We finally had our first taste of sailing 'Pegasus' on the weekend with some lovely Spring weather, and it wasn't without its challenges. You try coming into dock for the first time with 14 tonnes and 50 foot of boat under your command, and not feel intimidated! I am very pleased to say we both did it without adding another scratch to her hull, or bruising our egos along the way.
After a late night Friday and an early morning Saturday finishing some odd jobs (very importantly correctly installing TV number 2), we met our practical instructor, Eddie.
Apparently (thanks Hamish!), it was my job to show him around the boat and give my first safety briefing, pointing out relevant equipment and procedures in case of any emergency. Something I will have to do many times in the coming months, so I guess I had to start somewhere. All went relatively smoothly, and I even learnt the location of a few more things along the way.
We then had a slight delay, in that we needed to rig a new genoa, as the current one was off being mended. It appeared there was a problem with the furling head when we took the first one down, and it was Hamish's task to fix it when we rigged the second one. He happily went for a ride up the mast ( thank goodness for electric winches), and ended staying up there for almost an hour as between us all, we tried to resolve some shackle issues...Lesson 1 million and 1 - you can never have enough shackles of varying sizes and shapes.
The next task was topping up with fuel, and we then finally headed out to the Solent for the first chance of hoisting the sails. We were lucky to have a good amount of sunshine and blue sky with just the right amount of wind for a great day of sailing. Despite the sun, it was still freezing cold on the water and all necessary winter gear needed to be worn.
We then stayed in Hamble for the night and were able to show off 'Pegasus' to our friends Chris and Jo who were co-incidentally staying in the area for the weekend. The first of many drinks and nibbles in the saloon, but hopefully without the heating on!
We then awoke on Sunday morning to sun streaming in and the first real feeling of 'this is going to be our home soon'! We spent the rest of the day completing various drills in handling, reefing, navigation etc to fulfil parts of the syllabus and we still have 3 more days of fun to look forward to in order to finish. Let's just hope the weather holds!
Author: Sally 11/03/2010, London, UK
Picture: Sally and Richard
Our Thursday nights won't be the same anymore as we have passed the RYA Day Skipper theory. Richard, our instructor, has been wonderful, and patient! It's been really enjoyable chatting to him about our plans and listening to his adventures. Although it took much longer than it was supposed to, as it was just the two of us, he was able to tailor it more to meet our needs.
Whilst theory is good, practice is even better, so although Hamish and I have been awarded the certificate for skippering, the interesting part is actually getting out on the water to test our new found skills on our brand new toy.
Richard - our instructor and part mentor, has brought us this far in the theory world, and now it's over to Eddie our practical instructor to whip us into shape on the water.
Author: Hamish 08/03/2010, Lymington, UK
Whilst I was in the transom re-routing the engine control cables I found that one of the spare water containers had wedged itself against the Eberspächer diesel heater exhaust and melted through. Lucky it didn't catch alight as it was right below the gas locker.
Blue sky day – bloody cold!
Author: Hamish 08/03/2010, Lymington, UK
We stayed on the boat this weekend as we had booked a marine engine mechanic to supervise Sally servicing the engine on Sunday morning.
We also had to finish a number of jobs that I had started earlier in the week. These included relocating the bow thruster panel and engine control cables from the port side back to the starboard side, installing the gas monitoring alarm, installing two LCD TVs with dvd players, installing the dvd car stereo, putting the oven back and putting the nav station back together.
Moving the engine control from one side to the other wasn't as hard as I expected and didn't need new control cables which was a bonus. It did involve climbing into the transom locker which is huge, I'm sure there would be enough room for at least 15 boat people! The bow thruster panel hadn't ever been installed on the starboard side and I always get nervous when I have to cut holes into things, especially boats! All went well until it came to sealing it in. The tube of clear silicone had dried out long ago and all that was left was an old tube of black. As the nozzle had dried solid I stabbed it with a screwdriver and applied it as best I could. What a mistake, I got a little on my finger and then next thing I know it is on the seat, the wheel, the compass god knows everywhere. When you try to wipe it off, it transforms into a foot long smudge! Anyway, I got it fitted and cleaned up my mess.
Installing the gas alarm proved a little more difficult. As boats are so compact and perfectly formed, running new cables can be a mammoth task. Out came the oven, which looked clean and sparkly from above but was fatty and dirty on the back and sides, cupboards were taken apart and cables run, then because they didn't reach another route had to be found. The gas alarm is not the sexiest bit of kit, but the Pilot one we are installing has a solenoid valve at the cylinders which will shut off the gas as soon as a leak is detected. The boat has been set up to run off both butane and propane gas but the gas locker is a real mess of hoses and regulators and was one of the items raised on the survey. I have been trying to figure out a tidy solution when I came across GasBoat which make a multi-fuel, multi-cylinder regulator which should really tidy things up. I have got one on order and will finish of the gas system when it arrives.
As the previous owner is a hardcore yachtie he will probably cringe at the thought of a TV being installed in the boat, but it is going to be our home for the next while, so a few creature comforts have to be added. In trying to be as energy efficient as possible, Nick the surveyor recommended a 19", 12 volt Grundig TV/DVD combo. I hunted one down on eBay. The picture quality is not great and they don't get the best reviews, but it should do. We had decided to have one in the saloon and one in the master cabin. The other day I was in a large electrical store, (sorry can't tell you which one for fear of incrimination - read on) and found a nice 22", 12 volt JVC TV/DVD which has much better picture quality. So I picked up one for the saloon.
On Saturday we installed it and it looked great. I just plugged it into 240v for the start to try it out. The next afternoon I thought I would wire it up properly. I made up the new cable and proposed to just run it off a spare reading lamp which had been removed. All I can say is don't come gambling with me! Both wires are the same colour and I had a 50/50 chance of getting it right. Of course I got it wrong and we got a fried TV. Oops. Lucky it was a major electrical store and when I took it back on Monday and said it didn't work, they gave me another one, no questions asked.
As the post title suggests, we have been having beautiful blue sky days recently but this does mean the nights are frigid. We woke on Sunday morning to ice in the marina! Thank god the boat has a good heater.
We believed that the past owners had regularly maintained the engine, but we couldn't really be sure. So we were really keen to have the engine serviced properly.
We were recommended a local mechanic, Clive from Owen Haisell, who was very accommodating and agreed to supervise us while we did the service, well Sally actually! Clive was brilliant, thoroughly explaining how the cooling system worked, how the fuel system worked, areas where hoses were rubbing and likely to chafe through, little tricks, what to do and what not to do. And of course Sally was fantastic. While I sat back and did nothing, Sally extracted the oil, changed the filter, refilled the oil, replaced the raw water impeller, changed both the fuel filters and tightened the belts, all without swearing or dropping a drip of oil.
Next we have to do the same with the genset, but that can wait a couple of weeks.
Let there be light
Author: Hamish 05/03/2010, Lymington, UK
Apparently living the life of a cruiser is all about Watts. Life on a yacht is all about power, or lack there of. When you are moored in a beautiful bay somewhere in the South Pacific, blue sky, no wind, nobody else around, the last thing you want to do is start the generator or motor because the batteries have run flat while you are watching the final episode of Sex in the City for the hundredth time.
Although we have a good bank of batteries, a high output alternator, diesel generator and wind/water generator, I do want to be as energy efficient as possible, and I also like my gadgets!
So the first task in cutting the energy consumption has been to change all the halogen lights to LED's. There are many forums and bloggers who have experimented and recommeneded various products and Searolf seemed to come out on top. He is a little more expensive than www.ultraleds.co.uk but I thought I would give him a go as he started the company after he couldn't find what he wanted for his boat and there is also a great story for the name Searolf. I ordered 5 to try them out and as you can hopefully see in the above photo, they have made a huge difference.
They use only 2.4 watts and are much brighter than the halogen bulbs they replaced which used about 20 watts! The other advantage is they should last for 80,000 to 100,000 hours as opposed to the 2000 hrs for a G4.
I have since replaced all the bulbs to LED and has really brightened things up (and think of all the other gadgets I can now add with all that spare electricity!!).
If Sally thinks I am bad (read mad) now turning off lights, turning the heating down and having a real time energy meter on my office desk, I will be a nightmare on the boat.
Horses for Courses!
Author: Sally 01/03/2010, Hamble, UK
It comes as no surprise, that when you have little experience in something, or take up a new hobby you would expect some professional instruction on the finer details. Little did I know how much I took for granted all these years of boating when my father, as skipper, would just get us everywhere with no fuss and only ask for help when tying up at the dock or when weighing anchor.
Now that the responsibility is ours, Hamish and I have been enrolling in all the RYA accredited courses available that suits what we are about to embark on. I am constantly willing my brain to be the proverbial sponge, but sometimes it feels like the information is going in one ear and out the other!
To give you an idea of how I have been spending my time since July last year, here is a run down of the courses I have completed and what I apparently should be proficient in...
1. RYA Competent Crew course - taken while on a 'holiday' in Greece in the summer of 2009, and really the test to see if I liked the sailing side of boating or not. I guess I did.
2. RYA Level 1 and 2 Dinghy sailing - I am told the principle is the same, things just happen a bit more slowly on a larger yacht!
3. RYA Diesel Engine Course - never thought I would have been discussing the finer art of changing an impeller at 10:30 am on a Sunday morning, while sipping a cup of tea, nursing a hangover and standing around staring at an old marine engine. Never say never.
4. RYA Radar Course - The opening scene of Top Gun, is now more interesting as I understand 'targets'.
5. RYA VHF Radio Course - did you know that 'over and out' is a total contradiction of terms??
6. RYA / ISAF Offshore Safety Course, RYA First Aid Course and the RYA Sea Survival Course -We were let loose with flares, fire extinguishers, man overboard drills, life rafts and life jackets. After learning how to deal with any possible doom and gloom, the final thing I was told, was 'just remember why you decided to do this in the first place... for fun!'
7. In between all of these I have been doing my RYA Day Skipper Shorebased theory course, and will be doing my 5 day practical exam in a few weeks time, which will be my 10th RYA accreditation in almost as many months.
What's that saying.. 'All the gear and no idea'. Now we just need some sun to go sailing.