Thursday, 28 May 2015

Splashdown !

Aaaaaand Splashdown !

No time to chat.  Leaving for 6 months in 48 hours (?!)  Or maybe not...

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Calendar Constipation

We’re experiencing a peculiar form of constipation caused by having too much to do and not being able to do any of it. Quite uncomfortable ! 

With less than a week to splash-down, the boatyard has to finish the electronics, put up sails, run the lines in the mast and boom, install some cleats, tighten and tune the rigging, prepare the anchor and chain, and add some hardware for my boom break.  There’s nothing we can do to speed up the process, although we bug them with telephone calls or impromptu visits every day whilst trying to stay out of the way so they can do their work. 

The good news is that Patrick found a Rocna anchor in France after being told that ours wouldn’t arrive until after August. We also began commissioning the new Yamaha outboard motor by running it for an hour in our special homemade “outboard test tank”.

New outboard motor, or new trash-can punch mixer ?
In the meantime, we’re making / revising / losing / remaking lists of things to do, packing, trying to get the yard ready for 6 months of abandonment, and scouring the camping stores for those all-important cruising items:  a 12 volt wet-dry handy vac (hand vacuum cleaner) and a stove-top toaster.

We’re also trying to get organized for a 6-month departure 24 hours after the boat is in the water.  This is called calendar diarrhea and typically follows calendar constipation.  We aren’t going to head off for wilds unknown with a new boat, but we are planning on casting off and turning circles in our bay until we feel comfortable enough to start our trek north.  There are a lot of new gadgets on the boat to come to grips with, including the swing keel, the Code D sail, and a “German” mainsheet system where the genoa and mainsheet downhaul share the same winch in front of each helm station.  We’re told that we’ll love this system once we get used to it, but I’m still trying to figure out the choreography required for gybing. 

We are supposed to be in St Malo by the 2nd of July for our niece’s wedding, but Patrick has agreed that if we feel too rushed, we’ll just leave the boat wherever we happened to be and try to get to the wedding by train or bus.  I *hate* calendars of any sort when cruising.      

Friday, 15 May 2015

Cockpit Updates

The dodger, bimini, and arch are in place !  With one week left to go, the final installations are coming together.  I'm still not convinced that it will all be done on time (electronics, sails, solar panels, etc) but the progress is impressive nonetheless.

Every time we walk away from the boat, Patrick just shakes his head and says, "Wow, it's big.  Really big.  And WIDE."  Mareda is only 1.24 meters longer than Spray but that's enough to make us a bit anxious about handling her.  I keep reminding him that Mareda has the same sail area as Spray and weighs 3 tonnes more, so she should be much more docile than Spray was.  Still, the first time out with Mareda is going to be nerve-racking !  (*fact check*:  The genoa on Spray is the same size as Mareda's, but Mareda's mainsail is 35 m2 while Spray's is 27 m2.  That'll give us some extra push for those extra 3 tonnes.)

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Ode to my new hose

Patrick thinks I have an abnormal, possibly psycho-sexual fixation over our new boat hose.  But he does admit that it’s pretty dang nifty.

A normal 25 meter boat hose is a robust type of garden hose rolled up on a spool in a plastic case.  It’s heavy, takes up a lot of space, and costs about $100.  As we browsed the boating, camping, and gardening stores looking for alternatives, we stumbled upon the Pocket Hose Ultra II:  30 meters of light-weight compact hose that (they say) is exceptionally robust.  The casing is a type of nylon / teflon textile made to resist abrasion and UV rays.  The interior is a sort of plastic webbing that shrinks when not under pressure and expands as the water enters.  It’s springy like a bungee cord.

I put it to the test this afternoon and was thrilled with it.  (Patrick says “overly thrilled.”)  I was worried that it wouldn't shrink back down after inflating, but it did.  Okay, it’s true, I couldn't get it back in the original box, but I had a handy mesh bag laying around that was just the perfect size for it.  


Deflated !

And in the bag ...
Did I mention it’s light?  I can hold it up with 1 finger !  I also didn't measure it to make sure it extended to the full 30 meters, but the little section I held in my hand expanded at least 3 times its length.  All this for $65.  I’ll let you know how it fares over the next few months as we put it to the real test.

And while I was making an inventory of all our equipment, I realized with horror that we were missing two essential elements for any adventure involving mechanical parts:  WD-40 and Duct Tape !  Yikes !! Back to the store…
Posted on Thursday, May 14, 2015 | Categories:

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Departure Looms

The launch date has been set, lists have been made to organize every waking minute of our last days, and mounds of equipment are piled up in the garage waiting to find their place on Mareda. 

A small selection of equipment waiting patiently for the move to Mareda.
The reality of it all hit me this morning as I looked up the times for the bridge openings to leave Vannes.  And then what?  Where will we spend our first day sailing, our first night on Mareda?  Should we head to one of our favorite hide-away anchorages in the gulf, or should we go directly to a port in case we discover some problem? 

We’ll need some space and calm for the commissioning process:  getting to know the ropes (literally), how to use the swing keel, the electronics, the navigation systems, calibrating the anemometer and the depth sounder, swinging the compass, christening the boat and imploring Neptune to grant us safe passage in his realm.  The last time we did this, we have to first "de-name" the boat, then request a new name from Neptune, and then, in the interest of Franco-American cooperation, cut the magical serpent that followed in our wake.  With so many rituals and potential for error, it's hard to know if we did everything right.  This time should be much simpler.  

Then there are the more subtle processes of getting to know a new boat:  calibrating my own internal sensors to distinguish the normal noises from strange ones, and understanding her movements and reactions to swell and tide, particular to each boat.  With Spray, I could wake up from a sound sleep as she began to shift slightly with the slack tide.  A quick look at the clock would confirm my internal one.  I don’t remember how long it took to establish that link, but I do remember quite a few nights of hashed sleep.  Patrick remembers them, too, although not so fondly.  I would bound out of bed to check the hour, the tide tables, and have a look around on the deck to see how the boat was swinging on the anchor or mooring buoy.  He would wake up with a start. “What’s happening?!”  After a few nights, the only thing his internal sensors needed to tell him was that his wife was up to her nightly antics.  He quickly learned to just sleep through it all, knowing I would wake him up if ever there was a real need.

Enough procrastination for one day… the garage awaits !  10 days left till splashdown !

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Farewell Spray

Spray has been sold.  No exclamation points, no champagne corks flying.  There is a saying that a boat owner only knows two days of joy: the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it.  It’s just not true. 

It’s not that I’m overly sentimental about Spray.  In fact, I just don’t feel much of anything except relief that the process of selling her is over and a lingering sense of responsibility to hand her over to her new owners in good condition.    

In a rare moment of sitting idly over coffee this morning, Patrick and I reminisced about all our adventures with Spray.  While we are thrilled at the prospect of a new boat, we realize how important it was for our education to start out with an old boat.  After 3 years and nearly 4500 miles under the keel, there’s not much about basic boat maintenance that we don’t know how to handle now.  Electricity, plumbing, diesel engine maintenance, mystery leaks, epoxies and general repairs of all sorts no longer frighten us the way they did in the beginning.  If we’d had a new boat from the beginning, I dare say we’d still be anxious about our ability to manage a boat.

That said, we fully intend to savor our graduation from “Boat Maintenance School” and enjoy the relative pleasures of sailing a new boat where repairs should be minimal.  (Remind me I said that in a few months…).    

Spray by numbers:
Bought: June 2012  Sold: May 2015
4450 nautical miles in 2.5 years of sailing from the Channel Islands to the northwest tip of Spain. 
264 days sailing (5 over-night sails)
3 countries visited (France, England, Spain)
Euros invested in upgrades and maintenance: way too many !
Cost of a solid education in boats, a sense of accomplishment, and the strong desire to continue the sailing life:  priceless.