Sunday, 28 April 2013

Finally afloat! Launching and first sail

Launching at midnight may seem a little mad but it has its benefits.  Firstly, it is surprising just how much light there is especially with assistance from a full moon.  Then, there are the advantages yielded by the stillness often prevalent at night - a glassy sea, and no wind to send the boat to places unintended by her skipper.  I also quite like launching when people aren't watching so that judgments cannot be made!

This 'slipway' is in fact a developing hard area just opposite the entrance to King's Boatyard.   On spring tides, there's always sufficient water to slide the boat into the water once the tide begins to lap at the wheels of the trailer.  As usual, I had to make use of back-winching but otherwise launching was pleasingly uneventful and, having found a temporary home for car and trailer, Daisy II, tender and I drifted off into the night and found a vacant mooring for the night, as close as I could reasonably estimate to the position of my own allocated mooring.

Friday evening, anticipating the midnight tide
In the morning, the first job was to find the correct mooring.  This year, I have been allocated a place six moorings closer to Pin Mill Hard.  It transpires that, in last night's darkness, I had managed to find the adjacent mooring to my own.  The mooring line is well maintained by King's Boatyard and, once I'd removed most of the slime that naturally accumulates,  Daisy II was fastened securely and breakfast could begin. 
View from the cockpit on Saturday morning
Time for the season's first sail.  All sails seem to be working well.  I've made few changes to the rigging except that the shrouds are now lined in plastic covering for almost their entire lengths.  At a few points, I needed to resort to motor which I was happy to do to ensure the outboard was functioning reliably.  Unfortunately, this presented the only problem in the whole weekend when the motor cut out when travelling south towards Trinity Terminal.  I think this was due to a slight break in fuel supply.  I checked all fuel connections and eventually managed to restart the engine which then performed well for the remainder of times I used it.  The repairs done during the service seem to have worked, the whine has disappeared and it sounds a good deal less laboured.
First sail; note functioning echo sounder - though I gave up on the log ages back.  The paddle kept on clogging up with weed and, now that I always travel using GPS, I have an instant reading of speed and distance.  At some stage, I'll get the paddle removed and the hull reglassed and, at the same time, purchase a new echo sounder.
View of the bilges after 18 hours in the water.  Less than a thimbleful of water ingress, the seemingly redundant, ultra-high absorbency sponge looking up forlornly (long may that continue but, just in case, you're staying put, mate!)  In previous seasons, at this point there has often been an inch of water all around the centreplate casing during the first day on the mooring, which had always subsided as the hull expanded.
Once the sail was complete, it was time for lunch, and I then spent the afternoon doing the various jobs that I never seem to get round to.
Firstly, I replaced the two cords I use for reefing the main with thicker cord. These consist of lines taken, one from the clew to the first (or second) reefing cringle, the other from the tack to the equivalent cringle on the luff.  When reefing, rather than disconnecting the block and then reattaching to the cringle, I simply pull the line through the clew and cringle and secure.  The purpose of the thicker cord is to try and beef-up this process with a more secure arrangement, and to ease the knot-tying process - often carried out in increasingly rocky sailing conditions
I have also repositioned the hinges on the starboard side locker lid, glassed over any old holes and, today's job, lined the lid with thicker watertight sealing material so that, in the event of a knockdown, the hatches remain more watertight.  This job has only partially worked and I may need to reposition, or even to add to the latches in order to complete this.
Various other jobs included replacement screws in various parts of the boat, and ensuring all equipment was safely stowed.
Daisy II on her new mooring which is closer to shore than the old one.

Meet Pamela Jean, the latest addition to the Drascombe fleet at Pin Mill

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Fitting out: polishing and various repairs.

Not yet looking in Davy Jones's locker...
The fitting out season has been later than anticipated.  The poor Easter weather saw to that.  Since then, antifouling has been done and the hull and deck polished.  I've been using some new polish recommended in the chandlers at Suffolk Yacht Harbour, called 7-11 Radiant.  It's one of these products that makes absolutely no effort to sell itself through a glitzy label, and could be easily missed.  However, it is supposed to polish stainless steel, fibreglass and washable surfaces and seems to have done the trick.
Polished hull

Polished cabin

The outboard has been serviced, and the squeal has been fixed - it sounded quite serious and, from the verbal report offered by Bob Spalding Marine who serviced it, the fact that I was able to rely on it with intermittent squeal for several weeks at the end of last season was fortuitous indeed.  Fortunately, I know nothing about engines so continue to live in blissful ignorance...

Since I've owned her, I've had a problem with leaks in and around the centre case caused by bolts which attach the wooden keel band to the hull.  One bolt sits forward of the centreplate casing, and I repaired that a few years back (photo at the end of this post).  There are a further two pairs of bolts which project either side of the casing from the keelband through to the cabin.  The aft pair of these seems particularly vulnerable and sits close to the central keel roller when the boat is on the trailer.
Usually, a few days on the mooring helps swell various joints and the boat manages for the remainder of the season with little water ingress.  However, the situation has steadily been deteriorating: each time the boat rolls on and off the trailer, the keel band bears the full weight of the boat, nudging the bolt heads and causing the shaft of the bolt to work loose.
Offending nut next the centreboard case - forward pair, the aft pair were worse than this.
It seems to have been a strange design for a trailer sailer, clearly something of a fault which, so I am told, new Churchouse Boats-built Coasters dispense with.  Finally, I've decided to do something about it.  Churchouse Boats recommended drastic action: that I remove them all together - both pairs - remove the keelband and fill the hole from both ends. There's no way I'm in a position to remove the keel band, but I have decided to remove the aft pair of bolts and fill from the top end.  The job involved removing each bolt, using a Dremel to shift the decayed material around the bolt inside the boat, and then filling with Epoxy from the inside, pushing the resin down through the holes (which I did using the head of a nail) and using a couple of tissue plugs underneath on the keel band to form a temporary stopper (my improvisation).
Tomorrow, I'll inspect the work, do a bit of sanding inside the cabin, remove the stoppers in the keel band and put some more filler in the wood from the underside.  What I want to avoid is any means by which the repair can be pushed back up through the old holes as the boat passes over the rollers when launching.  I'll have to watch out for this but will have an early opportunity to assess this since I had to move the boat back on the trailer to access these holes, and will have to roll this repair back over the central roller prior to trailing the boat down to Pin Mill.
Keelband, two bolts removed, ready for filling; and antifouling!  These particular two bolts sit very close to the central trailer roller when the boat is on the trailer.  These were the worst offenders, far worse than the previous photo shows.  The dark wooden patch shows where the roller connects with the keelband.

Filled hole, port side, epoxy curing

Filled bolt hole, starboard side.  This picture also shows the repaired echo sounder

I decided to keep the forward pair of bolts in place since they presumably had a purpose in supporting the split keelband around the centrecasing as it sits on the trailer rollers.  We'll see how these manage.

The last photo (above) shows the repaired echo sounder which hadn't worked for most of last season.  I have reattached this to the hull, hopefully forming a suitable seal in which the necessary oil can sit.  Will report on this repair during the season.

While I'm at it, I think I shall have another go at sealing the bolt (referred to above) which sits directly forward of the centre case.
I removed and reset this bolt four years ago, but it needs redoing.  Last time, I used a washer which had previously been missing.  I also repaired the centrecase support (top rh side) and this repair seems to have held rather well, even for a bodge-it-n-scarper DIYer such as myself...
This will involve removing the bolt, using sikaflex to coat the bolt and the hole, and then replacing the bolt, nut and washer.  The problem with all of these bolts is that the keelband is designed to flex as the boat rolls along the trailer rollers.  The keelband bears nearly all of the weight of the hull and these bolts do begin to move and, in doing so, leaks occur.

Come wind or weather, I shall be sailing next weekend...