Thursday 14th – warm and sunny
Returned to the boat at noon unsure of what I’d find. Lots of weather in the last few weeks and despite Billy’s assurance that all was well, I needed to inspect closely. On approaching, the tarpaulin indeed looked secure and not flapping in the (admittedly gentle) breeze. I set up the step ladder, climbed on board and unlocked the companionway. I slid the hatch open and, lifting out the washboards, peered into the gloom below.
No water, no smell, no disasters – the boat was just as I’d left it two months ago. Happy bunny. I climbed down and went to say hello to Alan and Sarah and then started to strip off the tarpaulin. No problem, apart from a few gallons of water in a fold on one side, which just missed the trolley containing my gear. I changed the plug on my new 50m extension lead for a 16A outdoor one and ran it out, making contact with Graham on his Moody with whom I agreed to share the connection. When he left later in the afternoon I was able to connect up and sat in the saloon, with some of the cushions back in place, typed this on mains power, listening to my digital radio and with a cup of tea from water boiled in an electric kettle. I even had a fan heater, borrowed in anticipation of having to dry out the boat but that appears unnecessary – so far.
Now to reconnect the gas bottle, heat up my Bolognese sauce and cook some pasta, then off for a drink with Paul.
Friday 15th – wet
Slept badly, then up and out shopping. Home and coffee, then set to work. Apart from an hour or so off for lunch and a shorter break at tea time I managed a full day’s work: thoroughly cleaned two of the lockers (crockery/cutlery/cooking utensils) and the heads, hanging space and intervening space to remove the mildew; removed the thermostat and flywheel pulley from the engine and loosened all four mounting bolts and the injectors; removed the mast from its temporary home along the top of the boat and manage to lower it to the ground by dint of a certain amount of grunt and rather more seamanship. Just eaten, had a shower and washed up – and actually managed to see the engineer (as he was coming home from work at 9.30!) and arrange getting the engine out. It’s now ten o’clock and I’m exhausted.
Saturday 16th – wet, cold; brightened up later
A few errands in the morning, while waiting for the rain to stop, including a visit to Force 4 chandlery at Shamrock Quay to investigate LED nav lights. Expensive. Another experienced sailor who’d recently fitted one recommended Ebay. Never used that – better learn how, I s’pose. An hour or two in the library to get online.
Once the rain eased off I stripped the mast of all its bits of string and fiddled with the top to investigate how a new light might be fitted. Also measured it – just under 9.5m from heel to truck – which means that 10m lengths of the expensive tinned cable I need will do. More sorting out, cleaning up and general faffing about until the engineer turned up about 1830 just as I was thinking of knocking off. As well as some chat about his knee (in need of replacement) and domestic arrangements (precarious) he said he’d be here to get my engine out tomorrow afternoon. The woodwork around the hatch needs removing before that happens, so I set to work to attack that, with some success before I packed up and switched to domestic mode at about 8. It’s now nearly 9 and I’m full of beef casserole and wholemeal bread and about to attack a can of pineapple.
Sunday 17th – bright and sunny (but chilly) all day
Did last night’s washing up and then set to work to dismantle the wooden casing round the front of the engine bay. A work of art – forty years ago a joiner at Westerly Yachts must have been really pleased with his work on that fitting. Perfect fit all round, beautifully mitred corners and all eighteen screws neatly counterbored with matching plugs on top, securely glued in – and varnished all over too. All very well until the time comes to take it apart. I fetched the rest of my tools (including power drills) from the car and attacked it with care and circumspection. I even converted an old screwdriver into a chisel, having left all mine at home, not expecting to engage in joinery.
By the time the engineer turned up at 2.30 I’d more or less achieved the aim, but it wasn’t pretty. Unable to concentrate on this for too long I filled in by cleaning out another locker and the headlining on the deckhead. Alan brought over the little fork-lift with a chain hoist on the end, the one remaining mounting bolt, which I hadn’t been able to undo, was cut (using, in addition to the angle grinder, my improvised chisel), took out the rest and attached the slings. As the hoist began it became obvious that a piece would have to be cut out of the GRP under the step, which he did, and in less than an hour the engine, in its slings was swinging below the hoist on the way to his workshop. He stowed it on a pallet and pulled out the new one next to it. Smaller, a lot less rusty and very, very yellow.
Then there was a large, empty and very dirty space in the after third of the boat. Scraping with a stripping knife removed some of the mixture of oil, grease, rust and forty-one years of accumulated grime and revealed some of the original paint underneath. It also revealed a crack in at the forward end through which water was slowly seeping. How many more unwelcome discoveries are to be made, I wonder?
Monday 18th – bright, becoming overcast; cold.
Discouraged by my new discovery I wasn’t able to settle to get any real work done today. I cleaned out a few more lockers and all round the instrument panel; I investigated all the electric string behind the switches and quickly covered it up again – making a mental note to add that to my ever-lengthening ‘things to do’ list. Folded up and put ‘away’ the now dry tarpaulin, chatted with a few people, mooched around and felt generally discouraged.
About mid-afternoon I decided to knock it on the head and get away. Working now with a purpose, I put things away, cleaned things, restowed things to make the engine bay more easily accessible and loaded all my tools and much else into the car. Late that evening I arrived back in London for a hot bath and a sleep in a rectangular bed in a warm flat.
Wednesday 20th – sunny and breezy; on the ferry to Dunkirk
The current list of jobs to do:
- cut out the old angle irons that held the engine, then cut the bearers to fit the new one
- Remove the old exhaust system
- Thoroughly clean, dry, degrease and paint the engine bay
- Repair the crack I’ve discovered in part of the engine bay and possibly drill a limber hole through it
- Fit electric bilge pump and float switch under where engine will go; wire up and test
- Engineer to fit the new engine, secure it in place, connect all the pipes, electrics, controls, sensors etc. (a week’s work, he reckons!)
- Fit new propeller and prop shaft with new Cutless bearing; connect it up, checking alignment very, very carefully
- Test engine, as far as possible while ashore
- Find and buy appropriate new tricolour, anchor and ‘masthead’ lights and appropriate cable; remove old ones; fit, connect and test new ones, including threading the cable along 10m of mast
- Replace side and stern lights (possibly)
- Attach new rigging wires to mast and adjust length as necessary
- Assemble (and cut to length as necessary) new roller-furling mechanism and attach to forestay
- Possibly get jib altered to fit new roller-furler
- Buy and attach extra blocks to masthead to take spare/spinnaker halyard and topping lift
- Buy and reeve new spare/spinnaker halyard and topping lift
- Wash and reattach lazy-jack lines
- Hoist mast back onto boat
- Raise mast (crucial and difficult job) and coarsely adjust rigging temporarily. Re-check engine alignment.
- Connect new lights and test them
- Sand the paintwork on the bottom and rudder and prepare for anti-fouling
- Grind rust off keels; check hull-to keel joints and fill where necessary; prime keels
- Lightly rub down paintwork om topsides and touch up/recoat where necessary
- Paint bottom, keels and rudder with antifouling
- Paint propeller, if considered necessary
- Thoroughly scrub deck & superstructure; repair gel coat where necessary
- Repaint non-slip areas on deck
- Buy & fit jackstays
- Refit heads valves
- Fit new sacrificial anode(s)
- Check for leaks and hope we don’t have to come out again
- Re-check engine alignment
- Test engine and propeller; run to charge batteries
- Find and cure leaks in deck, lockers etc.
- Refit dodgers, mainsail trough, mainsail & jib with all lines
- Secure everything for sea
- Dragoon someone into crewing and carry out initial sea trials
- Repeat until satisfied
- Motor gently round to Gosport to get rigger to do fine adjustments to rigging
- Re-check engine alignment
What, I wonder, are the chances of that all going smoothly, and in time for me to go sailing this summer?