Friday, 29 April 2016

GPS gets a reprieve

I plunged into the depths of my Garmin handheld GPS this afternoon.  I have a spare one which I'd goosed the NMEA by wiring it up incorrectly some years ago...Luckily I have an aversion to throwing things out :)  I'd bought a second hand replacement off ebay which has done sterling service for several years.
This year while clearing off the green crud from the earth pin, the pin just fell off.. no worries, I had the spare so I replaced the back with the one off the original.

When I took it out to play yesterday it would fire up but I could not cycle through the screens.  Once stripped down it was obvious what the problem was.  The pcb keypad, the brown bit under the screen, was corroded.  Unfortunately I couldn't swap that out as it is all one pcb and the good keypad was attached to the none working NMEA.   
I gave it a good dose of contact cleaner and wiped off with a glasses cleaning cloth.  Looked a lot better, so I left it to dry thoroughly before reassembling, with all the best bits from each, and putting the batteries back in.  Touch wood it all seems to work ok now.   I will assume that because I've opened it up it will be less water proof than before, so more care required.  These things seem to have got very expensive.

A proper shake down sail

I took Ciao Bella out for a proper trip around the harbour yesterday to sort out all those little bits and pieces which get forgotten over the winter..  The forecast was for dry but cold and getting windy later on.  I wrapped up warm and winged my way to the club.
ELF... my other passion, keeping an eye on the tide.

It was a bracing topless drive down only to find a distinct lack of water in the harbour,   no worries, it gave me time to tip toe out to the tender and tip out all the rain water :)  The little outboard for the tender fired up straight away but started to run a little off key as I approached Ciao Bella.  Maybe it needs a bit more TLC after its dunking.
Looking back at Brownsea castle.
It was great to be back aboard and in control of Ciao Bella.  The wind was so light, we barely moved and eventually had to motor away from the mooring.  Eventually the breeze soon started to fill in and with full main and a slightly reefed genoa we headed of towards the haven.
The Haven with the Isle of Wight on the Horizon.
I could have gone out to Studland but going around the islands makes me work a bit harder.  There will be plenty of time during the season to to get out of the harbour.  Having had a great sail across the harbour entrance the gusts really started to pick up, possibly upto F6, laying Ciao Bella right over at times..  I rolled in a big chunk of genoa and made my way from Bramble bush bay up to Goathorn point.
Peaceful scene at Goathorn point deviously hides the true strength of the wind.
The tide was still coming in so I cut the corner, keeping a careful eye on the depth. It was nice to see it increasing as I approached Furzey island.  The wind, although not as gusty was increasing.  I set about reefing but got caught out by the channel edge, the keels found some soft mud and spun Ciao Bella around.  No drama, I just dropped the sails and waited for the tide to rise enough to float me off.  After about 45mins I realised that 1; I had no teabags and 2; she wasn't going to free herself on her own.  So with 10mins of engine forward and reverse, vectoring it side to side, pushing from the bow with the boat hook, she slowly, slowly released herself from the mud.

Hmm 3.8knots with this rig :)
Hessitant to put the main back up I sailed around green island with just a handkerchief of genoa, even like this we made 3.8 knots.  In the clearer water of Ramshorn lake I pushed her nose into wind to raise the reefed Main again.  The wind was on my tail now and we made 5 to 6 knots back around Brownsea island.  The cloud cover was really coming over now, I took the opportunity to drop the anchor in the lee of Brownsea to tidy up the reefed sail before cracking on back to the mooring.

Looking cloudy over Poole.
Picking up the mooring under sail was a little difficult, partly because I'm ring rusty but mainly because of the strength of the wind. I grabbed it at the third attempt right at the bow, I still had trouble pulling the pick up buoy onto the boat over the bow roller. I thought my shoulder was going to pop out!
A great shake down sail, glad I didn't have a passenger, they'd probably never sail again :)  Next steps... provision the boat with tea, coffee, chocolate, crisps and bisciuts and more importantly, fix my GPS which, although is still sending NMEA data to the VHF and recording the track (above), it's not playing ball when you want to use the buttons.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A quick round up

Not much to report,  I ventured back to Ciao Bella a week last Sunday.  It was a fairly windless day so ideal for sorting out a few jobs.  I wasn't the only one.. Tim and Dave where busy setting up Jelly Bean, Tim's Prelude, after their launch at Salterns.
A proud Dad (sorry 'Skipper') rows home.

First was the wonky mast.. I spent a bit of time tinkering with the standing rigging so that the mast was at least straight with no funny bends one way or the other. The shrouds all feel like they have similar tension, thats good enough for me.   The Sails then went on, I have decided not to run the jib halyard back to the cockpit this year.  With it being roller furling there is no need.  I have coiled the tail and hung it on a mast cleat.  No doubt it'll cause me some grief in the future which I haven't considered :).   Just by way of celebration this beasty gave me a fly past :), not sure what it is but sounded great.

Shivers down your spine.
The breeze picked up in the afternoon so I took her for a little shake down sail around the harbour.  The breeze soon became a wind, probably top end of a F4, which shone the spotlight on two things... first, I hadn't set up the reefing lines and second, the jib sheets where not fastened correctly at the clew, allowing the Genoa to keep slipping away.
A bit more breeze than I expected for the first sail.

I anchored in the lee of Brownsea, had a brew and put these right before heading back to the mooring. There was another quick visit to Ciao Bella midweek to fit some longer and lighter jib sheets.  All seems dry in the bilges and the solar panels are maintaining the battery at 100%.
Ciao Bella happy on her mooring with rigging adjusted and sails and covers on.

My next trip out was less successful, one of the club members had run over his mooring line and got the tender painter and pick up bouy caught on his keels.  I legged it down there and motored out in my wee tender, it was a little lumpy and uncomfortable.  By the time I'd got there the pianter had chaffed through on the keel and allowed the crew to secure the mooring.  I didn't loiter, just turned and headed back to the pier.  While transferring the outboard from tender to pier a wave knocked me of balance and the engine went for a swim!
I didn't look back just secured the tender and took my bad mood to the club house.  Low tide was at 7pm so I went back then and collected it.  It's a tough little engine, a Tohatsu 2hp 2 stroke.  I hung it on the water bin and gave it a swill down with fresh water, took the float chamber off and cleaned that out.  I took the plug out and gave it a good few pulls on the starter...  Plenty of water splurged out.
I was going to ditch the fuel from the tank but it looked to be uncontaminated, I had closed the tap and vent before taking it off the tender.  After liberally spraying everything with WD40 and refitting the plug and float chamber the engine sprung back to life.  It ran a little poor for a few minutes but soon cleared it's throat and was on song.  Catastrophe averted, I shall make sure it has a lanyard fitted from now on.

Friday, 15 April 2016

She's in

Yesterday afternoon saw some frantic activity around Ciao Bella.  I was home by 3pm and high tide was going to be just after 6pm.  No time to lose, I fitted the new antenna and got the other paraphernalia ready and hot footed it down to Baiter park.   With some help from John the mast went up without a hitch, Julian also showed up to help shunt cars and trailer around.  So, cold, wet and tired I left Ciao Bella nestled on her new mooring, while I paddled back to the club in the Coracle.
It's all a bit of a mess on board and the mast is not straight but she's in.
I need to get  out again to adjust the rigging, fit the boom, bend on the sails and have a general tidy up before I can go for the first sail... but I can't wait.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

A fly in the ointment

Things were looking pretty good for a launch yesterday.   I had, in record time and with some help, knocked off the essential jobs stopping Ciao Bella hitting the water.  

Antifoul done, rubbing strakes coating with Sadolin, I'd even worked up the enthusiasm to take the hand rails back to bare wood and epoxy them prior to varnish.

Seats,tiller and washboard given three or four coats of varnish.  All clevis pins for the standing rigging checked, you would believe the number of times I've got to the slipway to find I've lost a clevis pin!

I'd even remembered to refit the chain hawser which had come lose as it had been previously held on with screws.   It now has through deck bolts and big penny washers.. much more solid.

So it looked like I was ready to go,, I'd checked the tides and weather, lined Paul up to help me get the mast up, I just had one more small job to do... and here comes the fly in the ointment.
I needed to fit connectors on the antenna cable.  Last year I had removed the deck connector, as it was just a little crusty, and replaced it with an index marine through deck gland.  I'd temporarily spliced the cable and just snipped through it at the end of the season.

Although the camera has focused on the pavement (D'Oh!) what it is supposed to show is the state of the shroud sleeve on the Coax.  It is black and powdery, Absolutely unusable.  As the cable runs up the mast and is integral to the current antenna, my only option was to postpone the launch until a new antenna was sourced and fitted. :(

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Time to get a shufty on.

With the season already started and Ciao Bella still on the front garden, I thought it best to get on and do some jobs.  Fortunately my father in law was here and at a loose end so was happy to rub down and varnish a few bits and pieces.
 The head linings had gone mouldy so needed rubbing down and varnishing and painting on the inside.   Maurice also rubbed down the grab rails, seats and rubbing strakes.

 I concentrated on stopping leaks, primarily from the solar vent, and and antifouling Ciao Bella and the tender.  Looks like the boat tailed spitfire is about to lose it's bodywork 😁

Another item which needed attention was the solar panel.  The rather expensive Marlec panel which I  had fitted three years ago had given up the ghost, very disappointing.  
The old panel when new.  10W with Single cable through a standard cable gland.

So I have replaced it with these two 10W panels from RS components. Twice the power and cheaper than the Marlec, also the inherent weak point on the on the Marlec is the connector block which is just bonded to the panel.. on these the block is glued and screwed, hopefully it will be more robust.

2 x 10W in same footprint, 2 cables through index marine deck gland.

 I also did away with cable gland and fitted an index marine twin side entry deck gland, much nicer.  It would have been neater to have the cable entry towards the hatch but I had to use the hole already there so this was the only way it would fit.  They seem to work well, in 24 hours they took the battery from 60% to 82% which considering I'd had one panel temporarily hooked up for weeks and that really just maintained and  only gradually crept the charge up.
 I managed to get some varnish on the seats and the grab rails and refitted the headlinings, then in true 'sods law' fashion the heavens opened before the varnish was dry.
 I'd also got 2.5 litres of Flag cruiser antifoul on.  it was the cheapest I could find, lets hope it keeps the barnacles at bay.  What's left to do?.. well, the VHF connector needs replacing, the outboard needs a service, the rubbing strakes need a coat of sadolin and the seats and grab rails need a couple more coats of varnish.  I think that's about it.
not sure how good the Flag anti foul will be but I do like the dark blue compared to last years light blue