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Diaries - 06
I try to keep a diary when I'm staying aboard - even if I don't take the boat out. So here they are - exactly as I write them down. Somehow - writing longhand seems quite different to when tapping away at a keyboard and being actually on the boat a difference. That's why I have deliberately not altered them.
Probably quite a few gaps and omissions - but I generally try to put something in, mostly when I'm staying overnight aboard - don't have time if mooring up and leaving.
Wed 29th Nov
15th Oct since I was Last down at the boat - knew it was a while - don't really like leaving it that long.
Weather seems to have always been crap when tides were midday - then 'freezing' cold when early mornings.
( this is taking me absolutetly ages to type - I'm trying to use all the proper fingers, querty style - and not look at the key board ! )
Ok - thats enough of that for a while - but really, just after a few lines you start to improve. I do so much typing that I really ought to try to brush up my somewhat ' unortadox' style. Really, ought to check first exactly which fingers should be reaching where, maybe !
Where were we -
Anyway - made it today. HW was 1300 - strange, I had it in my head it was 13.40 ( didn't bring my bit of paper) I wrote it down right, just remembered it wrong. Thought it looked odd - 40 mins makes a huge difference here.
The wheels I tried out on the inflatable are useless - too small, dig in the sand, catch in the gaps on slipway planks. Total failure - oh well..
also - leaving them on is upsetting the cavitation of the outbord - either that or the outboard is on the blink - dramatically altering revs now and then. Must try it soon without the wheels. I have not run it since I re-did my water jacket bodge - with a special compound rarely used on marine engines - which is why I was able to buy it in B&Q !
Its back to the drawing board on the wheels - but the principle is ok. It is much easier and quicker to be able to put everything in the dingy then wheel it in - especially on a steep. awkward, slipway.
Lena seemed all sort of intact - still sitting there, like some obedient dog waiting for her master to return.
First thing - check batteries. Engine - kaput, 11.8 volts. Service pair still surprisingly good at 12.5 volts. Eng battery is nearly 4 years old now - service are new.
Next - the big rainwater leak mystery - is it fixed. I peer under the engine cover - lovely stuff - not a drop, bone dry. Drier than I left it six weeks ago. We've had alot of rain too. Nice to see.
Tried the eng bat - nought, 'click'...fired it up off the service pair...
ran it for about an hour - mostly charging engine bat. Topped up the electrolyte and checked the other two as well. very glad I went to the trouble of putting in a round plastic access panel over the top of the rear battery, but I just can't quite see into the extreme right vent hole.
Could have gone out today - mild and calm, but a bit late on the tide for it.
Must sort out a solar panel, on one of the two - its where to put it though. Maybe just a 'run of the mill '10 w on the engine for now, lashed up somewhere. Maybe a new engine battery as well.
2.7 max depth on the mooring, top of a 9.7 m tide - and thats just a day after the neap. This month are quite high neaps though - can be as low as 8 at Weston.
Tues - 16th Jan
six weeks again - since I've been down, still the weather has been unrelenting - wind and rain - very odd for Christmas period. Still - made it today, HW 16.30 'ish.
Everything fine - despite all the ferocious gales. Bilges still bone dry.
Engine batterery toast again - 11.45 v. I think its had it. I ran the engine for an hour at least on it last time - it was showing 12.8 v when I left it. Alt was putting in 14.2 v - and we havn't had any frosts. Sevice pair are still on 12.5 v, what they were six weeks back - and I only charged them for about 15 mins on the engine. Anyway - started up fine, first time - then run in gear against the stern mooring for about 40 mins, charging the service pair a bit.
Measured up for potential solar panels. Most obvious solution is two 10 w on the sprayhood top - they could be bolted to two long black nylon webbing straps, then fixed around, and down either side to four ' lift a dots ' - same as the sprayhood. Fitted to a deck plug - they could be eaisily removed -maybe sorting out a temp place for them on the side guard wires if I want to drop the sprayhood. I must admit, especially when sailing alone, I find the sprayhood obstucts my vision a bit, so want the option to drop it if feel like it.
The problem of solar panels is that they are a bit of a glaring, 'come and pinch me' bit of kit. I'm thinking on top of the sprayhood they wouldn't really be so obvious, visually, from a distance.
The 20 w, in the range I'm looking at, is just too big to easily fit anyhere - also, although a pair of 10's are dearer, strung together with webbing they make a longer, thinner shape. Also, they are separate units - a bonus when it comes to shading issues. 20 w into a service pair of 170 amps total would hardly need a regulartor, though I do have one ( Maplins do them really cheaply - about 12.00 - but no built in blocking diode - easy to add one. The panels I'm looking ta have diodes in, so its no problem there. )
Took the engine battery out to take home. Thinking I'll get a new 85 amp ordinary engine start battery - its all it ever does, after all.
Engine died on me ! - first time its done that since I've had the boat - and I've run it some hours. Took it out of gear and tried it again, still no go.
SO, had my third lesson in bleeding the Yanmar. First time - after I initially seviced the engine on getting the boat. 2nd, before launch - when I fitted the primer bulb and new cav filter.
Very quick to do - 5 mins flat, maybe less. ( I think i will now do what I intended - putting the two bleed spanners on hooks in the engine bay - its surprising the time that saves ) A the moment I have the exact tools in engine bleed tool box - which sort of lives on the shelf, ( and maybe Yanmar had some wisdom making it bright red plastic ! - you can't miss it )
The primer bulb makes it easy, no need to use the lift pump. Just two bleed screws, top of engine filter, top of injector pump - then loosen the main injector nut and turn over the engine a few times. Started up fine again.
Stange why though, - to run for about 30 mins before stopping suggests it had some air somewhere early in the line, probably the tank side of the pre-filter.
Briefly checked all the fuel line jubilees. Its a top outlet Vetus tank - so any slight leak will loose fuel back down to the tank and let air in, but once past the primer bulb, the bulb acts as a non-return. There was definitely air in there - a fair bit.
May look at changing the 'tank to Pre-filter' hose, to copper - I've got fittings for that - then everything up to the pre-filter would be compression - no hose. Its a problem though from there to the engine - I can get spigot end flexi fuel hose - but need to change the fitting into the lift pump - which is a banjo type. Worth doing - as it would get rid of all 'hose/jubillee type' connections.
Still - nice to know I can bleed it easily and quickly - all good practice, but it knocks your confidence a bit - this area has strong tides and the river estuary looses water fast. You need to be able to bleed the thing quickly - its the section between open water and the estuary channel where you are vulnerable - especially if coming in on a falling tide - and we know all about sods law !
Mk 2 dingy wheels a disaster !! - with the extra weight of the battery, coming up the launch slip they twisted. The ally angle, much too soft, let the wheels slew at 45 deg ! My first idea was to lay up the brackets in grp - in a tray type mould, with a sort of strengthening lattice. They need to be light - but very stiff. Maybe ply would be ok really, need to come up with Mk 3 !
Good job I'm not designing suspension bridges !!
Great to see a bit of calm mild weather. Never known such a spell of gales over Dec/Jan - just when I fancied a bit of cold, clear blue skies - no such luck, and it back to the gales it seems tomorrow night - force 8's forcast again. Still - a bonus is I'm not worrying about deep frosts, and whether to drain out the engine block.
Maybe its due to higher levels on the fresh water flow on the R Axe - but there was a noticeable pollution, ecpecially coming back on the top of the tide wiht the water almost flat calm. Sort of big sheets of filmy, scummy stuff - almost like oil. I suspect the sea around here, these days , is cleaner than the land. Up to now I've been surpprised how clean this eastuary water is - given that 'Weston' has always been synonomous with 'mud', around these parts. Seems to me the sea water has significantly improved here - maybe more so than the rivers !
Tuesday 30th Jan
First night on the river since last year - came down 4.30 pm, last of the light - lots of small jobs to do. Dingy was laden down a bit - had the battery, think its had it but I'll give it a last try - green eye is very dull, even well charged. Then the solar panel, water, 10 lts, cordless drill and a few bits - food, took ages just to get on the boat.
Still, its times like that I'm glad the engine keeps going - wouldn't want to row that lot against the stream.
Dead flat calm - thought she would settle down level - but ended up on a bit of heel. Pain in the neck - especially sleeping. But she would float again at about 3.00.
Had this terrible feeling all week - and I was right ! I had left of the filler cap when I filled the deisel two weeks ago - itis horizontal and on the side deck ( moved there at the stipulation of the surveyor - I'd had it in the cockpit locker ! )
We'd had a bit of rain too - Wally ! , altered my plans somewhat. Claered out the lockers late evening - tomorrrow have to drain the tank. Would be easy if it wasn't full. Maybe the old brass bilge pump would do it, if I alter the outlet hose - left my plastic hand bailer home - ( the handle broke off, it new ! - made as a marine bilge pump, what crap )
Luckily I have the empty 10 lt fuel can - witht he two buckets lined out with bin liners - and one of the disposable water bottles, I should be able to decant off 25 lts.
I've got to attend to the fuel lines anyway - I picked up an air leakage somewhere last time.
Checked the Garmin alarm - at least the clock one - what a waste of space. I've got a data box made up for all the data connections - built in to it is a 107 dB pietzo buzzer which links to the yellowd data remote alarm wire.
As I thought. it needs to be 'latching' - as the Garmin alarm goes, " beep beep" for ten seconds then stops. Even the little notice disappears after ten seconds.
Its easy to make the relay latacing - ie, it stays on, even though the Garmin switches off - until such time as I stop it. Needs an extra wire though and a 'push to break' pushbutton switch.
Wired up all the regulator for the solar panel and the interior wiring - I was in the mood for that - even with a headtorch and on a 10 deg slope I found it quite relaxing. Time for bed - on the slope, great !- roll on 3.00 for some level.
Wed 31st jan
Stripped out all the tank - managed to get a strap under it
In getting it all out I found the cause of my air leak - I love finding something wrong, otherwise you always waiting for it to happen agian. It was a loose compression joint on the top of the pick up tube - probably forcing it into the rubber bung in the tank might have loosened it - it was quite loose.
Gave it all a really good bleed through. My plastic 5 lt container I bolted under the prefilter was a godsend. I cut it to shape to form a 2 inch tray at the base.
Also, another great bonus was having a pack of fifty, very large incontinence pads aboard ! - I've got huge boxes of them, about 450 - my late Mother had a cancer which was causing her problems, so they are all left over from that. They are fantastic for soaking up fuel spillages. I put them on board thinking they would be good for stuffing into a leak in an emergency - ie a split hull. Pads like that you can force in with a large blunt screwdriver. I've got so many I keep trying to find a use for them - maybe if I keep them long enough, I might have a need for them myself, for their proper use !!
Ran the engine on the stern mooring at a good throttle for about an hour - seems fine.
So mild for Jan - I was scrubbing the cockpit down at 9.30 at night, trying out my new trailing 12v flouro lead light - taking advantage of some water actually under the boat.
Deaf flat calm on the river - not at all cold, but misty and overcast. This was the first day of the year I could have gone out all day, tide to tide, just in limits of daylight.
After two nights on board, quite franky, I'm to tired for taking the boat out - its wearing for two days, and you dont sleep too well if the boat heeled over. Quite see why sailors used to use hammocks. I have considered it - potentially I could run one side to side, but the boat seldom pitches at all, just rolls over to port.
Got up at 7.30 to pull in the painters - but she still went down over to port. Stayed in the bag till 12.00 - didn't have the energy to climb back up the slope to get up !
Re-positioned the bungees fixing the solar panel, so as not to potentially foul the lazy sheets - bit of clearing up, sorting out. Once afloat - I opened up the genoa, so I could trim the length of the furling line which was miles too long, and wanted to check it wasn't getting stained - water, mould etc. Pretty good, just a few small water marks near the clew - no sign of mould, which is hard to get off.
Back up to uphill yard, as late as I could leave it for light, about 5.15 pm - just about enough water past the wreck, just about dark when I got to the pontoons. The security light at the yard do funny things with the water reflections - somebody else who brings a largish boat in to the pill, often at night, told me he had big problems once he got to the actual yard where there was lighting. It seems to make bank look like water, and water look like jetty - managed to give the dingy a good bashing coming in against the Yard maintenance barge - the flow was going very strong, coming uo to spring, and about one and a half before HW.
Tubes still up - but will inflate it at home over night. Best way to check - get it really hard, see what its like in the morning.
Hoping to get out to sea for the first time this year sometime over the weekend, or maybe early next week - if this settled weather holds. Have my key to the beach gate now - so don't have any worries of getting back on to the beach late. Or for that matter, can make an early start if needed.
Friday 9th march
Down to boat on the early tide HW 9.30. about right, as I didn’t have to get up too early - but can still miss the rush hour traffic. Spring tide not too big though. Two weeks time is the first of the biggies, 14.4 at Avonmouth ( Weston is about 1.1 less )
Looking at the size of the Axe at LW I can see why it seemed hard work on the outboard coming up even with the tide with me.
In summer, the Axe as a freshwater flow is about, maybe, 3 or 4 metres wide, perhaps a foot deep, if that. I’m sat here looking at a raging torrent all of forty foot wide and, at a guess, 2m deep. Just because the tide flows in, it doesn’t stop all this lot flowing out!
I was worried a little about the new solar panel. I mean, £250 and you bungee it to the outside of the boat for all to see ! Still there and, even better, my little regulator is shining a nice little green light, “accu full”. Done a great job on the service pair. 2 x 85 amp showing a very healthy 13.8 volts. Also, the old engine battery I had nearly given up on is fine still 12.6 volts. So he’s lasted well for six weeks, sitting there. Praise be to ‘Numax’ batteries ( cheap, leisure/marine 85 amp, £ 31.00 - local caravan shop )
First job jobbed fit an extra feed off the engine battery, up to solar regulator. I’ve knocked up a little switch-over box, with an on/off/on toggle. I can now switch the panel to charge either battery bank.
Bilges still bone dry.
My alarm box works ( after all that effort I'm well pleased ) got it all wired in. Checked it out on the clock alarm ‘wow’, can’t miss that. The latching is fine too Garmin quits, but alarm still sounds until re-set. Scared the hell out of me, as the Garmin sounds an alarm if you try to set a waypoint that’s already saved. It’s loud almost too loud for the cabin you would have to be ‘technically dead’ not to hear it.
Got everything done 1.30 am. Lena’s gone down on the mud fairly level, which is a bonus as my backs aching a bit.
Saw a really odd bird, about LW. Sort of the same as a heron, but pure white. I’m thinking it was a stork can’t say I’ve ever seen a stork maybe I have now.
Sat 10th March
Thought about getting out for a couple of hours. Forecast was for 4 to 5, backing 6 or 7 Irish sea cold too this morning. Had it been a little calmer first thing I might have been tempted. Trouble is, I’d have been too late to get back up to Uphill yard to the car unless I left it to about nine at night, and tried it in the dark, or stayed aboard another night which I didn’t fancy.
Quickly rig up the old laptop to check the data box serial connections. Com port error ! Check serial cable pins through to data box terminals all ok. Re boot the Compaq, this time with serial lead out, then plug in afterwards. All ok so box is fine maybe just a dodgy connection, with leads, laptop etc left onboard. Strip the box apart so as I can bring the circuit board back home and spray it up with pcb lacquer stop any moisture shorting it out.( best done after you know its all working - messes it up a bit for re-soldering )
Really nice later on 9.45 am, winds dropped off, sun’s out !
Washed off all the boot top and side hulls first thing Friday. The boot top was just done with white International enamel so had developed a good bit of green slimely weed. Scrubbed off easily though and the hull seems to have suffered no ill effects from the local variety of mud. Quite impressed by ‘Brightside’ paint it their cheapest too.
Very pleasant trip down the river shot off upstream so as to drift back and get some pics of Lena afloat. Engine seems to be running well, after my last bodge. Slowed down and circled a while to chat to the owner of ‘Moonshine’, a motor sailer that was on the hard standing near me at the Uphill yard.