Posts Tagged ‘hippo mooring buoy’

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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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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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Scottish Boat Show 2014

October 13, 2014

McLaren650Sengine

As usual we made the trip over to the west coast of Scotland to Inverkip for the Scottish Boat Show. The event seems to be growing, and that obviously translates into congestion in one form or another.

We made our way through various sports cars including a gaudy green McLaren 650S. I like McLarens, and I’ve even been to the deeply impressive McLaren Technology Centre, but to my eyes you might as well have stapled together a thousand wart-covered toad skins, and hastily sellotaped those to the McLaren’s bodywork.

It was just too …green.

Flyboarding

We looked at a couple of yachts, but there was nothing that stood out on the list of boats available to view at this year’s show. When I say nothing, obviously there were plenty of £250,000+ dream boats, but we’re typically interested in looking at yachts around the 30-35ft with a five-figure price ticket. After a bite to eat and a couple of minutes watching the flyboarding, we popped on board Old Pulteney (see below). It was interesting to see the cramped and spartan conditions below the decks, and with a brief glance at each other we unanimously agreed that racing a 70ft Clipper around the world wasn’t for us.

Old Pulteney clipper 70

A couple of hours after arriving at the show we decided that we had endured enough of the crowds and we nipped over to James Watt Dock Marina, where we looked at a couple of yachts for sale including a nice centre cockpit Moody 35. It was good to see a proper aft cabin like the one in our Macwester Malin, rather than a padded storage hidey-hole under the cockpit.

Later we met up with old friends and had dinner in Glasgow’s west end.

sun setting in west from dinghy

The following day we headed to our club to start the post-season chores. We got our mooring tackle up from the mud, power-washed it, and put it into storage. Next we took the sails off, checking for damage. There’s a small tear about the size of a five pence coin on the genoa, so that’s something we’re going to have to get fixed. Finally, as the sun was beating a retreat over to the west, we brought our tender round from our mooring and lifted her out for winter storage. We were in no hurry whatsoever, as it was warm and the river was calm (see above & below).

Dinghy nears destination

Of the two days we achieved more on day two, and although we were tired after completing our chores, I reckon that we both had a better time on the Sunday too.

While the boat show offers an alternative day out for the masses, I’m not convinced that the crowds, the helicopter rides, and the burger stalls actually equate to an enhanced boat-focussed experience.

So that begs the question; will we go next year?

A …probably.

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C-gull shakedown sail

May 22, 2013

Macwester Malin 32 sprayhood view

It was a long wait, but we eventually made it out on to the water for a short shakedown sail. It was great to get out of the harbour, switch our engine off and get the sails up for the first time this season. We didn’t have long before dusk would fall on the Forth, however the weather had improved as the evening meandered along and we really enjoyed having the river to ourselves in the late evening sunshine.

C-gull

With a neep tide meaning that we only had a short window to access our mooring, we weren’t technically sailing for very long, but it was long enough to check that everything appears to be in good order for our first cruise of the year the following weekend. As we reached a racing buoy that seemed relatively far away in the top picture, we grudgingly pulled our sails down and fired our Macwester’s diesel engine back up.

Hippo mooring buoy

All too soon we were heading into towards our sheltered mooring. The shot above shows our white dinghy to the right of the yellow circle, then our Hippo SB1 mooring buoy, and to the left of that you can just about make out the speck that is our pick-up buoy. That speck is what I’m aiming our Macwester Malin’s bow for when we round the harbour wall.

Approaching fixed mooring

Avoiding the other yachts in the harbour is usually straight forward assuming there’s no strong wind, but every now and then we have problems with dinghies that bob around on mini-moorings just off the harbour wall (out of shot to the left of the image above). This approach was very calm and uneventful …’uneventful’ is what I look for when we’re coming into our mooring.

AftCabinInfill01

With our 32 ft yacht safely parked and ready to ‘go’ come the first sign of decent weather, I turned my attention to a few outstanding tasks on our ‘nice-to-do’ list rather than our need-to-do’ list for a change. I recently decided that I wanted to infill the v-shaped berths in our Malin’s aft cabin, for the same reasons they’re infilled in the fore cabin.

AftCabinInfill02

Far from being a shipwright, I somehow managed to shape some Water & Boil Proof (WBP) ply to the required dimensions and surprisingly it fitted snuggly in situ on the first time of asking. I didn’t go to great lengths with the varnish finish, as this new fitting will spend it’s life hidden underneath a foam cushion.

ZoomerRoo switch

Next on  my list was to fit two ZoomerRoo isolator switches to the batteries. The spec of the switch is around 400 amp continuous and 900 amp intermittent. I popped them on to test them, but want to reinstall them next time we’re on board …as I was short of time and feel that they could be better installed. Once in place permanently, the switches will ensure that everything that should be off when we leave the boat is actually off, and hopefully will mean that we don’t have to replace any more batteries in the near future.

Next up some actual cruising (we hope).

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