Thursday, April 23, 2020

Monday, March 16, 2020

Jester Azores Challenge 2020 Cancelled !!!!!!!

Due to the Coronavirus this years Jester Challenge has been cancelled - the day after I put Sancerre back on the mooring ready to go (apart from victuals). 

There were two potential problems, someone could fall ill hundreds of miles away from help, and many of are retired and in or very close to the high risk group, so that could be fatal. Secondly restrictions on landing are being introduced in the Azores which would be a problem.

Hopefully we will be having another go next year but starting the event from Baltimore after the scheduled Jester Baltimore Challenge

So it looks like cruising in UK waters for much of this year.

Update 17th March: 

It is planned to have an Azores Challenge in 2021 with a choice of starts, Plymouth or Baltimore (after the Baltimore Challenge) with those leaving from Plymouth getting a c 30 hour "start" on those leaving from Baltimore which is about 125 miles closer, at first glance that appears to be a generous allowance but they do have more adverse tide to fight against and if the wind is from the SW the distance for them would be somewhat greater.

Update 27th March:

I planned a round GB cruise in a lot of detail but now we and the boat are in lock down. :(  and that is not going to fly if we can't move before the end of May. Still worse things are happening on land.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Rebuilding the Navigators Area & the Electrics.

Some years ago, I'm not sure when but the non-DSC radio and an early GPS gives a hint, a previous owner put in an electrical panel. Unfortunately it was installed approximately parallel to the hull which meant that the chart table no longer fitted except horizontally and forward of its intended position where it was essentially unusable and difficult to remove for access to the quarter berth. Much of the non-load bearing bulkhead over the berth was also removed, presumably to make access to the berth with the chart table removed easier.

The navigators area 2017, pre-purchase.
The electrical panel.
Immediately after purchase I had a plotter, VHF and autopilot head installed topside (pic below, I had these pieces installed professionally as I was busy on other things and wanted to go sailing) and I started a rebuild of the navigators area and the electrics which on and off took a couple of years.

WIP. Note the piece of pontoon decking! Now removed.
With the radio etc. out of the way the panel only had to cope with electrics. The first iteration supported the existing single domestic bank of batteries (250 AHr) and a new single solar panel mounted on the push pit. The panel was installed along the line of the original fittings, the bulkhead rebuilt - not easy as the bulkhead had been cut out irregularly and the refurbished chart table was reinstated.

The existing Sterling 4 step alternator regulator was moved to the bulkhead along with a new gas detector and car radio. The new anchor windlass CB, some USB and 12V power outlets were added to the panel.

Version 1 of the panel 2017. The main section hinges down for access after
removing 2 screws and undoing a cupboard bolt. The Bluetooth NavTex
is behind the short after section, behind the forward section is a powered USB
Hub and a NMEA to WiFi converter. The AIS transceiver is outboard of
the chart table.
Over the next year I added more solar panels to end up with 115W on a new gantry and 35W on the cabin roof, a wind generator, a second 200 AHr domestic battery bank with automatic charge management by Digital Voltage Sensitive Relays, NASA battery monitors for the domestic banks and an IridiumGo satellite system. A new hybrid solar and wind controller had to be installed which now independently feeds the domestic banks and the starter battery.

Version 2, 2018
Early in 2019 I added removable rain screens, teak grab handles to help me get out of the seat, SSB receiver and, somewhat belatedly, a consumer unit with duel pole RCCB and MCB breakers for the shore power which the previous owner had omitted when the shore power and mains battery charger had been installed.

Rain screens early 2019. In moderate rain from aft only
3 or 4 strips are needed to keep the charts dry.
A curtain from forward of the seat to forward
of the galley protects the rest of the cabin.
The iPad mount has been changed for an articulated RAM "ball" system with additional mounting points at either end of the instrument binnacle top side and adjacent to the bunk I use at sea, so with the Garmin Helm App (which replicates essentially everything the plotter can do) I can keep a Radar and AIS watch from my bunk or the from the Nav's seat.


In this pic, the iPad is displaying an Imray chart and at normal zoom
can also show AIS targets via an NMEA WiFi bridge.

In late 2019 I tided up the panelling outboard of the chart table giving additional support to the chart table and to the electrical panel, panelled over the exposed bolts under the deck and fitted additional storage for small items and the binoculars. 




GPSmap, Autopilot head and VHF/DSC.
The low position can result in a crick in
the neck and back when keeping radar watch
in fog which I have had to do several 
times in the last couple of seasons.
I have two iPads (the refurbished one from a dealer was excellent value) both have internal GPS although only one has a 4G SIM card.  When logged onto the NMEA gateway they can also get GPS, AIS and other  info from the network. One is normally topside under the spray hood, which except in bright sun is easier to read than the smaller plotter mounted lower down.

On deck when costal sailing I can have the iPad displaying the Imray chart & AIS and have the plotter (or the 2nd iPad) showing just radar (and optionally AIS) which, especially at night, makes it easier to spot radar targets than when using overlay mode.

Both iPads have a range of software but only requires one licence:
  • Imray "Navigator", "Tides"  and "Instruments" which with the NMEA to Wi-Fi adapter supports AIS plotting on the Imray charts.
  • Garmin Active Captain.
  • IridiumGo software.
  • PredictWind .
  • NavTex.
All of the above are also loaded on my iPhone but, apart from the IridiumGo and tides planner, are only there for emergency backup, "because I can".

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

September Cruise to Fowey

I was planning to go to the Channel Isle but for the 2nd time in a month that did not look like a sensible option with strong east or north east winds which would have made Braye harbour and a number of planned anchorages very uncomfortable or untenable, so I headed off for the west country at lunch time on Tuesday the 17th with the help of a near spring tide running down the Solent from 13:00.

Hurst Castle
The Needles
Heading towards Anvil Point

Probably SBS boats heading home to their base in Poole after
exercises with the warship (or RFA?) in the background.
The weather started to deteriorate shortly after with variable winds but it remained dry. At one point,  7 miles south of Portland Bill (being given a wide berth with the wind against a spring tide) in the dark, the wind changed 60 degrees and went from F3 to F5 in just a couple of minutes. I had been on a very broad reach with the 150% genoa boomed out to windward, the SeaFeather could not cope with that and I was soon heading north with the genoa aback.  That took a bit of sorting out.

The rest of the now long night was a bit uncomfortable, a dead run in  F3 - F5 rolling all over the place at times, things improved through Wednesday but Hallsands, a favourite passage anchorage, does not work in an easterly and Hope Cove would probably have been a bit rough given the conditions so I went on to Plymouth to anchor at 16:45 in Jennycliff Bay on the eastern side of the Sound and inside the breakwater. Passage time 28 hours, almost to the minute.

Lovely weather on Wednesday evening at anchor in Jenneycliff Bay, Plymouth.

The assault ship HMS Albion entering Devonport

Thursday dawned as nice as Wednesday evening, about 8 knots of wind from the east passing Drayton ledge and very warm until the wind started to increase a few miles from Fowey. Passage time just under 6 hours.

Bessie-Allen coming alongside in Fowey


For the third time this year I was "storm bound" in Fowey with very strong easterlies but this time only for one extra night rather than two.


A comfortable evening in Fowey 

Fowey Lifeboat crew on Friday just as the "Shout" was cancelled.
The forecast on Saturday was a bit iffy but suggested the wind veering from E to SE or S, F4 - F5 around mid day and later possibly to the SW. More worrying was the forecast for very strong winds on Tuesday and Wednesday so despite the prospect of a lot of rain I slipped at 11:30 heading East, with a good passage time in fresh winds the tides would be good to go direct to the Hamble (flowing up the Solent until 17:00 on Sunday).

Unfortunately the forecast had the timings all wrong and the next couple of forecasts predicted the veering wind before it actually happened and I was beating against a F5 and a short chop, uncomfortable but not as bad as the start of the Jester earlier in the year.

Broken Furling Gear


The jib furling gear jammed when I was letting out a reef at about 16:00. The only way of clearing it was to take the Genoa down, a bit of a task given it's size (300 sq ft), 10 - 15 knts of wind over the deck and a small tossing foredeck. It took a very tiring hour and a half to sort out and I found that the top of the drum that holds the line was in two pieces floating around inside the outer case which had to partially come off to get some of the line out, worrying in case I dropped one of the screws over the side.

I got it reassembled without the top of the drum, end for ended the line, put the sail back up, hand rolled it and with only a few turns on the drum had it set reefed for a beating in a F5  with one slab in the main and with the possibility of rolling in a bit more if necessary. But letting out the reef was no longer a sensible option as I might not be able to get the reef back in. So I set off again over reefed making even slower progress.

The top of the line drum, the pieces that should hold the two parts together
broken off.
The gear minus the outer cover and the top of the drum. (taken later!) 
There was a lighter moment, whilst I was working perched in the eyes of the boat, a pod of dolphins came to investigate and rather than swimming along or around the slow moving boat they hung in the water watching me, often from just a few feet away as the bow almost went underwater.

At the end of the season I was running down my reserve stock of diesel and after getting out of Fowey I had enough for a maximum of 27 hours motoring with a small reserve, not enough to get all the way home, especially against a head sea and with a dirty hull, but sufficient to go into Portland if I had another failure. So rather than go into Plymouth or back to Fowey and get stuck there for days with the approaching gales and possibly not being able to fix the Furling gear (The Hood Sea Furl is no longer sold in UK but is in America).  

After some lulls, when I used some of my engine time to motor sail, the wind eventually started to free up just after Start Point, passed at about 01:45, and I hoisted the storm jib as a staysail which gave me an additional 0.5 Knts in F4.

I was south of Portland at 12:15 by which time the wind was southerly, mainly F5 but with a few F6 squalls necessitating a second slab in the main at times, the storm jib was down and I making good speed but with the slow start, an hour and a half spent making repairs and being under powered in lighter winds I missed the tidal gate at Hurst by about an hour.

But there was more drama, as is my habit in strong winds I dropped the mainsail approaching North Head buoy (turning close to and in the lea of Hurst Castle in a strong wind and with 4 Knts of tide or more, is no time to have an accidental or messed up gybe when single handed!). The wind was now bordering on F6 with the odd F6 gust and beam reaching things were getting a bit lively so I tried to roll in a bit more of the jib when it let go and the full sail was flogging in 20+ knots.

Fortunately heading into 2 knots of tide and with the engine at low revs and the autopilot holding me in the centre of the narrow (c150 yard wide) channel I was able to drop and secure the genoa before getting to the turn into Hurst Narrows.

I did not fancy attempting my first night pick up of the new crowded trot mooring in 20 - 25 knts of wind, rain, at midnight, at low water and after a tiring trip so I headed for Osbourne Bay having dinner on route. By cheating the tide, making use of the neap tide and going over Pennington flats, and hugging the north shore close until Leap Spit I was at anchor by 21:45 with a passage time of 34.25 Hours, a lot of it in rain 😒.

Next day I went over to Hamble and was pleased to get on the mooring first try despite 20 Knts + and the tide making early with the strong wind. I was even more pleased to get in early enough to get ashore with the bundled up genoa to flake and bag it just as the rain set in again which continued for the rest of the day and all night.

It was too wet and windy for photography on the way back but there are more pictures from the trip here. 

Repair to the Sea Furl drum, the pan head screws heads will cause 
some wear to the line but it should not be severe, the trashed 6 mm 
Dymena which kinked excessively will be replaced with 8mm 
Polyester, with the core removed for about 5 meters  so that it 
will fit in the drum. 

It will be kept as a spare when I get a replacement from the USA.
I image this will be the last cruise of the year in which I did about 2,400 NM and 57 days on board and away from the home berth / mooring and many more on board before and after trips, when doing maintenance etc. plus a few day sails. A lower mileage per day than previously due to time anchored or moored during the Jester and being storm bound for several days on multiple trips.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Preparing for the 2020 Jester Azores Pt 2, the winter work list.

Preliminary winter work list, 6th September:


Mainly for the JAC but including some regular maintenance etc. Sancerre is provisionally booked to be hauled out at Deacon's at the top of the Hamble in November for a month or six weeks and will probably be berthed there through March 2020 before going back onto the summer trot mooring down river.


Ashore at Deacons early 2017


Skeg rebuild 2014
Work when out of the water (1st Nov - 13th Dec):
  • Check cutlass bearing (needed immediate replacement).
  • Check stern gland. OK
  • Check for play on rudder & lower pintle.OK
  • Check skeg & rudder for water ingress etc. OK 
  • If practical remove redundant log paddle and replaced with blank or otherwise seal. Done
  • Check / clean out / lubricate skin fittings and seacocks. Done.
  • Fabricate a prop puller. Done.
  • Remove old prop. Done.
  • Shorten prop shaft? Not required
  • + Bore out and tap nut for Flexofold Done.
  • Fit Flexofold folding prop Done.
  • Check rope cutter with new prop (OK & adjusted)
  • + Polish shaft Apply Prop-shield to shaft and prop to inhibit weed growth. Done
  • Replace Anode. Done
  • Strip back anti-fouling over rust spot on the keel (+ and P Bracket), treat, Prime, fill as necessary, prime.  Done
  • Clean bilge,treat keel bolt nuts and repaint nuts. Done
  • 3 coats of anti-fouling with additional on leading edges etc. Done.
  • + Disconnect Prop shaft, move engine forward, replace cutlass bearing, refit engine etc. Done.
  • + redo antifouling on P bracket after replacing cutlass bearing. Done.
  • + Replace anchor chain, fit plastic & paint 10m markers. Done.
  • + Fit anode to P Bracket. Done.
Antifoul done! :)
Work when on the pontoon:
  • 300 hour engine service Done.
  • + Replace or clean 1st fuel filter. Done.
  • Clear control cable runs so the engine will reliably stay at full throttle. Done?
  • Full standing rigging check including security of the radar reflector, spreader anti-chaff etc. Done
  • Fit plastic covers to rigging screws on main and forward lower shrouds Done.
  • Replace wind sensor battery. Done
  • Straighten / free up / replace windex. Better but not fixed
  • Replace water filter element after flushing the tank and pipework. Done
  • + clean pull pit to save headsail.
Work before the JAC:
  • Life raft service. Done
  • Additional reef points to mainsail. Done
  • Make or buy spare wind vane for the Seafeather self steering. On Order.
  • Fit 7th port side clutch, lines for the 3rd reef put loops on the business end of 3rd reef lines to attach a messenger. Done
  • + Bag at mast for 3rd reef line when not rigged. Done
  • Additional strapping for fuel bladder or secure boards over...….
  • + Clean out & paint port cockpit locker as required, new boards? strong back? in conjunction with.....
  • Additional strapping for diesel cans, replacing the single 5L with a 5th 10L so they are the same height and fit relatively tightly for and aft.
  •  + Add removable combined strong-back over fuel bladder compartment / fore and aft bulkhead in locker to retain diesel cans and provide additional strapping points for them. Done
  • Additional strapping & net for storage on stbd bunk. Done
  • Devise and install some method of storing items (incl. Jordan drogue) (incl. Storm jib, 80m warp) in the quarter berth without them falling into the nav seat foot well. Done.
  • Fit safety belts to port bunk. Done
  • Tie down for anchor or continue just packing with fenders? Both. Done.
  • Fit cleats for aft winches / jib furling. Done
  • Replace mast halyard bag, hopefully with one that will withstand uv for more than 2 years 😒 Done.
  • Repair cockpit halyard bags. Done
  • Service Seafeather, varnish servo blade, check mounts. Done
  • + Reconfigure NMEA bridges, USB connections etc. for resilience. Done
  • + Put loops on cockpit safety line pad eye Done.
  • + Add a waterproof USB charging point for the iPad to the instrument binnacle. Done
  • + Make the bungee securing the acrylic strips protecting the chart table captive. Done
  • + Make sunshade from the top part of the v old (damaged) genoa (done) and check rigging it in multiple positions, especially those for use at sea.
  • + Improve storage for specs.  pen and head band tourches & nav instruments. Done
  • + Improve lap top security on chart table. Done
  • + longer standing part for preventer with spliced thimbles each end. Done.
  • + Put grab handles on side of cockpit seats so I can get up from leeward Done
  • + Repair Seafurl, Done.
  • + Move forward furling line block forward so the line goes onto the drum lower. Done
  • + Stainles strip on top of tiller to protect from Seafeather chain. Done
  • + Fit addition blocking diodes to solar to reduce heating. Done  
  • + Connect 2nd output from solar & wind controller to starter battery & set starter battery DVSR to only operate when ignition is on. Done.
  • + Additional bracing / fastening to foot of table. Done
  • + Move bilge pump hose to be above or at the same level as the electric pump. Done
  • + Build Jordan drogue & new bridle. Done.
  • + Fabricate and fit strong points for Jordan Drogue bridle. Done.
  • + Halyard bag aft for drogue bridle. Ready
  • + Repaint and strengthen chart table base (Done), new fixing to hold it in up position.
  • + Move New small fire extinguisher from under steps to fitted to back of table leg. Done
  • + Service anchor windlass, check connector (Done) and warp (Done)
  • + Move 80m warp to a tool bag for storage in quarter berth with Jordan drogue. Done
  • + Test fit drogue bridles Done.
  • + Splice thimble to end of 40m warp, reorganise shackles, swivel, emergency steering bridle etc. so that the 40 & 80 metre warps can easily be used with  Kedge anchor, Grapnel anchor or Jimmy Green drogue, individually or in series. Also ensure kedge and Grapnel anchors can be used as a "chum" or to back up the bower Done
  • Tidy up the head lining, put in more pads and screws. Check all leaks are now fixed. Done
  • + Install wood panel on deck head above electrical panel. Done 
  • + Rebuild / extend bins outboard of chart table. Done
  • + Anti Seagull measures, especially for the solar panels. Done

  • + Fit wi-fi extender. Done
  • + Remove rail cleats damaging dodgers, replace with bags on guard rail. Done
  • + Minor repairs to dodgers.
  • + Clean and reproof canvas. Done
  • + Varnish tiller & washboards. Done
  • + Replace broken lifting ring on forward section of floor. And worn aft section? Done
  • + Revamp storm jib rigging using 2nd jib halyard mast fittings. Done.
  • + Fit rubber seals and additional closure on port cockpit locker to prevent flooding (internal so also anti theft). Done
  • + Lashing points under saloon table for the Jordon Drogue bag. Done
  • + Secure aft section of saloon sfloor to beam. Done
  • + Bolts or similar on centre section of floor (forward section?). Done
  • + Grab handle for the head. Done
  • + Replace (hasp? and) staple at bottom of life raft cover. Add removable retaining clip for use at sea. Done.
  • Secure gas bottles in their lockers. Done
  • Additional strapping or something solid for the cool box and something to protect the electrical plug. Done
  • USB point & mount forward with iPad holder on book rack?  Or pillar? above port bunk. Done
  • + Fit tiller pin and bolt for SeaFeather lines to spare tiller. Done
  • Inject epoxy into deck soft spots which should be dry by now.  Done
  • Convert main traveller car to 3 part purchase, correcting lead alignment etc. Done
  • Redo non-slip paint in the cockpit? Done
  • Refurbish old washboards as backups. Done.
  • + Check guardrail wires. OK but may need shortening replace with Dynema if stanchion fix does not tighten. Done
  • + Modify and fit rubbing strake to edge of life raft cover / seat to protect against the autopilot ram. Done
  • Spare servo blade and wind vane for SeaFeather self steering. On order.
  • Make tool for opening and closing the Dorade vents.
  • + Swing steering compass.
  • + Check alignment of fluxgate compass.
  • + Calibrate log.
  • + Add solid bracing struts to spray hood grab rail?
  • Fit replacement cam cleat (or spring in) the port side genoa car control.
  • Make up a length of coax with plug and socket for emergency connection of the AIS (and therefore VHF) to the domestic VHF aerial on the gantry.
  • Better storage for the oil lamp.
  • Fix guard rail stanchions not already done.
  • + Replace guardrail wire end lashings.
  • + Fit messenger between 2nd & 3rd reefing points.
  • Make up tie ins for mainsail reefs.
  • After fixing stanchions replace damaged netting forward incorporating additional chaff protection for the genoa.
  • + Devise some method of keeping the bottom of the curtain in position without risk of tearing it, at least to port whilst allowing easy movement forward.
Other work:
  • Fit loud siren to alarm.
  • + Replace VHF aerial and windex (check fitting first)?
Items marked + added after 7th September.