For those of you that may be interested, we thought we’d post what we’ve been doing to the boat since we’ve been here in Gib.
The first thing on the (long) list of jobs was ‘replace fruit and veg nets’. This has been on the list of jobs since we bought the boat in the summer of 2014, but somehow they just never quite make it to the stage of getting crossed off that list…. There was hope around August 2015 when we acquired some new netting, and further hope around November 2015 when we bought the fixing cord, and yet further early in 2016 when the old nets were removed, but somehow they have always eluded actually getting replaced and the item has become a kind of standing item on any kind of boat-related list that we write.
So, if the nets are the de jure first item, the de facto first thing on the list was surely ‘replace fairleads’. Following Fairleadgate 1 (storm in Brighton) and Fairleadgate 2 (storm in Názare), both our bow fairleads needed replacing. We sourced two from Sheppards Chandlery in Gib and had thought to replace the stern fairleads with two of the same… but no, they wouldn’t order any more, and no, they could not provide suitable fixings; although they could provide something that ‘would do’… which wasn’t quite what we were after when thinking about securing our very heavy boat to the pontoon in stormy (and indeed any) weather….! We bought the two fairleads anyway though as a) we needed them and b) they looked like exactly what we were after for the bow, but we left unimpressed with the ‘whatever’ attitude we encountered and resolved not to buy anything else from them. We had the fairleads about a month before finally ceasing to procrastinate and fix them. We had a week of 40+ kt winds, which was the push we needed to get it done, and it turned out to be a fairly quick job that we had blown out of proportion; a nice sunny day, a bit of sanding of the toerails, a bit of measuring, drilling, mixing up the metal bond, and they were ready to go on. Jolly smart they look too. And they were tested 2 nights later when some cold westerlies came through.
Then of course there were the remedial works following the water leak first discovered in the Hell-garve: ‘Re-seal all deck fittings’ and ‘Re-seal windows’. We needed a dry day for the purposes of siliconing and a warm sunny day for the purpose of repressing any moaning about having to do it. February’s weather was generally conveniently unpleasant, but come March, there were no more excuses….
Barbate had provided the need for more remedial works, particularly engine-related ones. The high pressure injector hose and alternator belt had been replaced, but it had only highlighted the need to give the 43 year old engine a bit more TLC, as we rely so heavily on her. Not us those folks that don’t bat an eyelid at sailing on to a berth if they lose their engine when approaching a marina! We need our engine. We had much guidance from a pontoon-buddy, Tom. He not only explained in detail our old tractor engine (sited backwards to accommodate the hydraulic drive… just to make things more interesting), but also guided us through some basic maintenance items, leak repairs, and things that we really should be checking and replacing. Filters, gaskets, impellers etc. These were all jobs that required emptying lockers, getting into tight spaces, and getting covered in oil, diesel etc – of course they were. Almost EVERY job on the boat involves those things! Tom is a true professional, especially at getting covered in oil, fuel, silicone, and anything else that happens to be around on the boat…
Then came the wheel cover. This had seemed like a really nice idea back in the UK when our steel steering wheel got so cold when helming, but the further south we got, and the more we confirmed ourselves as ‘sunshine sailors’ (as opposed to any other forms of transport related to sunshine – like buses – before any of you ask…), the less necessary a wheel cover seemed to be. However, it would make the cockpit look smarter, and we had it now, so we figured we may as well fit it. As long as it was dry. And warm and sunny.
The next item didn’t require it to be dry, warm and sunny, as it was going to be unpleasant whatever the weather…. cleaning the bilge and fitting a non-return valve to the automatic bilge pump. We hoped that fixing the leaks to the oil, fuel, hydraulic fluid, and water tank would reduce the amount of fluid going into the bilge. Cleaning the bilge is a bit of a thankless job, but we started off with pure hearts on the matter, convinced that a) a good clean was just what it needed and b) that it would actually remain clean for more than a few days.
Locker tops and washboards were also on the list to be ‘tidied up’. They were more than a bit grubby and had been on Jamie’s hit list pretty much since we’d bought the boat. We started off sanding them, but luckily Nick from No Worries recommended a heat gun (thereby saving about 4 weeks of hard labour).
A few random bits of wiring that we had been postponing – not a decent amount of work to get stuck into, but a bit too much to fill an odd 10 minutes here and there: wiring in the light to the compass, checking connections between the house and start batteries etc.
A few new jobs also arose – Ray the Autohelm’s health issue became terminal and we had to source a replacement, the Sahara Desert made a visit and gave us a hell of job washing fine orange sand out of sail tracks, deck fittings, sails, cushions, nets etc etc.
Then Jamie gave a demonstration of our spear gun to Nick and Aiden from No Worries, which then led to Rose giving a demonstration of scuba diving to find the spear which hadn’t been tied on…
We had a couple of mooring springs that needed to be re-done as the old lines were frayed, so we recycled an old rigging line which worked a treat. The new springs got tested along with the new fairleads when some bad weather came through and they’ve reduced the snatching on the lines dramatically which means a much better night’s sleep!
Bella had her operation, and even trotted home from it, the hard-ass that she is! She recovered well and – despite a bit of whining and weeing (with good reason to be fair) – was back to normal within a week. It was lucky, as within 24 hours of being in Tarifa, she caught the eye of a little puppy, eager to show his affections and enthusiasm, if a little young to be effective… We also decided to buy an AIS transponder, which means that everyone on the sea (with an AIS receiver) will be able to see us. We also installed a new VHF aerial which we will use for the AIS, but it would also double as an ’emergency aerial for the VHF radio if we were ever (God forbid) to get de-masted (our primary aerial is mounted at the top of the mast).
So worry not, we have not been sitting idle… The hard work continues… Standby for further updates!