A New Season, a New Start

After the terrible season last year we’re hoping for a much better on this time. Now I don’t have to spend so much time anti-fouling I can start shortening the list of outstanding jobs.

Top priority for this is a major overhaul of the electrics including:

  • Master Battery switch: The old one was too large, too hard to turn, and it’s location meant that you couldn’t easily see what position it was. The new one is small enough to be located by the steps so it’s now obvious if it’s left on and easy to use.
  • Cabin lighting: The old lights were 30year old Hella with 10w incandescent bulbs and most are suffering with corrosion. The new ones are moisture sealed LED and use only 25% of the power.
  • Electric Bilge Pump: now properly wired up to the switch panel and a non-return valve fitted.
  • Separate Steaming and Deck light switching: Previously this was both or nothing, a new 3 with cable in the mast means they can be now be individually switched.
  • Volt meter to judge the condition of the each battery and the alternator, with new momentary switch so not to waste the stored power.
  • USB charging socket: Phone charging is important, if only for the AIS app.
  • 12v socket: Re-positioned to make it easier to connect the dinghy inflator.
  • Switch panel illumination: A red led courtesy lamp switch with the navigation lights so you can see what the labels say in the dark
  • GPS sensor connected to the VHF. If we have to call for help, they will know exactly where we are
  • Tidying up the wiring: Multiple owners means multiple ways of running the wiring with multiple wiring scraps joined together in places. I’m changing this to one way of doing things with as few joins as possible (my PO Telecoms apprentice training comes in handy). This include moving wires away from the engine flywheel as the is some evidence of chafe – a big bang waiting to happen.

Other upgrades and repairs:

  • Soundproofing to the engine bay: 2 sheets of Slimslab 23. We maybe able to talk when the engine is running
  • A new topping lift rope (nearly forgot this when preparing the mast to be raised).
  • Repaired sail-cover zip. The stitching keeps parting so it’s getting time for a new one

The sailing season that never was.

Capella had been in Foxes for a long time getting work done on her. Not Foxs fault on the delays, Capella was too damp to CopperCoat so she had to wait well into the s before she ready to paint.

Being in Foxes meant I didn’t go through the usual preparation as well as usual – more on that later.

Eventually Capella was launched on 24th June and moored on a pontoon ready for the short trip across the creak to the OYC and then on to the mooring. First issue was the battery wouldn’t start the engine – I borrowed another from the yard with some jump leads and all it started OK

The next problem was Capella at 26’ was moored between 2 other yachts, an Oyster 54 ( worth around £1.5m) and a Oyster 72 (worth around £3.5m), with Capella’s bow level with the smaller Oyster’s bow and her stern overlapping the Larger Oyster’s bow. I went for the harbour master for help – which he happily gave. Usng his knowledge and experience we moved Capella froward to overlapped the smaller Oyster’s bow and then sprung Capella’s stern out with relative ease into clear water.

From there on it was a continuous tail of woes, too windy, no wind, flat battery, mail sail jammed so would go up and so on.

To top it all I had forgotten to anti-foul the new prop. We got of the mooring OK as we basically blow of the span rope of the trot mooring but found we could only motor into the wind or have the wind behind us. We tried to get back on the mooring and failed so tried to get to the club. We ended up beached on a falling tide and has to be towed in. At high tide we got on to the scrubbing posts and we confirmed what we thought – lots of barnacles around the prop and sail-drive. The season was almost at an end and we where booked to come out 2 weeks later.

We never got passed Wolverstone (less than 2miles from the mooring)

Another non sail

We decided to try and go sailing on Sunday – weather in Felixstowe looked OK but we got to the club and it wasn’t so promising. As we were there we decided to go and check on Capella, particularly in view of the water in the cabin last time. Our friend Jeremy had also mentioned that onside of the spray hood was flapping a bit.

We got out there and there was a big black cloud heading our way and as a consequence the wind was picking up too – we decided to sit and wait for it to pass and do a few little jobs while we waited. So important things got done, like

  • Putting reminder stickers on the boom and at the top of the cabin steps.
  • Adding the snap shackles to the bunting, used for bird scaring.
  • Finding a small bungee to stop the main halyard flapping incessantly.
  • Sorting out the 2 existing tool boxes to a more usable small one and a now liftable large one.
    (Still further work to do here as the bigger one won’t fit in the locker, may need to get another small one and reduce the duplication further.)
  • Failed on the water filter replacement as it seems to have gone walkies.

After having our packed lunch watching the world drift by, including the sailing barge Melisa, we decided to pack up and go home – especially as there was another ominous set of black clouds heading our way.   A family of swans came swimming past as we were loading the dinghy – a little too close for comfort for the skipper at beak level in Minimus, however all passed off with no incident.

Motoring back to the club we felt the first spots of rain, by the time we had pulled the dinghy to the racks it started raining. It was a hasty unload of the dinghy into a trolley and then from the trolley to the car and locker so we only got damp rather than soaked. Luckily we beat the weather to Felixstowe to unload in the dry – but when it did arrive it lasted the rest of the afternoon, refilling the water butt almost completely.

Still the little jobs on Capella are getting done – one day we’ll get to sail her.

First Sail at last

The first sail of the season was eventful, but in the end enjoyable. Then wind was predicted to be 8mph with no gusts perfect for a shakedown sail but it was stronger than that and most yachts we saw had a first reef in.

The evening started with a high – a seal in the river at the mouth of the creek! Didn’t stay around long enough to have his picture taken but was close enough to hear him breathing.

Raising the sails
Getting the main up was going OK until the reefing lines tensioned up, the forward lines had been pulled and jammed off to keep things tidy when putting the sail away and not released. That sorted we got that up – as it turned out not quite enough tension in the luff, but we lived with it.
We started to pull out the Genoa and discovered that someone (the skipper) had wrapped one of the sheets the wrong way round the sail so as one side tried to wrap itself round further. The easiest way to cure this was to untie the stopper knot, pull the sheet though the clutch and the track pulley, unwrap it and treaded it all back again. Of course this task fell to the crew – i.e. Wifey so by the time we got the sails up we had a cockpit full of rope, an already knackered Wifey the shore ahead and another similar sized yacht coming up astern, not really the ingredients for a smooth easy first tack of the season.

The next few tack where short and a bit frantic with moorings, the other yacht and the shore continuously limiting a the ability to get a chance to sort things out and take a breath.

After the last of these we ended up heading for the side of one of the large cargo ships that sail up to Ipswich. We were constricted to pointing high enough to port first by the other yacht then by the large green ‘Bridgewood’ buoy. So we turned to starboard and run back towards the bridge for a bit, caught our breath, let all the other boats go away and sorted ourselves out.

We didn’t want the sail to end on a low point so after a while we turned and started down the river again. This time, with the pressure off, the tacks went well and we got back into the rhythm we had got into at the end of last season.
Once we got to around ‘Downham’ we were happy with the tacks and could see a group of Topper dinghies ahead so we turned back for home and had an easy set of broad reaches back to the bridge.

The only downer was the amount of water in the cabin, based on the ice cream tub used, a couple of litres. No idea where it came from, and wasn’t there when we arrived, but the healing of the boat probably caused it to appear from somewhere. Looking around the lockers, the seacocks, saildrive there was nothing obviously wet. Just something we will have to keep an eye on.

First Sail of the Season?

We went down to Capella intending to go out for the first sail of the season. Nice sunny evening nice breeze, just one little job to do before we set out. The top most sail batten needed to be put in but we had to get the length of Velcro and tape out first. So Wifey set to do that while I moved the span rope, connecting the two mooring buoys, to the other side as I wanted to be blow off the mooring.

The wind was pushing Capella on to the span rope and trying to motor off against the wind is difficult even in light airs. The span rope had spent all winter in the river, gathering seaweed and mussels, most of which I had scraped off or had now dried out and fell off. Double Sheet BendThere was also tension in the rope and despite adjusting the mooring lines, which are supposed to take the load, the wind kept up just enough tension so that I couldn’t untie the double sheet bend connecting the two halves of the span rope, the knot ‘helped’ but a goodly amount of seaweed growing through it.

In the end we gave up and decided to do a few jobs and have tea on the moorings instead – the wind felt like it was increasing and would not be the gentle first sail we have envisaged.

Head in the Head

Time to take the loo apart to see if I could fix the broken pump, it looked like a nut had just come unscrewed from the shaft, and this is what it turned out to be. However it took the removal to 7 screws and 3 pipes to get to the offending parts and of course the spilling of whatever remained in the pipes, thankfully mostly seawater as I was giving the head a good flush though when it failed.

So an hour later with the nut glued in place to help it resist undoing again, and the whole contraption put back together we now have a working loo again.

Time for tea and watch the world go by, the first sail will have to be another day.