Archive for Uncategorized

14 Apr 2011

Arrrgggghh!! – I be losing me marbles – Windvane troubles

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The black connections had to be glued in at both ends after they were pulled out.

The plan was to head of across the Atlantic as quickly as possible, I sailed to Los Palmas from Corralejo which was a 16 hour journey. The Navik self steering was destroyed at 0200 when I ran over some debris, the entire servo rudder knocked clean off, I know people have sailed around the world with these windvanes but they are poorly constructed, very brittle and over 35 years all the plastic components are living on borrowed time. Also you can’t buy any spares for them, I have had four separate things break on them.

I tried to keep everything to a bare minimum but I have learnt one thing …. do not skimp on the most important items!! Your windvane is THE most important item after your sails and rigging, hand steering for 10 hours is enough to make anyone go crazy.

So with a broken electronic tiller pilot and half a windvane I now need to decide which to replace … do I spend 600 on a electronic gizmo or do I spend 2300 on a windvane. For me the option that would give me the best peace of mind is the windvane but all that money quickly reduces my cruising budget.

Then once I have made a decision I have to wait for delivery …. I am cutting things fine, but I will not stay in the Canaries! I am doing this for the sailing … which should tell me that I windvane option is the way to go.

To maintain my marbles, how deep should I dig, I don’t want to take the cheap route only to regret it 300 miles of the coast.

Navik minus the rudder

Royally pissed off, not to mention very tired, covered in bruises and one hell of a cold. Another yacht was lost with the skipper and dog airlifted 70 miles from my position on the way here… story to follow.

02 Apr 2011

Graciosa – Araciffe – Carmen – Callero (shower time!) – Blanca

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Just arrived in Graciosa

I am quickly making my way South stopping at as many places as possible, the wind has died down sadly but due to arrive again tomorrow hopefully allowing me to sail to Fuerventura. Callero was the first time I met people who could speak English .. it’s a thriving tourist hot spot with tonnes of bars and the inevitable Irish presence. I was however evicted from the place as the marina was not yet complete, was by far the nicest place I have stayed thus far however. Tonight I anchored in Blanca opposite the expensive fancy pants Rubicon, just waiting for them to push me off.

The cliffs of Lanzerote from Graciosa


When I left Graciosa I motored into the swell (4m) and wind (25knts), I was only making 1.5 knots against these two forces, the bow of the boat submerged as I descended each swell. I then hoisted my sails once I got past the headland only for the Navik to break again … I sailed down wind for 4 hours to Araciffe by hand with the swell crashing on my stern or under the boat. When I arrived in Araffice, royally pissed off I spent a further 4 hours trying to get a purchase on the seabed. I gave up and took a mooring having hauled up the best part of 150 meters of chain in my attempts to anchor. The state of what remains of the local pontoon says it all.

Horrible horrible anchorage, never again.

GPS plot of my anchoring attempts

From Araciffe I went to Carmen which was a wonderful place, I was taken under the wing by a group from Bristol and had my first night out. I was however evicted in the morning as it’s not complete and sent packing to Calero.

Fantastic Port, Camera - not complete yet.

20 eu a night - great facilities

In Calero I had my first shower since leaving and had dinner with some German sailors.

It's free and very nice, Blanca my boat is on the right.

And so I motored to my current port Blanca, nice place, I have taken another persons mooring so I am a little worried how long I can stay here. beats paying though.  Plenty of nudist beaches along the way to keep the journey interesting, although my book was a far more pleasant on the eyes.

13 Mar 2011

Replacing the sanitary hose, smell you later.

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Here is a job I wish I hadn’t started, the boat originally didn’t have proper hose which resulted in hose that smells. I found that when I pumped the toilet a waft would come from the areas where the plumbing can be found. Fragrant and not in the least pleasant, unlike the jasmine which is currently in bloom along the cliffs.

Biggest problem is fitting metric sanitation hose over a 2″ blakes seacock, it simply doesn’t. Took me 5 attempts to figure out the best method. You need a deep pot of boiling water and a wooden 2″ stopper, the type you use prevent the boat from sinking when a skin fitting breaks. Make the end soft in the boiling water apply Vaseline to the wooden stopper and hammer it a good 2.5″ into the end of the softened hose effectively making it wider, then it will easily fit over the blakes valve.

I regret doing this in the water and as it was the discharge hose it has stank me and the boat out, furthermore any liquid left in the hose which I did not capture was soaked into the wood – yummy.

Next job is to replace my gearbox which involves removing the engine. No wind for 10 days, I need to leave soon, June and the hurricanes are soon approaching, my deadline to leave Portugal is 1st April then I will be forced into the Med which doesn’t interest me at all.

While you are at it I have the following advice:

  • Use olive oil down the toilet to keep the pump lubricated.
  • Use vinegar to break up the limescale that builds up.
  • Replace the inlet tube as it builds up nasty bacteria that is not destroyed by the cleaning products you use for discharge.
10 Feb 2011

Ready to leave – so what have I been doing?

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I have been plagued by a few problems and decided to bite the bullet and splash out on fixing them. Just waiting on a battery to be delivered on Monday and then I will be on my merry way. Although sadly I have missed a perfect weather window which would have been downwind sailing for 4 days, it’s all a bit indifferent at the moment.

Had a great time so far in Portugal, sailing when the wind was there, playing tennis, getting intimate with the sand dunes and above all enjoying the company of fellow sailors. There are four boats with sailors no older than 35 parked in Alvor ready to head of to the Canaries, Jeromy and his missus from France and two Dutch solo sailors Simon and Shelly. We take turns eating on each others boats and help each other with travel plans and maintenance tasks.

Simon, Shelly, me and lots of Edam

Looking at the current weather I will not be leaving till the 17th of Feb at the earliest. Considering getting crew.

31 Dec 2010

ilovexiaoya Wind Generator – self destruct

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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 🙁

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!

19 Dec 2010

Varnished teak or natural teak? American or Brit?

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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!

05 Dec 2010

Old man Huffs n Puffs – mooring breaks

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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

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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

18 Nov 2010

How to fix your Volvo Penta 2002 water pump.

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I have a volvo 2GM20 with a massive 16hp of puff, it’s in good nick, even so it has been completely overhauled especially since it leaked as much water as I had to pump out.

Mine was spouting water, although not much of a concern it would get worse over time. I set about buying all the spares I needed to rebuild the water pumps components, the parts for the pump alone came to £250 then came the fun of removing and assembling it ….

Items Required

Items Required

Items required.

Insert Bearing

Insert the seal / bearing

Bearings shaft and locking seal

Bearings shaft and locking seal

Two bearings and a locking seal go into one end, use a socket set piece and a hydrolic press to get the two bearings onto the shaft first, then also using the hydrolic press push the shaft with the two bearings into the casing.


Pushing in the bearings

Nice wrist action - inserting the bearings

To get the bearings in you need a hydrolic press, Serj the local engineer who when not chasing tail or wrapping his car round lamp posts can fix / make anything.

Water pump mounted

Ready to roll, note the hand crank on the engine, I haven’t figured out how to use it yet.

19 Oct 2010

First Stop – Lisbon

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I was anxiously awaiting the opening of the boarding gate for the Easyjet flight to Faro, my bag was well in excess of the enforced 15kg max. As it turns out the lady who didn’t even look up when checking my passport barely blinked when my bag came in over twice the limit. Despite the elation of not having to pay or even split the contents into separate bags I was silently resentful that my feat of carrying an Indian carry all with no handles went unrecognised.

I settled into the middle of three seats, clearly a move the couple would come to regret as my well travelled unwashed self penetrated the barriers formed by their imposing Eau de Toilette. I surely hope they came to regret leaving that seat free and hope it was because they had a lovers quarrel and and not because they were selfish gits looking for more leg room.

Upon arriving in Faro I was met by my Father and the legend that is Dave who would be helping me sail the Contessa from Lisbon back past Faro to Portamao.

The drive up to Lisbon (80kph) took as long as my commute across London and as long as the flight to Portugal (650kph), the journey back would take five days at a leisurely (5kph).

10 Oct 2010

Introductions Please -Marelanja

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Been quite a week, flew to Rome to view a 26′ Contessa. Like all boats it was not as described in the shiny brochure but there was no denying her build quality and upkeep.

I was going to buy it on Wednesday, everything was set, paper work was filled out … then out of the blue a phone call from a broker describing a Contessa 32 for sale in Lisbon, owner was desperate to sell. Fate intervened, surveyor was dispatched post haste to Lisbon to see if it was as good as described, everything came back positive price was too good to resist so the sale ensued.

So in the space of 24 hours I had unexpectantly aquired a boat over twice the size, the fact that it was in Lisbon would allow for cheap visits and a much simpler sail to Alvor where I had already planned to fit her out for the Atlantic….