01 August 2018

Where's my pirate flag?






Yes, that's right. Finally a friend was brave enough to bring her children aboard Boogie Nights for a few days. 


To avoid unnecessary anxiety for you dear reader,  I can confirm before you read any further, that both children left with all limbs intact. 


First stop: Marchwood yacht club to collect the kiddy life jackets. Thanks to Russell for having two children who grew out of their life jackets, which were then handed to Frank who has grandchildren who then loaned them in this direction. 


Then off to Newtown Creek on the Isle of Wight. It's a popular anchorage and sods law dictates that the anchor would set just a tiny bit too close to a neighbouring boat. But then, the electric windlass was not working due to a faulty button. So, nobody could be arsed to haul the chain back up by hand so it was left where it was and the captain knew she'd be keeping a close eye when the tide swung round later in the night.

Isabelle is auditioning for the new role of figure head. Think she might be higher maintenance than the current one though as she actually needs feeding and stuff like that. 

Before then though, there was a little logistical exercise of getting over to the beach. Ever played the game of Fox-chicken-sack of grain? Well. The little dinghy "Disco Biscuit" is only rated to fit 3 (2 adults one child) people and that's a squeeze. There's no engine, so one person has to row.
Two adults and two children... How to get all the adults and children to the beach? There was a fair bit of rowing involved.

Super strong woman. Everyone should have someone this awesome in their lives to row them around.  

A small space up front suitably sized for a bag of laundry or a small child. 

There was mud bathing in the creek as well as a BBQ. The team of four left nothing behind but footprints. 


A beautiful sunset and a little sundowner in the cockpit. Followed by bed. Except for Flashheart, she had a late one planned on anchor watch.



The hammock was rigged up front, warm layers on and some warm blankets too. The captain dozed a while until waking up to hear a noise nobody wants to hear. This woke Amanda up at the same time as captain calamity. (the one supposedly on watch). The boat that had been eyeballed thinking it was the close neighbour was actually a different one. that one missed Boogie Nights by a mile. But the one that hadn't been watched properly had their bow snagged on the back end of Boogie Nights. Whoops! After being manually and gently pushed apart, Boogie Nights swung through the turn and hovered in close proximity but looked safe. Everything was going well until breakfast when both boats ended up drifting alongside each other. Thankfully the now VERY close neighbour was a very nice chap. The fat fender was deployed and then both boats tied together.  By way of apology, the neighbour whose phone charging cable was broken was able to use the power on board Boogie Nights to juice up his phone.

watch out for things going clank in the night. 
The next stop after the close encounter in the anchorage was Yarmouth harbour. It was BUSY! Early arrival was needed to ensure a spot on a walk ashore pontoon. The heat wave meant both ships dog and Flashheart were hiding away from the sun. An easy day of chilling in the shade. The friendly neighbours who rafted up outside mentioned the salt water lido in Lymington as a good place to take children. 
A quick google search and a chat amongst the adults onboard and the following days activities were decided. Britain's oldest salt water lido lay just two miles north. 


A quick motor across to Lymington from Yarmouth the next morning. Not knowing which pontoon to land on, The captain opted for one that said "strictly no mooring". Even just to drop everyone off and then find a mooring elsewhere.  The harbour master came along and was super cool, really friendly with the kids and allowed us to pay for a short stay on the pontoon which is often restricted. The bonus was that it was literally right beside the Lido. Boogie Nights was visible from a deck chair in the screaming palace of salt watery adventure. 
If you've never seen a salt water lido in full summer holiday swing, then this place will surely boggle your mind. It is full of crazy inflatable adventure to slip slide and bounce on. There's something suitable for every age. A fresh water splash pool for toddlers, a smaller inflatables section for nippers and then the big-ass-inflatables like you'd see on "it's a knockout"




Image courtesy of  Shorefield
With two slightly tired children we set off back to Ocean Quay making lovely burgers on the way which we scoffed in the cockpit. All was well in the world. A MASSIVE thanks to Amanda for driving nearly 200 miles south to come and spend time messing about on the water and to her two lively and adorable little pirates, Isabelle and Christopher. 







The tally of things accidentally dropped in the water and retrieved


One monkey toy




One child




One fender




One clothes peg


n

05 May 2018

Fixing the faulty Air Breeze wind generator



This is normal operational mode.

The spinning whistling humming noisy neighbour-antagoniser sitting atop a pole at the back of Boogie Nights was out of control, it was spinning like an utter bastard.
The voltage across the domestic AGM batteries briefly flashed 16volts before Captain Calamity flicked the switch to turn it off to save the expensive Rolls batteries from being fried. It was Autumn 2017. I didn't feel very much like dismantling the turbine rig.

It stayed firmly in the off position until a little research had been done. (trots off to do some internetsing and googlesing)
This piece of kit is vital to keeping the batteries topped up and allows for engine free sailing. Some folks can't cope with the noise, but I say, huh? What d'ya say? Noise? What noise? It's definitely better than engine noise and burning diesel.
fossil power bad vibrations

It would appear that the regulator circuit board was buggered and apparently it's a common issue.
The air breeze turbine is popular and there's a fair few videos on ye old youtubular with folks doing their own home made repairs.

Well, after a little bit of looking, we found the only UK supplier who was able to order the replacement circuit board. They recommended the turbine be sent to them for testing first.
But that would be an additional £150, plus the courier, necessitating finding a big box,  then packing it, then driving to a post office. Which is a massive pain in the tits. The circuit board was £270 plus postage. That'll do for now.

utter bastard to remove from the boat


So let's just have a look and see if we can do this ourselves shall we? There's enough online info that it looks like a straightforward job. Maybe a bit fiddly.

It helps if you have access to a vice. Or a clamp. Or something to hold the slippery cast cast shape in place while you work on it.
use soft jaws in the vice to avoid damaging the powder coating

I borrowed a small corner of an engineering factory in Derbyshire. But it could have been done on the dining table with a bit of protection in place.

First the screws holding the main plate had to come out. Thankfully they had been coated in anti-corrosion paste prior to assembly so they came out pretty easily.

gently does it

Sliding off the cover reveals the winding and the spinny magnetic what-dya-ma-call-it.
The circuit board sits behind this.

So the brushes have to come out.

take a picture of where those cables go

the old circuit board, nothing visibly wrong. 



Once it was gutted and laid out on the table, it was clear to see that there was loads of small metal turnings still within the aluminium cast housing. They were all over the fekkin place. It could easily have been one of these little twats that caused a problem with the circuit board. There was a few stuck to the back of the old circuitboard. I'm guessing they crept there by static attraction and vibration over the years. 


housing emptied of all the shite. 


Whatever. no time to dwell on poor assembly practices, there's an airline and it's getting a blow job.

A bit of tapping, knocking and banging as well as blasting with air and the last of the shards of shite were removed.

shards of shite removed from housing.This isn't from anything shattered, this is milled turnings from when the original cast item was machined to create the surface to mount the circuit board. 

Now to assemble this air breeze back to working order.

With a bit of cursing. the odd terse word between The Captain Calamity and her Chief of Engineering (also known as Dad.) it all went back together like a dream.

the new circuit board. spot the difference. 


But...
does it work? How can we know?

How about we follow the testing guidelines on the instructions? Yeah, those instructions that came with the new circuit board.
Got a cordless type screwdriver? Switch it to slower speed, put a hex bit in it and give it a wee spin with a multimeter attached to the power out. Try that again with the electronic brake activated,  does it work? Right then. 

don't forget to check your fuse, if the turbine has had a bit of a run away with a faulty board, you'll probably have a blown fuse tucked away somewhere. 


Let's call that a win shall we?



02 March 2018

Is it cold in winter?


YES





BUT


While the taps and toilets are all frozen on the land, the water is still running absolutely fine on the boat because the tank and pipework is far from freezing. The toilets can't be flushed on land but the boat toilet is absolutely fine as it runs on raw salt water. So that's 2 - 0 to the boat compared to land living. 

snowy cockpit
Exposed cockpit.
Most sane people who live on their boats
would have got this covered over
with a winter boom tent. 

snowy boat pontoon
Mooring the boat the other way round
would have solved the problem of
cold whistling though the vents and it
would be at least 5 degrees Celsius warmer inside. 





empty prosecco in snow
No problem for keeping drinks chilled though

It's a steady 8 degrees inside, which is 12 more than it is outside and if we take the wind chill factor into account, that is 20 degrees warmer. All things being relative, I'd say it's warm inside. (14/15C  inside the boat would feel the same as 21C in a house given the small space and low ceiling height.)  When it's 8C inside, this is warm socks/boots and a thick jumper conditions. Not unreasonable really. It's fkin cold outside. But  kinda ok inside. When the wind changes direction, it'll be cosy.

but for now... The thermal Buff is the gift of the gods.

The Polar Buff has been a winter/spring/autumn staple for the past 14 years. This Star Wars one is on my wish list.
Also wish they did a disco one for Boogie Nights.  I'd wear it as a boob tube in summer. 



I wrote (Can you smell that) last March... which gives a fuller explanation.



01 March 2018

Middle Sea Race


Sometimes in life we have to take our time to reflect. 


This reflection has taken a little longer than usual, due in part to being busier than bunch of shite hawks on the bins and in perhaps equal part to being rendered silent with apoplectic rage. I'll try to explain, but keep it as short as possible. It probably won't be all that short to be honest.


Last summer a good friend with an almost identical boat to  Boogie Nights asked me if I'd be interested in doing the Rolex Middle Sea Race. "Fershure", said I. "I'm up for that." 

As the weeks ticked off and the October race start date approached, the crew was assembled by a trickle down effect.

First there was Clair the owner, then there was me. Then Clair found a fellow interested sailor called Emmanuel (Manu) working in the same rented office space. They hadn't sailed together before but Manu had done plenty of sea miles years before with her dad. In turn Manu suggested someone she knew from winter ski seasons, called Mary, who apparently was quite an avid sailor too. That made four of us and everything was set. Between us we have all covered many thousands of miles at sea on various types of sailing boat. Some racing, some cruising.
Four keen Corinthians off to do a lap of Sicily. 
Approximate planned route. Ish.


Given my university work commitment at the time I could only take the time as part of my ongoing professional practice, ie, I needed to be working on media coverage of the race. After all, this was the first all female sailing team in the living memory of the race organisers.

I was collected from the airport by two of the most chilled out people. 

Race time rapidly approached and as I prepared to fly to Sardinia to help Clair and Manu sail the boat to Malta for the race start, apparently one more person had been invited, by Mary. The degrees of separation becoming ever more distant. Well, it's a small world and it turns out the 5th member of the team, called Lucy had married the winner of the 2012 Triangle Race, whom I had interviewed previously and bumped into on random occasions around the Solent area.
It's a small world.


I flew out to Sardinia. pent up with stress about the university pressures I had to still cover my commitments to students. Clair and Manu were pretty chilled, with their roll up cigarettes and bikinis and I felt like a bit of a pent up stress ball next to them. Sipping my breakfast energy drink and looking a bit like a pale fat friend in quite sensible clothes.  But it would be OK. We'd head to Malta, I'd get my work done, we'd do a race, yeah.
The journey to Malta was far more relaxed than I had envisaged. So relaxed that we called in to places that I could only dream of enjoying. Yet, my head wasn't in the zone for jumping in and swimming. I was thinking of NSS scores and disenchanted students and the stress of being seen to perform for them. Dammit.

it was the kind of water I dream about jumping into. But I never did. I need to go back without work stress. 


We were right there, in what can only be described as paradise. And there I was sweating over a laptop. 

We eventually arrived in Malta, I jumped onto the wifi there, conducted skype tutorials and then headed off to meet Mary who had flown in.
Wow. She's a bit full on. Like, FULL FUCKING ON. But seems kinda reasonable. though, really fucking full on, and a smoker. Jeezaz. That's three smokers and one asthmatic.
OK, but we're cool. We get the new code zero out Clair had made and went for a little test sail together.
Now, this Mary, she seems like a practical person. Gets things done. But still pretty full on. A bit loud. but you know, she seems alright-ish. Maybe a bit on the overly pushy side, not the kind of person I'm used to sailing with but it'd be OK.

Moored up, stern to, in Malta at the race village. 


The Rolex races are a bit of a trumpety fanfare event and they have owner parties and crew parties and it's all a bit much really. Anyway, after a bit of a night for the owners, the next night was crew party. I was saving myself. This was gonna be epic. I'd finished all of my work for two days.
It was just one day away from race start. Lucy would be flying in during the crew party. Mary had gone to find her and show her around. I drank away the evening meeting more people than I could possibly remember, eventually landing on a 40 something foot charter boat, which had been chartered by a lovely bunch of Czech blokes.

Google translate is a fekkin marvel isn't it. Only one step away from sticking a fish in your ear. 


The Deydreamer crew of five didn't really meet up to speak much until the next morning.
The morning after Manu and I had gone to bed at 7am having lightened the rum rations on the Czech boat.
It was around 8.30am that Lucy clanged into life and decided to speak loudly to Clair, who was snoozing in the saloon, about lightening the boat. I was sleeping in the saloon too. I WAS. Manu had masterfully tucked herself away in the aft cabin and closed the door. (like a pro)

the weather forecast went something like: "there's a big high pressure, which might affect you, it might not."


There was a few jobs on the snagging list to be crossed off, But Lucy made it her mission to empty the boat. What about filling the water tank? No, we'd have bottled water. She took most of the day to rearrange the boat and remove as much as she possibly could. Including a bottle of Clair's perfume, a slinky toy and a dream catcher.
The boat is called Deydreamer. Removing the dreamcatcher is like removing the glitter ball from Boogie Nights, or Yoda for that matter.
Nursing bad heads and wanting to give Lucy a wide berth, both Manu and I headed off to the shop to get the food sorted.
Clair later snuck back into the container to retrieve her perfume and the slinky which was then hidden on-board.

the face of a hangover and realisation that I'd have to spend another 4 days on-board with someone I really didn't like. I'm not good at my poker face. Need to work on that. 


It's a 600 mile race, so that's likely to be 5 days on an old Dehler 36 CWS.
The weather forecast was light, light, super light then rough as fuck. 
The spray hood had been taken off. I was not amused. Being fair skinned and enjoying protection from sun and motherfuckingwaves.

As food was stowed away, it was apparent that Lucy had really made some changes to the layout of stuff on-board. So much so that Clair had to keep asking where things were. Nobody had asked for this change but there you go. Oh and guess what... make that FOUR smokers and an asthmatic.
Oh what larks ay?

well, it didn't stop there.
No, I wish it did.

Let's fast forward to the race start. We've slipped lines and heading around the corner which is about 20 minutes to the start area. I've gone forward to sweat up the main sail while Mary takes up slack, but, the reef lines had been tied in the day before and the original method of the Dehler reefing can be a bit tight. This meant a bit of jiggery pokery was needed to pull them through so we could get the main up. Lucy mistook my inability to hoist the main as ineptitude. She stomped forward in her British winter sailing boots and racing smock, beads of sweat at her temples as she barged me out of the way to hoist the main. I tried telling her it was just because the reef lines needed pulling through, but she then took the opportunity to attempt to explain to me how single line reefing works.
You can see how this is going to end right?

Barking Nelson. 

It's roughly mid-day. There's Clair on helm, Manu on port jib sheet, Mary on main sheet, I've been asked to cover the starboard jib sheet despite trying to live stream the event and provide any commentary and there was Lucy. Standing like fucking Nelson next to Clair, barking orders.
Who the fuck put her in charge? Nobody.
She took it upon herself to assume superiority and assumed everyone else was a complete novice or had so little experience that everything had to be explained in a condescending manner.

SO, there we are, being barked at. I'm rapidly approaching the point where I'm prepared to jump off and swim ashore. I SHIT YOU NOT. I actually thought about it.
Instead I live broadcast that "everyone's a cunt" and immediately felt a bit better. 

Then it happened. You know when you have someone barking and someone trying to concentrate and then fast reactions needed. Well, another competitor tacked in front of us, we were stand on vessel still on starboard tack, but the other boat didn't react and it all got a bit contacty and scrapey and you know, bits of gelcoat were removed thanks to the other boats bow roller.




inspecting for damage after a coming together. 

Still, we were good to continue, albeit in need of some epoxy touchups.
The next two days were torture. Both in the sense that I really didn't want to be in the same breathing space as Lucy, but also because we were running out of bottled water. The weather was turning from nothing to everything and the tracker was showing boat after boat turn around and hide in various marinas in Sicily.

pretty sight of the spinnaker run to the first mark on the course. 

Skipper has a word. 

that'a familiar spinnaker isn't it. 



the weather turned a bit snotty.

note the mass turnaround of boats. They are all heading for safe haven out of the boat breaking conditions, thanks to Mistral winds.  

The weather hadn't beaten us but the fresh water situation was getting critical. The decision to pull in rather than attempt to bash through the bad weather was taken reluctantly. Dehlers are pretty good in heavy weather.

After a night in Messina, we headed out into the straight, pointed south, back to the start along with another boat of a similar IRC rating to us. It was blowing around 50knots of breeze but as we were running with it, it was actually a lot of fun.
Well, it would have been a lot of fun if I had been able to sit outside. Instead I confined myself below, handing food out to the others, because frankly, there was still a risk of more clashes with Lucy.

exciting seas

more exiting seas

The skipper always looks super cool, no matter what weather thrown at her. 

approaching the safe haven for the night. A small fishing village. 



The slinky was slinked sneakily when Lucy's back was turned. I sniggered like a child. 
Clair jiggled the slinky out of the cockpit cabin window. We giggled. Like children who'd slipped toad spawn into grandmas best vase. 

The one good thing that came out of this farce? Marina Foti had spotted us on the tracker and came to say hello while we were still moored in Sicily. I immediately liked the cut of her jib. (she arrived with fresh pastries and a flask of tea)
After linking up via facebook, when I got back to the UK, I sent her a link to the Triangle Race.

Would she like to have a go at this with me in 2018?

"Yes" was the reply.

----

Valuable Lessons learned from this Middle Sea experience:
  • Don't assume someone is good to get along with via anecdotal evidence. SAIL with them in person first before committing to more than a few hours on the boat together
  • Check if they are a smoker. 
  • Check if they are in anyway likely to be a fucking cunt. 
  • Lay out the aims of the boat/crew/race before setting sail. 
  • Assign roles to crew to establish some sort of teamwork. 
  • Never let anyone stand like fucking Nelson next to you when helming. 
  • If someone rearranges your boat without your permission, kick them the fuck off at the first opportunity. 
  • The Middle Sea race needs to be conquered. It's a challenge that needs completing.
  • Never take the sprayhood off for a multiday potentially offshore race. Sprayhoods are lifesavers for pale freckly people in the Med. 











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