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Bit of a gap I'm afraid - that's life.
Lena Diary - 22/8/12
I'll include this in my Lena diaries as I think it is relevent - although I am not much proud of the way I have treated this boat of late. Lets just say I got a bit of a 'mental block' to the whole thing - and the longer it went on the worse it became to face up to. Many problems in life are like that - we make up problems that are not there.
One thing I will say - it has been a mighty test for how well prepared this boat was.
Bascially - I have just spent the first day on Lena, on the mooring overnight, for approx 3 years ! I could not believe it was that long - I hade to check my diaries. Sitting on tidal river mooring, some of which have been 13 metre tides - I'm afraid I got myself into a tizzy on just what I would find once I did get down there. I didn't even know if the boat was there, All bad news really - but its behind me now.
I forced myself to take a walk down the opposite river bank last Sunday. Its an awkward area to access - deep seagrass wetland, with a few inlets to find a way across. I got down right opposite her - and thankfully she looked intact - ie nothing visibly missing, hatches shut, solar panel still on the cabin top. That was one great reassurance. Phase one was over - now I could face the going down the river, knowing the boat was there and apparently untampered with.
On the tide Tues 22nd Aug 2012 - I had tested my dingy for leaks a while back - I've rebuilt the Suzuki finally with the spare engine casing and a new piston and rebore. I set off - it was quiet, no one much about.
I'd almost forgotten how to steer the dingy !
Good news 1
She was trim on her waterline. I had seen her on the Sunday on the mud. That’s my first thing I noticed drifting in on the dingy. As I got to the transom the full whack of the neglect hit me - she was green !
I appologised to the boat for leaving her so long. I don't think that’s a sign of madness really - but I don't generally speak to boats !
Good news 2
I had come prepared - WD40, vicegrip pliers, small hacksaw. Padlocks I feared would be corroded shut. One up for Vetus padlocks - they opened like I was there last week. Eyeballs everywhere - deck gear intact, mainsheet block there ( they are not cheap now ). I thought someone had pinched my buckets and brushes - but found them later in the locker.
Good news 3
My biggest fear was the solar panel regulator could have packed up or one of the fuses etc then my batteries would have been toast. So, hatch open and two ‘lovely looking’ little yellow charge lights. I’d even brought my spare multimeter fearing the one the boat would be dead. But the boat one worked and whipped on the engine and service isolators I had 13.6v on both battery banks - after three years ! So good news for Sunware Panels and for Kemo charge reg units, They did their job well.
I opened the engine top casing holy s*** it was clean and dry looking. About a litre of water in the main bilge. I was worried as I has left it with the drain plug from the cockpit locker undone. These drain any water from the bottom of the cockpit lockers into the main bilge. The port one leaks when heeled over in heavy rain, the drainage channel cannot cope with the angle..
So, to have this little water in after three years was nothing short of amazing. A large sponge squeezed out three times and it was dry !
Having no significant water in there means the engine stays nice and dry and the rest of the boat stays dry.
So wow, after all this worry of what I might find and the main stuff was so up together, I felt a very lucky man but then I thought, well I prepared this boat well for all conceivable conditions. I just didn’t really think of ‘neglect’ as one of those.
While I had the tide I lashed into a scrubbing job. Around in the dingy the waterline was not too bad. Topsides were grim not just green slime but actual lichen ! That stuff gets quite a hold into things. By the time I was seeing the last water to fill my buckets I was knackered scrub scrub. I got most of the deck and cabin top cleaned up.
While at low water I attacked the mainsail cover with the last two bucket fulls. Lichen certainly knows how to stay put.
I stripped off the dodgers, the jackstays, mainsheets, boom outhauls and mast security lines and bagged them for taking home to clean up.
One great bonus in all this the boat went down on the mud as level as I’ve ever seen it. So I achieved a good deal during low water. When heeled at up to 20 deg I usually resort to having a kip for a few hours. It easier !
I then attacked the batteries. Removed and extracted them and checked the electrolite and charge. Both service, the older pair ( 2006 ) read at 13.6v but were well down on fluid, but the plates were not exposed. Topped them. Engine, newer was well up for volts, same 13.6 and still showing a green charged indicator and the fluid was perfect. That’s pretty incredible for a battery left for three years.( Numax leisure - normal vents )
The last of the water I attacked the cockpit then once she refloated finished that off with new water supply.
Its was now 8.30 in the evening and starting to rain and rain hard. Great stuff, would wash all my scrubbing bits off.
About dusk I turned my attention to the engine. Last time down I had fitted a new wet exhaust. After problems on the 09 cruise I checked it out to find a banjo bolt loose on the fuel line but also found a hole in the exhaust. At the time I installed a new prefilter, engine filter, engine zinc etc. I even bought a new injector but on finding the fuel leak figured that was the problem.
So I knew it was up together and running three years ago I also knew the oil needed changing. Decided to change the oil before trying to start it. On my installation I can get to the drain plug and to catch the oil I make up double plastic bag with a card ring masking taped around the opening about six inches wide. You can then push the bag down into a confined space get the ring under the drain plug.
The Yanmar IGM10 has a drain plug consisting of threaded cap with attached nitrile seal ( no copper washer ) once off the oil will not flow out. There is a spring attached to a metal perforated tube which you need to pull out of the hole. Sort of rough filter unit.
No sign of any contamination in the oil good. This has been left several winters in heavy frosts. I is raw water cooled but water stays in the engine casing unless you open the block drain. Seems to handle it ok.
So new filter and engine all sorted for starting. Decide to leave it to the morning tide.
Its now really blowing up fierce squalls and we are nearing the top of a huge 12m tide.
I have some concern over my stern mooring the bridle has gotten buried. The buoy is covering at only about 8.5 m tide. I have a 5m painter between buoy and boat. So a 12m tide is pushing it. I need to sort it out and re lay a new ground line and sinker. We have some 13m tides coming up at Uphill in Oct and Nov.
She does not seem to be pulling down at the stern, even at the top of the tide, but there is more strain there than it needs and the boat can’t head to wind as easily.
Its eerie there all alone at night - violent squally wind howling huge black tide. You know you are quite safe but it feels odd to be there cooking some food ! I feel like that when I anchor seeing the shore lights and me out on the water odd feeling.
It passes HW without any undue concerns. By midnight the water is on its last legs this far up she will go down on the mud around 2 ½ hrs after three hours after its just the flow of the river Axe gurgling away. The odd duck quack or winging geese. This is a nature reserve it’s a sort of a privilige to be here really.
Some fierce squalls overnight. Down on the mud a more normal 15 deg to port. Always goes to port, facing up river. So have adapted my sleeping arrangements to suit. A spare sail in a bag stuffed onto the cabin side, the cockpit seat squab against that. I can then roll onto the side of the double berth in some sort of comfort. ‘Level’ is a quality of modern living we take too much for granted. Work on a pitched roof for a few days see how you ache!
Wed morning winds much lighter, rains eased. She comes level just about 8.20 am. HW is 10.30, still a big tide 11.9m. A cup of coffee then the engine.
I generally lift the valve lifter then let her spin on the starter until the oil pressure warning buzzer goes out. With new oil, and very well drained engine this was taking some time. I was slightly concerned. So I pulled the engine stop as well as that stops any diesel being injected while she is spinning. I try again good job the battery was good. Ah at last, oil pressure is at the bearings. I was a little worried ( oil pump etc )
Engine stop in one more spin over with the valve lifter up.
Then I try it for real. First time chug- chug chug. Rush to see the wet exhaust check the water inlet filter. All seems well run it for 15 mins or so. Try it in gear forward and back all seems fine.
So all in all I think someone was looking down on me today. Things could have been in such a mess. But everything was rosey.
Even the outboard fired up first time.
I left early, well before HW so the flow up to uphill was with the tide. This outboard has only done a minute in the back garden in a bucket after a major rebuild I need to build some confidence in it. Rowing an inflatable against a tide is very difficult.
The day was only spoiled by leaving behind my fresh strawberries, scones and clotted cream when I left Lena on the river they were nice too.
Its been a hard graft of a 24hrs I spent all Wed afternoon scrubbing rope and trying to get the dodgers clean. All easier to do on a trestle in the back yard.
All it needs now is a repaint on the deck paint ( which was needed anyways ) and some gelcoat areas need rubbing compound for the lichen marks.
Trouble with Lichen evil stuff indeed !
Bank Holiday - 26th 28th Aug 2012
Sunday - fine warm breezy day. Decide to do the stern mooring while weather good. Pull the boat to the stern buoy, lengthening the bow with a mooring warp. Get her on the mud right alonside the buoy and chain with my inflatable on the mud alongside. Add 2m of doubled 14mm rope strop - between the 1m existing chain riser - and a new 1m 10mm chain under the buoy. The shackles undo easily ! They were tight and monel wired - but well covered in 'Lancote' - which is thick lanolin and smells like something 'orrible ! Its remarkable stuff for keeping things easy though.
I add an old fender to help out the old buoy. This gives 4.6m from mud to buoy - so buoy should be afloat on a 12m tide.
Not ideal - needs a new ground line and bridel - but ok for now.
Had to stay up until she floated to pull her back onto the bow mooring painter. Neeps - like watching paint dry seeing this tide come in. She moved free at 1.30am !
Of course - I'd left the extra long painter on - so with the extra riser and a strong souterly wind she blew way over to the south bank onto undisturbed mud - so 5.30am Mon morning she goes down at about 30 degs of heel !
Boats - got to love them !
Anything over 20 deg is awful on board - this was grim. She always heels to port so my berth is welll padded that side - so stayed in bed till midday !
About 1.30 pm I had 'level bliss' - aah !
Took a good long look at the mud and sorted out just where she ought to be for level. Monday evening pulled her in tight to the stern buoy - got her down virtually level. Shortened the painter back to the original 3.5m.
My original stern mooring bridel seems ot ahve been 'sucked down into the deeps' !
Pleasant evening listening to classic FM and MP3 of Tartini and Loccatelli.
Forecast still grim for Tuesday - back up the river at 4.30pm so hope it abates by then. Must have her out this year - heeled over I could see barnacles - and thats unusual here
Sept 7th - 9th 2012
Glorious fine warm weather for Sept. Down on morning tide Friday. Have to take my car in Mon - once that's sorted I could maybe get away for a week - sods law says the weather will break by then.
Tape up and repaint the deck anti slip. Not easy to do on the water - my back was saying !
Unfirled the headsail - smooth still but sail needs a clean up.
Refitted the cleaned and washed jackstays.
Took the seagull off the rail and stripped the carb - filled the gear oil. Leave it empty and cleaned out - better that way. Its only for emergencies.
Ideally I should start it now - then clean it back out and leve it empty with the carb clean and empty.
Rubbed down and repainted the dan buoy flag pole. The wind had etched the glass fibre so when I moved it I got a hand full of glass debris - ouch !
Needs a new flag of sorts.
Gps all working fine - depth, vhf picking up French speaking weather - can't be bad ! Really - all thats stuffed after three years is the deck flood bulb !
Fitted my new horn - wiring all ok and both rubber horn buttons work fine -
get my own back on the ducks ! Hooonk - Hooonk !
Checked with Uphill yard on latest prices. Pontoons now 260 for three months or 930 fo the year - up to thirty foot.
Hardstanding slightly cheaper - lift out is about 85 I think each way.
Maybe go up onto the pontoon for three months - saves me a bit by offsetting my annual parking/slip charges I pay for Uphill yard.
Not much water there on neaps though.
I could keep Lena on the pontoons all the time ? Maybe try it one year - but if you are spending close on a 1000 a year I could put her in Milford Marina or Swansea for not much more - instead of a drying muddy creek !
The river is fine - so long as you don't want to just stay aboard and not go anywhere. I would get more use out of the boat with her at Uphill over the winter - its is a pleasant place, despite being a muddy creek !