Friday, 31 August 2012

Shake Down

Anytime a ship undergoes repairs or overhauls, and especially if there is a new crew aboard, it’s important to carry out a short cruise that will put the ship and her new crew through their paces in a realistic setting.  This is a Shakedown Cruise.

This week, we set off for a 3 day Shakedown Cruise in the Quiberon Bay to familiarize ourselves with Spray and her new gadgets, and to take her to the largest port in our area for repairs to the alternator.

The first task at hand, however, was to appease Neptune and the Wind Gods for our audacity of having changed the name of the boat.   

Requesting Neptune to accept a name change.
Appeasing the 4 winds.

Being a Franco-American couple, we also “cut the serpent” according to French tradition. 

Anesthetizing the serpent.

Also according to French tradition, we drank quite a lot of it ourselves !

Finally - some for us !

The Happy Couple and their newly baptized boat.

My original plan was to have a mix of hard work (day) and idyllic moorings (night).  The weather, however, had other ideas, and we were forced to duck into ports each night.  Doing this in the Quiberon Bay on the last week of August meant overcrowded and expensive port stops (Haliguen and Crouesty).  The positive aspect was that it gave us a good series of exercises for manoeuvring in close quarters, such as “parallel parking” between boats tied up 2-deep to the quay.

As the ports offered stability, electricity, and water, the work often continued well into the evenings.  Here is our list of tests / repairs carried out during Spray’s shake-down cruise:

  • Tested out-board motor and tender.
  • Installed the spray dodger.
  • Installed removable forestay for head sails.
  • Tuned rigging (shrouds, forestay, backstay, etc.).
  • Marked reef lines and main sail halyard for reef marks.
  • Verified the settings on the depth-sounder using a hand-held lead-line.   
  • Tested basic sail handling with 2 crew (tack, jibe, reef the main, change the head sails, etc.).
  • Adjusted position of the ratchet block for the Genoa furler to better control the furling line as it feeds into the drum (tended to get stuck sometimes when unfurling).
  • Adjusted clutch handle on auto-pilot.
  • Tested new windlass system.
  • Verified there were no leaks in engine filters, pumps, and propeller stuffing box after recent repairs / modifications.
  • Replaced alternator (the electrician did this).  We now have a loaner alternator and will have to go back after ours is repaired.
  • Repaired tachometer.
  • Tried valiantly to install radio fm / CD player / MP3 player.  Professional electrician declared that the radio was wired correctly and was most probably broken.  Return to supplier.
  • Identified and documented all the electrical connections hiding behind the chart table control panel (Guru Bob bravely did this…).
  • Tested navigation software (OpenCPN) with GPS and AIS systems.
  • Tested “anchor watch” system of OpenCPN.
  • Tested wifi antenna (most excellent) and managed to Skype home to Jacksonville, Florida using only wifi on the boat.  Pretty dang cool.
  • Picked Guru Bob’s brains and 30+ years experienced to identify the best mooring spots along the coast and islands.

Just before heading back to our home mooring buoy, we finally managed a calm anchorage for lunch (and to test the windlass).  This shake-down cruise has given us confidence in the boat and her equipment and increased our frustration at not having the time or the appropriate weather to enjoy the many beautiful mooring sites around the islands that rim the Quiberon Bay. But next week, a high-pressure system is supposed to be sitting comfortably near, and we fully intend to head out for some island hopping !

Patchew at the helm.

More tranquil moorings in our near future.