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Plumbing and Chiselling Galore
27/04/2016, Hayling Island, Portsmouth, UK

A slight delay in this week's entry due to my 55th birthday celebrations - thank you for all the well-wishes. The main 'event' was a trip to the Beaulieu Boat Jumble on Sunday followed by a superb meal in Hardy's, Gosport, washed down with some fine bubbly, courtesy of Mark T, and Merlot. Anyway, prior to that, another busy week had occurred. I spent four entire days working on the plumbing for the rear heads, now finally completed after the grateful loan of a hot air gun from our neighbour Tim in the yard in order to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the 38mm plastic sanitation tube onto the fittings. So now the rear heads has a new toilet, new shower head and taps, and a re-engineered waste pump out system ready for the Mediterranean. All the pumps have been stripped down, cleaned and reassembled with new seals and rubber valves. When reassembling the seacocks in both the forward and rear heads, I noticed that stainless steel bolts had been used in a couple of places. This was a bit concerning as the fittings are phosphor bronze and therefore need bolts made from the same material. A quick search on Google saved the day and replacements were ordered. The bolts are 30mm long and came in at £14.40 each! Tracey has reached a milestone achievement by completing the removal of the old teak-faced ply cockpit seats. This was a massive job and took over a week to complete, working all day, every day and now ready for measuring up the new Flexi Teak replacement seating which should last as long as the boat with any luck. Tracey has also been polishing up the cockpit which is coming up nicely. Although looking a little weathered, we consider it as giving the boat some hard sailing credibility. We have had several complimentary comments from boatyard staff saying how great it is to see owners working on a boat that actually goes 'real sailing'; sadly, many boats on the South Coast sit in marinas all summer with the occasional trip out, something we consider to be a terrible waste of a sailing boat as well as an incredible waste of hard-earned money! A number of other small jobs are getting chipped away; this morning for instance we had to remove the liferaft from boat pushpit rail, disassemble it from its mounting cage and get it to the boatyard office ready for collection for the all important service. This job took about two hours and involved us making a makeshift 'crane' with the rigging and winches as the liferaft weighs about 30kg and could not be removed from the pushpit whilst 3 metres above ground level, the boat remaining out of the water on stilts at present. Work has started now by Paul in the boatyard on the installation of our new bow thruster (at last!). Seeing two massive holes through the bow of the boat is a bit disconcerting but the benefits outweigh any real concerns luckily! 'Barry the Rigger' has also been today to survey for our replacement 'running' rigging - this consists of the rope parts of the rigging rather than the steel shrouds holding up the mast which were replaced back in 2007. This afternoon, I started working on installing the new navigation antenna cabling; after three hours of little progress in trying to pull four cables along a five metre run through cable cut outs smaller than the cable connectors would allow, I quit for the day and here I am typing the blog, drinking tea, preparing for tonight's low of 2 DegC. Tracey is busy getting tonight's fine dining together which is rice, chilli con carne and baked beans which is all we have left to eat; I guess shopping is on the cards for tomorrow morning....!

Two weeks gone - are we any closer to launching...?
17/04/2016, Hayling Island, Portsmouth, UK

The end of week two has arrived all too rapidly and has reminded us of the pressure we are under to get all of the work done before departing. The weather has remained a major challenge for the refurbishment plan, delaying work on deck and preventing the boatyard from carrying out some vital work that is required before launching. We had hoped to have the boat in the water by my birthday on the 25th April but this is clearly not going to happen unless a miracle occurs during one night this week! We have made some good progress this week; we are changing the boat from being a land-based reef supporting a vast ecological system (with massive spiders!) into a water-based floating environment to sustain only two biological units... So, a quick summary of what we have been up to. I started the week with a simple job to grease the through-hull seacocks ready for launching. There are ten seacocks on Quasar IV and the whole job should have taken about two hours maximum. The first one was fine in the forward heads but then number two....36 hours later, half a can of WD40, and hundreds of taps with a large hammer finally released the fitting which appeared fine and showed no real reason for seizing. Anyway, it's now back in action, good as new. The old toilet, sink taps and shower unit have been removed leaving space for me to carry out the final part of this job, the replacement of all of the associated plumbing, a very messy, smelly and time-consuming task that is on the list for this coming week. The Johnson shower pump was also seized and required a total strip-down, new impeller and reassemble to get operational once again. And yes, it is still as noisy as it was before! With all of this work going on in the forward heads, this space is no longer available as a storage area so the entire contents had to be transferred to the forward cabin...specifically onto my bunk. I am therefore now living out of the passage berth, Tracey in the remaining half of the forward cabin until I complete the plumbing this week. Tuesday evening was 'break night' in Gosport with Mark T - some excellent beer in The Clarence Pub, followed by a superb curry in the New Bengal Indian Restaurant. Returning to the boat on Wednesday morning via the Marine Superstore in Port Solent left my bank account another £330 lighter following the purchase of many small items to complete the smaller jobs. As my cousin Paul once said to me "B.O.A.T stands for Break Out Another Thousand"!!! Wednesday was really notable this week - the sun finally came out and it stopped raining allowing Tracey to keep chipping away at the cockpit seating with a set of chisels. The existing 30 year old teak-faced plywood has had it and we are replacing all of the seats with a material called Flexi-Teak, a synthetic material that looks a bit like teak, with ageing effect, but lasts longer and is half the price. It is also engine oil and red wine resistant, but that is not why we are buying it...honestly. The kind offer of a small fan heater by our boatie neighbour was greatly appreciated as watching a film on the laptop when it is 8 DegC in the saloon in the evening was becoming a bit of a drag to say the least. We discovered today however that we have actually been plugged into someone else's electricity supply for the past five days...oops! Still, mains power gave us the opportunity to jet wash the deck on Thursday which took all day and has left Quasar IV looking much better. I have finally completed re-wiring the battery compartment, engine start system and the alternator/solar/wind charging systems which has taken me about four days this week. It is not quite finished due to a shortage of the really thick 170Amp wire, but almost there, and has given enough 'safe' 12Volt power to test the HF Radio and Pactor modem which allows us to talk to people when hundreds of miles offshore as well as getting essential weather reports/updates and reporting our position daily for viewing via the web. We still have no decent cooker installed but we do have two new teak mounting blocks ready to go kindly made for us by Paul here in the boatyard from some off-cuts. It rained all day Friday yet again but Tracey managed to get a request for us on Solent Radio which came as a surprise to me whilst eating lunch with the radio on! The Maypole Pub on Friday night provided our deserts, clearly to save the need for washing up unnecessary dishes on the boat.....That's it for this week.

QUASAR IV Refurbishment Begins at Last!
10/04/2016, Hayling Island, Portsmouth, UK

Following a very comfortable five days at mum's whilst waiting for about eighty packages to arrive from various suppliers, my friend Tony very kindly acquired the loan of a Sprinter van for Sunday into which we loaded a massive amount of boatie gear and set off to the Hayling Yacht Company, Quasar IV's home for the past six years. At last, we can get the sorely needed refurbishment work underway. On arriving at 'HYC', via the Port Solent Marine Superstore (B&Q for yachties but not as cheap...), the van was duly unloaded next to the boat where upon we were met with out first real challenge of the day. As the boat is out of the water 'shored up' (aka 'on stilts out of the water'), all of the gear on the ground had to be moved up onto the deck then down into a cabin already packed full of sails, fenders, cockpit cushions, life-rings, technical gear from deck, etc, etc. So, starting with five batteries at 25kg hour later we had everything on board just as the rain started. Now, to get it all down below! Anyway, we are now here with all our gear, replacement equipment, food, water and thermal sleeping bags as the cabin is about 8 DegC every morning due to no operational heating at the moment. I am on the case but it is not the top priority believe it or not! WE have about three weekes to get the boat into a state suitable for launching and moving to a berth in the water at HYC where we will be staying another month, at least, to complete our work. The task list is massive; quite a bit of time this week has been associated with refamiliarisation of the boat systems - electrics, plumbing, engine (new), and the most important of all, identifying why the boat was taking on water for about 1,000 miles when returning across the Atlantic in June 2010! After a week here, we think we have finally cracked this and identified the cause; one of three bilge hoses has at least three weak points in it and two areas look punctured. Spare hoses are being picked up next Wednesday and an additional isolation valve being fitted to prevent any chance of a recurrance. So, what else? Installed a temporary cooker, new toilet and shower in the rear 'heads', replaced the engine battery and four 'service' batteries (the ones that provide our main power when afloat and sailing), rigged up a solar panel for battery charging, repaired the wind generator which is generating a MASSIVE amount of power tonight during our ongoing Force 8 (!), stripped out a large amount of redundant electrical cabling and plumbing hoses, tested the fridge and main water pumps, partially installed the Eberspacher diesel heater (not finished yet), and repaired numerous other small bits and pieces. We have removed the windscreen from its frame which is now away at Sunlight Plastics to be used as a template for a replacement, due in three weeks. Tracey has also been incredibly busy with all of this and cleaning the deck which resembled a small forest when we arrived, started removing the cockpit teak-faced plywood seats with a chisel ready for new synthetic 'aged' seats to be installed, hard wearing and long lasting, sorting out the galley into a useable space, making the V-berth suitable for sleeping in, a small corner of the saloon available for eating (out of the rain and wind!), removing mildew from walls, bulkheads and lockers, and most importantly, cleaning the transom of the boat so that the name 'QUASAR IV' can now be read again! We have a fellow Westerly Oceanlord neighbour, Malcolm, here on SALUKI who has also provided some inspirational ideas and magic liquids for restoring our brass cabin lights amongst other things. Mark T has already visited and is assisting us this coming week with some transport logistics from Port Solent as well as offering beer, curry, a hot shower and a washing machine - luxury!! So, all in all, a pretty busy week, but we still managed to get to the Maypole Pub on Friday night for a couple of beers and an excellent meal before returning to the boat to watch the concluding part of John le Carre's Night Manager - what an outstanding series! That's it for now, next week's update may include all the work that should have been completed by the boatyard before we arrived, however....! This year's weather so far has been a crippler for the boatyard so we are working together to ensure everything is completed in time for us to depart...this year that is :-)

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