What have we been doing all Winter/ Spring?

IMG_0062IMG_1573 IMG_1713 IMG_1623 Since our last post we have been preparing the boat so we could set off this summer. We started with what seemed like a fairly modest list of extra equipment to add, but in truth it took all winter to arrange it all and circumstances conspired to leave very little time for any sailing. This was a pity given that we had based the boat in the Solent for the winter, anticipating some enjoyable winter sailing between working weekends. The best laid plans……. We lent the boat to the UK importers to show at Southampton Boat show in September 2014, and attending the show ourselves gave us the chance to order, and in some cases arrange professional fitting of, the extra bits of kit we wanted. We also spent a day on-board as Sales People, which was interesting…. Below is a summary of the main items we purchased, fitted and made:

Heating First on the list was a heating system.  We went with a Webasto diesel hot air system which we had good experience of on an earlier boat. We are pleased with it now, but the road to getting it installed correctly was not particularly smooth, and may have contributed to other more serious fuel supply problems that we encountered later.

Extra sails We ordered a Gennika and a Karver Furler from local sail Maker Arun Sails, and initial trials have been very pleasing. For non-sailors this is a big light-weight sail to keep the boat moving in light winds. It is rolled-up (furled) on a device called a furler which is a relatively new development for cruising boats. It makes handling such a big sail easy for two people. We are looking forward to making better use of this over the summer, and hopefully saving some fuel! We also ordered a storm jib from the same sail loft. Good value, good quality.

Awnings, Sail Bags, Bimini, Pedestal cover etc. Jane has become a dab-hand at designing /making canvas items, and we have a full set of awnings etc for the boat, plus some nifty purpose made bags for the Stays’l and Gennika. She made them all from “Sunbrella” which is a UV and water-proof canvas material. We nearly killed our domestic sewing machine in the process, but the results look very smart, and it saved us a lot of money over having them made professionally.

Navtex Receiver We fitted Furuno, works a treat, easy to program. Does what it says on the tin!  Great piece of kit.

Radar Raymarine Colour HD fitted by MarineTech of Gosport. Nice installation, nice people to deal with.

Water filter Having aluminium water tanks worried us from a health point of view. So we fitted one of General Ecology’s “Nature Pure” filter systems with a separate tap on the galley sink to give us pure good tasting drinking water without any particles of aluminium oxide.  An expensive item, but it does work well, and the water tastes great.

Waste Holding Tank We had some bad experiences last year with the standard toilet installation on our boat, and having done some research we concluded that our set-up was always going to be susceptible to blockages and needed to be re-engineered. While we were at it we also decided to have the aluminium waste holding tank replaced with a plastic tank which should have a much longer life expectancy. The work was done by Peter Wonson of First Marine Services who we can heartily recommend.  This was a difficult job, and getting the old tank out without damaging the interior of the nearly-new boat was a challenge, but Peter managed it beautifully. I like to work with people when things are being installed on a boat, rather than just handing over the keys and paying the bill. If you’ve seen how things go together it’s much easier when you then have to maintain them yourself in the future. Peter was very happy with this arrangement, and I learned a lot from him. The last phase of this job involved lifting the boat out of the water to instal a new through-hull fitting, and unfortunately when she went back in we had a leak!  This turned out to be a manufacturing fault on a new component. They say the measure of a good company is how they react to a customer problem, and First Marine did not let us down. I felt sorry for Peter as he had supplied the part in good faith and was let down by the quality control of a well-known valve manufacturer. All this set us back a couple of weeks, but I can’t fault the way it was dealt with.

Engine stuff This winter/ spring we suffered disappointing engine related issues with both cooling and fuel supply systems. A split hose wrote-off the raw water cooling pump, which necessitated a new pump and replacement of all the raw-water hoses to a better quality product. A shut-off valve was replaced on the fuel tank, as the original had become loose and caused an air leak which stopped the engine from running and left the boat out of action when we hoped sail at Christmas. We also installed an electric lift pump and a closed-loop fuel-return as per the engine manufacturer’s specification. (No doubt the builder of the boat would say they never do this, but my view was that the engine manufacturer won’t be specifying these items for no good reason!) Finally, a series of engine stopping/ difficult starting events which had dogged us all winter, was finally traced to an intermittent fuel line blockage caused by tank debris. Many thanks to the guys at SSL in Brighton Marina, and especially their Senior Engineer Neil, now of Suire Marine and Industrial, who came to our rescue with an expert diagnoses. After the water pump episode we added an Anchor Marine Exhaust Temperature alarm. This gives a read out of the exhaust temperature and an audible alarm if it goes beyond a pre-set limit. It should alert us to any similar failures in future. Easy to fit and a great product from a small British company. So a stressful few months when we had hoped to be using our new boat. Some of these items were resolved under warranty and some we “just did”.

The Main Learnings From All This Are:

– Don’t expect a new boat to be trouble-free !

– Don’t under-estimate how long it takes in the boat world to fit equipment and get things done.

So that’s the Techy bit out of the way.  The next post should be about using the boat rather than fixing it or bolting bits to it!

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