Sunday, 31 May 2015

Making big holes bigger

When I first bought Comme Ci Comme Ca, as she was was known, she had a big hole in the roof where a broken vent had been.   Just about the first job I did was to replace it and within 10 minutes I'd broken it again.    It's been in this semi broken state for over two years until I finally kicked it clean off the roof last Monday.
I taped it up to stop the weather getting in and during the week I sourced a solar powered extractor vent.  The required hole was only a few mm more than the one that already there so I thought it would be a fairly straight forward swap.

The old vent removed 
Unfortunately things are never really that simple.  Although the hole was roughly the same size, the unit is considerably bigger and would not fit in the same location.  It fouled on the radius for the hatch slider and the base of the grab rail.
With a bit of adjustment to the hole and a cheeky chisel of the grab rail I was able to get the unit to fit in the space available.  The hole is a bit elongated but it has plenty of overlap. 
Having got the hole in the right place, I still couldn't get the unit into the hole as the cowl caught on the grab rail before the base could drop through the hole.   I needed to dismantle the unit, drop it in place and then build it up again... This was becoming a pain.

Cowling was riveted to base

With the cowl off  the base could fit under the rail.
Eventually all fitted in and bolted down, it looks pretty good, works while ever its day light and even better, the main halyard doesn't catch on it.   The next job was to get rid of the ridiculous VHF aerial connector from the coachroof.  The Radio hasn't worked at all this year and I suspect this.  I bought an Index Marine deck gland with the intention of doing away with this connector and bringing it all safely inside the cabin, out of the salty atmosphere. 

The old connector had been really badly fitted and no amount new bits was going to fix it. However, that will have to wait until the winter.  For now it is more a case of fitting the new gland.

With the gland fitted I spliced the aerial cable together and called the Coast guard for a radio check.  No problem at all, a good strong transmission.   The mast lamp cable also uses this gland now meaning I can do away with the aweful connector on the other side.  It's not connected yet but this and the aerial connectors will live in a Gewizz box which I have fitted inside.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

EDSC Solent Cruise.


At last... I have managed to get away on the boat for a day or two.  EDSC traditionally has a cruise to the Solent on the Bank holiday weekend,  this year we had four boats heading east for a leisurely sail.
We all left Poole at different times,  I set off as soon as my keels were free to go, ideally Id have left before the last of the ebb but no worries.
As I was leaving so was the TS Lord Nelson.  Always nice to see a tall ship, although she's not exactly pretty.

It felt good to be heading in to the Solent again.  The weather was a bit pants, in that there just wasn't enough wind.  When it did blow there was plenty to push the boat along nicely at 4 or 5 knots but in the end I had to motor sail in 'Solent trim' most of the way across Christchurch bay.

Yarmouth was busy when we arrived, but they found a space without any trouble.  One of the joys of having a smaller boat.   Jamiebump was already in when I got there and Mark helped me to moor up.  After a chat with the neighbours I popped over to Jamiebump for a cuppa before going to the office to pay up.. Oh my god,   £21 for my wee boat and it doesn't include showers.. My flabber has never been so gasted!
Ciao Bella and Jamiebump (white Pegasus 800 with red stripe) Mark on mooring duty for the Bay Cruiser.

Four deep on the pontoons
I went for a recce to try and book a table for food,  all the pubs said that we'd just have to turn up and grab a table if there was one free. Not ideal when there are six of you.  I hadn't though about the yacht clubs but noticed a sign for the 'Royal Solent' and visiting yachtsmen welcome.  It very posh looking and having just stepped of the boat in my shorts and tee shirt I didn't really fit in,  but I was shown the menu and made a booking for 7pm.

Fleur Paul still hadn't arrived so I sent the menu to entice him in,  He made it in time, in through the entrance at 6:30 and sat at the table by 7pm.   The meal was spot on great value and a fantastic location with views across the solent.
Fleur arriving in Yarmouth.


Corky the Catamaran had spend the previous night at the Folly so we thought we'd have a day sail in the solent and all meet up  at Keyhaven in the evening.  Fleur and Myself decided to go to Cowes for lunch while Mark and Jennie on Jamiebump felt like having a lie in then pop up to Newtown Creek for lunch.   Irt was another light wind morning as I drifted up towards Cowes, eventually it became a bit more steady and I actually did some sailing.

With a good chunk of tide running with me I  went past Gurnard Point to see Corky sailing towards me (against the tide) make good headway.   A quick wave and a hello and I carried on to Cowes.
The new breakwater at the entrance of the Medina is looking good and will definitely make it calmer in the river when it's blowy.  I radioed  into the Yacht haven and was given a berth.  I'm not sure Ciao Bella really fits in with the surroundings,  She's a bit diminutive :)
After a shufty around town, a quick pint then into a Cafe for lunch, I hit the supermarket and spent big...  There's enough here for Dinner, breakfast and lunch and all for under a fiver :)  (a good job I like sausages).

I left Cowes around 4pm and raised full main and reefed genoa.  I quickly realized that the wind was a lot stiffer than this morning and put a reef in.  The reefing lines that I put on during the winter worked a treat.  I set up the tiller pilot, applied the topping lift, let off the main halyard, pulled a cleated the two reefing lines, tensioned the halyard and let off the topping lift.  It all took about 1 minute and was very calm.  Reefing used to take me at least 15mins think about whether I wanted to go through the ordeal before I even start to reef.  All I need to do now is set up the lines for the second reef.
Not sure what this ship is called but she did look fantastic, try contrasting this on to the Lord Nelson from earlier.   Because the weather had been a bit lively I'd forgotten to call Mark to let him know that I was heading back from Cowes.   I saw a text from Mark so called him.  There had been some conflicting news about this evenings weather. 
I bet this is fun
Most had said W turning NW which was great for Keyhaven but one dubious source had said Southerly for the early hours.   In the end we trusted the Shipping forecast and  all was well.

After my luxury dinner of Sausage in a tomato and garlic sauce and Pasta, I inflated the trusty coracle grabbed a bottle of red and paddled over to Corky for the evening.
As a stop off, anchoring out side the river at Keyhaven is ok but it was a little uncomfortable in the swell.  I would probable go into the river next time, Fleur picked up a  bouy in the river, I shall have to ask how it was.


Corky left first, around 5:30am,  as they needed to get up the river to Wareham today.  I woke about the same time but was going nowhere until I'd had some sausage and egg and a big mug of tea.

Jamiebump at Anchor, Fort Victoria in background.
I love the contrasting light in the early morning. 
Corky setting off for home
I pulled up the anchor and set off  around 0615.  Mark was up on deck and preparing to leave as well. Once again there was very little wind but surprisingly once moving I was getting 4 knots through the water.  This lasted well until just past Hengistbury head.  The light breeze made a distinct shift then died.  Time to motor again.  The breeze returned for a while, allowing me to sail as far as Canford cliffs before petering out again.  
It looked like I'd be back on the mooring by noon and I didn't feel like finishing there. I called home and managed to persuade Jewels to join me for a trip around the harbour and a little walk on Brownsea.  What a great end to the trip.

Mrs Ciao Bella press ganged onto the boat

Ciao Bella at Anchor off Brownsea.

All in all a really nice weekend.  Some good sailing, good company, a new anchorage and Caio Bella performed well with no nasty surprises.  Looking forward to the rest of the season.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Broken forestay and a trip in Jelly Bean to Swanage


I had planned a last minute trip to Chapmans Pool on Saturday. Three other club boats had shown interest so we arranged to be at the club for 9am. 
All was going well, there on time, transferred our stuff to Ciao Bella only to find the forestay had failed.  The top of the furling gear was flapping about and I was a little worried. 
John and I managed to secure the mast and took down the Genoa and Furler.  It loked like the trip was off.  Coffee Bean swung by and asked if all was ok,  we said yes but obviously wouldn't be going, they said they'd let Jelly Bean Tim know.   A while later Tim hailed us on the VHF  and offered o take us along with him. What a gent.
They came over and we jumped aboard.  4 big blokes on a Prelude, you'd think it would be a squeeze.  No problem, this boat feels much bigger than it ought to.

With a strong force 4 gusting 5 it was a good test for the Prelude.  One reef in the main and a good reef in the jib was plenty of sail to get us moving along nicely. We made good time out to Swanage and continued on towards St Aldelms head.   Despite there being some North in the wind, the headland was a bit too choppy for us.  Coffee Bean had also turn and was heading back to Swanage.  We followed suit and set about fighting the tide back to Swanage.  As I tried to raise Whisper on the VHF she came flying past.  Whisper is a Southerly 35 and had no problem bashing through to Chapmans pool.

It had taken about 15mins from Perveril point to Durleston but over and hour to make the same ground back again.  There are no photos of this part of the trip as it was a bit full on :).
Eventually into Swanage and we pick our way through a flock / swarm / plague of Kayaks... what ever the correct term is.
Ashore, we made for the Red Lion.  A  good choice of pub,  well kept real ales, good selection of farm ciders and half decent food. 
Before heading back to the boat we had to find an Ice cream.. it's the law. John caught a lift home with Mrs John as she had come round to Swanage by car.  Back aboard, we pulled up the anchor and headed for home.


Having had a good play on Saturday, it seemed prudent to find out what was wrong with the Forestay on Sunday.  Low tide was late afternoon so around lunchtime I went to the boat and run it up on the beach outside the club.  The forestay was actually ok so it must have been the fitting on the mast which had failed.

Normally when I drop the mast I use the furler to guide the mast down, clearly I couldn't do this this time.  I had a couple of old Mirror Gaffs in the roof of the garage which turned out to be just about the right length to make up an A frame.

The lowering went really well. although there were three of us on hand, I could see it would be possible to lower the mast single handed if needs be.  I couldn't remember what the old fitting looked like but it had disappeared completely.    The spinnaker block was sacrificed in favour of the forestay attachment and the mast went back up ready for action.  This was a great result, I had assumed I would need to identify a fitting then buy another to fit another day. 
Anyway, She's back on her mooring and ready for use, yeahaw!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

May day potter

That's not some Clay pot making life endangering emergency but the bank holiday mooch around the harbour.    Although Sunday had scuppered any plans for a weekend away, Mondays weather was looking perfect  for an opportunist potter.
We have different types of sailors in our club... we have Dinghy racers, Cruiser racers but by far the biggest contingent are the silent majority... The 'Bimblers'.   I am a confirmed Bimbler.  It's a great term, I not sure if it's a real word or used elsewhere but it fits with what we do.
Monday was an absolute masterclass in Bimbling.  I arrived at the club at no pre arranged time and had no idea where I would go or how long I would stay out.

I dicided to take a tender across as I wanted to stow my rubber dinghy on board, so this gave me the chance to really try out my new (to me) mini outboard.   It's a wee Yamaha 2hp 2 stroke.  It is so light and easy to carry and although it's two stroke there is no mess.. unlike the Seagull.
Casting off in bright sunshine in a pleasant SE force 3 I stretched Ciao Bellas legs in the main harbour.  I spied 'Jelly Bean'.. Not my old boat but another club boat; a really pretty (if a little bright) prelude;  heading down from Parkstone.   I think this was one of their first sails on this boat so I scooted over to have a look and take some piccies.  Sadly I only had my iPhone so they're not great.

The Prelude is a cracking small cruiser,  it was high on my wish list when  I first thought about buying a boat.
Jelly Bean seems to be a fine example, having been well maintained. Good accommodation as well.. there is a family of five on this one :)
With the bright colour, I think Jelly Bean is a great name for her.  Tim and family where heading back to their mooring so I waved goodbye and bimbled off in a different direction. 

Thanks to Tyger Sarah for this one... Stolen off Facebook :)

I thought about going to Shipstal point but with the South Easterly I guessed it would be a bit bouncy.  I found a bit of shelter in the lee of Brownsea Island so I dropped the anchor and put the kettle on.

By now the blue skies had been replaced with grey and the breeze had picked up a little to a force 4 with occasional gust of 5.  I raised the anchor and headed off along Blood Alley and decided to potter along South Deep before heading home.  The thing with being between the islands is that the wind can go from nothing to full on  and change direction in an instant, so you have to watch the water and be prepared.

Timing has always been my downfall.  I never want my sailing days to end so it was no surprise to me that I was just too late getting back to get on my mooring.   I picked up a deeper mooring and cadged a lift with another group who were just going back top the club.  An interesting journey with four big adults in an 11 foot tender powered by an electric outboard.  We had very little freeboard and oar assistance but they soon got me back to my tender, were I returned the favour and supplied the power for both boats.
I had a cuppa and a chat back at the club while I waited for the water to come back then motored out and moved Ciao Bella back to her proper spot.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

First sail of 2015

The May bank holiday is living up to it's reputation :)   I'd planned to head towards Weymouth on Sunday but the weather has other plans.   Saturday was a great day to make sure the boat was in fine fettle and with a solid force 4 gusting 5 from the South East it would show up any faults quickly.
The day didn't start well, before I left the club one of the paddles broke, I wedged it together with a stick to get me out to the boat and made a better repair when I got there. 
While loading stuff from the dinghy to Ciao Bella I also managed to break the screen on my Hudl.. Humph!
I left the mooring with one reef in the main and no jib.   Even towing the rubber dinghy and the engine leg down she was making over 4 knots through the water.

The engine went on to get me through the entrance and I left it on all along the training wall.  The waves out in the bay were pretty big and a lot of the had white tops.  Into Studland bay I killed the motor and with a less than half of the Genoa out I had 5.8 knots through the water.
Picking up a mooring under sail was interesting, it took me quite a few attempts; guess I'm a little rusty after the winter.

I took a stroll up to the Bank's Arm to celebrate the first sail of 2015 with a pint of Oxfordshires Bull'ox... Very nice.

Back to the beach and time to paddle back to Ciao Bella,  unfortunately the other paddle snapped as I left the beach.  I spent ten minutes trying to paddle out with one paddle but was getting nowhere fast.   I eventually went back ashore and bodged the broken paddle back together.  I didn't have much faith in it so I dragged the dinghy along the beach to the windward side of the boat to give me the best chance of getting out to her.   With a strong South Easterly the waves were rolling onto the beach.  This time as I paddled away, wave after wave filled the dinghy... eeeyewk.

Back on board and I'm glad I had a change of clothes, some food and a hot drink..  The cabin by now looked like a Chinese laundry.   As soon as I recovered some core body temperature I set off back for the harbour.  There was still plenty of daylight so after a rocket ride back along the swash channel, I decided to take the scenic route back through the harbour and explore south deep.
Inside the harbour I had a bit of a faff with the jib,  after an involuntary gybe one of the jib sheets got caught under the front hatch, the genoa then got tangled.   It was flogging so hard I didn't know if the Genoa or the rigging would give up first! I found some clear water where I could get up on the foredeck and start to unravel it.  Fortunately I got it sorted before any damage was done.  The rest of the trip was uneventful.  Picking up my mooring under sail proved to be just as fun filled as the mooring in Studland... I'm sure by the end of the season I'll have it sussed.

Friday, 1 May 2015

At last

Well she's in. I had my annual early season swim in the harbour... I may be late getting in but the water is no warmer. 
There was the usual shananigans at the slipway.   A motorboat launched then took chunks off the prop so had too come out again and some lads with a jet ski reversed down the ramp, hit the brakes and the jet ski shot off the trailer onto the concrete.  
Anyway, Paul came along to help raise the mast, We pushed her down slipway and after some faffing about in the water I motored her to the mooring. 
The auto helm works a treat. Handy as I needed to dry off and get changed. 
At the mooring I set about putting her together properly,  funny how you don't notice things that are broken and would have been so much easier to fix at home.

Err, there should be something attached to this! and the pic below shows the pin which fell out and the bottom of my main sheet block.  
Anyway, I managed to bodgesmith  it back together.  The sails are on and a few other bits and pieces.  The good news is, it's ready to go. the next time I step on the boat I'll jus need to raise the sails cast off  :)