Winter Preparation - October 2014 to April 2015
Part 1 - October 2014
Well its time to have RR lifted out of the water at our favourite marina, Tollesbury.
I always have mixed feelings about doing this as it means the end of sailing for the season and it’s the start of hard but enjoyable weekends upgrading and or repairing RR.
This year it’s slightly different as we are preparing RR for our big trip next year and the work being undertaken is far more extensive. The main items are:
• Installing a new keel cooled fridge
• New Raymarine I70 navigation equipment.
• New Raymarine radar
• New VHF radio
• Copper coat the hull below the waterline
• New paintwork above the waterline
• All new cushions and covers throughout
• New cupboards in the main cabin and saloon areas
• New rope / back supports in the cockpit
• Stern arch
• Solar panels
• New windows
• Major engine service, new injectors etc.
• Two new spinnaker winches
• New LED navigation lights
• New halyards
Like I said they are the main items!!! As any boat owner knows there are hundreds of small things that also need attention and my hope is that by the time RR goes back in the water next spring all the big and small items will have been completed.
To start off we had the bottom slurry blasted to remove all the old antifouling. I then scrapped off the last bits close to the gel coat. Next I removed the red vinyl wrapping with a hair dryer and paint scrapper that covered up the original red band. I can only assume this was put on to hide the scrapes and scratches to help with the sale of RR long before we bought her.
The mast was removed by the yard and now RR is in the shed having the bottom sanded to get the last of the antifouling off and to provide a good key for the undercoat.
On Wednesday 29th October 2014 Claire and I had a busy morning. We arrived at the marina to meet Kevin Turner from KLS Marine to discuss the cushions and the type and colour of the covering. After a bit of indecision we decided on a charcoal grey with new foam throughout.
As Kevin was leaving Phil Newman turned up to discuss making a stern arch out of thick walled aluminium tubing. We discussed the fact that the solar panels were quite large, 2 at 1.1m x .8m not that heavy but we need to consider the effect of the wind on these panels and how best to fix the new structure.
As Phil was leaving, Alan Lines arrived to make templates for the new cupboards. Building anything in a boat is a complete pain as everything is generally curved one way or the other and if your really unlucky both. You also need to think at least three times before you do any drilling!! I am not sure Alan new what he was letting himself in for.
We wanted new cupboards in our cabin, two new lockers in the main saloon and I wanted solid timber backs in the cockpit where we had two canvas rope bags either side of the companionway as I hoped we would be spending a lot of time sitting back, drink in hand watching the sunset in various locations on our journey.
Brian (Tollesbury) gel coat and spray painter at the yard was doing a fantastic job in prepping RR for her new red go faster stripe, he then sanded the hull ready for the Coppercoat. He spent hours on her to ensure all was as good as it could be. When he was finished I washed the boat off so she could dry over the weekend ready for the primer.
Well all of the hours Alan spent ensuring that the templates were just right on Wednesday paid off as the first cupboards he fitted in our cabin slid in almost perfectly. He is such a good carpenter and we really appreciate his efforts in helping us to fill in the wasted corners aboard RR.
I met Adrian from Volspec on Friday morning (31st October) he was going to show me how to remove the injectors, check the turbo and remove and rebuild the sea water pump as it was dripping when we finished our summer trip.
Adrian is a very good teacher and he lets me do some of the work which helps me remember. The turbo was fine but in need of a new air filter, the injectors were sent away for testing and the water pump only needed new seals so not to bad / read expensive.
When I was not helping the lads prepare RR, Adrian or Alan I was slowly working through my ‘to do’ list. I have fitted the new keel cooled fridge which entailed drilling another hole through the bottom of the boat, new L.E.D. stern, mast mounted steaming light and bi colour bow lights.
I took out the main saloon window as it was leaking slightly in one corner as well as being badly ‘starred’ I repaired the frame with epoxy. I took the window to a company called Project Plastics and they confirmed that they could make a new window. They would use the old one as a former, heating the new plastic up until pliable then laying over the old until the curve was replicated. Easy !!!!
I have also removed all of the old Raymarine navigation kit and fitted the new Raymarine depth and speed transducer and wired them back to the nav station, fitted the new wind speed and direction transducer on the mast and installed the two spinnaker winches.
Alan has finished the new cupboards etc and they look fantastic. We are both very pleased. Me for the quality of Alan’s workmanship and Claire for the additional space for her clothes!!!
I have also made new doors for the Nav station from pieces of panelling left over from Alan’s work and started to install the new Raymarine navigation system.
PART 2 - January 2015
Well after my extended break, first to sail with George, my son on Ptarmigan and then to go skiing for a couple of weeks with friends and family I finally got back to work on Red Rooster on the 12th January.
She had been moved from the painting shed to a spot outside where she will stay until we are ready to put her back into the water which should be around the middle of March.
The Coppercoat antifouling is now on and she does look good. I covered the hull with some cheap polish to try to protect the new paintwork and the polishing that the yard had done. I will go over it all again before she hits the water again.
Just before I left to sail with George I bought a Raymarine radar dome and mast mount bracket as well as a powerful L.E.D. work light. As the weather was so bad I decided to fit these to the mast as it was stored in a shed. I took the old radar off and pulled the new cables through the mast using the redundant wiring. I also removed the old bracket and was able to utilise most of the old holes when fitting the new one.
The work light fitted well just beneath the radar and this will use a lot less energy but provide more light than the old one did. I also removed all of the halyards to check them over and put them through the washing machine to remove the dirt and salt.
There was nothing left to do on the mast so I had no alternative but to start installing the Raymarine backbone and Raynet cabling. The cold weather made the cables very stiff and hard to work with and I wasn’t looking forward to this at all.
The most difficult part was to get the cables to the e9 chart plotter which was at the helm position. They all had factory fitted plugs on and to work them through the boat and up the stainless steel tubing into the pod was a complete pain.
Below is the wiring diagram I drew up for the installation:
I needed to find jobs inside of the boat. It was absolutely freezing outside with rain and sleet falling and a really cutting wind coming in off the sea.
I installed power and USB sockets in the front and rear cabins for charging phones etc and to enable me to plug in small fans for when the heat became unbearable. Ironic or what!!
Most of the wiring on the boat hadn’t been touched since it was made and I replaced sections of it as I worked my way through.
Next I installed LED lighting to the main cabin and the heads (bathroom). I could not replace the fittings themselves as they were in cut outs in the structure so I stripped out all of the old workings and installed LED strips inside them. They worked a treat!!
I fitted the docking station for the satellite phone and ran the aerial cable through the boat ready for when the antenna is fitted onto the stern arch. We opted for an Iridium extreme and intend to by a RedPort optimizer to route compressed email and weather grib files when we are far from land.
Next was to install a small 6 way fuse board to provide power to the Raymarine navigation equipment.
Claire was excited to receive all of the sheets, duvet covers and cushions she ordered in colours to accentuate the boats décor. She was also very excited about the delivery of the tupperware in many shapes and sizes. She is a very strange girl. Having said that I think it’s very important that a boat is bright and airy below decks and the open plan layout of Red Rooster was one of the main reasons Claire let me buy her in the first place!
PART 3 - March 2015
The work is still moving on. I am doing lots of small jobs inside the boat as it’s still very cold outside. I have raked out the joints in the wooden bulkheads as they were very brittle with cracks everywhere. I don’t think solid filler is the way to go as these joints must be able to flex so I replaced them all with white polyurethane mastic.
I also re-varnished the timber walls in the heads / shower room and ran the cables to the back of the boat for the satellite phone aerial, the AIS VHF aerial, and the power cables from the solar panels that will be fitted onto the stern arch.
Phil Newman, Kevin and Lester the lads from ‘concepts in metal’ at last started work on the stern arch. The weather has played a massive part in delaying this as the first job was to weld four new plates onto the existing hand rails at the rear of the yacht to provide supports for the new structure.
Next came the frame itself. I had bought the solar panels just after the Southampton boat show and these formed the basis of the structure. It also needed to support the various aerials and antennas that a yacht requires.
I had decided very early on that the frame should be made out of aluminium as a feature of Etap yachts was the extensive use of this light but strong material.
After a few false starts the frame started to take shape and I was very happy with the amount of effort that Phil and the lads put into the project.
After a few trial fittings it was ready for installation and it looked fantastic. It was very strong, but light at just over 10Kg’s all up.
Now that the frame was on I had the fiddly job of mounting the various aerials and antennas and routing the cables and co-ax’s to them.
I have fitted an additional Zink anode under the boat near the saildrive to help the ones mounted on the prop. After our last trip to Holland I was surprised by how much these anodes had been eaten away and I am unsure whether this was to do with the fitting of the larger 3 bladed folding prop or it could be because we spent quite a lot of time sailing in fresh water, apparently? I find the subject of Anodes very strange!
Well its time to switch everything on!!
The solar panels came first; I have wired the two panels in series which provides 24v to the MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracker) in very basic terms, the level I work best at. The MPPT changes the 24v to 12v and regulates the energy from the solar panels as it feeds it into the batteries as and when they need it. It’s very clever and it has coloured LED lights on as well!!
Next came the Raymarine network, this wasn’t everything as the mast is still down which has the radar and wind instruments attached to it, but what could come on came on and I had a big smile on my face as moved around the boat pressing buttons and twiddling knobs.
That’s was about all I could do with the navigation stuff as I needed to have it all commissioned and signed off by Raymarine to get my extended world wide warranties.
As the boat was soon to be put back in the water I asked Grace to sort out ordering the vinyl for the name for Red Rooster. This was to be her Christmas present to Claire and I. She gave me some swatches to use to match the colour and Claire and I chose the font.
Normally you would have the boats name on canvas dodgers each side of the cockpit but as we were heading south to warmer climes I felt it best to dispense with them as we would want a cooling breeze across the boat to cool us down. Wishful thinking I know.
Grace and Ash turned up just as the light was fading and they worked quickly to get them both on. They looked great and I must admit Red Rooster looks fantastic.
Tuesday 17th was a big day!
The boat was going to be put back into the water. My role in this was to lift the floorboards above where I had drilled or filled holes in the hull to ensure that as we were slid into the water that the wet stuff stayed outside. We like it dry inside!!
All that changed when the gearbox on the work boat failed. The work boat was used to manoeuvre yachts into their various berths after they had been ashore, and I was asked to use Red Roosters engine. Normally that wouldn’t have been a problem but it had not been started since before Christmas and the main water pump impeller / covers had to fitted, the diesel needed bleeding and I was flapping a bit it didn’t help hearing the slings dropping into the water and we were floating, I had no time to check for leaks. Then I heard the unmistakable thump, thump, thump of the workboat. Paul had managed to get it into reverse and he came to save the day as the tide was falling quite quickly.
Well all is well that ends well and RR is tied up alongside awaiting the crane on Thursday. This is the next episode in the boats preparation having the mast lifted. All of my attention will be focused on the backstay as it needs to pass through the gap in the solar panel frame and its going to be a lot more luck than judgement.
Well we had a bit of a false start on Thursday due to the wind being to strong on for the crane to lift the mast on. So I carried on with my jobs list, which I might add is getting shorter at last!!
The mast was lifted around 13.00 on Friday and all went well. The Raymarine technician, Tim arrived as the stays were being connected to the deck plates by Paul, Adrian and Martin the Tollesbury boat boys!! As usual it was all happening at once.
Claire was on hand to start going through the important points on the different Raymarine devices with Tim which was handy as I had to quickly route the cables through the deck from the mast for the wind speed and direction transducer and the radar so Tim could test the complete system.
Although I had switched most of it on before it was great to hear Tim announce that all was well apart from the GPS for the AIS. This had a poor connection and I was OK with that as Tim had terminated that one, all mine were fine - get in. Haha
We had started to go through all of the paperwork to ensure the Raymarine warranties were recorded when Adrian called me up on deck, 'Del your back stay is very close to your stern arch' oh no with all that was going on I forgot about the bloody backstay. Well it is very close and as we wound on the backstay adjuster it got even closer. Well there was nothing I could do about it now and on the plus side I didn’t have to cut chunks out of the frame........yet.
I had to go to work on Monday, I know how bloody inconvenient but on Tuesday Alan Lines turned up at the boat with our new cupboard for the heads / shower room and the elongated draws for the galley area. The original drawers were 300mm deep. Alan's are 600mm deep and the cupboard in the heads will come in very useful. Making use of wasted space on a boat is quite rewarding.
The cooker turned up today and I fitted it reasonabley easily although it needed an electric supply for the ignition.
We really are getting near to the end of our ´to do´list with the few remaining items being on deck so we an start the big clean up now in preparation for bringing in our new cusions, curtains, clothes etc.
PART 4 - APRIL 2015
Well, time is moving fast now.
It’s April 8th and the last pieces of the Raymarine puzzle have turned up. The VHF radio and the adapters to integrate it into the network have arrived. When these are fitted it will mean the end of the major jobs and Claire can start moving us onto the boat.
We need to be out of the house on the 20th April and there is still lots to do.
I fitted the removable Seldon Genaker pole onto the front of the boat. I was lucky with the brackets that were required and it turned out to be quite simple for a change.
We also had a bit of luck with the asymmetric kite, the one we had was too big and we managed to sell it on Ebay but we were struggling to find a replacement.
I started talking to Simon Scammel at Suffolk Sails about a new one when one turned up on Ebay and we snapped it up. I've still yet to try it on the boat but it should be fine.
Claire cleaned the boat from top to bottom and we stored most of the spares, larger tools etc under the floor boards in preparation for the next phase when we start the move from the house to the boat.
The Eatp, unlike most other boats does not have a lot of storage due to the fact that most of the nooks and crannies that you would normally find in a boat have been filled with expanding foam giving Etaps very good insulation and their unsinkable reputation.
Claire has moved most of her stuff (clothes, 20 pairs of shoes!!) onto the boat now and she has filled up every inch of space in our cabin, and I do mean every inch and its been decided, by Claire !!! that my stuff will have to go into the few small cupboards in the front cabin.
We have nearly cleared the house of stuff. I have written 'stuff' on purpose because that’s all most of it is. Not just in our house but I am sure it’s the same in most people’s houses.
We do of course have a few pictures and some papers that we want / need to keep but the rest of it, I mean the complete contents of our 4 bed roomed house, have been sold, given away or taken to the dump.
Both Claire and I have embraced this part of our preparations. Most people we have spoken to about our plans can not get their heads around us doing this. But I can honestly say that it’s been very easy. My only weak moments were when I sold my RC aircraft. That saddened me a bit but I was soon over it.
Claire has been brilliant and I honestly think she has enjoyed the process. We have found it very satisfying to opt out of the 'whoever has the most stuff wins' lifestyle and I for one hope never to return to it.
Oh, and If someone else advises me to keep away from the 'Pirates' I think I’ll run them through with a bloody cutlass!!!
We started cleaning the outside of the boat today. The sun was out, we had ice creams in the cockpit and we are both feeling the strain of preparing the boat whilst at the same time clearing the house. Once we are living on the boat next week I think things will be a lot easier.
We have finally managed to distribute the larger pieces of our furniture to the friends and family that wanted them. We could not have done this on our own but our good friends Dave Simonson and Dave Pearce helped with muscle and very poor jokes. We also need to thank Paul Bruce for the loan of his company van for a couple of weeks. Our house now is completely clear including the garage.
During this time we had the upsetting news that our tenants had decided to pull out of the letting agreement two days before they were due to move in. Both Claire and I have tried to be philosophical about this as we assume that we will lose and gain tenants during our 5 year trip. After all that is why we have engaged a good letting agent!
To cap off a very busy April which had us out of our house and moved onto the boat we celebrated by having a leaving do at Stone Sailing Club on the Blackwater with many friends and family members. We were surprised and humbled by how many people showed up, these included David, Margaret, Guya and Nadini Persaud; Pete Hawksworth; our skiing friends Chalky and Darren; and we were totally surprised by Ian and Tina who crept in heavily disguised. Dave and Dave were there along with Sue Simonson - whose 'I'm going down the stairs' trick had nobody laughing! Ian Skerritt made an appearance and talked most of the night to Guya about the laws of physics?? San Miguel does very strange things to Ian. Lisa, Mel and family came along and were pleased to meet up with Kate and Brad and the next baby bump. Sarah and Chris were there as well as Sonia; dearest Helen came along and stayed the whole weekend as did Bridget and Conor who after drinking and eating too much retired early only to find that the house where they were staying was locked up so they spent a romantic hour or two cuddled up on the swing seat like a couple of American teenagers.
The shearwaters didn't disappoint as usual and turned out on mass, as did both sets of family. We believe that we had so many people turn up because they wanted to make sure that we actually left as we have been talking about this for a while now!
We had excellent food prepared by Cath and Dave and the sausage rolls...... were just delicious! Thank you both. Although the night was fantastic, it made Claire and I realise that it is very easy to give up your possessions but very difficult to leave your family and friends. However, we will be keeping in touch and we look forward to many visitors and the odd trip back to England to ensure no one forgets us!
It's nice living on the boat - we have been looking forward to it for many months and now that it has happened we are both very pleased and very relived. We still have all the standing orders, direct debts, etc. to cancel but as each one is eleted from the list it feels like we are cutting the ties to our previous lives and we are being released to begin our new life.
We have a final few bits and pieces to do aboard Red Rooster and then there should be nothing to stop us from sailing off on our adventure of a lifetime.
As if in warning the weather on the week of our departure, May 4 - 8th turned really wet and windy and we saw gusts of 40 knots across our boat as it was tossed around in the Marina at Tollesbury.
We had a nice meal with Grace, Joy and Ash and I feel ok to leave them as they both seem confident, happy and settled.
Claire and I are going to have a lesson in manoeuvring Red Rooster around the marina at Tollesbury. We feel it best not to tell the other boat owners about this!!! Paul, the yard foreman has agreed to do this for us and I have borrowed as many fenders as I can lay my hands on!! We are hoping this may give us a bit more confidence.
Well we are going to leave on the tide on Friday 8th May as the weather has settled for a bit. We intend to sail a short hop to Pyefleet Creek a very pretty place we know well to spend the night at anchor as we feel that we may need to settle down after our departure before heading across the Thames Estuary to Ramsgate.