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One Week to Launch - Maybe....?
Graham
18/05/2016, Hayling Island, Portsmouth, UK

The last ten days have been very 'challenging' to say the least. Our list of jobs has reduced from about 350 to 60, whereas the number of jobs being done by subcontractors has reduced from 6 to 5!! Getting any firm commitment out of these contractors is like getting blood from a stone, the latter probably actually being easier. The uncertainty of completion dates for critical work has added considerably to the strain in meeting our planned departure. To keep us on our toes, there have been a number of notable incidents since the last blog. The mast was identified as having a badly damaged lower spreader which has resulted in the lower spreader pair needing replacement. Lead time from Seldon, the mast manufacturer, is, wait for it, four to six weeks! Luckily our friendly top rigger Barry, seen here in the photo next to Quasar IV's sixteen metre long mast, is on the case and working hard to bring this date forward to the last week in May. Without the spreaders fitted the mast cannot be put back on; without the spreaders replaced, we will not be sailing anywhere as they are a critical part of the boat. You may recall that the rudder was dropped in order to remove the nylon bearings, a simple job to ease them out of the hull, knock up some replacements on the lathe, then refit; simple that is if the last time they were replaced they had not been epoxied into the hull! It took three days to remove these bearings which should have taken about half an hour. The good news is that they eventually came out and new ones are now fitted ready for the rudder to go back in, not a minor job as the boat needs to be lifted to do this and as the boat weighs 9.7 tonnes, I cannot prop it up on my shoulder on this occasion...The three sections of our new windscreen finally arrived last week and a quick visual inspection identified the middle with multiple scratches and no mounting holes drilled as requested. This had to be returned immediately and a replacement is still awaited, due this Friday...apparently, we'll see! Our FlexiTeak cockpit seating has yet to materialize. Having got tired of going through a third party on this one, I contacted the supplier directly only to find out that we were several weeks away from installation despite having been promised completion on the 14 May. Following a very frank discussion on the phone, the company is reviewing its installation schedule and hopefully new seats will be installed next week. A couple of other incidents include a requirement to replace the throttle and gearbox control which was seized (completed today), replacement of the entire steering cable system following a close analysis, and replacement of the cable and masthead socket for the anemometer and wind direction instruments which was damaged when the mast was removed. This latter item is obsolete and luckily eBay came to the rescue yet again and I have acquired a second-hand item for a reasonable price.

So, is there any good news?! It may appear not but in reality many other smaller jobs have been successfully completed. The mast is fully re-rigged pending the arrival of the spreaders which are due by the 25 May and can then be stepped onto the boat immediately ready for sail rigging and departure. The boat has been polished by Small Boat Services and has come up very well given the age of the vessel. I have finally completed wiring all of the new navigation instruments and the navigation station is now fully operational. Tracey has done a great job cleaning the cockpit GRP sides (fibreglass) which has come up almost looking new - quite amazing when compared to how it looked when we arrived here in early April. This has been a massive task and continues daily. Upholstery and curtain production is well under way by Comfort Afloat and looking on schedule for the last week in May. The bow thruster work is nearly completed. I have installed the cooker....again, this time, correctly aligned and level, but still no gas supply yet. Many smaller tasks on 'The List' are now completed but with possibly a week before launch date, this coming week will be a flat-out working one with no slacking off to go to the local pub, The Maypole, and have another mouth watering, Thai-infused rib-eye steak washed down with a fine bottle of Rioja...

Not Cooking on Gas.....
Graham
10/05/2016, Hayling Island, Portsmouth, UK

Apologies for the delay in updating the blog but we have been incredibly busy! Every day is a minimum 12 hour working day at the moment but we did take some time out last weekend to walk to the seafront and have some excellent fish and chips on the first really sunny day since arriving at Hayling Island. Progress has been extensive over the past two weeks. Although some days are frustrating and you get the feeling that nothing has been achieved, looking back on the week you quickly realise how much has really been achieved. We finally managed to pull through the new cabling for the communications antennas under the flooring which ended up taking best part of five hours in total and generating some real back aches for a few days! The photo above shows the final demise of the fantastic Taylors 041 Gas Cooker, circa 1987. This was a sad day but a total global lack of spares meant that we were unable to replace the two burner units which had rusted to dust while we were in Saudi Arabia. The replacement shiny new cooker looks great in the galley and will be all the better once I reinstall the gas supply so that we can actually use it to cook with...Work on the bow thruster continues but is not yet completed, hopefully soon though or the two large holes in the bow will certainly let in the ocean very rapidly. Every day is very different working on the boat and you need to be a jack of all trades, master of, well, all really. Tracey has been doing an excellent job of cleaning all of the teak rubbing strakes, toe rails and stainless steel work prior to the full boat polish due later this week. This has been an extremely time consuming and tiring task. Luckily the weather has been great for the past week until today. The rudder has been dropped from the boat to allow new nylon bearings to be installed as the rudder had partially seized and was straining the steering cables. Whilst carrying out some other steering-related checks at the same time, I discovered that the electronic autopilot has finally given up the ghost. A quick search of Google identified no more spares available for the obsolete system so eBay to the rescue (yet again) to find a suitable control unit for a replacement steering computer that I bought off eBay about five years ago as a backup. The mast has also been removed from the boat by crane to allow easier changes of running rigging (ropes). It has also allowed me to replace the radar and check the general state of the mast, lights and aerials which are all in good condition. Unfortunately, some of the fixed stainless steel rigging also needs replacing so the job for Barry the Rigger is bigger than anticipated. A visit by John from FlexiTeak to measure up for the cockpit seating is now complete and new seats are expected late this week, some more preparation work needed to make ready for the fit - tomorrow's top priority job! Yesterday, Julie and Martin from Comfort Afloat arrived on board and departed with all of our soft furnishings to initiate re-upholstering, some replacement and new curtains which were on their last legs after twenty years service. The foam-backed vinyl glued to the plywood ceilings in the saloon has totally disintegrated so half of the saloon roof is down at the moment. Purchase of a ten metre roll of new vinyl has been the first step towards a major repair job at some point in the next week! Installation is now near completion of our Eberspacher diesel heater although by the time I come to test it summer will be here so we won't need it! Various other works remain ongoing: galley refurbishment is progressing well, cockpit locker woodwork repairs are now completed, the fridge is now operational running from a large solar panel and small 12V battery at night, repairs to the fibreglass on the transom following a minor incident some years ago in Gibraltar are complete and look good. In addition to all of the above, we have also managed to visit the 'local' a few times for great beer, some live acoustic music, good food and even an unexpected quiz night. Despite now being proficient in plumbing, electrical, electronic, rigging, fibre-glassing, painting and polishing, communications, navigation and err...sailing?, we have more to do than expected. So this week's plan is to finish everything outstanding from the last two weeks and un-seize the anchor windlass, sand and apply antifoul to part of the boat and replace the badly corroded anchor chain. I think once we have completed all of that, we will be ready for some sea trials which I had planned to start on the 21 May. I think I must have dreamed that date as it seems most unlikely at the moment!!

Plumbing and Chiselling Galore
Graham
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....!

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