Saturday, 6 December 2014

Tiller pilot lives again

The trusty (untrustworthy more like)  tiller pilot had stopped working during our trip to Devon in the summer. After an initial glance over it I decided that I didn't have the time or inclination to sort it there and then so it got thrown in the Forepeak and forgotten about... I'm thinking of renaming the Forepeak as 'The Oubliette'
Anyway after a chat with Sparrow Steve yesterday the sorry thing came back to my shed of a head. so this morning I dug it out and set about either fixing it or binning it.
My initial thoughts where that it had blown a power transistor, apparently a coming fault on these. That was also wishful thinking as I already had some spare transistors after getting some for a friends Tiller pilot.  I did quick check with the multi-meter confirmed the ones on the PCB were ok.  I delved further and took apart the gearbox.  Success, I could instantly see that the drive had wound the rod back so far that it had jammed solid and the motor could not push it out.  I freed the screw thread and reassembled the gearbox.  Before restringing and reassembling the unit I decided to power it up with the Bench Supply, Damn, It wouldn't drive.  I took it apart again, the motor would spin up and change direction with changes from the flux gate, the compass control on the unit, but the slightest touch from my finger would stop it.  
I was scratching my head now and the only option was to request help on the PBO Forum.  So that done I put the kettle on and went back for another gander... 'You plank' is all I could think,  The display on the Bench PSU was showing minimal Amps while trying to operate the motor.  I'd set it up to test the on board components, as I increased the power from the psu the rod started to drive.  I've never been so glad to have been so dumb.
Restrung and reassembled it looks to be working fine again.  Going to be a while before I get a chance to test it in anger.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Better get on and do something

So, since taking Ciao Bella out of the water there has been very little progress.  She's kinda just sitting on the front garden wondering where the water has gone.  I have cleaned off the weed and barnacles  but that's about it.
There is a list in my head of things to do, I daren't write them down as then they become real :)

While scanning through eBay the other day I saw these LED Stern lights from Marine Scene.  £12.44 including delivery seemed like a so out came the credit card.  It arrived a couple of days later and today I mustered the enthusiasm to think about some kind of bracketary for it.
The old stern light has definately got to the end of its road.  UV has taken its toll.  I had hastily knocked up a wooden bracket for this a couple of years ago.. before that it had been pointing down at a peculiar angle.

I had a nice piece of hardwood in the Garage left over from Number one sons GCSE project.  Using the table saw I trimmed off the bits that I needed and cut a groove in the back of the face plate to accept the mounting block.  These two where then glued and screwed together.

To allow the leads to pass through, I drilled though at an angle from the middle of the face plate down and along the mounting block.  Stopping before breaking through the base and then drilled in from the side.
The unit has nine super-bright LED's mounted on  a PCB with the lead soldered on. Hopefully should help with reliability as bulb holders tend to fur up.

Lamp trial fitted, happy with the position a how it looks, I have removed it again for several coats of varnish and to keep it out of UV until at least the star of the season :)
In other news, my mate Roger turned up with a very welcome gift of some Silky Marine Bright.. Should make a splendid job of cleaning the hull.. I'll let you know.

Monday, 3 November 2014

A little look back

The wanderings of Ciao Bella

Time for a little look back at 2014, and what a bumper year it was. The weather was unbelievable which led to a fabulous years sailing.  So here it is....

  • 575 is the number of nautical miles sailed.
  • 26 is the number of days on-board.
  • 14 is the number of nights on-board.
Favorite Cruise: Has to be Dartmouth for the adventure, rounding Portland Bill, seeing Dolphins and just having a jolly good time.   Dartmouth Cruise Part 1  and Dartmouth Cruise part 2

Dolphins in Lyme Bay
Biggest challenge:  Beating past St Aldelm head when we should really have gone out past the outer mark.  Portland Cruise.

Best race:  Only one contender here as I entered my Maiden race :)  Bart's Bash

Crossing the finish line with a Contessa 26
Best mooring: Dartmouth Yacht club,  Right in the town, friendly club, good facilities.

Worst Mooring:  Lyme Regis,  Expensive, uncomfortable and a long way from the facilities.

Best Anchorage:  Warbarrow bay, Quiet, sheltered and good for a swim.
Swimming at Warbarrow bay.
Worst anchorage:  Didn't really have a bad one but if I have to choose... Brownsea island, only because the mud is particularly muddy and gets everywhere.

Best food cooked on-board:  A poor show this year,  the best I could do was tinned sausage and beans.
Worst food on board:  Porridge with water and nothing else :)

Biggest success: Passage plan in the dark back from Studland.

Biggest cock up: Oh so many to choose from... Probably going aground on the River Frome on the way the Wareham and luring in Liam to do the same :)

I've had so much fun this year,  Going to Devon was a highlight but some of the best days were spent inside the confines of the harbour.  There's a lot of work to do over the winter to get Ciao Bella back into shape and continue her long road to recovery and I am really looking forward to next years adventures.

Cheers for now


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Last of the Summer Wine

With the lift out arranged for Monday, it seemed a shame not to try and ring out just a tad more from this years sailing season.   Paul was taking Lapwing out at the same time so we planned a mini cruise close to home.
It was a lazy start, getting to the yard around 11am and after showing a prospective new member around the club we were ready to set sail by noon.
Leaving the harbour with a bit of a chop.
Our first stop was to be Studland with a Coracle expedition to the Banks Arms.  It was a bit choppy in the harbour with wind over tide.  I had to hold while the Chain ferry crossed the entrance but once in the Swash Channel the surface was calm. With the tide flowing out I saw nearly 7 knots on the GPS.
Moored and paddling
We got to Studland within an hour, inflated the coracles and paddled ashore and plodded our way up to the Banks Arms.  Despite it being nearly the end of Oct the weather was good enough for sitting out in the garden.. in fact because they had a fire going inside it was too hot in the bar.  
Banks Arms at Studland
 After sampling some of their finest Ales we made our way back to the boats,  we had to wait a short while for the tide to turn so we rafted up and had a cuppa before heading back.
Back to Poole
It was getting dark as we re-entered the harbour and absolute pitch black by the time we reached Poole Quay.  

After an evening of food, beer, pub quiz, pool and juke boxes I headed back to the boat while Paul went home to a comfortable warm bed;  who cares, I was afloat and ready to sail at 6:30.   The lift out was booked for 12:30 so I figured I could fit in another little tout of the harbour.  Sadly my iphone battery is about as useful as an ash tray on the pulpit so I have no photos for you.
I left the marina just as the sun was peeking over Sandbanks, the breeze was quite strong and gusting but that didn't put me off. I sailed over to Brownsea to brew up a coffee before making my way around South deep, it's a privilege to be out in the harbour early with no one around... especially out in the quite zone, it could be any year in any century.
I made my way to Pottery Pier for another brew up before it was time for me to make the last leg over to Salterns.. making a quick detour to check on the tender first.

The lift out went without a hitch, Ciao Bella and Lapwing were out on their trailers by 1 o'clock.  We got the masts down and tucked up at home by 5pm,  Erm to keep the theme going we nipped out for a pint to celebrate  :)

Friday, 24 October 2014

Harbour pottering

I'll start by apologising for the quality of the pictures... You'll be glad to know that the iPhone4 has now been replaced with an iPhone5s... We'll have to wait and see if the picture quality is better.   Lets hope we don't have to wait until next season :)

I had booked a cheeky Monday off in the hope that the weather would be ok for a sail.  The forecast was for a bit of a mixed bag but there was nothing scary in it.  The pic above kinda sums it up.. blue skies, dark clouds, sun and rain.

After re-attaching my boom, which had decided to go freestyle, I got away from the mooring around 11am. There was a good breeze, I had full main and about 3/5th of the Genoa out.  I should really have reefed the Main but struggled on as was.
Another sandbanks house bulldozed to make way for the next over the top incarnation.
Initially undecided about where to go I felt it would be nice to potter around the quieter areas of the harbour, so I headed straight on past the chain ferry and off to South Deep.  The channels are quite narrow in this part of the harbour and a great deal of tacking was required to avoid the use of the engine.

I seemed to be facing the on coming traffic as I went around Furzey and Green Islands.  There must have been at least, huh, eer four other boats out here.

All of them looking like they'd come straight from another era, although I suspect there was a substantial amount of GRP in their construction :)

As I turned the corner into South deep the clouds darkened and the breeze picked up,  with a Westerly there was little protection here so plans of anchoring were shelved and I set a course for Shipstal point.

The next half hour/ hour was particularly wet,   glad I'd brought my wet weather gear with me.   The approach to Shipstal, 'Upper Wych Channel'  can be very shallow and is quite narrow.  This was not made any easier by the arrival of a fleet of dinghies, each crammed with shouting and singing kids intent on crowding me out and aiming straight at me..  I felt ever so grumpy for a while and then realised that they were doing nothing wrong and I should be happy that another generation is out enjoying sailing.

I think this magnanimous feeling arrived shortly after the anchor had been dropped and the kettle had boiled.   Life improved even more when the sun made an appearance along with my Tomato soup.

Once I was warm and dry and no longer hungry I pulled up the hook and made my way back down Wych Channel with the intention of anchoring off Brownsea Island so I could go for a stroll.
The wind picked up again making the paddle in the Coracle a quick one to the Island but worrying me that I might not be able to get back to Ciao Bella if it increased while I was ashore.  It was also raining again.

Instead of setting out for a full tour of the Island I took a fairly direct route to the Cafe by the Castle. Coffee and comfort food was required.     One bacon, cheese and onion slice down and I was ready to go in search of my furry friends, the Red Squirrels :)

With the days getting shorter, I couldn't hang around too long so I quickly made my way back to Ciao Bella, fortunately the wind had abated a bit and the paddle back was both easy and dry.

I pull up the anchor again and made my last few tacks of the day back to pottery pier then had a nice easy sail at over 5knots back to my mooring.
The track below tells the story, 51 tacks... that's a lot of tacks and my shoulders felt it on Tuesday.  Despite the grumpyness I'd really enjoyed it and will hopefully have another installment before she gets lifted out on Monday.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Wareham consolation prize

Last week end we had planned to go to Weymouth.  Liam came over from the Isle of Wight on the Friday with the intention of heading further west.  We would have to set off early on Saturday to catch the tide West, unfortunately the weather had other plans.   Force 8 Southerlys were forecast for the morning accompanied by a deluge...
Saturday 4th Oct:

A plan B was required.  The weather was set to improve in the afternoon.  We couldn't go West, not much point going South, so that just left North... Not easy on the South Coast. :)
We Set off on the rising tide and  had a play in the harbour.  The weather was a spirited Force 4 from the Northwest.

After having a cracking few hours in the harbour we arrived at the river entrance, where I almost immediately ran aground.  Arrgh!  I was well within the stakes but I had been caught out here some years before.  Liam couldn't get near enough without grounding, eventually Paul got his Corribbee close enough and after a struggle I manage to break free.
We rocked up at the quay to find a huge crowd waiting for us, I expect waiting for a pleasure boat to pick them up.  Liam arrived just after me and Paul just after him.  Nothing quite like having  a crowd to watch you moor up.... Especially when you realise, just too late, that they are not waiting for a pleasure boat but are all watching one of their loved ones ashes on  a  small burning raft in the middle of the river and we have just stolen the front row seats :(.
We had a good night in the town, returning to the Quay for a night cap or two.  The Quay (Pub) was getting a bit punchy so we went back to the boats.
Liam had already turned in as he needed to be away by about 7am if he was goung to get back to the Isle of Wight by a reasonable time.  Paul and Myself could afford a lie in :)

Liam sent this too late for me to include but I not going to leave it out... apart from anything else he's got a decent camera. 

Sunday 5th Oct:
Paul and I had been struck down by a mysterious illness which resembled a hangover.. Can't think what it could have been.  We went in search of a bacon sandwich and lots of Coffee to cure it.
We left the quay around 11am with not a breath of wind blowing.  Back in the upper harbour I optimistically raised the main sail.   An hour later it came good and the breeze filled in nicely and we had another cracking sail back to the mooring.
I couldn't get back to mine as the tide was out so rafted up with Paul and had a cuppa until the tide came back.
A great consolation to our original plan.  It's not often we have time to just mess around and not care about the heading or what time we'll get there.  The season is nearly done but I intend to get out at least one more time before before she comes out.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Hurley 20 for Sale.

If anyone is looking for a good, well looked after Hurley 20, then Liam's 'Peggotty' is up for sale. Here she is, sailing in Poole harbour this weekend.

Late 1960s bilge keel Hurley 20 (20 foot) sailing yacht in very good condition for her age.

This is not a project. She is ready to sail away.

Good seaworthy boat
Can be easily sailed single handed or has room for 4
Usable mainsail and genoa
Cruising chute / asymmetric in excellent condition
Storm jib
Roller reefing genoa
Reef main around rolling boom
Ultra-reliable 2 stroke Yamaha 9.9HP outboard (not the steaming pile of crap shown in some of the pictures)
Engine bracket for accurate steering in forwards or reverse
Garmin chart plotter on bulkhead
Bulkhead compass
NASA Anemometer (direction not accurate)
2 x 10w solar panels
Phone / gadget charger
Lights (forward mast light needs new bulb)
All running rigging is set up for spinnaker use and is in good condition
Main halyard could do with replacement in next year
Lots of rope and fenders
Gas cooker
4 berth accommodation
Pontoon mooring (Folly/Medina) paid for until end of year
Possibility to take on mooring
Will deliver to south coast

Monday, 29 September 2014

Late evening sail to Studland

As the weather was so nice on Sunday, I took a last minute run to the club to see if I could squeeze in a little sail....  Apologies to the peeps that I swerved in an attempt to get to the boat ASAP :).
The tide was running out and the was very little wind, it soon became apparent that I wouldn't be able to sail up the harbour and I didn't want to start the engine, so I literally went with the flow.   Low tide was around 19:30 so I thought it would be nice to potter out to Studland, have a brew then come back in with the flood. It was going to be a late dark finish.

What a beautiful sail, The wind was a bit flukey in the bay and it took a while to get to the Banks Arms buoys.  I got myself tied on and furl the Genoa but as there was so little wind, I left the main up while I got the kettle on.
Even though I know I can find my mooring in the dark, I thought it would be good practice to make a proper pilotage plan.   It was an interesting exercise as I realised I'd left out a lot of information.  I'd picked the marks that seemed obvious but at night theres a lot more flashing at you than you'd realise.  If I'd been in a strange harbour, I might have struggle with the plan I'd made :)

Ciao Bellas night time dashboard :)
My plan consisted of a rough drawing with marks shown and a description of their lights. Also the heading from one mark to the next.
The Channel 10 Can

Safely back on the mooring, I unloaded and made my way back to the pier where I was faced with the biggest danger of the trip.  Some kind soul had left the end of their outhaul on the pier... I got one foot well and truly tangled an nearly disappeared over the side, complete with Outboard... Arrgh!
My pilotage plan didn't allow for inconcideration like this.
The end of the season is rushing upon us... We are hopefully going West again next weekend but we'll have to see how the weather holds up.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Barts Bash

Neither Ciao Bella nor myself are really ones for racing, I think the phrase is built for comfort, not for speed :)  However I did succumb to pressure and agreed to take part in the 'Barts Bash' record attempt.
My track around the course... Don't laugh :)

The club had joined forces with Lilliput sailing club to put on a couple of races.. One for Cruisers and one for Dinghies. The course for cruisers was set in the bay and was one lap of a simple triangular course to keep it easy for those of us unaccustomed racing.
The weather was just enough to keep it interesting NE F4 occasionally more.  The race control was on channel 37A.. which was great except I use this channel so infrequently that I'd forgotten how to select it. I spent a good 10mins hove too trying to find it... ne'er mind.    This meant two things, One, I'd have to follow others across the line as I could hear the start sequence, and two, I'd have to finish as I could let them know if I wanted to retire.

A good turn out 
I made a reasonable start and soon settled down to see which boats I would actually be competing with.  The first mark turned out to be a bit of a farce as I kept misjudging it.    I had full sail for most of the course but had to furl about 1/3 of the Genoa as I got closer to the beach. The wind here was gusty and the direction was changeable, Ciao Bella was easily over powered and would round up on occasion.   I got overhauled by a shrimper and a Contessa 26 here and ended up some distance behind.
I'd loaded the marks into my hand held GPS which turned out to be a smart move.. The Shrimper and Contessa trotted off in just slightly the wrong direction forcing them to harden up to make the next mark.  The Contessa lost ground but made it round where as the Shrimper missed the mark and had to come back to round it.   I was back past the Shrimper and chasing the contessa.  Ciao Bella is pretty good down wind and I started to make ground on the Contessa.    The Contessa was heading in slightly the wrong direction again and we ended up round the last mark side by side.

Ciao Bella and Shahin crossing the finish line.
The day was about more than having a race and back at the club there was a good atmosphere, BBQ on the go, the bar was open and there were a few other activities to keep the kids and none sailors amused.  On reflection, I don't see myself competing weekly in the club races but it might be fun to do a few more..

Results for EDSC here:  Barts Bash results for EDSC   Ciao Bella and Shadowfax  (An Alacrity) were both listed as  Hurley 22's so results should be even better :)

Pictures where unashamedly stolen from the EDSC Facebook page

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A weekend in Yarmouth

I took a last minute decision to go to Yarmouth this weekend, when I say last minute, I mean I have a fantastic and understanding wife :)   I'd taken number one son back to University on Friday evening and didn't get home until 2am on Saturday,  on the long drive home I'd let my mind drift to the possibility of getting over to the Solent, I new that I'd have to go early so left it to fate.. ie I didn't set an alarm.
I magically woke at 6am and brokered the deal to disappear for the weekend.... some making up for this needs to be done!   Unfortunately 6am wasn't quite early enough as Ciao Bella was sitting high and dry when I arrived.  

The south route is the track out 

I walked out to Ciao Bella and chucked my bags on board,  To my disgust the Terns had made Ciao Bella their dumping ground, so I spent the next hour scrubbing conrete off just about every bit of the boat.  I was ready to leave the mooring on the rising tide, around 9am, and Goosewinged across the harbour to the entrance.  Although the tide was coming in, there was a nice back eddy close to Sandbanks which assisted me to the entrance.With the nose in the Swash  channel the engine had to go on and stayed on through the East Looe Channel.  

I'm sure the Isle of Wight should be there.

Once in the bay the engine was lifted and I beat into the North Easterly. Initially I thought I'd be able to make Hurst Channel in one hit but with subtle changes in wind direction my heading drifted out to about 110 degrees. I stuck with this direction as long as possible as I guess the tide in the solent approach would help drag me in when I had to make the inevitable tack.  The Visibility wasn't great, very hazy, The island is usually visible from Poole but stayed hidden until I was well passed Hengisbury head.

The wind picked up for a while and I felt the need to put a reef in the main, it was a good decision,  the speed was maintained but the comfort was increased. An hour later I shook it out again, I must look into an easier way to reef.
I needed to be through Hurst Channel by 2pm and it was getting a bit tight.  I was tacking along the Needles north channel, avoiding the Shingles Bank to Port and the large rolling Waves to Starboard.

I just had the two fort behind me when I felt I should tack out of the way of the Waverley, which seemed to be steaming straight at me.  I lost some ground with this maneuver and the tide had definitely started to flow against me so the engine went back on. 

Half an hour later and I was rafted up against Lapwing.   There was a good selection of East Dorset boats in Yarmouth, I guess the end of season 'get some sailing in bug' must have bitten :)
Ciao Bella and Lapwing
Silver Lady

Once safely secured and said Hi to everyone, refreshments were required.   We took a wonder to the Kings Arms, which had a fabulous array of decent real ales.. It's not often that you hear someone ask for two wild Geese and an Otter!  
Apparently there was a large Gin palace in the harbour which was either owned, Chartered, borrowed or stolen by a London car dealer which seemed to be crewed by less than delicate under-dressed girls who were causing great amusement. 

The 'Crew' of a particularly crass gin palace causing much amusement in Yarmouth.
Fortunately they'd left by the time we returned to get cleaned up for the evenings entertainment.  We'd invited to pre-dinner drinks on Silver Lady before taking a stroll into town for dinner.  We squeezed eight and a dog onto two small tables in the Bugle where we were serenaded by two chaps with an electric guitar and a steel guitar playing Blue grass stylie.. I think?

Serena and Lapwing leaving Yarmouth
The following morning was an easy affair, we just relaxed around the town and harbour waiting for a suitable time to leave. In Yarmouth there is a really nice deli where you can buy lunch and the old Post office is now a cafe with really nice coffee and tip top Pain au chocolate.. what better way to start the day.

We left the mooring around 1:30,  the tide was still running west to east which, as Paul and I where both broadside to the tide and the Easterly wind, helped us get away from the pontoon .
Silver Lady along Hurst spit
The tide was still against us by about a knot as we went through Hurst, I found staying close to the island helped but I still had to cross the faster flowing channel to continue to Poole.
Soon the tide was with us and the wind behind so with the Main pushed out and held with a preventer and the Genoa poled out Ciao Bella scooted across Christchurch bay.
Serena at Hurst
The wind direction altered by a good 40 degrees after Hengisbury head which allowed for a nice broad reach across Bournemouth Bay.  The waves were rolling in from the South East which kept life interesting, often picking Ciao Bella up for a little surf  :)
Lapwing leaving the Solent

I made it back to the mooring around 5:30pm, had been a great sail back and really nice to have had a weekend away again.  As I'd walked out to the boat I was fortunate that one of the other guys was passing in his tender and offered me a lift back... better than pumping up the Coracle :)