Season one – review

The first season on Capella and we learnt a lot about her. 

·         The Genoa is too big for upwind, so always put a couple of rolls in it – otherwise lea helm is a huge issue.

·         The engine is not fond of chilly days but start eventually

·         Always ‘blow off’ the mooring.

·         Don’t have a bottle-screw on the forestay (Fixing the Roller reefing)

·         Don’t use a flexible funnel to put oil in the gear box

We had some really good sails in her and hope to do some overnights this year – may be even out to see (well as far as Walton Backwaters anyway)

Still a long to do list and more money needed to through in the fibreglass hole in the water (but she’s worth it J)

So for the new season it will be

·         New standing rigging

·         New anchor chain

·         New set of 3 clutches

·         VHF aerial  actually connected to the VHF Radio

·         New GPS aerial (primarily for the VHF Radio)

·         All the switches moved to an accessible location

Along with all the usual commissioning jobs – going to be a busy and expensive spring. 


This my first season with an inboard engine – so this year had to do the winterisation myself.  I went on the RYA Diesel Engine course at East Anglian Sea School in the spring and very good it was too, but nothing like have to do it to your own engine in the confines of a yacht.

Flushing was relatively easy using a water filled bin in the cockpit and 3m of the correct diameter hose. As I have a saildrive I thought I might be able to just but a bin full of water round the leg, just like dunking an outboard in a tank, but the intake holes are too neat the hull to make that practical.

Draining the oil took longer than I expected but have now got the hang of the Pela 6000 vacuum oil extractor, (it can’t do the whole engine in one set of pumps).  Draining the sail leg was simple, but the oil was so clean I wonder why I bothered, probably won’t next year.  Replacing the oil is ‘interesting’.  Fill the engine was OK but awkward with a funnel with a flexible hose.  I tried the same with the saildrive leg, I may have managed OK with 4 arms, but only having 2 I taped the end of the funnel to the dipstick hole (filler hole for the saildrive) and tried to gently poor form a full 4l container while hold the top end of the funnel upright enough to keep the oil in the funnel.  The inevitable happed and the bottom end eventually eased out of the hole and poured oil down the side and into the bilge.

Small funnel and small jug – so off to the Range, about a 10min drive form the OYC to spend around £3 and the required Items.  Two hours later I get back to Capella – getting out of Suffolk Retail Park is a real nightmare and took me over an hour to get out of the car park.  Should have driven back to Felixstowe to get what I needed.

The engine now tucked up for the winter – just need to find the only key which seems to have done a disappearing trick. 

A Broad Wednesday

We had a great sail, longest of the year and therefor longest in Capella. HW was 1324 and we got to the club around 11:30, so past 12noon by the time we have once again swapped over the span rope so we would blow off the mooring.  (We forgot to turn on the GPS so no idea about when how fast how far).

Once through the bridge we put up the main – then spent the next ten minutes getting the riding turn off the winch.  We ended up ‘unwrapping’ the halyard half a turn and taking it across to the other winch and winching it free.

With the wind mainly on the beam we seemed to be going well enough with just the main so relaxed and let Capella amble down past Pin Mill and off to Levington.  We gauged out speed against other boat, those with two sails went faster, the Centaur with just the Genoa about the same, so we carried on while having lunch.  We thought about getting down to the Trimley buoy, but there was a speed boat down there so we turned just past the entrance to Suffolk Yacht Harbour.

This was just after 2pm and we started to feel the difference going against the tide, so we finished the coffee and pulled out the Genoa, wow that was a surge of acceleration. We speed back up the river against the increasing ebb barely touching the sails.  It seemed in no time we were back at Wolverstone – easily avoiding the two dinghy packs this time and back passed Pond Ouse to drop the sails.

Picked up the mooring easy enough, but somehow Minimus (the dinghy) had got herself all tangled in the ropes – the crosswind making things more difficult unravel the ropes over the top of Minimus rounds the engine – how she managed that I’ll never know, I daresay some motorboat wash contributed hugely.  Anyway Capella was tied up and put to bed and we went home tired but happy.

Bottom Scrub

In the haste to bring Capella back from Leigh-on-Sea* the saildrive leg never got antifouled, there were also some other jobs that would benefit from the boat being stable, such as moving the forestay back and getting the navigation lights working.  So on the Friday me and Ken brought Capella on to the scrubbing post at the club, the boat seemed a bit sluggish under engine but we were towing the dinghy.

While we waited for the water to go moved the forestay.  Not a trivial job – loosen all the rigging, rig a temporary forestay using the spinnaker pole up-haul, disconnect the clevis pin at the bottom of the forestay and reconnect it ‘simples’ J.  It actually went OK but we could only move it back from the forward to the middle hole as one of the bolts holding the bow roller on fouled the rearmost one.

The whole boat got pressure washed and the hull antifoul seemed to be doing its job.  The saildrive and the prop especially were covered in barnacles, no wonder the engine was struggling to move the boat through the water.  Lot of scrapping later they were clean and almost ready to paint tomorrow.

There is something strange with the electrics but neither of the navigation lights are getting power – but it was a very hot day and too warm to spend with your head in dark corners of the cabin, next to a still warm engine – the light will have to wait for another day, and some more diagnostic tools (OK  a battery and croc clips to trace which wire is which)

Next day was lot of cleaning by Wifey, painting on antifouling and retuning of the rigging.  While waiting for the tide to come back and float the boat we had a little row through Bourne Bridge, you can’t go very far because of the sluice gates but quite interesting all the same.

Soon Capella was afloat and it turned out to be an easy departure, and back to the mooring.  We had a brief chat about going for a quick sail down the river – but ended up relaxing on the deck enjoying the sun. (Fortunately it was one of the days there was no smell from the sewage works just across the river)


*Leigh-on-Sea always sounds like it’s the subject of a KT Tunstall song i.e “Suddenly I see Leigh-on-Sea, this is what I wanna be etc.” 

Just the two of us

After a couple of trips with a 3 aboard we decided it was time to go it alone, just me, Angela and perfect weather.  Nice smooth release from the moorings gentle chug though the bridge, only a slight change of direction to put the main up.  Pull out most of the Genoa – reefed again as it’s a bit big for beating up the river and we were away.  First few tacks where mostly working out what Angela could do and how best to work the boat, still needs some practice to get the short tacks slick but given time to prepare we’re near enough there.

We needed the short tacks when working out way close to the Wolverstone toppers, the dinghies were ok and but a rubber boat (not an official safety boat) decided to try and put up a moving blockage in case we invaded ‘their’ section of river, reasonable concern for the kids I guess but felt a bit heavy handed.  We’re used to working our old yacht Cupido through there and always keep a close eye on the dinghies; working out the course they are using and timing our tacks so as to keep as much out of the way as that narrowed section allowed.   We passed Jeremy on KR on her way home through there but no time for much more than a wave before the next tack.

On we went beyond Nacton Quay and almost to Butt before deciding that tea was more important tangling with other boats so we turned to for a run home, drinking tea and avoiding crash gybes.  Getting the main down was ‘interesting’ as we tried to do it on the run – we got there eventually but the skipper needs a bit more practice on that one.  Funny thing about having the wind behind you, you feel like you’re not moving but actually you making reasonable progress up the river and reach the bridge in no time.
The two of us are going to work this boat fine – and every sail make me more sure she was the right boat for us