One last trip down to Suffolk in November finds us staying with James for the weekend of the East Coast OGA AGM. We check everything out for the winter, and hope that the old boom cover will afford sufficient protection against the weather until the spring.
After the launch, the bilge pumps were set and timed regularly – it all seemed to be going OK so we went sailing with James on ‘Kestrel’ with the East Coast OGA, setting out from Waldringfield for the August Cruise to Brightlingsea on 11 August. Andy agreed to keep a watchful eye on the bilge pumps, so Steve didn’t need to worry (much!) and could enjoy the sailing and a bit of relaxation for a week away . . .
On our return, the priority was to be the mast, but the bilge pumps were still running rather too frequently. Reluctantly, it was agreed this was more than just ‘taking up’, despite all the old tricks of sawdust under the hull . . . she needed to come out for a better look below the waterline. We could have had her lifted at the Tidemill, but a better option seemed to be the short motor up river to Larkmans, where James could have a look at her seams and do any work while she was left in the slings for 24 hours. The tides were just right, with high water around midday, so Steve motored up river on 23 August.
There’s still lots to do, but it’s not all work . . .
It’s launch week, and getting quite exciting! Mark, Tidemill Manager, has been making the plans which we keep a little bit secret . . . she’s going to be taken out of her tent on Wednesday, and dipped in with the travel hoist to check everything’s OK.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mark, Steve and Andy take out the props, which have been holding up her hull for nearly ten years and gently set her on the trailer, ready for the trip round to the travel hoist in the morning.
At 0800 sharp on Wednesday, 2 August, Mark, Steve and Andy return with Henry to take her round to the travel hoist. It’s quite a long drive, over somewhat bumpy ground, but from his stance on the stern, Steve is surprised to report how smooth the passage is! First challenge is to check that she’ll actually fit under the top bar in the tent . . . taking the lower bar out certainly made the tent even less stable than it has been of late, especially with the stormy weather this week. She fits with about a foot of headroom, and starts on her journey round the Marina.
So, out she comes with a better idea about where the lead should go . . . there’s a trip to Pete and Clare’s tonight where the lead has been safely stored for the past ten years.
Steve and Jim spent a long day last week making final tests on the engine which was fully refurbished with Jim’s help in 2011 and put back into the boat in 2014. Find the full engine story, with videos here.
Last week, they set up all the fuel lines, replaced all the electrics and set up a new starter battery ready for the launch. Peter checked it all out, along with a modified arrangement for the exhaust, on Monday 31 July and gave us the final go-ahead that it all seems OK for Friday . . . Steve also fitted a sacrificial anode, to protect the propeller from electrolysis.
One electric and a manual bilge pump have also been re-fitted. The manual one is more convenient to use and, for now, the electric pump is sired from the starter battery ready for launch day.
We still remember the phone message from Mark, back in December 2006: “Hi Steve, your boat’s sunk!” Watching the bilge pumps, as she takes up, will be Steve’s main priority next week!
Once work on the engine was finished when Jim came to help last week, Steve installed a bracket for the main battery unit and fitted the new depth sounder and prop. Having stayed at home to work on the house project, Bev returns to Suffolk with Simon, who joins us for a few days. He's the first person to sleep aboard since we bought the van in 2007! He has to manage with a cushion directly onto the sole boards. The interior isn't scheduled until after she's launched.
Dave and Moray arrive to check out the 'fit' of the chainplates, and make some final tweaks to the curves. These are now all firmly fitted in place, and looking good.
A major 'essential' task is to clear the front of the tent, where the workbench and storage area has been for the past ten years. Simon and Steve get to work sorting through all the wood under the bench, with smaller pieces put aside as firewood for Claudia. Then there's all the tins of old paint and varnish, glue that's gone off, out-of-date flares and fire extinguishers, etc., etc. . . . what a lot accumulates!? Fortunately, Chris has let us have use of his tent next door for dry storage, empty since his boat was launched a couple of weeks ago. Thankyou, Chris! As the bench is cleared, it's moved to the other end of the tent and re-erected. Bev returns from a shopping trip to find that the new bench has the electrics set up almost well enough to pass a Building Inspector's visit (unlike the trailing wires we've had for the past ten years).
After fitting the stemband and gammon iron, it was time to paint the deck. I’ll let the pictures tell the story of what she looks like now, nearly ready for launch with the date now confirmed as Friday 4 August . . . the bottles of fizz are ready!
After a weekend at home in Derbyshire, Steve packs the Bongo with everything that’s been in storage at the house awaiting the time to launch! It’s quite exciting, finding all the carefully stowed parcels and packages.
There seems to be lots of space around the house as everything is brought down to our neighbour’s driveway for loading. There’s cushions for the main cabin, warps, sheets and assorted ropes which may (or may not) be serviceable, the old sails along with loaned sails from Ratsey & Lapthorn . . .
‘Cachalette’ has been collected from Carsington Sailing Club to be trailed down to Suffolk. She’s been neglected for the past year or so and is in need of some maintenance and a fresh coat of paint and varnish.
All goes well until Steve joins the A14 and notices some of the van’s instruments aren’t behaving as they should. Worried about what the problem might be, he decides to pull in at Huntingdon Services and a call to the AA results in the diagnosis – failed alternator.
After some failed attempts by the AA Service man to secure one, a recovery vehicle is called and arrives to take Steve the rest of the way to Woodbridge. It was excellent service from the AA, who tried hard to make a roadside repair and then took great care with towing the boat and delivering the Bongo to just the right place at the Tidemill beside our tent.
Fortunately, Steve doesn’t need to use the van for the next few days and has already found someone to deliver a new alternator at a reasonable price – so it’s back to plans for the launch!
While we wait for the metalwork to be returned, there’s plenty more to do!
The long bolt is drilled, and secured just above the rudder stock and rings for the mainsheets are all secured through the deck.
The big plastic box storing yards of tangled electrical cables is unpacked and instruments are checked, then fitted in place ready for the electrics to be re-installed. The bilge pumps, in particular, are scrutinised and cleaned up ready for service.
Sadly, it seems the depth sounder hasn’t survived, so there’s quite a bit of research to source a replacement to be fitted before the launch.
Steve will be returning to Derbyshire in the Bongo, via Birmingham to pick up Simon, and plans to get the deck painted with at least one coat before leaving on 14 July. The weather is kind, with a gentle drying breeze and no rain . . .
He plans each day allowing time for a few more coats of varnish and then gets the coachroof painted in Epifanes no. 24 with non-slip pearls added, to match the hull. Before the chainplates can be fitted, due to the change in design, there’s six more frames to be fitted inside the hull – a piece of work unaccounted for in the list of ‘essential to do before launch’ list!
Bev sets to work masking up all the varnished areas in contact with the deck in preparation for painting. She takes the car back home on 10 July to get some more work done on the house before Simon and Steve return at the end of the week.
We know Dutch OGA friends Rik and Celeste on ‘Cine Mara’ and Fred on ‘Morgaine’ are visiting the East Coast. We track them down while they’re at anchor in the Deben, and invite them for a cuppa – our first visitors on board, even if she’s still in the tent on her cradle!
Steve and Bev return to Woodbridge on 3 July, collecting the newly galvanised fairleads from BronzeWork, Martlesham. Along with final coats of varnish and painting the deck, fitting all the metalwork is one of the major jobs for completion before we can launch. The four renovated fairleads fit snugly and with another coat of varnish to the capping rail are looking good. Warm and sunny makes working in the tent a bit hot, but it feels good to be on the final list of jobs to do – even if it is rather long still!
Moray and Dave arrive from BronzeWork to do a ‘final fit’ for the stem head, stem band, mast band, gammon iron and chainplates. Checking out the running of the bowsprit results in some modification to the capping rail and bulwark to let it pass through the gammon iron!
Steve and Moray, at BronzeWork, have regular chats about the metalwork, in particular the stem band which must be fitted before she’s launched. There’s also the conversation with Richard at the Tidemill about the practicalities of getting her out of the tent, and setting a date of the launch. It’s now agreed, provisionally, for five weeks time: 28 July, 2017.
Look out for your invitations!