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...!!!!
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.