November/December: Travelling/seeing friends,..Swedish Olympic sailors,..new BC ferry,..dinghy racing,..more planning for new boat: finally being fitted out.
November: More travel... starting in British Columbia (Canada) where I enjoyed catching up with several friends. I was fortunate enough to be given a detailed tour of the bridge & its instruments by the Captain of the spanking new 'Coastal Inspiration', plying between Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, & Tawwassen, on the B.C. mainland.... & was able to compare that with the much older 'Queen of Oak Bay' whose bridge I had also been shown over the day before between Horseshoe Bay (N. Vancouver) and Nanaimo. I couldn't get over the lack of any steering wheel or traditional compass... and so many electronic 'bells & whistles' on the new ferry, distinctive in its '2010 Winter Olympics' livery...!
I flew via London to Sweden for further discussions on the new boat... not yet in the yard (the hull was being laid up in Denmark) but needing lots of detailed planning and organizing of equipment in readiness for its arrival and subsequent fitting out. It's due to be completed & trucked to England in Feb/March '09, sailing it south not being a viable option at that time of year. I'm having to make sure nothing has been overlooked on the 'joblist' ... it's so easy for items to get 'lost' and disappear from my lengthy list of changes and additions. As I was stepping off a 380 in winter storage at the yard, I suddenly realized, for instance, that in order to place windsteering gear on the stern (I'm considering a Hydrovane for that), the swim ladder needed to be reduced in width and moved to one side of the 'sugarscoop' if I'm to stand any chance of being able to use it (unlike on my previous boat where that was impossible). It also occurred to me that the 'gates' I'd requested in August to be fitted in the lifelines on either side had gone missing off the list.
Various firms are being very helpful to me on their pricing of the new equipment being fitted, for which I'm grateful... None of it is cheap so "every little bit helps":
Icom UK have helped with a new 801 SSB radio and tuner etc and have donated a spare mic - always useful 'just in case'...! I'm incorporating a line isolator between the ATU and the radio (supposed to cut out interference) & a large sheet of copper will act as an additional ground ... I'm really hoping for a good radio signal- nothing more frustrating than hearing but not being heard properly...!
Raymarine organized sending out an autopilot drive unit and rudder reference unit so they could be properly fitted in the new hull. (A lot of the rest of my instruments will be fitted in England, with much of the cabling being laid, while it is easy to do so, in the yard in Sweden).
Lopolight are helping with masthead and bow & stern navigation lights, anchor light and steaming light - all to be LED. I was delighted when I saw they had introduced a stainless steel version of their aluminium LED bow & stern lights recently - the design is so neat, compared with my previous navlights which I frequently found dangling (or missing!) from the pulpit in big seas... - but there was no way I was going to fix the aluminium fittings of theirs which I'd seen previously onto my stainless steel pulpit or pushpit...!! I'm looking forward to the power saving of having LED lights in as many places as possible. The masthead anchorlight will also 'double' as a strobe light.
I'm putting in lots of power outlets (12V and some 220V) and fitting fans permanently in several places. Furniture is being 'adjusted' in many places to give more useful stowage, with a dedicated tools, spares & workshop area in the forepeak, incorporating accessible 'sailbins'.
While in Sweden, I stayed at the Stenungsund Y.C. - more a hotel than a yacht club, since it mainly seems to cater for local and visiting people on business. But I did hear of a meeting of sailors one Saturday & thought it would be nice to make contact ... which I did, as they paused for lunch, only to discover I was talking to members of the Swedish Olympic sailing team from the Royal Gothenburg Sailing Club (an hour's drive away) who sail from Stenungsund (but not over the winter months!!) They were discussing ideas for future plans to try to improve on their sailing performance, looking ahead to the Olympics four summers away. They were quite envious of the RYA's well-funded, excellent training schemes for British sailors (who did so very well at Quingdao !)
I returned to England and had useful discussions with several people - it's often very useful to hear what ideas other people come up with. Unfortunately, I went down with a heavy cold soon after arriving which rather put me out of commission for several days but I still managed to catch up with a few friends, although nothing like as many as I'd hoped... I was expecting my salvaged gear from 'Nereida' to arrive - but it turned out to have been loaded onto a later ship and, most inconveniently, not expected until early December.. so much for my planning...
Using airmiles (!), I flew to Toronto - I'd last seen Ron & Lena of 'Jacobite' in Trinidad in 2002 and they'd been trying to get me to visit for some time! It was very interesting seeing the old 'Loyalist' area around Picton and Kingston near to Wellington, on Lake Ontario, where they now live. While back in Canada, I spoke to Dickinson Marine/Sigmarine (now all the same company, who have also just taken over the cabin heater side of Force 10) about their Sigmar 120 cabin heater. It's a nice-looking, good-performing, diesel heater used by several boat-friends and I'd been fancying it for some time but restraining myself...! They were also really helpful, both with advice and on price, and sent the heater and all necessary parts for the complete installation to Phoenix, Arizona (my next stop, early in December - on airmiles again!), ready for me to take on to Sweden.
After snowy Toronto, Phoenix was warm enough when the sun shone out of a clear blue sky and I was delighted to be able to join in the weekend Arizona Y.C. (!!!) dinghy-racing on a lake formed by a dam in the middle of lovely, hilly, cactus-strewn, desert scenery, but I was frozen on the Sunday, despite wearing lots of layers and a warm woolly hat. "It IS December," Tony pointed out, "& we do have winter weather, even here!" His Viper dinghy is one-year old, great fun to race... and he was very forgiving of my helming errors! (We managed NOT to come last in two of three races - and we stayed dry!!) I even managed a quick 'side-trip' to San Diego to enjoy catching up with several friends there.... among them Jack Sutphen who kindly presented me with a copy of his newly- published autobiography.
Back to the Najad yard in Sweden, with brief stops in London and then Amsterdam - an unexpectedly enjoyable stopover in COLD weather. With the Rijks Museum & the Concertgebouw both within easy walking distance of my hotel, I was able to wander around & enjoy lots of art from the 'Golden Age', ...including beautiful paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer & others, often with amazing light effects & detail. I also got to see Damien Hirst's spectacular platinum skull covered in over 8,000 diamonds .... Was this really art, I wondered?? The next day, I went to a thoroughly relaxing, pleasant evening concert, after taking a canal tour and ambling around a very icy, 'Christmassy' city, before catching a tram & then a train to Schipol airport, ready for an early flight the next morning....
So, finally, the newly-completed hull of the new "Nereida" is in the Production Hall at Najadvarvet in Henan with fitting-out in full swing. I took lots of photos of the empty hull, showing its construction details, bilges and limber holes... I've had them raise the water-line ready for the gear that will soon be added to her. (It had been raised twice over the years on the previous boat!) Much of the cabinetry is already complete but a lot of wiring and plumbing will be laid down before that goes in...
A major discussion has concerned the steel arch on the stern to take the radar scanner, wind-generator & solar panels plus GPS and other antennae - it will incorporate the pushpit to make a stronger, more unified fitting. I dispensed with the usual seats on the quarters as being pointless and thereby gained more straight runs for fixing gear to!! I'm also placing the gas-tanks (propane/butane for cooking) in an aft lazarette, instead of forward where they constantly get doused in seawater - I never liked them there and was determined to change their position as a priority. Using horizontal US tanks has made that a simple proposition, with an adapter to convert from the usual Camping Gaz (butane) system. Whale Pumps have very kindly just agreed to give me the stainless steel version of their manual pump to act as a seawater pump in the galley and I'm looking into using their new Twist Deck Shower on the stern - it looks like a neat fitting.
I'll have to keep in constant contact & make regular visits while production is underway to keep an eye on everything.... Maybe one day next year, I'll be able actually to relax on board ... that will be nice....!