Archive for December, 2010

31 Dec 2010

ilovexiaoya Wind Generator – self destruct

53 Comments Uncategorized

Well had an interesting experieince with a wind generator I bought from ebay from ilovexiaoya. First thing I noticed was that the shaft was lose in the bearings – which is very bad news, I had to wait for the wind speed to exceed 11ms for it to start turning, when it did turn it accelerated then spun itself out of the direction of the wind ūüôĀ

Now that the bearing have loosed up it spins in > 8 ms but that is quite a strong breeze and really not acceptable, the miss aligned shaft causes it to vibrate so much I have tied it off, the nose cone has already worked itself lose.

Currently in talks with ilovexiaoya regarding a refund, he wants me to send it back China at a cost of ¬£100 for a refund of ¬£80….. meaning I would be ¬£200 out of pocket after postage costs!

Don’t buy this item!

28 Dec 2010

Life at anchor – it’s a sleepless night on a river.

5 Comments Sailing

I headed out to Ferraguda on the 23rd of December and dropped my anchor a good 50m from the nearest floating obstacle, first night was fine, Christmas eve was a night I wished there was a santa… I will never forget it.

I slunk myself into slumber only to be woken at 03:00, I had no idea why … I just knew something was wrong. A quick look out the window told me the reason, the shore was a mere 10m away, it was high tide and the wind was blowing with the flood tide – those two forces in cohesion put so much strain on the anchor I had drifted a good 75m straight to the shore only to be saved by a mooring boy.

I knew I was fine but to make sure I turned the engine on. I was half asleep and the engine didn’t start, I was worried so went outside in the howling wind and rain to make my spare anchor ready. After bleeding the fuel line and still confused I stood back swore and realised the ‘Engine Stop’ was still open …….. w.h.a.t.a.w.a.l.l.y. ¬†You pull the stop to stop the engine and push it in to start it it’s 101 but you forget these things as a ‘newb’.

With the engine started I felt much safer, if anything went wrong and I got any closer I would push away, I checked the tide table and knew the shit would truely hit the fan when the tide went out in the opposite direction of the wind … which would be in the next 30 minutes, I had 20m of chain and a boy between it, I could expect a swell and to ride the length of all the lose chain depending on whether the tide or wind won the resistance battle.

The picture above tells the story, I did not sleep as wind and water fought a battle I could do nothing about, they wove me round and round the buoy.

I must have passed the boy 10 times and I was out in full wet weather gear, with my lifejacket and clipped on trying to lassoo the bouy as I passed it to prevent me from moving so much, I had little luck. Travelling at 2 knots down the length of my chain was NOT fun, thank god I have an encapsulated keel because it would have wrapped round any other.

I had to get a diver out to retrieve the anchor … now that’s a story for another day. Diver versus a 3knot tide … in England that would be illegal and require massive backup … we threw him off the edge.

** that picture is a the GPS tracking my position while at anchor over a 5 hour period from 03:00 to 0800. The circle resulted as the tide was turning, the zig zag is the ebb tide fighting the wind with the bouy in the centre.

27 Dec 2010

The high seas, the taste of what’s to come!

5 Comments Contessa 32

Well I have been on the water now for two weeks and hit the seas on every opportunity. The marina is full 200+ yachts when we said we were heading out past the break waters they looked at us like crazy idiots. You could hear the sea roaring 2 miles from the coast, the break water and beacons were invisible amidst the breaking waves … game on!

Mike who came to aid me on its first voyage into the deep after its refit was in full wet weather gear, I was still dashing about making sure everything was secure. As we tacked into the breakwaters the first wave to hit us swamped the cockpit drenching me, a quick change into full wet weather gear and we were in the midst of the chaos. The swell was 4 to 6 meters high and it was a confused sea Рthe waves were coming from all directions, I have never been seasick and hope never to be but I was green and swallowing both my bile and infront of Mike most definitely my pride.

We were fully reefed, this was sailing at its best, drenched and howling as the bow beat into the swell. I couldn’t go below, the motion was sickening .. I am going to have to swallow my pride and buy seasick pills, we were turning on all three axis not pleasant … even the fishermen did not go out in these seas.

A six hour trip lots of squalls amazing sailing, the contessa proved her sea¬†worthiness yet again, she didn’t slam into the valleys of the waves as most yachts that sacrifice beam (width) for increased living space¬†do, her tulip shaped hull penetrated them and obediently lifted her chin above the water before the crest. This was like no roller coaster I had been on and we were in control.

It was so rough we couldn’t turn (tack) unless timing it with the waves, and a contessa can normally turn on a dime. The contessa is a wet yacht and the bilge pump was running over time as water got in via crevices I have yet to discover, most notably however is the gas locker which was terribly designed to allow gas to escape via the transom but also allows water to coming rushing into the locker when on the port tack where the drain exits.

Since then we have been out a few times, the seas have been a lot more timid the wind still gale force with the sleet coming in at 90 degrees and again I am so glad to be out in the contessa, no production boat can deal with those conditions so comfortably. No slapping of hulls just very obediently closed hauled and nicely keeled over … no sea sickness. She sails like a dream!!

I would give any of my 10 fingers for a self tailing winch since hauling the genoa in is asking for any one of them, if you can’t haul in tight before passing the apex of the window it’s a tough winch.

Happy to be alive, happy to have tasted the salty tang of life and confident I can deal with it again. “You would be very unlucky to encounter these seas again” said Mike the skipper … I loved them and as long as my tiller pilot doesn’t pack up on me I would welcome them. Without a wind vane or tiller pilot I would be in despair.

I have yet to learn how to tack with the tiller pilot in those conditions, the only way I can do it is with the tiller between my knees and my hands ripping at the sheets and winch – what I would do for self tailing.

19 Dec 2010

Varnished teak or natural teak? American or Brit?

5 Comments Uncategorized

I find it amusing how a society that is famous for it’s plastic breasts and perfect teeth is also the nation besotted by the appearance of their teak. They can polish their wood, I rather get mine wet.

I have a pretty teak toerail that if varnished would look spiffing against all the other colours and make marina gawpers quiver in awe. The cost of repairing the teak toerail is massive so I thought it would be best to protect it somehow and make it last a further 25 years. I set about doing some research and the results made all those wasted hours seem worth it.

I must have spent a week looking at options, everyone has a different opinion. One persons Cetol is another’s Epifanes both of which are rendered useless by Honey Teak and so the arguments goes on with lots of fancy pictures to back it all up and stories of woe as they all discover removing the products is a ball ache. Now curiously enough all these opinions and suggestions for oils / varnishes and epoxies all tend to come from US forums like cruiserforum, search a UK forum and they ALL agree ‘do nothing’.

Teak is naturally very resistant to weathering, it is supposed to go unprotected. When you reach for a hand rail it in tough conditions you want to hold on to it not marvel at it’s smooth honey like surface as you slip below the waves. If you varnish your toerail remember that all it takes is for water to get under the toerail to push the varnish off.

If you want to do anything to it, clean it with soapywater and soft brush or a scotch pad.

Wax on. Wax off!

18 Dec 2010

Pictures of the boat!

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Work in progress

The boat is actually ready to go in the water now. Hopefully all will go well on the 20th, which is launch day.

Sexy - gold trim mhm!

16 Dec 2010

Cat ate the Parrot.

No Comments Living

I struggle to find an excuse for the lack of a wooden leg or eye-patch but atleast I can blame the absence of a parrot on a cat.

I have seen quite a few people on boats with dogs and cats, considering adopting the local boat yard cat.

Great for keeping mice out and I can always kiss it’s ass when I run out of chapstick.

05 Dec 2010

Update – Aiming to leave Jan 2011

2 Comments Living

Well smoke me a kipper, ruffle me a peasant and grab me a milkmaid for I shall be in for Christmas ūüôĀ I have avoided the Christmas red commonly unavoidably planted as you enter the shop by entering through the exit¬†preferring¬†the 2009 Burgundy red, however strangely once the latter red is consumed the former becomes all the more tolerable.

I hope to leave before then, but my parents have laid on a smattering of emotional blackmail that borders on choking. The boat will be in the water, I just can’t decide whether to sail around the med getting intimate with Maria or fly to the UK and sign up to the dole while I am there…. why not!

On a serious note, I haven’t touched anything that has a legal age requirement since leaving the UK. Will remain that way till the boat touches water again …. had to edit the rest out after my mum left a box of tissues next to my bed …. seriously!

So frustrating not being able to finish the boat simply because of rain.

On a side note I have discovered flossing – where have you been all my life, seriously Baz Luhrmann despite sounding like a spreadable product really is a Deity. Floss try it, every day, it’s so yummy … edible floss now there is an idea, I hate clearing up the pieces next to the sink.

Also sugar! Wow it’s amazing makes stuff, sweet, I am obviously making the right sounds when I eat it since mum is making cakes almost every day! Loving it at home but there is a reason I left home 10 years ago, need freedom!

Bloody weather.

05 Dec 2010

Old man Huffs n Puffs – mooring breaks

1 Comment Uncategorized

My old man hasn’t been having much luck with his mooring, the first one was destroyed by an over zealous French man with penchant for chain, the second one was a little too light and resulted in the boat (a small Sunfast day sailor) drifting across the harbour and coming to a rest on the beach. So he borrowed the mooring next to his which was vacated by a 45′ only a few days earlier, on the first strong wind a chain link appears to have broken sending his boat careering to the other side of the harbour just before the rocks.

Luckily he doesn’t have a keel so there was no damage, if it had happened to any other boat or mine it would have ended up in tears.

03 Dec 2010

Packing Fudge

No Comments Uncategorized

Another job well done – the stuffing box now correctly packs the fudge like grease down the shaft instead of the engine room.Was fixed by finger tightening the bolts that compress the stuffing, terminology pfffft.

Stern tube fudge

Stern tube fudge

02 Dec 2010

Yarrrrgh.. Much to learn you still have! The people I have met.

3 Comments Living

The sailing community is second to none for people eagre to lend a hand and all have an opinion which will contradict the next person you speak to. If you are easily swayed you would be a very lost individual, and as someone who is really learning the ropes of yacht maintenance and live-aboard sailing on the whole I lap up their advice and get very confused.

Some people are very passionate and refuse debate, a trait I am certain that is common amongst sailors who have but themselves to argue with on long voyages… quite looking forward to that :p Take wood for example, it’s a common morning occurance and I want to do something with my teak toe rail, I asked lots of people all suggested something different, most including the carpenters said “Do nothing, leave it natural” – you can’t have something beautiful and not give it a good polish I want others to admire it…¬† I am still looking for the right treatment.

On to the people and their stories:

People Dave


Dave, has been living aboard a 26′ wooden boat build by his father some 50 years ago. He helped me sail the boat from the buyer in Lisbon down to Portimao. A retired marketing exec who enjoys the slower pace of life in Portugal. Absolute legend!



Alan has two wooden boats in the same yard as me, can commonly be seen drinking and working on his boat from 10AM. Great guy, like many who have bought project boats regrets the day the thought entered his head.



John the local electrician and he found me the Contessa 32 in Lisbon. Boy can he talk, just have to make sure he is not charging you or you will be in for a surprise!



Peter the rigger, he is in great demand and helped me fit the inner forestay and completed a rigging survey. Has a little dog that pisses in his car, very cute though.



Canvas Mike, tought me all about sail trim, rough weather sailing and weather systems.

Lagos Homies

Lagos Homies

In Lagos there are about 30 yachts with families / couples waiting out the winter, they meet up once a week. One family have a web cam session with their children’s class room every Tuesday, being on a boat has to be the best education for a child. Been a great source of information, I got paper charts of the Atlantic and Carrib, fuel tanks and all sorts, they love helping out.

02 Dec 2010

Maintenance is expensive!! Рcrevice corrosion in the rudder stock ££££

17 Comments Contessa 32

On the trip from Lisbon we identified a vibration in the prop at high RPM this was due to the bearing in the stern tube having about a mm of play. There was also a lot of grease at the point where the shaft enters the back of the engine room via the stern gland or as I like to call it the stuffing box, I was worried that the grease was not going down the shaft and leaking out of the stuffing box instead.

One simple fix ended up very costly. Quite frankly what happened made me feel very nauseous …

Stern gear

Stern gear

We dropped the rudder to get to the prop. The rudder stock had crevice corrosion which occurs due to lack of oxygen in that area. No problem they would split the rudder in half and make a new frame ….

Wet Rudder

Wet Rudder

They cut a panel out of the rudder and vinegar came poring out, acetic acid is the product of osmosis, it was sodden. It’s normal for rudders to get wet, but this was sodden / rotten and since it was 30 years old I thought it best to get the real thing from Jeremy Rodgers yard in the UK. I didn’t want anymore problems ……

So the rudder arrived, but it was too short, the pin in the rudder did not go into the heel plate. I called the JR boat yard and said I would manufacture a bearing, they said they do this on the new builds and apparantly that is where all the weight should be taken, the rudders weight should be on the skeg?!

Rudder HP on pin

Heel Plate on rudder pin

This is the heel plate that sits at the bottom of the boat / skeg and holds the rudder up, now on my last rudder all of the weight was taken on the bronze bearing in the cockpit.

To me, the picture on the left is not a surface you would want the weight of the rudder on, especially since by default that nylon bush wouldn’t be there. Nylon rubbing on a GRP painted surface – no thanks.

Rudder bronze bearing

Rudder bronze bearing

Now this is a surface I would happily have the weight of the rudder on, with this rudder the two surfaces don’t touch.

Not happy mounting the rudder until I find out what’s going on, every tom dick and pedro has their own opinion.

If I hadn’t dropped the rudder I would never have seen this and I might have been fine for a year or two, but by that same token it could have broken in 6 meter seas. Doesn’t make the costs any easier to bear.