Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Readying for Sea - Summer 2017

Hi everyone,
It's been ages since our last blog.  Zen Again has been safely moored in Hull Marina while we have moved from Yorkshire south to Surrey and settled into new jobs.  Summer has arrived in the UK and we are enjoying exploring Surrey as much as we did exploring Yorkshire.  With the arrival of summer we needed to prepare Zen Again for her 2017 adventure - to Scotland!

Back in a pen
We have just returned home from a long weekend in Hull preparing Zen Again for sea.  During a previous brief visit before moving south we dewinterised the engine - basically replacing the anti-freeze in the raw water cooling circuit with sea water.  This trip had a much longer to-do list, including the following:

  • Haul-out, pressure-wash, rekey the antifoul, replace the shaft anode and re-launch
  • Inspect the rig and deck fittings
  • Scrub the deck clean
  • Polish any tarnished stainless steel
  • Fit the boombag and lazy jacks, bend-on the mainsail, and fit the reefing lines 
  • Bend on jib, storm jib and their sheets
  • Refit the boom brake
  • Replace the anchor swivel and shackle
  • Check the anchor windlass
  • Air all the cockpit lockers
  • Test all electrical and electronic systems
  • Check our new Garmin UK charts cartridge
  • Replace Raymarine tiller ram proprietary electrical plugs

We arrived in Hull at 2130 on Thursday evening after the 2.5 hour trip from London.  All was well aboard.  On Friday morning we pumped out and refilled the water tanks which we had left well-dosed with bleach.  We then checked then test-ran the engine for 30 minutes while inspecting on deck and below.

One item we found was slop in the tiller to rudder shaft joint.  We encountered this once before while in South Africa.  On that occasion the lock-nut on the rudder-shaft top fitting had worked loose and the bolt had started to loosen.  This time the lock-nut seemed tight but backing it off allowed me to get 1/8 of a turn on the bolt which took the slop out.  We'll look into this more fully after our summer cruise.

Later on Friday morning we motored around to the haul-out dock in light winds and sunny skies for lifting by the cheerful and professional marina staff.  The last time we were hauled out was in Fremantle over two years ago.  We were booked to hang in the slings for two hours after pressure washing.  The pressure wash uses hot water which apparently kills (or at least shocks) any barnacles so they come off readily.


In the slings prior to pressure wash
There was remarkably little growth on the 4-year old coppercoat and most of that came off during the pressure wash.  We then set to work with 80-grade wet'n'dry to rekey (exposing new copper micro-balls embedded in the resin).  It took the two of us only 90 minutes to have the boat ready for relaunch.  With 80-grade one doesn't need to work hard at it.

Hot pressure-wash
The only problem during the haul-out was that our spare (3-year old) KleenHull antifouling anode appeared to have shrunk and wouldn't fit the shaft!  Other than that the appendages seemed fine as did the stern gear.  There were only a few minor "dings" (unsurprisingly at the bow and at the keel leading edge) which is amazing considering how many miles we've done since leaving Fremantle.

Pre-wash
By the time we relaunched the wind had got up to 25 knots and we were given permission to put Zen Again in an easily accessed pen close by.  The rest of the day was windy and showery so our timing was good.  We spent the time checking systems below deck.

Post-wash and scrub
On Saturday we spent the early morning scrubbing clean the deck, boom and lower-mast.  Later in the morning we fitted the boombag, mainsail and associated gear.  In the early afternoon we hoisted and furled the No 3 and storm jibs.  Lastly we part-inflated and cleaned the dinghy before strapping it down on the foredeck.

Inspecting various safety gear revealed a corroding gas cylinder in our inflating danbuoy so we triggered that and left it inflated overnight the check it held pressure.  In the morning we fitted a new cylinder.  That evening we had a well-earned pub meal.


Saloon
On Sunday we moved Zen Again to her new pen - one which will be much easier than our winter pen to exit when we return in a few weeks.  We're now next to a Royal Navy training launch so hopefully will be safe!  After the move, which took place in light winds and under a sunny sky, we got to work checking electrical/electronic systems, airing gear on deck and restowing gear below.

Cockpit teak holding up very well after 4 years
One of the items of work was replacing our anchor swivel.  I had inspected it earlier in the year and it had looked fine.  However when disassembled I found the metal at one end of the smaller pin had corroded and fell off as soon as I removed the pin.  A little surprising considering it is stainless steel.  The nice shiny new swivel highlights the need to regalvanise our marvellous Manson Supreme anchor.


Also on Sunday we spent a pleasant two hours catching up with the owners of sv Phira.  They plan to head south this summer after several years in Hull.  Back aboard we checked more gear and systems and did the little s/s polishing required.  We checked the Garmin UK charts which add to the CM93, Navionics and paper charts we already have for the UK.

Later in the day I test-ran the Honda outboard motor and topped-up its fuel tank.  I replaced the connectors on the Raymarine tiller rams with Bulgin 3-way plugs as used by the Pelagic Autopilot tiller rams.  These are far-superior connectors.  We also checked the nav lights - all shining bright.

In the evening we had a very nice dinner at the nearby Minerva pub.  Their ploughman's lunch was outstanding and perfect while we listened to their weekly Sunday night folk singing session.  Lots of sea-shanties amongst other songs.  Very pleasant.

Today we had breakfast in town before heading to the railway station.  It was nice walking through the city centre in which there was not a cone to be seen.  Previously there was work happening everywhere for Hull's 2017 City of Culture preparations.  It now has a great city pedestrian centre and lots to see - well worth a visit.

Our carriage awaits in Hull station
We now have three weeks at home and at work prior to two weeks of sailing holiday.  We hope to sail Zen Again to Clyde Marina near Glasgow.  That's an ambitious distance to cover given the changeable weather we expect, so the sail up the east coast will be more delivery than cruise.  We hope the transit of the Caledonian Canal will be more leisurely.

Trust all's well where you are.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Winter in the UK

Hi everyone,
It's been a long time since our previous post.  Zen Again has been resting in her berth in Hull Marina.  Happily winter has been mild this year, albeit with several "named storms".  We've been visiting the marina regularly to check all's OK aboard and to top up the electricity meter which keeps the four onboard tube heaters running.

While Zen Again has been resting we have been busy at work and exploring Yorkshire when opportunities presented.  We've had some great walks in lovely countryside.  Some weekends were write-offs due to weather or bad colds but overall we've been really enjoying Yorkshire.

One of two slightly snowy mornings
We spent last weekend in London, principally to present at the Cruising Association.  The bluewater section asked us to present on AIS, HF and Satellite Imagery in an all-day event.  We had 58 participants and the day seemed to go very well.  We stayed in one of the CA's cabins which are very convenient and affordable.

At the Cruising Association
We extended our stay in London so we could visit some of London's great museums.  On Sunday we visited the Natural History Museum and particularly enjoyed their vulcano, mineral, jemstone and dinosaur exhibits.

On Monday we visited the the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.  The museum has excellent displays on many nautical themes.  We particularly enjoyed seeing Harrison's clocks, the Nelson's Navy exhibit and the array of amazing paintings.

Nice painting of a warship launch
One of Harrison's famous clocks - fully restored and running
A very famous painting of James Cook
This weekend we took Zen Again's mattresses and sails back aboard.  A little early perhaps but we are preparing to move from Yorkshire to Surrey in a few weeks.  New job opportunities beckon so we are moving south.  Zen Again will stay in Hull until summer when we hope to sail her north to transit the Caledonian Canal to SW Scotland.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Autumn in the UK

Hi everyone,
We have now moved ashore and are both working full-time.  We had thought we might live aboard for a year or so but the cost of commuting from Hull to our workplaces made that uneconomic.  It was costing close to 100 pounds each week for petrol alone!

Our "local" - dressed overall for halloween
So we're now living in a small apartment half-way between our workplaces, with reasonable commutes for both of us.  After 18 months aboard the move ashore was a big deal.  We filled our car twice with "stuff" and discovered the boat has better storage than our apartment.  The apartment is considerably warmer however!  And the local pub (above) has great beer and food.

Speaking of warm, that's something Zen Again isn't going to be for quite a while.  We will soon have to "winterise" the boat - something we've never had to do before.  Here's a rough list of what we expect to do:

  • Move stuff ashore to a warmer & drier environment (well underway)
  • Stow loose items staying aboard in sealed containers to prevent rust/mould
  • Empty fresh water tanks and hoses to prevent damage from water freezing
  • Change the engine oil and filter
  • Change the engine fresh water systems' coolant
  • Drain the engine's raw water system and remove the raw water impeller
  • Slacken off the engine's V belt
  • Install a dehumidifier to keep the boat dry and (perhaps) warm

We bought a dehumidifier today after looking for reviews.  Practical Boat Owner recommends the Meaco DD8L Junior.  As it happened there was a unit in stock nearby so we're now testing it at home.

By the way, our next talk at the Cruising Association is now being advertised online here.

Trust all's warm and comfy where you are!