The Tyro Saga 5 – A frustrating month

Sadly, I find myself rather short of photos for this period. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.


My next visit was in the second half of May which was a little warmer.

Tuesday 19th

I arrived full of hope and good intentions bearing my reconditioned starter motor and a selection of delicious, frozen, home-made meals.  I was relieved to see Tyro still afloat, where I had left her and well up on her marks.  I was delighted on unlocking and looking inside that there was hardly more water in the bilges than when I’d left three weeks earlier, so I quickly unloaded the trolley to avoid the impending shower, put the kettle on and ate my sandwiches.  On checking the battery voltages with the built-in meter I discovered that I’d been and gorn and left the domestic battery turned on but it was still registering 12.6 volts (and the multimeter agreed) so all was still well.  Ish.

Still afloat

After getting changed, fixing the starter motor was the first job.  The bolts needed cleaning, so I did that, then offered up the motor, slid in the bolts and did them both up without dropping the nuts, washers or spanner into the wet, oily, rusty bilge. I then proceeded to connect up the cables when I was mildly surprised to find only one big cable instead of two tied to the bit of string – but I’d tied it there specifically to ensure that I could connect it all up correctly so it must have been right.  I did the pre-start checks, went through the start procedure and, with bated breath, turned the key.

All of a sudden, nothing happened. Not a cough, not a whirr. Not even a click.  Closer inspection of the environs of the motor revealed the other heavy cable which somehow I had failed to tie up.  Five minutes later all was tightly wired up and with slightly less abatement in the breathing department I turned the key again.  Click.  Thus was not what I had been hoping for, and was what had happened before I took the blasted thing out.  Again – click.  I’d read somewhere that keeping the key turned when the motor doesn’t, doubles the current and is therefore liable to burn out the motor and flatten the battery, so I desisted.  Maybe the pinion was jammed?  Wiggle it with the end of an old screwdriver and shove a bit of grease in.  Try again.  Still nothing.

Disheartened and frustrated I decided I’d had enough of the engine and packed up.  I guessed that the engine battery, although apparently up to voltage, didn’t have enough oomph to turn the engine, so decided on connecting the batteries to use both together.  Job for tomorrow as I didn’t have the cables to do it.  The remains of the day were occupied in dismantling and cleaning the cabin light fittings, both of which were proved to work fine but one of whose bulbs didn’t.  Since it was an old-fashioned 24W tungsten filament bulb I decided to replace it with a modern LED version which would use only 10% of the current.  Furthermore Paul, who came for tea, recommended ordinary jump leads to connect the batteries and a small solar panel to keep the battery topped up while I wasn’t there so a trip to an electrical retailer was indicated.

Wednesday 20th

Shopping and local exploration trip this morning, discovering the local Aldi in Portswood, which area also featured a branch of Maplins (now defunct), a very good hardware shop and a car spares place.  None of them could supply either a small solar panel or a 12V LED SBC bulb to replace the one in the port cabin light but the spares shop furnished me with a good pair of jump leads and Aldi provided the necessary to keep body and soul together for a few days.

Tyro in her hole at low water

After a little lunch I resolved again to get the engine going. Assembling the tools around me, exposing both batteries and removing the jump leads from their bag I thought I’d just try the starter once before I did anything more.  Bingo.  Not exactly the full-throated roar of the high-powered, highly tuned thoroughbred power unit but the reassuring chug of the two-pot diesel.  Success!  No idea why.  Domestic battery back on, forward gear selected to give the engine some work to do, tools away and kettle on.  Happy bunny.  For now.  I ran the engine to charge the batteries – the meter was correctly registering 14 and a bit volts, so the battery management system (installed by the previous owner, and which I still don’t pretend to understand) was allowing them to charge – and collected a bucketful of the exhaust water.  This proved to be only slightly oily, which was therefore only slightly worrying.  The brown colour may have been attributable to mud from the river bed or rust from inside the engine waterways, neither of which would be good news.  Also looked for the coolant leak, which appeared to be coming from a pipe high up on the starboard side – or the exhaust manifold just above it.  If it’s the pipe it should be easily fixable – if the engine isn’t too badly damaged by the rust.

I ran the engine for an hour, at the end of which both batteries were registering about 13V so all was well in that department – and I’d used about half a gallon of diesel, which was possibly less satisfactory.  Nevertheless, I decided, weather permitting, that I’d actually go sailing tomorrow.

My final task was attempting to get the heads working.  Despite having taken apart, cleaned, lubricated and reassembled the pump, and despite having worked when I tested it after overhauling it, it was now refusing to pump out.  Since it was pumping in water containing horrible black mud from the bottom, I guessed that the outlet pipe had become clogged with this mud; this deduction was reinforced by the observation that, leaving the outlet pressurised, after a few hours it became possible to pump out a little more.  I need to get the boat onto a hard, or a beach of firm sand, to get at the outlet from below. (Why the inlet pipe shouldn’t be similarly blocked, being narrower and with a strainer over the end, is a mystery).

Thursday 21st

After an excellent night’s sleep the morning dawned bright and sunny and I decided to reseat the forehatch handle, which had been leaking onto my bedding when it rained.  It came off easily and once I’d cleaned off the accumulated muck from under and around the fitting I could see that for a start the mating surfaces were uneven.  Out with the rasp and sandpaper and smooth it all off, then fabricated a couple of seals from old bicycle inner tube.  Since I couldn’t make this fit I ended up broaching a tube of sealant and bedded the outside handle on this.  Seems to have worked so far, despite the fact that it was ordinary bathroom sealant.  Time will tell.

The main halyard needed replacing before sailing, as it was severely worn in two places. The masthead is about 9.5m above the coachroof and I wanted enough to run it back to the cockpit in due course; I calculated that it needed 23m of rope.  So, biting the bullet I walked (for the first time) the mile or so over Northam Bridge and round to the chandler at Shamrock Quay to buy rope and solar panel.  No problem there; always keen to take my money of course, and Dave persuaded me (without too much difficulty) to have 25m of rope, ‘just in case’.  They didn’t have the bulb for the cabin light, only vastly expensive new fittings; nevertheless the bill came to £135 or so by the time I’d added the new mount for the table and a couple of hose clips.

The masthead with the old and worn red and white halyard – soon to be replaced by a new red and white halyard. The old one was cut up, whipped and used for other, less demanding, tasks.

The main focus of this trip was to be to check, calibrate and test the Simrad Tillerpilot as well as to investigate Tyro’s sailing abilities.  I intended to be back in time for tea – the tide dictated 1700 was the latest I could get in – probably going no further than Weston Shelf. 

Back at the boat to find the tide well risen; lunch, then reeve the new halyard (remarkably easy once I’d sewn them together end-to-end), engine checks, start engine (first time!) and prep for sea.   I’d just taken off the first line when, after half an hour running smoothly, the engine slowed and stopped for no apparent reason.  After putting the line back on and securing everything, I then tried the starter again.   It turned, and spluttered a little but refused to start.   I clearly wasn’t going anywhere that day.  Frustrated and disappointed again.  I don’t know enough about engines to fix this quickly.

And then the gas ran out while I was cooking dinner.  Good thing I had my camping stove in the lazarette.

Friday 22nd

First job was to acquire a new gas cylinder – the best place turned out to be a trade place in ‘Central Trading Estate’ where I got one for less than anywhere else, although I had to go back later to pick it up.  Must try not to let this one leak away.

Leaving that problem in abeyance I connected up the solar panel.  It gave 17V in bright sunshine, which was good, and would certainly put some amp-hours into the battery.  (Actually, not all that much: it’s rated at 0.3A, so 12 hours (optimistic) at full power (optimistic) would put 4Ah in; this would power a 2W LED for a day or a 24W tungsten bulb for two hours.  Still, it should be fine for maintaining charge while I’m away, and even to run an occasional spasm of an automatic bilge pump, an item of kit that is still purely conjectural.) Then it was out with the scrubbing brushes and clean the accumulated grime off the covered lower parts of the standing rigging in an attempt to convince an inspecting rigger that it was OK.  Also had another go at some adjacent regions of deck.   It’s going to need more than water and detergent to get that looking spruce.

And then, having had enough of my self-imposed boat repair course for the time being, I made for the New Forest for some R & R.  On my return I moved the boat along a little so that it sat more squarely in the little freshwater stream at LWS.

Saturday 23rd

Met Liz on the brow who, with her husband (who probably has a name[1]…), has a motor boat on a nearby pontoon and we discussed boats and people to work on them, She said her husband knew of some reliable workmen and I should pop over and talk to him.  True, but I haven’t yet.

Also a brief hello with another Centaur owner nearby.  He was off to the pub but said we should talk tomorrow.  And finally got something done: attempted to bleed air from the fuel filters – unsuccessfully but nevertheless the engine started and ran for a bit.  The speed wandered somewhat and it threatened to stop but fiddling with the throttle kept it going until it finally gave up after 15 minutes.  I suspect a fuel problem but I know not what.  Pumped a bucketful of water out of the main bilge and I can hear dripping from somewhere but I know not where.

The primary fuel filter, apparently with a layer of water at the bottom. It turned out to be thick glass, much to my relief.

Spent a merry couple of hours after lunch on the fuel system.  The primary filter’s separation bowl appears to have water in the bottom but it doesn’t slop about when I rock the boat so maybe it just has a thick glass base.  The drain cock at the bottom seems to be jammed and neither of the nuts at the top seems to bleed out the small amount of air which is certainly there.  The secondary filter bleeds only fuel, so it all ought to work.  Couldn’t find the lift pump.  So I tried to start it – and it went first time (if you don’t count the time I tried with the decompressors open).  After a few minutes it slowed but I was able to keep it going a little longer by fiddling with the throttle; eventually however, it gave up altogether. I also discovered that the movement of the gear change cable into forward gear causes the mechanism to push against a coolant pipe at the end of its travel.  That needs fixing too.

In the evening to Shamrock Quay to drink wine and talk with Paul, whose son and friend were arriving later to sail to the West Country, there to cruise for the summer.  He agreed that it sounded like a fuel problem and we discussed boaty things for the rest of the evening till a ’phone call alerted him to the imminent arrival of his crew, he put the pie in the oven and I left for Kemps.  He also allowed me to charge up my laptop and use his access to the interweb so I was able to catch up on email etc., which turned out to be not terribly interesting.

Sunday 24th May

Bit of a lie-in today, after a little expedition to the taffrail.  And even when I did get up properly and had some breakfast (I considered scrambled eggs but couldn’t be bothered) I then sat around doing puzzles and reading for much of the morning.  Finally got going about 11 and made myself a brunch of fried eggs on toast and coffee.  And then decided to do something useful.

So I got the main up fully to have a good look at it, the wind being light and more or less on the nose.  It looks in reasonable nick, with just a couple of small patches on a batten pocket and a few loose threads on the leech.  I’ll need to get them sorted otherwise I might have a big fray.  Discovering that there were several inches between the head of the sail and the masthead, on lowering the sail I undid the experimental round-turn-and-three-half-hitches at the business end of the new halyard and replaced it with a round turn and a bowline with the end sewn in place, whipped and taped over.  I hope that lasts.  Eventually I shall have to learn to splice braided rope.

Anton from the little boat along the pontoon came on board at my invitation and we discussed the sail, sailing, our boats and so on.  He’s found a rigger to inspect his standing rigging for only £40, he says, compared to the £130 the Saxon Wharf chap wanted.  We agreed that he should have a look at mine too and we’d share the cost.  Martin (Anton’s co-owner) will phone me in a day or two to let me know what’s happening.  I also lent them some tools to remove their rotten wooden toerail, and agreed to oversee the rigger on their boat too: they left me a can of G & T in my cockpit!

Then in the afternoon I strolled over to the other Centaur and met John.  His boat is even older than mine – 1971, with a number in the 300s. We discussed limber holes and engines and he agreed to come and have a look at mine.  Having exhausted our knowledge, but not, apparently the air from the fuel system, we called it a day.  Further discussion with others leads to the suspicion that there might be an air leak INTO one of the fuel pipes.  A job for tomorrow,

And then after a scratch dinner of pasta, tomato sauce and sardines (nicer than it might sound) I decided to take up the carpet and find out how the cabin sole was put together.  It isn’t.  That is to say, it’s made of a single piece of GRP which looks like it’s part of a large moulding of all the internal structures.  (It was partly this feature that put me off buying the first Centaur I’d seen.  If only I’d known).  With no inspection hatches to the bilge.  I thought I’d look under the food locker below the galley to see it there was any clue there – and to where the water was coming from.  It was half-full of water which I could then see and hear leaking from the FW system.  So I pumped it out and then managed to find a makeshift stopcock on the pipe from the tank (under my bunk in the fo’c’sle).  The leak is coming from the foot-operated pump, not, as I first thought, from one of its pipe connections.  Sort it out in the morning, 

Monday 25th

‘Twas on a Monday morning the plumber came to call (No, Mr Flanders, I know, but I’ve already fixed the gas).  It took only a few minutes to remove the pump and its attendant tubing and reconnect the loose ends together.  Tighten all the hose clips (and adjust the position of some of them and then I could pump out the water from the underlying bilge, soak up the tail end with a sponge and wipe them all with an old J-cloth.  Bilge now dry and clean, the way I like it.  Better news still: no more water seems to have entered the main bilge, below the cabin sole – so maybe that’s where it was coming from.  At some point tomorrow perhaps I’ll bite that particular bullet and mop out what I can reach of the main bilge.  I’m not going to start cutting up the cabin sole, however, until I’ve consulted some other owners, via the WOA website, about this.

One of the cruise ships berthed on the Town Quay in Southampton

Then off to the shops, Bank Holiday or no, to find Halfords, get my faulty multimeter exchanged and find other likely-looking places to buy gear.  A couple of trade/DIY shops look promising: Tool Station furnished me with, amongst other things, a few small stainless steel shackles at less than a couple of quid each, although I don’t suppose they’ll last for ever.  Halfords, though, didn’t have a meter in stock but I’m to ’phone tomorrow, and when they come in they’ll exchange it for me.  Good news.  Tour of Southampton’s Town Quay area where one enormous cruise liner was berthed, and also lots of the sort of shops I wouldn’t consider entering.

Finally back to Portswood and a quick forage round Aldi for dinner.  AND they had LED light bulbs that would fit my cabin fittings!  Shame I didn’t remember I needed 12V ones till I got back to the boat and found they didn’t work…

After a late lunch and a rest I screwed my courage to the sticking place and resolved to tackle the engine again.  Encouraged by one of the two foreign-sounding Thomases in a neighbouring boat I found and experimented with the lift pump, learned how it operates and got liberally sprayed with diesel. Not recommended, and the engine still wouldn’t go.

Determined to accomplish something in the afternoon, after a cup of tea and TWO pieces of cake I extricated the rubber dinghy from its stowage in the port quarter berth and blew it up on the pontoon.  Absolutely no problems: the thwart (which had arrived separately, you may recall) fitted and stayed inflated and the oars turned out to be the right length.  Thus encouraged and wearing my buoyancy aid, I took to the water and, after a short tour of some of the neighbouring pontoons to check I could still row, set off up the river with the tail end of the flood to see if I could reach Northam Bridge.  Well, it soon became apparent that the tide had turned earlier than expected (as it often does in rivers of course) and I also had a cross-wind to contend with.  Nevertheless I just about made it through the bridge against the first of the ebb and then had an easy row back to the marina.  Two or three of the boats moored in the river made me wonder who owned them and why they were being left there to rot.  There must be a market in buying them up and renovating them, or even just stripping out the useful bits.  I formulated a plan for the morrow of an expedition up the river on the flood, a picnic at lunchtime and back on the ebb.  This plan was marred only by the fact that high water was due at 1500.

After a good shower and a hot meal I strolled off up the road to investigate the local shops.  The BP garage sells gas cylinders cheaper than the chandler and the caravan shop but more expensively than where I bought one, which was gratifying.  Other than that the only emporia of interest were a Polish supermarket (open till 11) and an Indian take-away, which I may well patronise before the week is out.  Oh, and the pub has WiFi (and a socket near a seat which I shall use) but currently no beer, a parlous situation which I was assured will be remedied before tomorrow evening.

Tuesday 26th

As I write, I’m plugged in but not yet on line and STILL NO PROPER BEER!  I’m having to make do with a bottle of Newcie Brown – AND I had to ask for a glass!

Hard to get going this morning, as it sometimes is, not helped by the prospect of starting to clean the rust off the engine, which sounds about as attractive as it is.  Ended up cleaning the bilges (another attractive job) – and the main one has stayed clean and dry, at least the bit I can reach, so it looks like that water was coming from the tank.  Cleaned out as much as I could under the engine, took the strum box out from there and cleaned that thoroughly along with the pipes so at least that bilge pump should work properly.  And started to attack the engine with the wire brush.  Moderately effective in parts; two large lumps half an inch thick came off the starboard side just under the leak.  I wonder how much that’s weakened whatever it was part of?

Also scrounged an offcut of tanalised chipboard from the joinery shop and mounted the solar panel on it to protect it from damage.  It’ll fall apart eventually but it’ll do till I can make a decent one, complete with reflectors, from marine ply.  And then went for a row around the marina.

Sarah says I should have a word with Tom, Alan (the harbourmaster)’s son.  He’s a marine engineer and might well agree to have a look at it without charge if there’s a prospect of him getting the work.  I’m hoping a new fuel pipe somewhere is all that’s needed.  A new fuel pump would be expensive – and a new engine….

Wednesday 27th

Even lazier day today, with the excuse (reason?) that my back hurt.  Really hurt.  Low down on the left.  It doesn’t feel muscular so I hope it’s not kidney!  Lying down helps so I worked (Worked! Ha!) in small doses.  Eventually got going (well after lunch) on a few bits and bobs and went off to West Quay to go shopping.  Halfords should have my replacement multimeter in shortly and I still needed LEDs and possibly fittings to hold them for the cabin lights.  No luck there – the electrical shop only sells 240V stuff so I just got a length of flex which later enabled me to extend the reach of the solar panel charger.

Phone calls about the rigging – good news: he can come and check it, possibly on Friday and it’ll be £40 between me and the other boat, refundable against eventual re-rigging; bad news: if it’s 13 years old it needs replacing whatever its condition and it’ll cost £500ish.  Sad face.  So dischuffed was I that I actually bought some ‘food’ at McDonald’s for the first time in 20 years in an attempt to cheer myself up.  It failed.

Later, heading off to find out whether I could get WiFi in the pub car park (yes) I encountered Tom the engineer.  Very busy (which is why he was still at work at 8 o’clock) but he’d try and pop over and have a look at the engine on Friday.

A little oily water in the main bilge.  No idea where it’s come from.

Thursday 28th

Another sunny day – this is doing the battery some good.  Got going by about 9 this morning, and resolved to give myself the afternoon off.  Maybe a trip to Netley Abbey.  Got the dinghy out of the water and cleaned it up and left it lashed up against the boat to dry in the sun.  The thwart has gone down – dodgy valve I think, but it’s OK when the plug is in, which it wasn’t.  The main tubes had gone down very little in the three days since they were inflated.  Good news.

The rather unsatisfactory foredeck arrangement. I need another pair of cleats.

The wind had been getting up overnight and was now blowing the boat about a bit so I resolved to double up on the bow line, which was the one under strain, and liable to remain so.  I fished out the bouncy spring I’d found in a locker and rigged that up with a couple of big shackles I happened to have, and it seems to do the job.  Also some plastic pipe as chafing gear on this rope where it passes the toerail (no room in the fairlead) and also on the other one, in the fairlead.  Both these ropes and the forespring are on the only cleat on the foredeck.  Not very satisfactory.

I also dug out a spare jib which the vendor had claimed was a storm jib.  It ain’t.  It’s a No. 2 jib and unusable really because it can’t replace the roller furling genoa on the forestay and its luff is too long to use it as a staysail on the babystay.  No halyard anyway – this boat only has one (the main of course) and there seems no way of fitting any more.  So no spinnaker/cruising chute or staysail.  And hard to rig a jury sail in an emergency.  But in that kind of emergency the mast will be down anyway, since there’s no spare halyard to rig a jury shroud.  Dropped the sail in the drink while trying to fold it in the wind so hoisted it to dry it out and discovered some of the hanks were seized and most were somewhat dirty and corroded.  So I shall take it home to clean them and maybe I’ll then see if I can sell it.

Before I made my long-awaited three-egg omelette for lunch I decided, now the bilge was dry (and I’ve found another access point) to fix the new table support plate in place.  This I did and had the luxury of lunch sitting at a table for the first time.  By the time I’d washed up and cleaned the stove it was 1430 and I had shopping to do before my ‘afternoon off’.

When I eventually got going it was quite successful – I got the right plugs and socket for the charger, the hose clip to put the bilge pump back together and screws to fix the solar panel to its (temporary) mount.  No luck with the LED bulbs for the cabin lights though – I shall have to scour the electrical shops of Liverpool as I refuse to pay £44.99 for a new fitting from the chandler.  Since it was now nearly 5 I reasoned that Netley Abbey and other attractions were likely to be closed so I made for Southampton Common and sat in the park reading a book until I was driven away by loud ‘music’.  The Archers in the car and then negotiating the one-way system, road closure and emergency going on in Bitterne to get to the pub for a meal and WiFi.  Shall have to put those bits and pieces to use tomorrow.

Friday 29th

..which I did.  Early(ish) start this morning and got the hose clip fitted and the bilge pump back together (5 min), and the solar panel screwed to its temporary mounting board, gaffer tape around the edges to slow the ingress of rain and four 2m lengths of new polypropylene twine (£1.99 for a 50m spool from Aldi) tied onto its corners (30 min).  Then tackled the permanent wiring for the solar panel.  This was a bit fiddly – making connections largely by feel inside the top corner of the engine compartment – but successful and all seems to be working well.  I also discovered, tucked up under the top of the partition, an automatic fire extinguisher which even the surveyor (of whose abilities I’m becoming increasingly doubtful) had missed.  It’ll need servicing but I am now rather over-equipped with these items.  I rewarded myself with a cup of coffee and piece of cake, and then tidied up before lunch.

I also had a phone call from Paul the rigger, saying he could come first thing on Monday morning (I had hoped to head off on Sunday) to have a look, but if it’s 13 years old….  Martin will be here too (from his and Anton’s boat which I learn is called Floating Exception).  He’s quoted him £500 as well.

The afternoon brought a tropical storm which provided a test of my remounting of the forehatch handle.  Fortunately all was well in that area and the only noticeable leak was from the window above the sink, so fixing that is not too urgent, although I shall have a go at it tomorrow if it looks fine.  No sign of Tom to look at the engine, and Alan says it’s not possible to lift the mast out here, but Drivers, across the river, can do it.

So, late afternoon (the rain having passed and left bright sunshine in its wake) I went for a longish walk into town, calling at Drivers yard on the way.  A chap on an exercise bike quoted me £180 for lifting it out and back in again, so I think I’ll be taking the boat to Paul at Haslar when the time comes.  Unless I can find somewhere else….

Saturday 30th

Bright and sunny.  The domestic battery voltage reached a peak of 12.83V under the influence of the solar panel, which I’ve been moving regularly to face the sun.  When I leave I shall set it up to face south and tilt it up at a sensible angle (latitude = 50°?  but the instructions say add 15° – no idea why).  But then there will be no drain on it, as I don’t yet have an electric bilge pump (automatic or otherwise).  

Got very little done today, except spoke to Tom, who couldn’t spare time to come and look at the engine, and Liz and Bob[2] in their motor boat Tubbs. Bob gave me the ’phone number of his favoured mechanic/engineer, Luke, who works locally.  I was on the way back to Tyro when he caught up with me and pointed Luke out, on another boat nearby.  So I struck while the iron was hot and made contact.  Busy.  But further discussion with others suggests that the problem might be old fuel – certainly possible, as it’s been in the tank for nearly two years.  But it got me from Langstone round to here – six hours of motoring without a cough.  Anyway, I shall come next time with the wherewithal to extract the old fuel and add some new.

PM I eventually made it out on a trip, to the ruins of Netley Abbey, a fourteenth century Cistercian abbey, ruined in 1536 by Henry VIII, subsequently converted to a manor house and eventually fallen apart.  Hit on the head by a football kicked by a four-year-old, which livened up a less than exciting, though interesting visit.  Also a look at Netley Dome from the Victoria Country Park (a class of amenity with which this area seems well-supplied) rather than the usual view from seaward.

Finding myself near Hamble I popped into the chandler at Mercury Yacht Harbour in the faint hope of finding an LED lamp to fit the cabin socket.  Amazingly, they had one – for £11!  But now I have the manufacturer/distributor’s details I should be able to get others more cheaply.  It uses 2½W which is about what the solar panel puts in, and a tenth of the old bulb’s consumption.  A thread on the WOA forum says you can get these bulbs very cheaply at Asda, although a modification to the fitting is needed.  In view of the prices on the manufacturer’s website this looks like the way to go.

Home in time for tea, via a stop for milk. (My milk had gone off at breakfast time, for the first time in a fortnight).

Sunday 31st

Quite a successful day today.  Up early, but then back to bed for a bit, and then a decent breakfast.  Once I (eventually) got going, I decided to drain the old diesel out of the tank.  I dug the oil extractor pump out of the locker right aft under the port quarter berth, an operation which involved removing the dinghy (whose bag had clearly been leaked upon during the rain – I suspect the cockpit seating bolts) and sundry other items from above it.  Once I made the pump work it pulled out most of the fuel easily enough and I was able to drain out the rest by cracking the pipe union below the take-off valve (which would have been quicker in the first place!).  I even managed to open the drain cock on the filter, empty that, remove and clean it and reassemble it, all without spilling more than a spoonful of diesel into the (now very clean) bilge compartment underneath.

Late lunch, tidy up, shower, relax, then a small expedition to the ‘village’ to draw out some spondoolicks and get some special fried rice.  Yum.

Monday 1st June

Early start, as the rigger’s coming at 8.  Washed, dressed, and everything ready to go into the car by 0730, at which point Martin arrives and accepts the proffered cuppa, as I’m having my brekky.  He then kindly helps me load my gear into the trolley and wheel it up the ramp (why is it always low water when this has to be done?) to the car.  By this time it’s 8 and there’s no sign of Paul so I return on board to wash up.

This, of course, is his cue to arrive. 

We have a long and dispiriting discussion in which it becomes apparent that (a) he knows what he’s talking about (b) I’m going to have to have new rigging and (c) it’s going to cost me a lot of money.   Like everything else concerned with this blasted boat.  He went off to look at Martin (and Anton)’s boat while I sorted out mine and he left promising to send me a quotation.  Which he has now done, and it’s more than twice as painful as I was expecting.  At least the drive back to London was easy.

Subsequently, two other estimates, both on line, have been in the same area so it looks like he’s quoting a reasonable price. And his father designed the rigging for this boat so it looks like he’s the chap to use.  But first I need to get the blasted engine sorted out.  (Actually, I wonder if the engine could be sand-blasted to remove the rust?  Probably not.  Too much mess, and the sand would get into lots of places where it wouldn’t be welcome.)

The Westerly Owners’ Association website and its forum seem to be a mine of useful information and experience.  There are many Westerly owners, and because the Centaur is the most numerous model, and they’ve been around for so long, there are many people with relevant experience, and willing to share.

[1] He has.

[2] for it was he

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