19 April 2016 | Boxmoor
Time to make good on a promise: a long-overdue update.
To recap: after 14 years we are finally leaving the East Coast goldfish bowl behind. To for blue water and the sun kissed shores of the Caribbean as initially intended but some of the way there. Even the longest journey begins with the first step.
As things stand, we'll be spending some time in Brittany - at least till Summer 2017.
What about our Winter 2016 'to-do' list? Not much happening on that front. Most items on there are still outstanding. I had several quotes to fit the electric windlass and to replace the water tank. Back of a beer carton estimates of 2K turned into 6.5K estimates (with ample scope for more). It appears that the yards were determined to squeeze every last penny out of us before we left.
As usual, time and money are in short supply. The only way not to lose is to refuse to play the game. As it will still be at least another year till we cross the pond, both items are now less pressing. I thought I'd better save my money for now and reconsider next winter - older and wiser. Will check out a couple of French boatyards this summer.
Apart from the two items already mentioned, I've been giving a lot of thought to 'communications at sea'. As a former navy radio operator, I've always been inclined to install an SSB transceiver. Just for old times' sake. However, satcom has taken giant strides these last few years and it's starting to become (borderline) affordable too. Fitting the SSB unit, grounding plate, isolated backstay, etc... is by no means cheap. I risk finding myself with a load of expensive kit and no-one to talk to. Since Herb retired a few years ago I feel there are no compelling reasons to fit it. The boxed SSB, ATU and grounding plate that live in the attic may very well make their way onto eBay in the near future.
Currently leaning towards an Iridium Go or DeLorme InReach for ship/shore communications.
What did I spend money on? Maintenance, charts (electronic and paper), engine spares and a heavy weather staysail.
As we head towards the West Country it will be against the prevailing wind. Mostly motoring then. So, for the next 350NM, I don't want any engine problems. Service booked. Also hauling out for 10 days. I want the bottom smooth as a babies bum. The Coppercoat is becoming somewhat less effective every year. Pressure washing is still preferable to antifouling, but this year we might have a go at abrading the bottom in order to increase effectiveness of the Coppercoat. Changing anodes is on the schedule too.
I did splash out on a heavy weather staysail though. Some boisterous Channel crossings in recent years have shown that the genoa is not that effective once furled more than halfway. Meteo France said that this last year has been one of the windiest in Brittany since records began. I get the feeling that this purchase might not be a luxury.
Any way, I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
In the mean time, I'm reading pilot guides and almanacs like crazy in preparation for the move west and south and also, just so I can get a feel of our new cruising ground. I have another night shift coming up next week and if time allows I might start doing the nav for the move (and the summer cruise) then.
There we are. Just because it's quiet on here doesn't mean that there's nothing happening behind the scenes. On the contrary.
We'll be staying in touch. And hopefully some nicer sailing related post will follow in the not too distant future.