-season

April 13, 2018

It’s been a long, cold winter in Scotland, with more snow than we’ve seen for a long time in the central belt. The photograph above shows ice in the harbour at Aberdour, which isn’t something that we’ve witnessed before.

Over the closed season our reconnaissance trips included the harbours at Alloa, Broughtyferry, and Wormit amongst many others. We spent a few days at Kilconquhar Castle in February, where we cremated marine ply taken from our Macwester Malin during the heads rebuild. Call me sentimental, but I didn’t want to just toss it into landfill.

Our pre-season prep this year included repairs to our cockpit tent (including replacing three windows), and replacing the drive cone in the gearbox following a gearbox issue on the last day of the season [see here]. The gearbox project turned out to be more expensive than expected, and with hindsight we would probably have considered replacing it with a new gearbox if we had known the final tab in advance. Still, it’s done and our 30HP Lombardini diesel is ready to go for the new season …which is a result.

We fitted a new impeller, and changed the engine oil and oil filter just before crane-in. We bought a Majoni fender step, and 100m of 8mm braided line which I’m going to use to replace the one and only halyard remaining from 2011 when we purchased our yacht. We’ll still have plenty of spare left for any other requirements.

In terms of our mooring tackle, we replaced the 20mm chain that runs through our hippo buoy. We only needed a metre of chain, but were given a price of £42 for a metre (galvanised). As the supplier only had three metres of chain left in stock, they gave us a good deal on all three metres so we opted for the additional chain, meaning that we have two spare 1m sections for future replacement. I’m going to inspect the rest of the mooring tackle again mid-season, as I want to be sure that there’s no excessive wear, which will be easier to spot when our Macwester has pulled some of the chain up out of the mud.

When it came to actually reinstalling the mooring tackle, this year, we decided to launch the dinghy and row the Hippo buoy over to our mooring from the club. Once the tide had dropped, it was a shorter distance from the dinghy to our mooring. That worked well, and we intend to adopt that process from now on.

This year we managed to find some time to work on our Macwester Malin’s hull (hurrah!). We cleaned it, then T-cut it, then polished it. This made a big difference as the hull was previously more of a matt finish. If we get the time, we plan on carrying out the same process to the topsides once our Macwester Malin is back in the water.

One fly in the ointment over the winter was the slow realisation that our yacht was being targeted. On a number of occasions we found large disposable paper cups (the kind you get from Starbucks) complete with soggy tea bags on our yacht’s deck, which caused staining. That left us wondering what else might have been done that wasn’t so obvious and, although the paper cup tipping appears to have stopped now, we remain concerned about tampering. After a bit of detective work we figured out the most likely source, so that’s one we’ll need to keep an eye on.

Crane-in next!

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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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