With the aim of eight coats of varnish, Steve’s hoping to get one coat done each day with reasonably good drying weather, and not too much rain.
Conscious of plans to go sailing, he’s also had a big ‘tidy up’, removing spare timber etc., ready for sorting out as rubbish or storage at home.
Now we know the date of Simon & Ricarda’s wedding in Paris, Bev’s been trawling the Internet to secure the best options for our two trips to France. Trains and an apartment for the wedding ceremony and ferries with the van for the trip to the party are now booked, hopefully allowing sufficient time down in Woodbridge to finish fitting out ready to go sailing at the end of July . . .
In between preparation and coats of varnish, Steve’s also been thinking hard about options for the chart plotter, and has come up with an ingenious plan for a swinging bracket allowing it to be used inside and out . . . rain has set in again though, forcing him to revise the varnishing schedule!
Chilly winds and rain are inconvenient, and often drove us back to Derbyshire in the past, but don’t stop work on the boat any more . . . The winter cover provides excellent protection for Steve to work on board. Bev finds plenty to do in the spacious (and warm) new van and we retire for a warm and cosy evening with the heating turned on!
The first priority for this trip is to complete work on the switch panel and radio. After several re-thinks, re-wirings and re-designs, Steve’s ready to finalise everything, complete the wiring, fix the back boxes and front panel in position ready for final testing. For now, he leaves the chart plotter, as there’s still some thinking to be done . . .
We still need to source new panel labels for a couple of switches (ideally without buying a full set!) but it all works and makes better use of the space.
As the end of August approaches, the weather changes to a more typical summer of chilly evenings and rain, so we decide to make a temporary boom cover from the emergency winter cover supplied by Suffolk Sails in February. Half of it will be plenty, so it’s laid out during a dry spell and Bev tries out the grommet punch. After two hammered fingers (and only two grommets inserted) she reluctantly agrees to give up, and Steve finishes the job.
We’ve been timing the bilge pump activity and it’s running at over 30 hours consistently now, depending on whether it rains, which is very encouraging. The solar panel isn’t coping as well with recharging the batteries though. We’re using 12v lights now and there’s more cloud cover . . . so we switch to 240v battery charging for a couple of days . . . this seems to provide enough power to revert to the solar panel when we leave on Saturday for a few days back in Derbyshire.
While Bev takes a day trip to London by train to visit the James Cook exhibition at the British Library, Steve re-sites the running backstay deck fixing points. By Wednesday the weather improves enough for more varnishing, so we decide to stay a couple more days. We bump into John & Catherine at Larkmans and invite them to join us for supper on Friday. There really is a great community along the river and we certainly feel ‘at home’ here. Before leaving on Saturday, we do some more tidying of the site where the tent was, which has to be cleared by the end of September, timing our departure to avoid most of the holiday traffic and making it home in daylight.
Steve reserved a lovely piece of teak (salvaged from an old wardrobe a couple of years ago) for the chart table. After cutting to size we spend time checking out how best to design this area to accommodate storage for charts and books, the switch panels, VHF radio etc. We count how many switches we’ll need, and it’s more than the old 8-gang panel, so another item on the ‘research’ list of those more expensive items, along with the fridge options which we’ve been thinking about for a long time having discovered that a small one can cost as much as a huge domestic fridge freezer, and then there’s the issues of keeping it charged without draining the batteries . . .
From chart tables to plumbing . . . We decided a long time ago to have a water tank, rather than water carriers. Installing the foot pump and faucet came to the top of the ‘to do’ list – after several discussions and trial runs about where to site them, or even to abandon the plan altogether!
After connecting the foot pump and experimenting with the faucet, Steve came up with the ingenious idea to secure it to the bulkhead where it’s at the right height and can be twisted out of the way when not needed. After a bit of testing for water levels, the pump works perfectly to fill the kettle and washing up bowls. We’re not having a sink with plug hole, preferring the ‘bucket and chuck-it’ option. We’re not re-installing the heads either to keep the number of ‘through the hull’ holes to a minimum.
Most work on the electrics was done last July, before the launch, but we’re also having shore power, easier to install before she goes back in the water.
Steve spends Friday and Saturday wiring it all in so it’s as unobtrusive, but accessible as possible.
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!