S/V Nereida sails around the world

Guernsey report 5: Anchor chain in England .. still busy with jobs....

14th-17th  August
The anchor chain was collected by the forwarder last week to go a few miles to somewhere in the province of Como (in the north of Italy), where it waited over the weekend until Monday to move on (it being Italian holiday time, leading up to 15th Aug...).   When I phoned them on Monday 10th Aug, the freight company in Italy were very helpful... and sounded surprisingly efficient!!...   It actually arrived in Dagenham (Essex, east of London) this Wed.... there to await forwarding on to the south coast (Southampton/Portsmouth/Poole??) to be loaded onto a ship (one of the frequent ferries?) to Guernsey.  So looks like a couple more weeks here and then I may be able finally to move away ... But seems I'll definitely be spending my birthday here - never thought I'd be stuck here that long....  The long passage down to the Canaries (just over 1400 mls) is turning into a major probable learning curve for finding out how the new 'Nereida' behaves under sail.... and a test of all the new rigging bits & pieces... So much for my plans for lots of day sails, getting to know her initially in light winds around the Solent & here!!

The Azores High looks as though it may be settling into a nice position to give good winds for me to head S.  It has been very frustrating to be missing some lovely weather-windows of late with excellent beam/following winds to the S end of Portugal, where strong northeasterlies seem to have been settled for some time, to give a good sail on down across the W end of the Strait of Gibraltar & so to the Canaries.

I've been sorting out the removeable line and lead to the cockpit for the Hydrovane fine tuning.  Had useful discussions a few days back with a neighbour who has happily used his Hydrovane for ages.  I'm having to take down an impossible-to-remove-without-destruction (!) headlining in the aft cabin hanging locker to get to under the cockpit coaming to make a good, water-tight fixing.  I want to fix a short length of bungy to a block on the end of the long loop of line to keep it tensioned when in use but within easy reach of the cockpit - what should have been a minor project has turned out to bemajor - & very time-consuming.... as always! (Najad are sending me a replacement headlining - it should have been simply screwed into position but someone decided to use glue...)

I cut and drilled some steel tubing (that took ages!) for a simple kitchen-towel fitting in the galley; mended a fry-pan lid knob; put up some more hooks; ordered a missing cable for the Simrad AIS-to-VHF/DSC connection (see below ** for DSC explanation) & then spent a lot of time trying to find out why the system wasn't responding as it should, after it was eventually fitted and properly set up.  It's still not showing a UTC time display - despite lots of phone calls to Simrad and double-checking the output from the connected GPS, which looks fine, with all possible GPS strings involving time being received. (Had to be reminded how to get into the laptop Hyperterminal to check that out! A good thing I've one running on XP since I'm told Vista has no Hyperterminal.  Is there anything good about Vista compared with XP??). 

I've really had to get back into 'wiring' mode to check so much out to do with the instruments, especially with having to run a wire down behind everything to the bilge for the audible bilge alarm Andre has suggested  - the idea now is to have a float switch with the alarm in-line, independent of the pumps, so that should they fail, an alarm will still sound if water starts to collect in the bilge.  I also contacted St Peterport Coast Radio (one of the very few manned ones left) and spoke to two extremely helpful guys there using my mobile phone to set up a test of my radio DSC.  I had been trying out using my AIS display to send the MMSI number of a ship I could see there directly to the linked radio ready for a DSC call to them - but had been getting no acknowledgements (all sounds really 'techie', but all I have to do is place my cursor over the ship image on the AIS screen & hit a button to 'send' the ID number (called its MMSI) to the radio and then hit another button to send an automatic message which they can't ignore - they get a loud alarm sounding on their bridge....excellent system to have available in a serious collision situation!!).  Interestingly, St Peterport Radio heard me fine, but I couldn't receive their acknowledgement.   A boat across the dock helped with a test DSC call - which worked fine between the two of us.... sigh of relief!  It seems that since St Peterport Radio Coast Station is actually at the airport inland, it's not unusual for no signal to be received from them until a boat gets well out to sea from here, especially at Low Water when we're well down inside the dock granite walls with a steep hill behind.

Another minor job done was to adjust the lazyjacks, with extra line added to make them more effective (The mainsail was falling out of a large gap between the lines when it was dropped).  Charts arrived from Kelvin Hughes - so they've had to be 'catalogued', sorted and stowed safely ...  Flares have also had to be fixed safely somewhere readily accessible - including handheld red and white ones at the top of the companionway steps for quick use from the cockpit.

On visiting the nearby pub last Saturday afternoon for its wi-fi Internet connection to check emails & download updates for software, I found that the new football season was starting (seems very early to me!!)- so the pub was full of fans in to watch the big game on screen - quite amusing - both the game and also the fans' reactions...!  (I think West Brom may have won...)

Had a nice French couple, Annie & Cedric, beside me for several days - they gave me a present of chocolate (which I've stored away for some special occasion on my journey) when they left.  There are so many French boats here - I suppose it's nice for them to go 'foreign' by being in the UK so close to home!  And, of course, everything here is duty- and VAT-free. There has also been a surprising number of Swedish boats here - heading for the Med or Caribbean, often in large catamarans.  They clearly fancy some warmth away from the Swedish winter snow & ice!!

The main local chandler has lots of empty spaces, all seeming to coincide with exactly where I'm trying to find something I really need....  I'm slowly sorting things out on board, but with lots of time-consuming distractions and frustrations.  But I just discovered a brilliant, superbly-stocked kitchen shop, Le Lievre's, very close by here with an unbelievable selection of often-colourful items on display - so I've filled a few gaps in the galley equipment!  And every day, without fail around High Water, there's the amusement of all the comings and goings.... oh, what fun!!  ... A continual change of neighbours...although it was nice to see familiar smiling faces when 'Donegal Star' came in again with Stephen & Julia, and crew Chris, on board.

Najad are sending me a strut to strengthen the cabin sole near to the companionway where it has sustained damage near the inspection opening down to the bilge. A new wood floor section is to be sent as soon as it's ready - guaranteeing further delay even after the chain arrives (next Tuesday?), since it will then have to be carefully fitted .....  (Having it sent to the Canaries didn't sound like such a good idea, now that I've had more info sent to me - too complicated a Customs clearance situation there, compared with here.)    I'm finding it so difficult now to stay positive and keep on with the outstanding jobs - many of which I expected to do in the warmth of the Canaries....  I've been here so much longer than I intended, and I feel guilty if I relax & am not getting on with a job....  I  really just want to be finished with fixing things and get away sailing...!!!!

    "Nereida" in Victoria Marina, St Peterport, 17th August 2009 - no problem celebrating a birthday with flowers here in Guernsey!!

Sunday 16th August 2009

I'm told I should see my anchor chain on Monday (that would be a good birthday present!)... then I'll have  associated problems to deal with, but since I'm now waiting for a replacement main cabin floor section to be sent from Sweden it looks as though I've a week in hand to resolve them.

Spent most of yesterday fitting the port settee leecloth (my passagemaking berth) in the main cabin - difficult getting  one of the fixings in the right place without destroying the saloon/forepeak bulkhead.  It's a problem being single-handed at times - I needed to be in two places simultaneously!!

Have been busy most of today (Sunday) whipping bungy connections to secure gas tanks and flares canisters in place - but gave me an opportunity to work outside for a time in pleasant weather.  Then I got down to clearing up in the saloon before finally getting to the forepeak to sort out the gear there - my next major project (in between dealing with anchor chain) ... I've several items I need to stow there securely (my folding bike among other things) and it's my spares' stowage/sail-bin/general store/'garage' ... so plenty to sort out and organize ready for sailing.

If flooring section arrives by Monday week, hopefully I can 'escape' from here by the midweek, weather permitting.  I need to get going down to the Canaries to see how 'Nereida' sails and check all systems out on a good long passage (about 12 days, I reckon).  I need to leave from the Canaries after final checks and preparations by end September to make Cape Horn mid-January - time is slipping by fast...

Mon 17th August
A lovely sunny day... Started with a visit from Andre to instal my bilge alarm - yet another kind soul being really helpful and friendly in giving me freely of his precious time to help me with my problems.  We also had a useful discussion about organizing the chain locker and how to have the 2nd anchor (20kg Delta) ready to deploy overboard in an emergency - so much important detail to consider...!  Ideally, I should get a partition glassed into place in the locker, and maybe a high shelf to take the 2ndary rope rode so it's in place ready to go...
I relaxed quite a bit today, visiting the Dockmaster here for a long chat (he keeps an eye on all ferries, freighters, fishing boats and small boat movements in & out of the Harbour - it's a busy place!) and then later got on my bike to go to Fermain Bay.  "Nearby," I'd been told... not so near!    Up a LONG steep hill and quite a distance away.  I walked up most of the hill and then had a great freewheel down a steep path to the shore of lovely Fermain Bay - beautiful scenery  and views on the way and thick, mature woods down to the beach - but the highly-recommended 'Beach Cafe', where I was hoping to have a good meal, was closed, it being Monday - no-one had mentioned that.... oh well!.. Back to town, where I ended up at 'Le Petit Bistro' - and had a very nice French meal - no complaints!
** Digital selective calling (DSC), allows mariners instantly to send an automatically formatted distress alert to the Coast Guard or other rescue authority anywhere in the world. Digital selective calling also allows mariners to initiate or receive distress, urgency, safety and routine radio calls to or from any similarly equipped vessel or shore station, without requiring either party to be near a radio loudspeaker. DSC acts like the dial and bell of a telephone, allowing you to "direct dial" and "ring" other radios, or allow others to "ring" you, without having to listen to a speaker. All new VHF radios have DSC capability.

Guernsey report 4 - 1st & 4th Aug 2009...Chain is ready for shipping!!!

1st Aug '09    I heard today that my anchor chain is ready for shipping - all it needs to start it on its way to Guernsey is for payment to be received in Italy. Once that minor detail has been attended to (I was told it would be organized on Monday), it should be just a couple of days before it gets here - so, hopefully, I'll be seeing it within a week or so.... fingers crossed!

Noting today's date, I was reminded of my singlehanded 3-week long race (SHTP) in June/July '06 from San Francisco to Kauai (Hawaii) ... and my onward passage north to Sitka in Alaska around the so-called 'Pacific High' off the W coast of N.America (the equivalent of the Azores High over the Atlantic off W.Europe). They are both high pressure zones which constantly move about but stay centred offshore to the west of the continents. That was my first experience of beating north into quite strong Trade Winds - a rough-and-tumble experience (literally!), the result of which was having to fix an engine which objected, not surprisingly, to seawater getting into the diesel fuel and so into its injectors.... Something I discovered when I got near to the centre of the High just after the 1st August and wanted to motor in the calms to be found there. (The Azores High looks as though it's going to pose me a problem leaving here - every time I look to see what the weather would be like for heading around Ushant and across the Bay of Biscay, the winds would be heading me - I might have to head NW from here, towards Falmouth, to get an angle on the wind to head S!)

Thoughts of 2006 led me to searching for the SHTP Belt Buckle I had salvaged from my old boat - that was a memento of the Race and all the memories surrounding it that I had not wanted to lose. It was looking rather woebegone, but a bit of time spent cleaning and polishing soon had good results & it's now placed above the chart table in pride of place!!

The photos show 'Before' and 'After' the cleaning!!

My efforts at re-positioning the fluxgate compass took a time, as expected, with having to get behind panels & woodwork in order to re-route the wire, but it is now behaving reasonably well in its new position. I presume I'll have to re-calibrate the compass once I get out of here but that's a simple matter of turning the boat slowly through a couple of 360 degrees - no big deal!

I received a couple of parcels, one with warm base- & mid- clothing layers and one with fax paper rolls for my weather fax machine. The Harbourmaster's Office are very kindly forwarding post to the marina office and they bring my post directly to the boat in a dory ... I'm really impressed by how very helpful they're all being!

The week seems to have gone by without my joblist getting noticeably shorter, although I did spend two days cutting a small hole in quite a few loose panels & fixing a locking device and 'lip' on each of them so that they can be prevented from flying about if we should broach (or worse..!). I went up the mast to re-tie some twine that had come adrift between steps and shrouds & fixed some hooks and other items in place in the cabins - minor, but important for living on board.

The latest problems to raise their heads have been a flooring problem (I'm having to repair the floor just ahead of the companionway steps until a new flooring section reaches me - probably in the Canaries),  a charging problem (having checked voltages with a multi-meter, it looks as though the chart table display unit is showing the wrong information on state of charge of my domestic and start batteries, possibly leading to over-charging of the domestic bank), making sure I've sufficient cooking gas to last for several months (I'm trying to fill two empty US tanks tomorrow, with propane if possible), and realizing that with all this time I've been tied to the dock here, sorting out the boat down below (we've had some rain of late!), I've not been paying enough attention to checking on the sailing side of things.  I suddenly realized that I need to deal with a few shackles, eye splices & lines ,..  I had thought all that side of things had been sorted out a long time ago... It's top of the list now!

I was delighted to get an email from the Quartermaster on board the 'Queen of Oak Bay' (a B.C. ferry that runs between Horseshoe Bay, N. Vancouver, and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island) who had very kindly spent quite a time with me last October showing me over the bridge when I was on my way to visit friends in Parksville.  He emailed me because they were wondering how things are going with the new boat and when I was planning to take off. Questions I've had from quite a few people - it's difficult to explain just how many different things I'm having to think about, get organized and then achieve, what with it being a new boat with new instruments etc and also because I expect some difficult conditions while I'm on passage - I'm trying to be prepared for all eventualities!! My latest project is trying to sort out how to get good weather info when I'm in the Southern Hemisphere and far from land - with the patchy, unreliable Internet connection I have here, it becomes really time-consuming trying to sort out the various options or even just to send important emails.


I've been meaning to post this photo dating from June when I stayed over in Cowes, at UKSA, before leaving England to come here.  It shows 'Nereida' rafted up alongside the famous 'Gipsy Moth IV'!!

Tuesday 4th Aug '09

Great fun and games this evening at high water with so many boats moving around. Normal to be in a raft of four these days - makes for excellent tea-time spectator enjoyment as people try to move out from within the rafts and others try to come alongside too early...!  The marina staff in their dories often use the dory as a 'pusher' to help people get into position....  All good fun to watch!  And I'm having a great time practising my French there being so many French boats around with the French coast so very close by.  I keep feeling I should be keeping to the right on the road....!

Total waste of time yesterday afternoon - got on my bike with two US propane tanks and went a long way uphill to a local garage who'd said that maybe they could fill them for me - nada!!  Quite apart from fittings giving a problem without a suitable adaptor, I'd already heard that "we only fill our tanks, no-one else's" from the Guernsey Gas company and from another source, "It's against EC regulations to fill ANY aluminium tank anywhere in Europe"....!!   Oh well... at least I had a brilliant fast ride down the hill back to the marina!!

Gave gas locker a thorough clean afterwards, added another lacing eye for secure bungy fixing of tanks and will need to buy two new butane tanks since heard via email that same filling problem for US propane bottles exists in the Canaries.  I don't want to run out of cooking gas whilst still on passage early next year.

Spoke to Simrad about problem with AIS not 'talking to' VHF radio for DSC communication ... useful ... Turned out that I'm missing a power lead which should have been installed in Sweden and the lack of it should have been spotted by the electronics guy working on board at Hamble Point in June.... Nothing like checking out things yourself to get things working properly...! Cable now ordered and should arrive Thursday - easy item to instal.

Spending time on computer & Internet, looking into weather/routeing options - also finding out about 'polars' (useful articles by Stan Honey), although possible that none exist for N380.

This morning had a useful visit from Andre Ferbrache who'd been recommended by Mastervolt UK to sort out my wiring/charging problem.  Have now had everything checked out and wrong wiring (as I'd suspected!) put right - I'm feeling much happier that at least one thing is dealt with OK now!  He suggested installing an audible  alarm on the automatic bilge pump circuit for safety, so I am warned in good time should it start up - they take almost no power and it looks like an easy thing to do, assuming the boat wiring diagram will  show me in which circuit to place the alarm.

Payment organized to Italy - should mean anchor chain starts its journey here by Thursday or Friday - then lots of fun & games dealing with it after it arrives next week.. "Watch this space!!" 

Guernsey Report 3 - Dive tank beside fluxgate compass...oops!

No wonder my autopilot reading was 100 degrees off...!  I was chatting late last night to my boater neighbours, rafted up beside me here in the St Peterport Victoria marina, about needing to dive on a firmly-stuck anchor to retrieve it some years back in a bay off Isla Graciosa, north of Lanzarote in the Canaries... and suddenly realized that my new dive tank had been positioned right beside the fluxgate compass with only a wooden wall dividing them.  No wonder my autopilot tried to make a violent turn on the way here from the Queen Elizabeth marina not so long ago when I activated it so I could organize fenders and mooring lines....   I moved the tank away today to check my theory - and sure enough, the AP reading was promptly in agreement with the ship's compass.  So now I have to move the fluxgate compass from its well-tucked-away position to somewhere else - another job to be added to my already long list....grr! 

Trouble is - I opened up the compass thinking maybe I could undo the wires from inside it, to avoid problems in re-locating it (It's way too big to pass through the holes the wire passes through).  But that was clearly not a good idea, so I quickly put it back together again - cursing as I did so, because that means now that I have the job of tracing the wire back (and releasing it as I do so) to where it's connected to the course computer (- I hope!   Otherwise I have to trace it to the chart table area which is even further away).  Then I'll have to disconnect it and pull all the wire through to re-locate the compass in a new position - yet to be decided on....  I found that the minimum distance needed from the steel dive tank so as not to affect the autopilot heading reading was 0.5 metre - not that much but a lot of work and time will be needed to sort the problem out.

At least today the sun is shining brightly again after a week of overcast, strong winds and frequent rain.  The not-so-good news is I think I may have broken (or at least badly bruised) a little toe when I knocked it some days ago .... it may be 'little' but it can definitely hurt...!  And I'm having to get a tooth problem seen to also!  At least that's happening now when I can get it sorted - better than when I'm mid-passage with no way of getting it looked at!!  (Very nice to have a son who's both an excellent dentist & not too far away.) Fortunately, I'm so busy I don't have time to notice a bit  of pain too much!  

Present preoccupations include completing my dry provisioning for an assumed 7-month non-stop passage - that's a lot of food!!  I've been making lists galore, including sticking them behind locker doors, etc, several revisions & updatings, re-thinking about the best, safe way to stow it all... it's been going on for many days ... but is virtually complete now.  I've been lucky in getting help from people here with cars who have taken me to major supermarkets this week - including a run to the local hospice bookshelves to get some light reading matter in case I find I can relax occasionally over the next few months!  My grateful thanks to Liz and Lucy for their help!

Other concerns have been :
looking over my foul- and cold-weather gear (especially base and mid-layers), finding out what's available and making sure I top up with what I might need in the Southern Ocean, on the assumption that I'll get doused occasionally and then will maybe find I can't dry the clothing out;  
checking on my paper charts and organizing stowage of them - realizing I have gaps & need a few more, at least for passage-making, in case my electronic ones become unavailable for whatever reason - so I have had to find out what's available & then arrange for the ones I need to be sent out.  Kelvin Hughes have been really helpful over the supply of charts & books;
organizing getting lots of fax paper rolls for my Furuno weatherfax - thanks to Furuno UK for discounting them & sending to me;
acquisition of a new 'back-up' laptop - and setting it up with all necessary software to duplicate what's on my main laptop .... what a lot of time that has taken - and is still taking up!
......and everyday living.... with little time to relax!
All not helped by the need to make occasional quick (2-day) trips back up to London to deal with an ongoing concern there!

The high-tensile anchor chain is continuing through its two-week-or-more production process by Maggi Catene in Italy - might be ready to send out within a week, with any luck.

Wi-fi Internet access on board is really frustrating - often unreliable, so another regular time-waster...  I have to make frequent trips to the Visitor Centre or to the nearby friendly 'Ship and Crown' for reliable access, restricted to their opening times.

A regular amusement here is the to-ing and fro-ing of boats at high water when they can get over the entrance sill into the marina from the waiting pontoons outside in the harbour.  Mostly people get it absolutely right when coming alongside but there's the occasional panic!  And I've been surprised to see the nearly horizontal ramp to the dock from the Albert Pier at high water - it's 'spring' tides now & so the water level is particularly high.  (I hear that the water often rises to above the road level.)   But at low water, the same ramp is really steep - not a good time to bring heavy shopping to the dockside.


This week, several boats have dried out over LW on the nearby ledge to look at prop or shaft problems - two had lines to remove from around their prop and another had a major propshaft leak to be dealt with.  It's handy to have the drying ledge there to be used so easily and safely.

Looking at the weather, as I continually do these days, I'm wondering how much of a problem I'll face getting away from here once I'm finally ready - the winds seem to be almost constantly from the SW quadrant - exactly the direction I'll be wanting to make....

Guernsey Report 2

Guernsey report 2 - enjoyed 'Björn Again'... Maggi Catene in Italy sort out the anchor chain problem....

I enjoyed the 'Björn Again' concert at the Beausejour Centre Friday fortnight ago (26th June) - lots of familiar Abba songs!  Made me think back to my three months in Sweden early this year & all the many really nice people I met whilst there.  So many, both in Stenungsund and in  who were  so very hospitable and kind to me while I was overseeing the boat being built & fitted out, with so many changes I'd asked for, at Najadvarvet in Henån. ....and such lovely scenery...  I found myself missing all of it and them!  I hope I get back there one day.

At high water one Saturday, the Guernsey Lifeboat came by....


Time seems to be passing by and I'm busy with boat work/projects almost all the time - but my list of jobs doesn't seem to be getting much shorter & I still need to finish so many things on board before moving away from here.

I've been particularly concerned about my lack of anchor chain - I really don't want to go for the sail trials around here that I'd been wanting to get out on without chain in my locker for safety reasons.  The Swedish importer in Ellös, not far from the yard at Henån, had  quoted an unacceptably long delivery time back in Feb/March and I saw no reason why it shouldn't  be sent to the Hamble instead, to arrive after the boat was delivered there mid-April .... "No problem", I was assured back in Feb/March .. 

I'd been wanting calibrated, galvanized, 8mm (1.40kg/m), high tensile (HT) chain (G70) to fit my windlass gipsy, in order to avoid carrying the weight of the same length of ordinary (medium tensile, G40) galvanized, 10mm (2.35 kg/m)  chain (confusingly called 'high test' in the US!).   (Then there's also low tensile chain (G30), commonly labeled as 'BBB' or 'proof coil' - I've learned a lot about chain recently!!)  High Tensile (G70) 8mm chain is actually stronger than the G40 10mm chain (7000kgf as compared with 5096 kgf breaking load) - a definite bonus!  A friend had suggested maybe getting 75m of 10mm G40 chain plus lots of rope if I wasn't able to resolve the problem soon, as a reasonably practical compromise - a very sensible thought which hadn't occurred to me.   This week, I spoke to Maggi Catene in Italy, (who are the highly reputable European chain manufacturers with whom I'd been originally talking) to find out what was happening  - and it turned out that there had been unfortunate wording of the order (I shan't go into the convoluted details!)  ....

To cut a very long story short, Maggi Catene were most concerned when they understood my situation and  are now working hard on the production of my chain (as a prioritized  'special' order for theIr 'Aqua7' - calibrated, short-link, high tensile, galvanized anchor chain) to be sent now, of course, to Guernsey, not the Hamble....  A smaller detail (!) is the logistical problem of getting it into my chain locker from a ship, somehow.... The local chandler, Chris of Boatworks, has sounded very helpful on that score - we'll wait for high water and then make use of his fuel dock inside the harbour entrance.  Seems I'll have to wait over two weeks before I can go for extended sail trials.....

In the meantime, I'll finish checking over (and learning to use!) all my equipment and instruments to see that they are OK, finish the long-term provisioning I want to get done here and try to get the boat ship-shape and tidy.  (I'm still busy with fixing and stowing things)  I noticed when changing marinas, that my compass heading seemed to be out  by 100 degrees (!) and my log impellor still needs cleaning from when I was sitting in the muddy Hamble waters for six weeks - so I've plenty to keep me occupied...!

The good news is the excellent summer that England (and W. Europe in general) seems to be having  - lovely weather, with hot sun at times, and hardly any rain to make doing things difficult on board.  I've got my folding bike out now so have been able to get about more easily, although one day I did relax and take the lengthy 'round-the-island, local-bus-tour' for all of 60 pence.  Guernsey is a lovely island, with lots of mature, unpruned trees, beautiful long white beaches, surfing for those interested and lots of anchorages within easy reach (for those lucky people with chain!) - including the little islands of Herm and Sark a short distance away.  It also has lots of rocks, shallows and big tides to make sailing and navigation interesting.... At Springs recently, HW was 9.5m and LW was 0.9m above chart datum - giving a range of 8.6m (over 27ft).  Not exactly the 11m range of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia - but not far short!!  "Nereida' was definitely sitting in the mud at the marina dockside at Springs LW, with actual water depth (measured by lead line to calibrate my depth instrument) being 1.9m!!   It's a very steep walk down the ramp to the dock from the roadway of the Albert Pier at low water!   The marina has a 'sill' at the entrance to keep boats inside afloat at LW and movement in and out can only occur for about two hours either side of HW -so they have several 'waiting pontoons' in deeper water just outside the marina entrance (but still well within the protected main St Peterport harbour) for new arrivals to tie up to.

It has been quite sociable here also - two boats (one Canadian!), with friends on board, sailed in unexpectedly last week and other boaters moored up close by have been very welcoming.  There are lots of French, some Dutch and Belgian and lots of British boats coming to Guernsey, usually just  for a few days, some as part of their cruising in the Brittany/Normandy area and others on their way south to the Med.  Things are set to get even busier, now we're into July - I hear that the rafting-up alongside the pontoons here in Victoria Marina will be getting 'interesting' later this month as numbers increase dramatically with kids off school!

I appeared in last Wednesday's 'Guernsey Press' (local newspaper) and my story about losing the previous boat in Mexico has also just been published (in detail & with lots of photos!) in the August edition of 'Yachting Monthly'.

Guernsey report 1 ... memories, joblists, ....

Wed 24th June '09

Thought I'd post photos shown on Mexican TV that I received from Jose and Rocio in Tecpan (they helped me a lot this time last year).    It seems unbelievable that 'Nereida I' has sunk (or become buried) so deep below the wet sand due to the surge from the nearby surf - only her mast top is now visible... the genoa furling forestay is clearly still there, as are the upper shrouds and mast steps.

That compares to the view this time last year.....  So very sad - not to be dwelt on for too long - too painful still.

Back to today's news:  I moved marina! ...From Qu. Elizabeth to Victoria - much more convenient (for a start, I've Internet access on board - that will save me time).  Only problem is I seem to have lost THREE mooring lines since leaving the Hamble - how can that be??  I've searched - but nada!!  (Thursday:  Found two... and then remembered that a crew member dropped the third one overboard as we were leavng River Hamble for sail trials before I left for Guernsey - shan't embarrass him by naming him...!  It sank too fast even to practise 'man overboard' drill!)

The good news is how well the boat is responding under power.  I'd noticed that when first arriving here when I had a nightmare mooring up - stepped off from a stationary boat onto the dock, holding bow & stern lines, only to find 'Nereida' moving gently but irretrievably down the dockside .. I'd seen there was quite a current, as well as wind, affecting her .. but wasn't expecting this much movement... but it was all I could do to tie the end of one line down - not enough...! She ended up around the end of the dock and over the other side... Help..!!  I luckily saved major damage to a finger and thumb in tying the end of the line I did manage to secure (no proper cleats here ... grr!!)  In retrospect, I think I must have left her slightly in astern gear - embarrassing to have to admit to that, but I'm still not familiar enough with the new Yanmar engine and controls (had a Volvo-Penta before) .... & that certainly explains the problem I was confronted with.  But in the manoeuvring in tight spaces both before and then after that event - she responded so well.  I think the Brunton's Autoprop is a great help and certainly I was delighted with the control I seem to have in going astern.  At any rate, so far, I've not hit anything (and I'm determinedly NOT using the bow thruster I ended up with!! To my mind, using it would be a matter of 'chickening out'  .... I should be able to control the boat without it....)
Today, in moving from my berth rafted-up alongside a gaff-rigged boat, my  interest centred on an unexpected tidal effect.  I'd let the stern line slip first (with difficulty, since the line was led to the other boat through a fairlead and then around a post), leaving slipping the bow to later since I expected the bow to blow off in the slight wind.... but in the time it took to try to slip the bow line I found us swinging around in a strong current.  Fortunately, there was room enough - so I tightened up on the line again to let the current do the job of swinging us around most of the way and then let go & went astern, avoiding a boat opposite - whose owner was clearly relieved to see me controlling the boat - almost as much as I was!!

Sat 20th June '09

It's just over a year (Thurs 19th June '08) since losing 'Nereida I' - and here I am, having sailed from England to Guernsey on her lovely new  'big sister' - or, at least, that's how I feel about her.   It's a good feeling and I'm really looking forward to getting to know how the new 'Nereida' sails - faster, that's for sure!!  But a lot of sorting out of gear and stowing/fixing before I go sailing - and lots more provisioning before I leave here in July.  Got a good Winlink email connection last night - but no Sailmail..... that's radio for you!!

Photos of leaving England near sunset through the Needles Channel (Isle of Wight), showing Needles and distinctive Needles LH, and the approach to Guernsey next morning, with entrance to St Peterport harbour:


Thursday 18th June '09

Think I may have finally made up on sleep missed out on 18hr Channel crossing from Cowes the other night - took occasional 15-20 min. timed naps when the many ships crossing my NE-SW path were not threatening, AIS yet again proving its worth. Only felt need to speak on VHF to one ship looking as though it was on collision course to confirm it knew I was there - no problem, he reassured me! I was transmitting on AIS, as well as receiving, so they should all have seen me on their screens - I'm sure that must have helped collision avoidance.
Testing out email/weather transmit/receive on SSB radio from depths of Qu.Elizabeth marina here in Guernsey - absolutely no go on Winlink (Ham) frequencies. Did make contact on one Sailmail frequency last night but not this morning... Hoping that's just the result of being surrounded by other boats/masts... Gas alarm sounds when I transmit on 10MHz or above - may have to disconnect it.

About to leave England - & so many helpful, kind people to thank!

Difficult to know where to start - so much has happened on board, and off, over the last month.... and so many people have been so very kind and helpful.... but I'm finally about to leave England for Guernsey (anchor chain problems permitting..)
Some days 'i've felt as though I've been lurching from one problem to another - as fast as one thing has been sorted, another (sometimes consequential)  problem has arisen...  But my helper Nick of 'Yachting Sports' has always come up with great solutions - although we had to admit defeat over the secondary  anchor - intended as a 25kg Rocna, I've twice had to make the journey to Poole to exchange it for another, firstly downsizing to a 20kg Rocna and finally having to get a 20kg Delta.  The problem was the shape of the Rocna - which is precisely what makes it behave so well, reputedly reliably re-setting itself with a change of tide.  Even the smaller Rocna would not stow anywhere on deck without blocking access to cleats or lazarettes and it also could not  stow below deck.
My main aim has been to make the boat and all gear safe in rough seas.  So lots of fixing in place, in addition to finalizing instrument installation, wiring, rigging, sheet leads, etc, etc, etc....
Paul Lawson, an electrical engineer at Raymarine who has been so helpful when I've had instrument problems over the last few years, kindly came out on "Nereida" with friend Julie one Saturday afternoon to calibrate my instruments and check out the installation.  Raymarine are kindly loaning me extra autopilot items free of charge so I will have a complete secondary system - drive unit in place already, course computer and rudder reference unit easily put in place and second control unit available.  Of course, a lot of the time I expect to use my windsteering (Hydrovane) which requires no battery power but I'm sure there will be times when I'll be pleased to have the electronic autopilot reliably available.
Paul and Lorna, from the Customs office based in Portsmouth, have been incredibly helpful over VAT paperwork, making several visits to 'Nereida', even out of office hours, and bringing forms to me - thank you for that!  They've certainly boosted the image of Customs officials at Hamble Point!! 
Susannah, of IMP, has been her usual very friendly & supportive self, and organized sending a dimmer switch at short notice, with Darren, also of IMP, being very helpful over the telephone with advice on the installation  - so my dimmable saloon LED lighting is now working fine! 


Mandy, of Ocean Safety , has been very helpful on safety gear and I was delighted when ACR offered to donate an EPIRB and floating  strobe/'torch light.  Andy (and Craig) of Andark Diving at Swanwick were very welcoming and cheerfully supplied new dive gear, giving me excellent help on pricing!
Pauline, of Force 4 Chandlery, has been really great and arranged for Gill to donate warm base and mid layer items - they'll be much appreciated when I'm down in the Southern Ocean...!!  She has also donated various other chandlery items for the boat.... there's been so much to think about on the equipment side whilst commissioning 'Nereida' - it's certainly kept me very busy for several weeks now, often into the small hours, keeping tabs on everything.  Even this 'blog' is being typed in the early hours..... no other time to do it!!
I've been visiting local supermarkets, trying to provision in advance on certain dried and tinned items - both Waitrose and Tesco have helped with gift vouchers to offset a little of the cost .. 6-7 months of supplies is a lot of food...but I don't fancy getting cockroach eggs mixed in with my flour and rice, hence the provisioning here in England!    (The Canaries are notorious for cockroaches  - I just hope I can keep them from visiting me!)
I had a visit from BBC Radio Solent and also from the Southampton 'Daily Echo', both of whom intend putting their radio/video interviews on their websites this Friday (tomorrow).  They'll be publishing the Justgiving weblink (soon to be added on my 'Links' page) for donations to be made to Marie Curie Cancer Care charity which provides nurses (free of charge)  for terminally ill people to live their last days at home with their family instead of in hospital... a worthwhile cause, I believe.
If all goes well, I'll be in Guernsey next week.  There, I'll stop for several weeks while I check eveything out,  learn to use my new instruments and go sailing regularly to see how the new 'Nereida' behaves.

Postscript Friday 12th June:  Thought I'd lost all this last night - but just found it in draft form .... (sigh of relief!!)  Today, received post from Raymarine with back-up parts loaned for the circumnavigation - very kind - thank you, Derek!  Spent a time chasing around for hydraulic fluid for autopilot - difficult to find but eventually manufacturer of motor unit in Devon helped out so eventually I got suitable fluid.  Also received New Zealand chart cards from Navionics  for chart plotter, sent at short notice. I'm trying to be ready for unexpected landfall needed in case of problems as I sail around ... strong weather makes breakages more likely, even with a new boat...  
New mainsail cover doesn't fit properly and bimini not OK either - not happy about either so will have to deal with them both in Guernsey...  Also, anchor chain just turned up ungalvanised ... major problem to be resolved still but I have 100m of multiplait rope to use in meantime, if needed .  So much still to deal with..... 
Went for a short sail in Solent with Nick and James in the late afternoon to check rig and sheetleads etc -  all looks fine and it was so very pleasant actually to be out  sailing on the water, rather than tied up at the dock.....  Derek of 'Yachting Sports' took photos of the boat as we came back up the river Hamble towards the marina (see top of page).


13May09 Lots done ... but SSB not transmitting!


Mains'l hoisted!
Mast stepped means mains'l can be hoisted! 
View of stern steelwork
View of stern steelwork

Support for solar panels, wind generator, radar and antennae.


    Stainless Lopolight bow navlight fitting on pulpit.
Electronics are still not complete and working as they should be - the firm helping with the final stages of installation and sorting out of wiring problems are playing 'silly devils' and it's very frustrating so often to be kept waiting, expecting someone to turn up - which they finally do several days later but only for that day - when one or two solid days' work would see all finished - unimpressive company ethic...!  Grrr!!  Not a company I'll be recommending to anyone!

My latest problem is finding the SSB (long range) radio isn't transmitting - a good thing I'd arranged for a radio check with a radio guy nearby.  I suspect some coax connectors & propose removing some unecessary ones to simplify things - the fewer the connections, the less chance of problems. 

'Yachting Sports', who are helping me in so many ways, have come up with their usual good practical solutions to various problems I've thrown at them.  For instance, it's proved impossible to use the nice Selden removable bowsprit I thought I'd be using to push out the foot of the asymmetric spinnaker so as not to trash the pulpit when flying it, the problem being caused by the Rocna anchor stowed on the bow roller.  We're having to fabricate a stainless bowsprit instead - but that's coming along well and will shortly be ready.

Organizing secure stowage has kept me preoccupied for several days now - measuring all the different sized/shaped spaces and touring the local supermarkets to find the right sized bins to use to prevent contents falling out when locker fronts are opened, along with trying to fix loose tops of lockers everywhere.   I've also been getting together a comprehensive toolkit - I need to be able to make repairs in the future no matter where I am.

The sail now has a cover - photo to come when the present rain stops (I've been quite lucky with weather - rather cold and ofen very windy but not much rain).  Over the next few days, I might actually get sailing - although I need to calibrate all the instruments and I'm still waiting for chain to arrive from Italy.   Amazingly, it has been difficult to find H.T. chain in stock here so I was forced to speak to the manufacturer to organize delivery - that's going to be an interestingpractical proposition... it's heavy stuff!

 Hydrovane, solar panels, swimladder and name!

Mast is stepped .... "Nereida" is getting closer to sailing...

Home is where Nereida is.......!   Main cabin..... before (temporary) chaos of final wiring of instruments took over! 
main cabin on Nereida April09   

Celebrating the naming of Nereida on Sat 18th April '09 at Hamble Point .......

".... wonder what Neptune thinks of this 'bubbly'...?"


 Nereida was in chaos today (Friday) with work on deck and down below (instruments, solar panels, wind generator, mast steps - all being seen to) but she looked beautiful  and peaceful last week, having just been named.....!

More photos to come..... Windsteering (Hydrovane) was fitted last Monday and it's nice to see a mast and sails...!   More work to do this coming week, bu the major items should soon be finished .... maybe I'll get sailing soon, but lots of 'toys' to play with, & figure out how they work, in the meantime!

New "Nereida" meets the sea - pictures..!

Happy Easter!

It's been an exciting time for me with the new "Nereida" nearing completion.....

First time afloat...!!                  

                                                                       And then she gets a mast...                  

Time to test the engine and prop...                                     

and then go for a lovely test-sail .....in bright sunshine and good wind.... at last.... gorgeous!!

"Nereida" is on her way to England as you read this (today is Maundy Thursday, 9th April)...all very exciting, especially since things got rather hectic (read 'stressful'. ..??!) at the very end ... but all's well and I'm looking forward to meeting up with her and being on the water with her early next week.

It's been difficult saying 'Goodbye' to so many people here in Sweden, from the Najad yard, the Stenungsund Y.C. hotel and others I've met during my time here - they've been so very kind, friendly and helpful and I'd almost taken up residence here since mid-January - even getting a little Swedish going...!

It's been a pleasure working with the guys & gals at Najad in Henån - they clearly take a pride in their workmanship and I think (and hope!) they've enjoyed the challenge of working on my boat. She's rather special and very different from the standard N380 - as they kept telling me! I know they are looking forward to reading of her sailing the oceans - as she was designed to do.

Life has been just a little bit hectic of late, tryng to keep on top of everything going on, as the end came in sight and we tried to keep to a deadline for delivery to England before Easter...!!  I'm catching my breath and trying to relax now that she's en route to the Hamble, between Southampton and Portsmouth... later than hoped but it's been good to have had some extra days this last week since they were needed to sort out a few hiccups!    

All being well, I'll be on board her at Hamble Point Marina straight after Easter weekend.  If you're nearby, come and visit!  Then there'll be the last few things to get done before she's totally ready to go sailing .... I'm so much looking forward to that...

More photos posted on Flickr....   click on this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nereida/sets/    I'm hoping to post new info on the website 'Boat Details' and other pages a.s.a.p.  - I'm very conscious of the fact that the updating there  is well overdue.....  but in the meantime:

New Boat Details

The new 'Nereida' is a Najad 380, hull number 82, built in 2009 by Najadvarvet at Henån on the island of Orust in Sweden, just north of Göteborg. She is named after the 'nereids' of ancient Greek mythology who were the 'handmaidens of Poseidon' (or Neptune, as the Romans called him) - so she is a 'sea nymph'! On the sea-front at Puerto Vallarta in Mexico is a lovely bronze of Nereida and Poseidon - shown as mermaid and merman.  (I found a smaller version of the same bronze on the seafront at Barra de Navidad.)

LOA = 11.55m (38')  LWL = 9.9m (32'6") Beam = 3.65m (12') Draft = 2.02m (6'7½")
Displacement (empty!) = 9.1 ton (9100 kg/20060 lb) Bolted lead keel = 3.1 ton (3100 kg /6834 lb)
Hull speed - 8.9 kts Mast height 15.63m (50'2") Mast height above waterline - 17.68m (58')

Sail plan
Cutter rig with furling genoa and staysail     P = 14.18m   E = 5.0m   I = 15.3m   I2 = 9.71m   J = 4.25m   J2 = 2.25m

Sails (sq m /sq ft)
Main (fully battened) 41.8/450; Furling Genoa 42/452; Furling staysail 16.5/178; Asymmetric spinnakers 90.6/975; Code zero 65.0/700; Storm jib 12/129;  Trysail --/--

Engine: Yanmar 4JH4AE, 54hp (39.6 kW)

Ground Tackle
2 Rocna25  anchors (25kg/55lb)  - one in bow with chain, one as spare (below)
Anchor Buddy CAB30
Kedge anchor :12kg grapnel, with chain & rope
Chain  100m 8mm HT on main anchor. Also 30m 8mm HT with 100m nylon multiplait
Windlass - Lofrans Project 1500 (electric) taking chain and/or rope rode

Water tanks: 400 ltrs (88 Imp.gall/ 105 US gall) in 3 tanks
Water maker (desalination) - Spectra 12v Cape Horn system with 2 pumps
Diesel tank: 325 l (72 Imp. gall/ 86 US gall)

Solar panels - 2x55W and 2x80W  12V Shell (Siemens)
Wind generator - KISS (Trinidad)
Electrical supplies - 12v DC: 12v 4kVA DC Fischer-Panda diesel generator
Secondary alternator on engine, Mastervolt 130A, with regulator
Shore charger/inverter - Mastervolt Mass Combi 12/2500-100 (230V/50Hz)
230/110V transformer for isolated shore input
5 x 130Ah AGM glass mat batteries (domestic) + 55Ah start battery

HF/SSB radio - ICOM M801 with ATU 141 & line isolator
SCS Pactor modem PTC-IIusb (for e-mail, weatherfax) for Airmail 2000 software (Winlink) 
Furuno FAX408 Weatherfax, also HF radio to computer software
NASA Marine Navtex
VHF radios - Simrad RS82 2-position (25/1W masthead aerial); ICOM ICM71 (handheld) 
A.I.S. - Simrad A150 'Class B' transceiver
Radar - Raymarine 18" radome scanner
Autopilot - Raymarine hydraulic Drive T3 acting on quadrant, S3G course computer with ST6002 control head
Instruments - Raymarine ST60+ wind, speed/log, depth.
GPS - Raymarine Raystar125 dGPS sensor
Charting - Nobeltec Admiral Max Pro version 10.0 using C-Map electronic world charts;
Raymarine E80 and E120 combined radar/plotter with Navionics Gold cards
Garmin handheld GPS 60CSx with Bluechart cards.
Also backup paper charts.  Sextant & tables.

Andersen winches: 2x52ST, 2x40ST, 2x28ST in cockpit; 2 28ST & reefing winch on mast
Wind Steering - Hydrovane, windvane driving auxiliary rudder
Propeller - 3-bladed, automatic variable pitch - Autoprop (Bruntons UK)
Ropestripper (Ambassador Marine) - rope cutter forward of propeller on propshaft

Heating - Eberspacher 8 kW (diesel) circulated hot air; Mojave 3-speed fan heater using engine cooling water; Sigmar 120 cabin diesel heater
Refrigerator - Danfoss compressor - 110 ltrs capacity
Kenwood CD player/Radio (LW/MW/AF) with iPod connection
Liferaft - Avon Modula (4 man)
Tender - Zodiac CR260 (inflatable floor)
Outboard - Mercury 3.5 h.p.

Interior layout of standard N380:

(Note the port settee on "Nereida" has no 'return' since that is where the Sigmar 120 heater is now placed)

Support for the new "Nereida" (Najad 380, hull number 82) in 2009:
Sponsors donating equipment:

  Jeppesen (Nobeltec) (USA)
  Cantalupi lighting (Italy)
  Sealevel systems (USA)
  Garmin Europe 
  Dubarry  (Ireland)
  Whale pumps (Sweden/UK)
  Denrex ApS (Denmark)

Support also from:

  Raymarine (UK)
  Andersen (Denmark)
  UK-Syversen (Sweden)
  Brunton's (UK)
  Lopolight (Denmark)
  Dickinson Marine (B.C., Canada)
  Kelvin Hughes (UK)
  Selden UK
  Nasa Marine (UK)
  Scanstrut (UK)
  Ambassador Marine (UK)
  Musto UK
 Many firms, some of whose products I had already been using over the last few years, have very kindly agreed to help me with my new boat, after the loss of my old one, by donating or discounting equipment or spares.  In the present difficult economic climate, it has often been difficult for companies to provide this help - so what has been provided is that much more appreciated!

I have used the Nobeltec electronic charting system since October 2000. I find it really user-friendly and it makes it so easy to plot new passages, with the bonus of good tide & current information for the US and Canada.  As of this year, 2009, I shall be using their excellent new C-Map Max Pro cartography, available in version 10.  I am very grateful for the ongoing support I have received from Jeppesen Marine throughout my recent travels & into the next passagemaking.

Cantalupi Lighting  generously provided dimmable LED overhead lighting throughout the new boat - thanks to IMP Ltd for initiating that!

Sealevel are providing me with the USB hubs and USB-to-serial communications hardware that I will need to connect boat equipment to my laptop - their products are well-known for being very reliable..

I am delighted that Garmin have again provided a hand-held GPS unit.  Their GPS units are so reliable and make a superb emergency back-up - the 60CSx takes Bluechart chips and so is very useful in everyday use, not just for emergencies, with its built-in electronic compass and barometer.

Dubarry boots - are lovely! ... so many people have noticed and commented favourably on seeing me wearing them!!  My old ones saw good use over several years and I'm very happy they're being replaced!

Whale pumps have provided their reliable freshwater footpump and manual seawater pump for the new boat - I expect many years of trouble-free use, as on my last boat. Thank you, Brian.

Denrex ApS  in Denmark kindly sent the Propspeed coating system I wanted for the Autoprop.  I had applied Propspeed when hauled out in Cairns during my first circumnavigation and found it worked well - it's not a toxic antifouling, relying solely on a very smooth plastic finish containing silicon. 

Raymarine have frequently been very helpful, both in the past and with the new boat, on instrumentation and equipment issues.  They are continuing to be very supportive and are also giving me whatever technical help I need.

Andersen winches are a delight to use and they have several times sent spares & items from Denmark for my winches - servicing them is a job I actually enjoy doing, the winches are so beautifully engineered.

My Brunton's Autoprop, a self-adjusting propeller, is also a lovely bit of engineering & the last one performed impressively, requiring noticeably fewer engine revs for a given speed through the water than the previous fixed prop.

Lopolight kindly sent me heavily discounted LED navigation lights in stainless steel - I'm looking forward to the resulting energy saving on overnight passages. 

Dickinson Marine in Coquitlam, B.C. (Canada) were extremely helpful in the pricing and freighting of their beautifully-designed Sigmar 120 cabin heater which I'm looking forward to using if & when I find myself in colder climes...!

Kelvin Hughes are very kindly helping with replacing books and charts I lost - thank you, Terry!

Icom UK have again been helpful and kindly donated a spare microphone along with a discounted Icom M801 SSB radio & ATU.  I'm hoping the new SSB radio installation will work really well - it will see a lot of use for speaking to other boats and 'ham' radio users, as well as for emailing and weather information.

Selden - both in Sweden and in the US - gave me excellent support in the past and Selden UK are being very supportive this year.

Musto, who very generously agreed to keep me warm and dry on my previous circumnavigation, are still helping, albeit to a lesser extent, this time around - I shall be  using their well-designed clothing again.

Scanstrut design excellent instrument supports - I particularly like their self-levelling radar mount on my stern steelwork. 
Nasa Marine have helped with the discounted purchase of their Navtex and their AIS stand-alone units.  AIS is really useful in collision avoidance both inshore and when on long ocean passages - and keeps working in storms when radar is sometimes not!

Navionics UK - their Navionics Gold+ chart cards are used in the Raymarine chartplotters.

Ambassador Marine - their Ropestripper tis placed on my propshaft to protect against lines & thin wire tangling the prop.

Finally, I must say a big "Tack så mycket!" ("Thank you very much") to everyone at Najadvarvet for all their friendly help in the boat construction and fitting out.   So many people have been involved and they all seemed to take pleasure in working on the additions and modifications I brought to 'Nereida II', invariably showing great care and pride in their workmanship. It has been a delight to work with them and I hope they will (vicariously through my website) enjoy my sailing in the new 'Nereida' for many years to come!!

"Nereida" gains a keel! But progress slows down.....

2-3 March - "Nereida" is moved to get a keel - and become a 'complete boat'!


Holes drilled  Nearly! 

(Pipe is being held close by to collect dust)

 Nuts tightened                Pretty!       

Spring seemed to have arrived, ...the snow melted away.... and then, one day, winter returned again - thick snow fell....and several cars skidded off into the ditch beside the road.... who said the Swedes can cope with the weather??

Unfortunately, progress on the boat slowed right down with a long list of items not arriving as expected from suppliers.... with plenty still to be installed, I found it difficult not to get increasingly impatient, with delivery being delayed until early April, rather than early -mid March, as I'd been hoping for last month....  "It's a boat, what do you expect?" my friends keep telling me.....!! 

One important safety item I have organized in the meantime is a Jordan Series Drogue from Ace Sailmakers in Connecticut, USA, to attach to the strong points on the stern quarters in times of expected bad storms, ready for deployment in really heavy conditions.  
i've also arranged for a second autopilot  drive unit to be installed 'ready to go' - nothing like being prepared for the worst, although I'd hope to be mainly using my Hydrovane windsteering on my long passages.

The good news, as of 18th March, is that most of the outstanding items have finally arrived, so we're hoping for completion by 2nd April.... arriving in England around 7th April - just before Easter weekend .... I'm keeping my fingers crossed for no more delays....

More photos of lead keel being fitted can be found on Flickr ....  http://www.flickr.com/photos/nereida/sets/72157615499503947/

February update (with photos) from the Najad yard in Sweden - it was cold here!

The snow is finally melting here...! Photos show a free ferry between Orust and Lysekil en route to Smögen from Henån...

The boat has been busy with several people working simultaneously on different things.... including various electrical installations involving wiring for onboard power, instruments and shorepower. Finnish Timo has fabricated some beautiful steelwork on the stern to incorporate the pushpit and take radar, various antennae, 'Kiss' wind generator and pivoting solar panels, as well as sturdy 'eyes' for a Jordan series drogue bridle to be shackled off the stern quarters. The engine and propellor-shaft installation is in full swing with Naim having done some great glass-fibre work where needed, the diesel generator installation is half done... autopilot installation is under way and lots of other 'bits and bobs' are being completed - it's a boat! It's like building a house with the added complications of sails, rigging, instruments, etc... often with difficult access!! The only downside to progress is ... it's too slow for impatient me!! Looks as though the boat won't be ready to be delivered until the end of March.... but I can't complain at the enthusiasm and friendliness of everyone here - who all seem to take a great pride in the quality of their work and seem to be delighted to be working with me on a 'rather different' boat that's going to go places.

Earlier this month, I visited Smögen again (in thick snow) to discuss a furling staysail with 'Dallas' (Lennart Dahlstrom) of UK-Syversen (the Swedish UK-Halsey) - he's again being very helpful on price and full of useful expertise - I'm looking forward to my new sails!  I'm trying to make everything on board 'user-friendly' ... but after much agonising and discussions with Claes and Frederik (Najad rigging experts), I decided to 'bite the bullet' and place the inner forestay in a better position on the mast - by the 2nd spreaders ... meaning I'll have to work with running backstays (I was trying to avoid those, hoping to keep things simple & never having used them before!)... So long as I don't get involved with fast tacking too often, and avoid unintentional gybes, I should manage OK .... but I'll have to make sure I can release them quickly....!!  Another new thing to learn about & keep life interesting whilst sailing on the new boat.....!  But the end-result is the mast will be more secure in strong winds & heavy seas.... which has to be a bonus.

We had a bit of excitement mid-February, when  Kajsa Wedberg, a journalist with the local newspaper Bohusläningen in Uddevalla, together with a very enthusiastic photographer, came to interview me at Najadvarvet & to see the boat under construction. They're doing a Boat Feature in April, it seems, so several guys working on board will get their names (and maybe photos!) in print.

Every few days, I've been taking photos of the boat installation details - as things get covered up, I'll forget what's underneath, so the photos will be useful in the future. It also means I've a record of all the labels while they're fresh and readable!!

I was delighted when Lori of Garmin Europe offered to replace my lost handheld GPS unit - it's a great little unit with its own charting, barometer and compass (they're also replacing a damaged Indian Ocean 'chip') - thank you, Lori! It will be a very useful 'back-up' or for emergency use in my 'grab bag' - but it's excellent in its own right for navigating and will connect into my laptop for independent GPS input to there & also for entering routeing into the Garmin. I'm always happy to have backups...!

At the Stenungsbaden Y.C. (the hotel where I'm staying), all the staff are being so very friendly & helpful to me - they can't do enough, it seems!! Makes it a very pleasant place to be staying whilst I'm busy here with the boat. And I've finally got a touch of Swedish going ... at least now I can greet people and ask how they are... "God kväll, hur mår du??" (Good evening, how are you?) - and respond if they ask me... "Jag mår bra, tack" (I'm fine, thanks). I never feel comfortable being in a country for any length of time without making some effort to speak the language, however minimally or badly!

The Marketing Manager Karin took me over recently to show me the lovely conference centre Villa J.C.Stevens here in the hotel grounds. Its theme is past America's Cup winners, with the Swedish entry in 1992, 'Tre Kronor', having been based here in Stenungsund and the hotel everywhere covered in references to, and pictures of, past America's Cup racing and boats! Keeps reminding me of the San Diego Y.C. with its America's Cup connections also!


More photos can be seen by going to Flickr using the link below - which finally seems to be working!  (If it doesn't, go to Flickr.com, enter 'svNereida'  in the 'People' search and then you can open the 'Sweden 2008-09' folder.)
Here's the link:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/nereida/sets/72157614835272846/  - if you're lucky, it'll behave when you try it.....!  Once in the 'Sweden' folder, clicking on 'Detail' will display titles & clicking on 'Map' will show (pink blobs) where the photos were taken - technology!

Busy January09: Najad 380 in build in Sweden & London Boat Show

Wintry Najardvarvet (Najad Yard), Henan, Sweden - where I'm spending a lot of my time now, keeping a good eye on the fitting out of the new "Nereida" in between discussions on some remaining issues - stern steelwork, strongpoints for a drogue, windsteering fixing points, electronics, sails, 2nd alternator on the engine, etc...   I'm really appreciating a heated car driving seat  (warm & relaxing!) as I drive to and from the Stenungsund Y.C. where I'm staying - a very pleasant, friendly place.  Every Friday and Saturday night, it's really 'hopping' as the only place around where the locals can dance to live music and forget the short, often overcast & dark, cold days.   It gets a good mix of ages (and quite a few really good dancers) and  it's great to see so many people clearly having a good time - plus I get to dance occasionally to 'Abba'  (or at least, to their music!) in Sweden....!!

The boat started out in December being worked on with the deck alongside the hull - but by January, the deck was in place and the boat was soon moved to its new 'home' (see photos below) where it will stay until it is almost ready to truck down to England in early March.
Moving of the boat gave me a chance to get a good first overall view of her -  she looks pretty, don't you think?  And I know she'll sail well, maybe even better than the old 'Nereida' ...  It was a freezing cold Friday night and they took quite a time manoevring her to a precise position - the working platform/floor around in her new 'home' is a very close fit!

I had a busy time at the London Boat Show, meeting lots of people, many of whom were very supportive of my sailing plans with the new boat.  Prior to the Show, I'd already had very welcome help from both Lopolight (their new stainless steel LED navigation lights) & Whale Pumps (fresh water foot pump and sea water manual  pump - both very reliable & used  in my previous boat) - as mentioned in my previous 'blog'.  Andersen (winches) are continuing to be very helpful and, as a result of talking to IMP Ltd about that, I was delighted to find Cantalupi Lighting offering to send me as many overhead LED cabin lights as I need - a big 'Thank you' to Susannah (IMP in UK) and to Giovanni (Cantalupi in Italy)!  That will really help keep my power usage down both on passage and at anchor.   Terry Smallwood of Kelvin Hughes has very kindly offered to help me with my buying of books and charts etc - I lost so many....

Not far from Henan is Smogen where the sail loft of UK-Syversen (sailmaker for Najad) is based, amid dramatic, enormous, granite boulders and bare outcrops,  rounded and smoothed by Ice Age glacier action, overlooking a sea littered with low, bare, granite islands - so unlike the tree-covered Gulf Islands of B.C.  Here I met 'Dallas' who will be making my sails.  I found it difficult not to accept his very tempting  offer of sails in a woven Spectra/polyester 7:3 mix, his price was so good.  It'll be interesting to see how they wear - I've been given conflicting reports on that.  He is convinced that the cloth will do me fine - and it will obviously keep its shape well.   Of course, there'll be a deep third reef in the mainsail and I've asked for reflective tape on the furling genoa 'reef marks' - that has proved so useful overnight when it's really dark.

As part of the stern arch steelwork design problem that's been on my mind for some time now, I've been looking at  using Scanstrut's self-levelling radar mount, with a simple GPS support on it, which can hang to one side of my solar panels (so minimal shadowing) .   It looks like a really neat  well-designed solution and should work well.     This can be combined with other antennae (for AIS, Navtex, weatherfax, Iridium, etc) mounted on a plate above, with all wires leading down into the supporting tube.   I'm not keen to use aluminium if it can be avoided - I prefer to use steel -  so we'll see how it works out in practice.  I'll use a standard SS 2-inch pole instead of their 3-inch powder-coated aluminium pole, which requires the wires all to be led outside near the hinged base, rather than being led down  below decks from inside the tube as I want to do.  I'm hoping to lead the wires directly down into a self-draining lazarette before routeing them forward, to avoid problems of water ingress.   Scanstrut have been very helpful in discussions on the details of their products.

I started the year well by winning a little competition run by Sealevel Systems (USB-serial adaptors etc) - the answer to their December quiz seemed to me to be so obvious, I replied - and won!!  As a result of the direct contact, they have said they are very happy to provide me with  the USB to serial communications   hardware that I will need to connect boat equipment to my laptop - nice of them, since their products are well-known for being very reliable.
The 'good feelings' continued with the news that the Ocean Cruising Club are to award me their Rose Medal for a 'meritorious short-handed passage' (clearly not my very last one...!).  They must have been very short on contenders this year!  But seriously, I feel honoured ... and a bit fraudulent for being given an award for simply doing something I enjoy so much!!   It seems to me that it's the starting out that is difficult for so many... afterwards, all you have to do is to keep going.



Happy New Year!

Dolphind ahead of 'Nereida'

A short entry - just to wish you all the best of health and happiness in 2009! May your seas be calm, your winds be warm and pleasant and your current be a favourable one!

November/December news: Travelling/seeing friends,..Swedish Olympic sailors,..ne

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.

.... and so to December...

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....
The new 'Nereida' gets startedFitting out at Najadvarvet
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....!

October News - To San Francisco and back to B.C....

Back in B.C. from San Francisco.... Happy Hallowe'en to one & all!

October turned into a mix of stress and enjoyment.  The stress was mainly due to two complications: organizing a tinned wire shipment to Sweden and shipping of the salvaged gear from the old 'Nereida' from San Francisco to the U.K.  But the enjoyment was in meeting up with & visiting so many welcoming friends from the San Francisco Bay area and, towards the end of the month, in Washington (state) and back in B.C.

Arranging for a tinned wire shipment to Sweden for the complete wiring of the new 'Nereida' in Ancor tinned wire of the correct gauge, type, colour and requisite spool length (involving changing from metric to AWG gauge and from metres to feet in all applications.... ugh!) ... all took me way longer than it should have done, the boatyard not being anywhere near as helpful as they could have been.  Then the actual ordering and shipping via an export agent also became far more convoluted than I expected (although I'd like to thank Alicia Roberts of Marinco in San Francisco for her help on the pricing of the wire).  At one point, the 'skid' had to be retrieved from inside a container truck as it paused in Tennessee on its way from N. Carolina to Michigan....!  (My grateful thanks to Alan at the Knoxville depot who went out of his way overnight to locate it & retrieve it...!!) But it finally arrived in Sweden this week in good time for the wiring to be started in preparation for the newly completed hull to arrive in the yard for fitting out in early November.

I also had to finish with the sorting through, packing and organizing of the shipping of old boatgear salvaged from Mexico - now on its way to the Port of London from San Francisco and due in England on 22nd November. I can't thank Ruben Gabriel (of 'Sparky') enough - I couldn't have managed it all without his help.  Not only did he help me by letting me store my gear in his house in Benicia after transferring it there in his truck from 'Annamarina' in Richmond in August, but he also later helped me in emptying & rinsing out a heavy, sand-filled spinnaker pole as well as with packing all my gear onto his truck again so I could take everything down to Daly City (on the south side of San Francisco, near the airport) where the shipping agent had their office.

I foolishly thought that all I had to do was to turn up with my load at the shippers' at 8.30 a.m., having got up at 5.30 a.m. in order to avoid a major hold-up crossing the Bay Bridge around sunrise in the early morning rush-hour into and out of San Francisco, and that would be the end of my involvement .... not so...!  Booked on a flight out of Oakland at 2.30 p.m. that same day, I found I had to take my load down to another place just outside SFO airport - where I met with a completely unhelpful "No, we don't offload - that's up to you."  Presented with two empty pallets, I then had to offload everything onto them and decided that, given their unfriendly attitude, more labelling on all the boxes and packages would be a good idea in order to try to reduce the chances of losing anything....  At midday, I was still busy as they brought down the shutter-doors for their hour-long lunch-break ... and I still had a few more boxes to finish with, in the heat of a lovely, sunny day.  Just in time, I drove to the nearby airport to change my flight to 6.30 p.m. .... a kind Alaska Airlines lady printed off my boarding pass (at my request, to give me more chance of making the flight) and didn't charge me for the change....   I actually managed to find my way back to my pallets without getting too lost (I had no  decent map!) - but they weren't there!!  Smilingly, a guy joked about the fact that they had been taken inside when they had opened up again after lunch.  To my relief, I now found I was dealing with friendly, helpful guys who gave me good advice and obviously knew what they were doing - they actually 'palletized' my boxes using just one pallet, not the two I was expecting, saving me money.  I felt much happier when I finally left the warehouse that I might actually get to see all my gear again, intact, in London!!

Then I had to make a mad dash to Benicia (over 50mls away!) in the empty truck to return it to Ruben's house and then pick up my hire car and luggage to get to Oakland airport (another long distance away ...) in time to catch my flight to Seattle. It was great to be able to relax and get some sleep on the plane!  Having postponed my flight, I'd missed a convenient, reserved, direct bus connection from SeaTac to Port Townsend but I got a bus to the 10pm Bainbridge ferry and then stayed overnight at Suquamish, just north of Paulsbo.   I'd accepted a lunch invitation to the Port Ludlow Amateur Radio Club's weekly Wednesday get-together and their President John came to collect me and later drove me up to Pt Townsend after I'd talked to them about my sailing, following on a lovely Mexican lunch in a Chimacum restaurant.  It was good to see friend Ed Sherman, K7UEN, again - he'd helped with my radio problems two years earlier when I'd spent the winter in Port Townsend -  and it was a very enjoyable meeting.

I was very lucky with the weather last week, having had hot sunshine in the San Francisco area (definitely to my liking!) and seeing no rain until late Thursday and into Hallowe'en Friday (and then the rain wasn't too heavy!).  The  foliage colours of the many different trees looked really beautiful in the sunshine of Washington as I drove or walked in and around Pt Townsend and on Whidbey and Orcas Islands (I made good use of the Washington State Ferry system!).  I visited several boat friends I'd not seen for some time and ended up on the Anacortes ferry to Sidney - what an excellent way to cross into Canada from the U.S. ... so easy!!

At the beginning of the month, I'd flown down to the S.F. Bay area for the wedding of Ruben to Robbie.  It was great to be able to share in such a happy occasion and the setting, high up in the hills of San Rafael with San Francisco Bay in the distance, was beautiful.  There were quite a few Single-Handed Sailing Society (SSS) friends there, so we all had a very sociable evening together - another 'Tree' in fact!  After a quick visit to Alameda that same weekend for a Dock Party in Marina Village, I settled down in Benicia to my gear-sorting.  Later in the month, I managed to look around Old Benicia one afternoon - and was pleasantly surprised by the lovely old waterside area with interesting houses surrounded by lots of trees and bushes overlooking Suisin Bay.  Another day, I went with friends to China Camp which has an interesting, but rather sad, prawn-fishing history relating to Chinese immigrants.  It's now a lovely marine park with a good anchorage (except in Easterlies) in the shallow waters of the bay.  I later drove north from Sausalito along the coast towards Pt Reyes, visiting Stinson Beach and the interesting 'hippy' town of Bolinas before returning via Muir Woods.  A very enjoyable day in beautiful scenery with some good company.

I'm now getting ready to fly to Sweden on 9/10th November from Vancouver, to oversee the start of the new boat fitting-out.  Still lots to check on, with queries on many items yet to be resolved to my satisfaction... hopefully, it can all be dealt with easily.... we shall see!

September news

September has ended here in British Columbia where I'm spending time with friends, much of it with lovely 'Indian summer' weather.  I was in San Francisco at the beginning of the month, and spent several days sorting out a few more of my salvaged possessions from 'Nereida' before flying to Vancouver and then on to Comox on Vancouver Island to join the Ocean Cruising Club's Desolation Sound Rally. I stayed on board 'Bagheera' with Andy & Liza Copeland, who were doing a splendid job of organizing the event - raft-ups of 21 boats with stern lines to wooded, granite shores were an amazing sight to behold in those waters!! All very sociable! I was able to enjoy a great sail on the first day, over to Cortes Island in good wind, followed by a couple of days gentle cruising to Teakerne Arm, Squirrel Cove and Tenedos Bay with a swim (!) in Cassel Lake (known by George Vancouver two hundred years ago) above the waterfall at the north end of Teakerne Arm. The second day out I spent on 'Polyandra' with Shaun & Penny Peck and Tony & Coryn Gooch - a crab pot was lowered in hope before we stopped overnight -  but with no luck!   I enjoyed meeting up again with several friends not seen since sailing on the East coast & the Caribbean a few years ago.
Regretfully, I had to leave the Rally too soon but felt I just had to get to the Southampton Boat Show -there were just too many outstanding issues to be dealt with for the new 'Nereida', now in mould in Sweden and due to be delivered next February - such a lot of different things to finalize and organize in not much time.... and the UK Boat Shows (both the Southampton one in September and the London one in January) are ideal places to see equipment and talk to people who know all about their products.  I must admit to thoroughly enjoying having a float plane (an Otter) come out to pick me up from a dinghy early in the morning from Tenedos Bay to take me to Campbell River from where I was to fly to Vancouver and then on to Heathrow!  Although part of the mainland, there was no other way to get to Vancouver from this anchorage other than by boat or float plane initially - it was almost worth it just for the view over Desolation Sound soon after sunrise, which was fabulous ....and a great way to see the shallows and tidal effects!!
I spent quite a time on board the new Najads at the Show clarifying a variety of points and also spent time on the Yanmar, Raymarine, Brunton and Reed's Almanac stands, among others.  I have decided to try to avoid a secondary alternator on the engine, going for a large primary one instead (but carrying a complete spare!!) - it will need a bracket to be fabricated and will also need a second belt.  I'm also hoping to simplify future engine oil changes with the simple addition of a flexible pipe to the sump at the base of the dipstick tube.  David Sheppard of Brunton's is being very supportive in the supply of an Autoprop which I'm installing again - they are so very effective & efficient. Reed's are introducing an online version of their well-known Almanac which will be kept up-to-date and so will be very useful before passages - especially with a small printer on board, as I hope to have.  They are hoping to extend this online coverage to the US and Caribbean Almanacs fairly soon.
I spent three productive days at the Show and then drove up to London for my flight back to Vancouver - with an unexpected stop for some urgent dental work just before my midday flight check in - I'm fortunate in having a good dentist as a son.... and I'm lucky my problem cropped up while I was still just in the UK!
Back in Vancouver, I made the final Dinner of the OCC Rally - held at the Royal Vancouver Y.C. overlooking English Bay with a lovely sunset outlook.  Excellent food, amusing photos, ...a good evening ... and then over to Sidney on Vancouver Island the next morning, by ferry, to see several friends in the Victoria area.  Barbara, VE7KLU, who is the Great Northern Boaters Net Control, kindly took care of me and we enjoyed catching up on our news face-to-face, rather than over the airwaves or on Skype!!  I was delighted to be able to speak to Darlene, KL0YC, on the morning Net - I'd last seen her and Floyd in their remote bay near Dixon Entrance on my way south past Ketchikan in 2005 as they were preparing to 'hunker' down with sacks of flour etc for the Alaskan winter!!
I was also really pleased  finally to meet up with Glenn Wakefield and his wife Marylou over dinner in Victoria one night.  We'd tried to keep a daily radio 'sched' as we both sailed across the South Atlantic in February/March this year. He was on his circumnavigation non-stop westabout' (the 'difficult' way!), heading towards Cape Horn, in frequently bad conditions as he neared the Falklands where he finally had to give up after a couple of extra-nasty waves rolled & damaged 'Kim Chow'.   I was on my way from Namibia to Trinidad, via St Helena and Fernando da Noronha, Brazil, in conditions that varied from flat calm Doldrums to 30knot squalls in good-sized seas - very easy compared with what he had been facing, even allowing for my enforced ten days of  handsteering with autopilot failure!  It's always interesting to meet someone face to face after you've spent time talking over the radio to them, never having met them previously, and there's often a long-lasting bond that exists between those of us who have met at sea, especially between singlehanders.... maybe because we have a mutual understanding of each other's problems.
I'm now trying to finish with a few outstanding boat items, notably trying to deal with the wiring of the new boat using tinned wire - so 'normal' in North America but surprisingly unusual in European boats.  The best tinned wire is American, & so not in standard metric sizes, & it costs more than untinned, of course. 

Another interesting item has been looking at the use of the new (energy-efficient) LED lighting - fairly straightforward down belowdecks, but the development of LED navigation lights has been a problem for manufacturers who have to make sure they are in line with Col Regs.  My understanding is that it is difficult to get a good green light in particular and over time the light emission could well reduce - which in a permanent fixture (with no replaceable light bulbs) will be impossible to remedy without changing the entire fitting.   Also, I hear that the diodes needed to stabilize the current to the LEDs (they don't like a varying current)  can cause an overheating problem .  As for the strobe light (NOT in Col Regs) I was hoping to put in place for the rare occasion I might feel it to be of use (also to be ready for 2010 SHTP Race, if I should do it) - strobes seem not to be being incorporated into the new masthead LED fittings because of their quite different current requirements.

The only other main item of interest has been the major problems I've had with Vista....!!  I just spent hours trying to sort problems out, ending up re-formatting my hard-drive and having to reinstall everything... grrr!!!  What a waste of time!!  Bring back XP!!!

Busy August!

(See 'Articles&Interviews' page for Latitude 38 August 2008 report of my sad grounding in Mexico in June)

August was a busy month, with thoughts of a new boat taking up a lot of my time!
The return upwind sail to San Francisco on "Islander" that I'd been looking forward to turned into a bit of a nightmare & had to be aborted just over a day out from Kauai due to water leaking in from several unseen places & eventually reaching to above the cabin sole, despite my efforts at baling out. With no bilge pumps working and a 3 week passage ahead, it was clearly not sensible to continue on. On closing the coast of Kauai after dawn, the Monitor wind-steering (which had been working quite well up to that point) came adrift from the steering wheel due to broken hose-clamps - mendable, given time & plenty of patience, but since I was then sailing nicely within 6 hrs of Hanalei Bay I decided it was simpler & safer just to handsteer the remaining distance in to the anchorage and hope the slowly-rising, oily bilge-water wouldn't cause me a major problem - I got in safely, after heaving to while I baled out a bit more & checked my position and course to steer ...
I then flew to London for a few days, celebrating my birthday by signing a contract for a new boat - a Najad 380, just over a foot longer than my old Najad 361. I had lots of small but important (to me) changes I wanted, so I then flew to Sweden to discuss these in detail with the Najad yard at Henan, north of Gothenburg, on the island of Orust- traditionally, a centre of Swedish boat-building since Viking times. By focussing on thoughts of the new boat, I'm avoiding the sadness of remembering the last painful days of my old 'Nereida'. There's certainly lots to think about for 'Nereida II' & I feel quite excited over the thought of sailing her by next Spring - she looks a lovely boat, is similar in many ways to the Najad 361 I know so well, is designed to sail well, and with my changes she should work well for me. I was even more cheerful last week when I saw the insurance money come into my account!!
I'm now in San Francisco where I've been both looking for new items for the new boat and also looking over & sorting out the salvaged items from Mexico, brought up by Skip Weahunt on 'Annamarina' - a big "Thank you" to Skip for his kindness there. Quite a lot has had to be thrown away as being too water-damaged to be worthwhile keeping and I have to figure out how to get the remainder to the U.K. I was fortunate to be offered the use of space on shore by Ruben of 'Sparky', while I sort it all out - a slow process. Ruben also gave me a lot of help yesterday, moving the gear using his old truck - perfect!
I have a few more days here in the Bay area of San Francisco, sorting old gear and researching/buying new gear, as well as catching up with friends here, before going up to British Columbia this weekend to join the Ocean Cruising Club Desolation Sound Rally for some sailing in those lovely waters.
I was very sorry this morning to hear the sad news of Skip Allen on 'Wildflower' who is himself safe on a freighter but had to abandon and scuttle his boat after damage during 40-50 knot winds on Sunday on his return passage towards Santa Cruz - he had been expecting to make landfall on Monday or Tuesday. I hope that Ken on 'Harrier' and Rob & Aaron on 'Feolena' all make landfall safely soon. (For news, see www.sfbaysss.org)

27-28July08 To Kauai

27th July 08
I'm writing this as I fly to Kauai from Ealing for the finish of the SHTP08 Race - a mix of sad & happy feelings - sad not to have been racing myself in "Nereida", as I was meant to be, and happy at the thought that I'll soon be meeting up with the racers, most of whom are now coming to the end of their ocean passage from SF - a mix for them of light winds near the start and overnight strong squalls nearing Hawaii, with lovely constant Trades over the last week's run towards Hawaii. I'm really looking forward to seeing them all - especially under the 'tree' in the evenings of the coming week - somehow it will be more meaningful from this perspective, having followed the race via the website but knowing just how it will have been for them after my own race experience two years ago.

I've been so busy over my short time in the U.K., what with the usual 'catching up' on paperwork, trying to see or speak to friends, answering the many emails I've had when the news of Nereida's end reached both friends and strangers via my website or mutual friends .. and looking for the new 'Nereida II' .... The more I think about
that, the more I appreciate how it took eleven years to get her into good 'cruising mode' ... and now I have to start all over.. and try to do it all within a few months or so.... a lot to think about! At present, I'm looking at the Najad 380 and the Hallberg Rassy 37 - very similar in size and performance, although the Najad, with the new design, would probably 'pip' the HR37 on speed and definitely has a lot of improved design & detail features over the N361 - which I'm happy to see.

I went for a sail a week ago on a N380 and it felt fine - very similar to 'Nereida' but clearly a touch larger and also a touch more lively - the rig is definitely bigger although the displacement is in proportion. I'm not inclined to go for in-mast furling, so that cuts the second-hand options down tremendously since it seems most boats these days come with that option - it's almost a standard. I've got quite used to slab reefing downwind, with lines back to the cockpit & taking my time as the wind builds... very occasionally, it gets a bit fraught, but mostly I just take my time, knowing that we might be heeling a touch initially but that's OK ... we'll be fine after reefing. I keep being told that in-mast furling is now so much more reliable than it used to be - but I have this vision of a HR36 at the dock in Hamble Point Marina some years back, with three guys (one up the mast!) cursing and struggling for several hours to free a creased, semi-furled mains'l...!!! Not something I relish mid-ocean!!

Some of my priorities for the new boat are: tinned, labelled wires throughout (tinned wire still NOT standard practice in Europe!) and good engine access (especially for regular routine maintenance such as oil & filter changes) sensible, organized stowage of spares and tools - preferably in a dedicated area (I'm fed up with having spares scattered all over the boat!), over-sized wiring to prevent (hopefully!) voltage-drop problems,... But I also want a boat that will happily give 150+ mile days in good wind and sea conditions - yes, I love being out on the ocean on long passages, but why prolong the passage when I could be enjoying my landfall sooner, after a really good sail, exploring a new place while getting ready for the
next passage? One of the racers wrote last week something to the effect that 'any two boats within sight of each other instantly make a race' - how true!! I vividly remember the passage from Bali to Christmas Island in the S. Indian Ocean last year when 'Trudel' had left the day before me ... There was something very satisfying about slowly overhauling, and then overtaking, them well before making landfall!! Brings out the competitive streak in me, I suppose! But it's also nice to see my boat performing well in reasonable wind conditions, despite building seas.

I got no sleep last night with all I was trying to do as I was packing... My new laptop was misbehaving so badly that I ended up spending over one-and-a-half hours on the phone to Sony support - but having re-formatted the hard drive, all seems to be OK now - but, of course, that meant I've had to update and re-load so many items... Also, the 'beta' version of Airmail within Vista really 'hangs up' the laptop - I've had to abandon it and go for the previous version - a pity, since the beta version has some excellent features.

I'm hoping for some sleep before landing at L.A. where I change on to a direct flight to Lihue airport on Kauai, arriving Sunday evening - it will have been a very long day & night for me since local time there is 11 hours behind London time... think I'll sleep in tomorrow!

Mon 28th July

Last night I slept really well after arriving in Hanalei with Gayle & Ilana Kirschbaum, wife and daughter of Tom who's racing on 'Feral', who had so very kindly met me at Lihue airport and taken me out for dinner before the drive to the north of Kauai Island.

I just missed seeing the finish of Skip on 'Wildflower' (very likely overall winner this year after a superb sail) but did manage to see Don cross the line on 'Warrior's Wish' from the viewpoint on the 'Bluff' above Hanalei Bay. Then I was taken out in a dinghy to congratulate both racers and help with some re-anchoring ... so many boats in the bay, some on very long rodes which ended up under other boats, hence the need to move. Later I met up with everyone under the 'Tree' by the lovely beach, to catch up on news and listen in on the remaining racers' evening rollcall and chat session - they seem to be having a good final sail in, although not all without problems. We all feel for Ruben on tiny 'Sparky' who had been doing so well - dismasted 600 miles out but making fair progress under jury rig. (See www.sfbaysss.org for the racers own logs and position reports during the Single-Handed Trans Pac race).

The weather has been typically full of heavy showers, with warm sunshine in between. It's a lovely place and I'm enjoying the sociable atmosphere and the chance to get back out on the water from time to time!

Moving on... looking for Nereida II... going sailing again soon!

Tuesday 15th July 2008

I should have been on the Start Line with "Nereida" for the Single-Handed TransPac Race to Kauai, Hawaii, which started last Saturday 12th July ... so I joined the racers several days beforehand in San Francisco and was able to enjoy their company firstly at Marina Village and Encinal Y.C. in Alameda & then at the Corinthian Y.C. in Tiburon from where I saw them off literally on the Start Line ... from the 'Latitude 38' photo boat - thank you for that kind thought, LaDonna!! The photo boat went out beyond the Golden Gate Bridge and got close to each boat in turn which was great fun... and it was nice to see the racers on a 'high' in good wind just after the start - smiling and waving at us! I have to admit it was also painful for me to see them starting and not to be sailing with them on poor 'Nereida'...
A few days earlier, Barbara Euser on 'Islander' was looking for someone to bring her boat back from Kauai after the race - I jumped at the chance - so I'll be single-handing 'Islander' back on the 2 1/2 - 3 week 'Return' from Kauai to San Francisco - I'm really looking forward to that and was very happy when Barbara accepted my offer! 'Islander' is a Bristol 34, quite different from Nereida, although similar in size, so it will be an interesting trip....!
I'm now back in London, trying to sort out various things... like my insurance claim, replacing lost items, trying to retrieve computer data (photos, emails, etc) from damaged hard drives, writing up my story, catching up with friends and family & several months' post... and looking for "Nereida II".
On July 27th, I'll fly out to Kauai to see the racers finish over the following week, and get in a bit of R&R, and I expect to start the return sail to San Francisco on 'Islander' on 5th August.
Plans after that are unclear, although I'm hoping to get to B.C. in September for some more sailing... the thought of being off the water for a long time is not one I enjoy! But I have greatly appreciated the many kind offers from friends to join them both on & off the water ... and, of course, there's 'Annamarina' down in Manzanillo, waiting for the hurricane season to pass or at least diminish, before being brought up to San Francisco at some point.... "watch this space!" 

P.S. Have lost all phone/address details for all my friends with loss of my laptops and papers - so please email me with that info... thanks.

Recollections.... and moving on through Nereida s 11th birthday

Wed 2nd July 08
Problems never come singly!!...  I'm writing this from Las Hadas Marina, Manzanillo, where "Annamarina" is berthed now.  We got going yesterday morning, as planned, after my overnight bus ride to Manzanillo from Acapulco...but her prop suddenly lost a blade (we now know it was badly cracked due to electrolysis) and we had  to come limping back after two hrs headed north to Puerto Vallarta (a 'hurricane hole') where we'd hoped to leave her while we both flew back to San Francisco, the original plan being to come back down to sail north again fairly soon after 12th July.

Trying to find a replacement propellor (or someone to repair it) is a problem here - it's likely only to be available from the US - so we're flying to San Francisco very soon and Skip will get a prop whilst there - he needs to be in SF at the same time as I want to be, so that works well.

I'm still half with "Nereida" - and remembering so many good people who helped me:

...Javier and Isaiah, the two local fishermen on the beach after daybreak, who went to such efforts to help with my anchors, digging holes to bed them in the sand to try to prevent them from being dragged as "Nereida" was flipped over from one side to the other by the surge on the surf-ridden beach, while we tried to stop her from moving so she could be saved with a tow off the beach - an outside hope in that remote location but I refused to give up hope too soon ....

...The two students, Esteban & Miguel, from Mexico City, who spent many hours during the first day with me, trying to help me as much as they could and translating to everyone I needed to communicate with, despite this being part of only a very short camping holiday for them.  They had excellent English and were a great support at a difficult time for me....

...The Captain of the Marines who tried his best to help  - taking me to the town via his base camp to make phone calls and posting guards over "Nereida" for several days in an attempt to stop stealing from her while I was away from her overnight.....

...The family of Jose Maria Marquez in Acapulco who cared for me and tried to find people to help me in different ways... and their neighbours who also welcomed me and tried to cheer me up when one of them celebrated his birthday with a big party on the Saturday night....

...Several families who would come over during the daytime from the nearest village of Tenexpa to serve food and drinks from the beach 'palapas' (shelters) and insisted on giving me food and drink in between my frantic efforts to save what possessions I could as poor "Nereida" got more damaged, took on more and more sand and water and sank lower and lower into the beach just below the high water mark... so very sad for me ... 

The photo shows the lovely lagoon (Laguna Tenexpa) full of birds and waterlife behind Nereida's beach (on Playa Michigan) with the 'palapas' catering for occasional campers and day visitors to the reserve area where she lies - her mast is visible above the palapas.

Lagoon behind Nereida's beach

Then there were the opposite happenings.... I would find strangers turning over my possessions which had ended up in the sand with seemingly no thought for my feelings ....  I tried to explain that she was "mi casita, mi vida" (my home, my life)... which for some of them finally got through... but there were also 'vultures' who descended and took advantage of my situation, cutting so many lines and taking things which they had no right to take .... painful....

I didn't mind so much giving whatever food and anything else of use to them to the local families - they were clearly quite poor and I felt it was the least I could do for them in return for all their help.

Today in Las Hadas, Manzanillo, was a good example of the summer weather hereabouts.... very strong winds and heavy rain caused by a tropical storm passing close by.... we were assured Manzanillo is safe to leave 'Annamarina' for the time being - but we're not convinced of that - there's always the chance, however remote, of a hurricane hitting over the next few months.  So we hope she'll be safe here until she can be moved to somewhere further north and finally to San Francisco - at which point I'll be able to sort out what I've salvaged.

Difficult times.... but I've had so many emails of support and kind offers of help from so many people - both good friends, acquaintances and total strangers - thank you all so very much for that.. I've very much appreciated those emails from you all...