Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Absent Friends

Been a while since I could be bothered to write up these pages for a number of reasons. A couple of close friends dying took the edge off things for a while as we slowly came to terms with their separate deaths and we were working on the boat, which can be pretty boring to write/read about and so the months drifted by. But now our time of departure is counted in hours rather than weeks and as it feels more as though we're back in cruising mode it seems as though we should get some sort of update posted.

The changes. We took out the long serving (and very efficient) Lavac toilet, filled in the holes and opted to use a Porta-Potti. We had nothing against the unit but really disliked the through hulls. The Taylor's cooker likewise was disposed of and we pondered how we would gimbal our dinky little “Primus”. Bee, browsing through a local on-line listing found an Atom (see here) for sale second-hand from a guy who was willing to deliver and the problem was solved. We'll let you know how the system fares at sea but we're happy with what we so far have.

Eventually we took the shelter down and Bryden came along to help hoist the rudder into place. We'd used the guys from the local (and very successful) Come Boating rowing team to get it off but reversing the process required a crane. In the event we had to do it twice as we'd got the washer sequence wrong and it didn't sit properly.....as I was desperately trying to tighten up the nuts and get the split pins inserted, Ken was reversing the trailer under the boat ready to lift and launch us. We launched and began the slow process of adding rigging (running backstays, bowsprit shrouds, lazyjacks and a heap more). Jeez it seemed to be so much harder this time as we finally set the blocks for the mizzen only to realise we'd got one out of sync and... oh never mind it was wrong anyway and had to be changed.

Then we ran the engine and heard an ominous knocking noise.....”Got to be the alignment” I said whilst in my mind I was thinking “ I can't believe this - it sounds like the gearbox has gone again” We called in John to have a listen.....He dismissed the alignment but thought we had a gearbox problem.....we had, as removing the gearbox, bell housing and drive plate proved. A phone call to a US distributor elicited the response that we could get one from them for $353 but not until the end of the month unless we paid $140 for expedited shipping...a phone call to Mike Bellamy of Lancing Marine in England via Skype found we could get it for $160 plus shipping. 77 hours after we placed the call the package was in our hands. Remarkable service. Whilst we were at it we did change the engine mounts, removed the car heater and sorted out the alignment. The depth sounder hadn't worked since we relaunched and we checked, rechecked and rechecked again to no avail. Jim, a fellow cruiser/liveaboard, who currently works for the yard, offered to loan us his unit to check things out and for good measure lowered a microphone over the side(he's a diver which is meant to explain why he should have such a device.....)So we found the transducer works but not the head and danced in jubilation as we all we had to do was replace that rather than haul out etc. Short lived however as research showed that whilst our transducer operated on 155khz almost all modern units operate on 200khz and it was beginning to look as though we were into major expense. Luckily it is possible to dry out here so we could always use that as an option. But, as ever, Bee checking out options found an old depth sounder (much older than ours) on Ebay for $5. The seller even offered a transducer if he could find it on the boat for the sale price. He did, the set up arrived, we worked on it and it works! Meanwhile an email to Nasa Marine about their sounder had a very rapid and positive response. That arrives tomorrow so with luck we'll be on our way on Thursday.

So one further bit of flag waving for a UK company. After some thought we decided to try a Jordan Series drogue, a device I'd first read about a couple of years back. Pricing it out we found that Ocean Brake (see here) would make up the unit and ship it out for about 15% more than I could buy the individual components and make it myself. A boat the weight of Hannah requires 139 cones to be stitched and attached....

Of course we're now a couple of weeks behind “schedule” and as we'd hoped to get up to Disko Bay in Greenland this summer we're a bit miffed. However with a couple of short pushes we could recover some of the time and it might still be possible to get things done. We'll see.

Late last year another friend of ours died. Allan was in his 80's and had had a stroke that had left him mostly paralysed and in a wheelchair for the last 17 years of his life. His sense of humour and interest in the waterfront never diminished and he was always there when we returned, wanting to know what we'd seen and where we'd been. His family had a gathering in Boston and scattered some of his ashes there and then another celebration, months later, in Belfast to allow his many friends here to celebrate his life. A small Viking ship was made and, with much of his remaining ashes aboard, set alight and allowed to sail into the bay. It was a great ceremony made more so for us by the fact that prior to it all starting his daughter Rose had given us a small jar containing some his ashes for us to paint onto our mast so he could journey to all those places he loved to hear about whenever we came into harbour.