Colin refitting the refurbished steering pedestaal
Using epoxy primer and paint left over from treating Taransay's hull for osmosis saved precious pennies and it looks good too. The old paint came off with a little help from some paint stripper. The epoxy 'rules' were soon remembered and we serviced the steering gubbins at the same time.
Our 'job to do' wish list has had to be pared back to a 'must do' before we launch list. The same process was applied to the 'to buy' list, and now there is nothing on it.
25/01/2012, 50 47.05'N:01 07.0'W
Soda Cystals, they don't look flash but they are versatile and inexpensive.
The uses are many mix with hot water for a solution that degreases anything, shines up the galley sink and even takes the blood stains out of your work gear.
There will be at least one bag on board Taransay Mhor this year.
Somehow whenever we start to work on Taransay we get too involved, dig too deep, then end up desperately trying to get everything back together again just in time for launch day.
In 2010 the heads were stripped back, down to the last seacock, yet we only wanted to install a holding tank. Not this year we swore, reciting a vow of restraint with one hand on the log book the other, fingers crossed, behind our backs.
Although the job list is long three major works have fought their way to the top.
1. Replace the seal under the rocker cover on the engine.
2. Repaint the steering pedestal, a job 8 years on 'the list'
3. Make the anchor locker door watertight.
Those of you that read of our adventures in the Alderney Race this summer will understand why No. 3.
We can't help worrying about the engine, 33 years old and still running fine. But why did the filler cap on the heat exchanger corrode to the point where it fell apart after just a years use. There should be a connection to all the work we did in 2010, but what?
Each new task is a challenge, like the vertiginous slopes of Everest starting from the ignorance of base camp we crawl painfully through layers of knowledge to achieve the summit of understanding. Led lights are a perfect example. "Don't forget they need to be regulated" advised a friend when we looked at switching from normal bulbs. What? Why? Really, how are they different to, say, a motorhome?
A reply from some ever wise forumite on Google, imparts the wisdom of a budha. Boat electric systems are subject to multiple charging sources at varying voltages, engine, shorepower, wind, solar, and the bulbs must be regulated to cope, apparently they have a tendency to burst in to flames if not.
A Merry Christmas to you all from the boatyard, where ever may find yourselves.
Misty morning on Folly Reach
Last week Colin and I gave a presentation on cruising North Brittany as part of the Cruising Associations North France Section Launch Day. Despite initial nerves we agreed afterwards that the day had been most rewarding and would not hesitate to do it again.
We have also organised a Navigators Challenge for the Ashdown Sailing Club and it was a success, thank goodness, after all the preparation and several forays in to the Solent to define a course and set the exercise. Held on the 15th October the day dawned with a perfect SE F3-4 and sunshine, we enjoyed a gentle sail over to the start and anchored to watch our friends pass in a flurry of compass' and binoculars. The last leg simulated fog in the River Medina.
At The Folly Inn it was room in the upper circle only as 20 people came aboard for pre-dinner sundowners.
Next morning even we wondered if we had a special relationship with the weather gods as fog shrouded the river and yesterday's exercise was for real.
Now Taransay is back in the boatyard, was it really only 14 months ago she launched. Winter ashore for her, and a winter sorting out our lives for us.
A 'Misainier' sails past the Old Semaphore, Benodet, South Brittany
Looking back on our sailing season finds a pair of rose tinted specs firmly in place. We had a fantastic time at Easter exploring Poole Harbour and enjoying the fine weather, summer in Brittany was equally enjoyable but the weather was more unsettled. A theme that has continued in to an early autumn for the UK.
In a year when it took a week to cross The Channel to Cherbourg due to strong winds we explored further than ever before, reaching the Gulfe de Morbihan in South Brittany. Taransay transformed into a submarine entering the Alderney Race, a flashback of a mesmerising jade sea sweeping from bow to sprayhood still haunts our memory. On a quieter day flying the cruising chute from Guernsey to L Aberwrach with the Dolphins and their young calves at the bow was inspiring. The 4am start before an exhilarating passage down the Chenel du Four and Raz de Sein was followed by an enforced delay when the boat accidently dried out on the quayside at Ste Evette. What did she think she was doing.
Now I've started the memories keep coming, a rainy night sheltering up the Odet River moored in the shadow of a fairytale chateax. An idyllic anchorage at Treach er Goured on Île de Houat that turned in to an uncomfortable lee shore at 2am. The muddy scramble to launch our dinghy after lunch in Saint-Goustan on the Auray River and anchoring under the cliffs on the Crozon Peninsular, to finish a foggy passage up the Chenel du Four, what a year.
Finally, after enjoying our fair share of sunshine and showers on our return to England her Majesty's Border Agency welcomed us with a personal visit five miles offshore at Portland Bill.
On the 30th October Colin and I will be giving a short presentation on North Brittany at the Cruising Association's HQ in Limehouse, London as part of the Northern France and Channel Islands launch day.
Returning from South Brittany after an unsettled early summer cruise we are pleased that August is not over yet. There may still time to recapture the benevolent weather of spring when at Easter four nights at anchor in Poole Harbour was exceptional, as was the beach BBQ in Worbarrow Bay. We are looking forward to sailing in our home waters during August and September whatever the weather.
More photos from South Brittany will be added to the gallery soon, to receive a prompt when we post just click the 'Like' link on the page 'Taransay Mhor' in facebook.
Remember Practical Boat Owner in September, our feature on last years cruise to North France is appearing as 'An autumn cruise to Brittany'.
The American magazine Cruising World will be printing another of our articles based on the galley refurb, in the 'Makeover and Refits' section, also in September 2011. In Cruising World's July issue we managed to get Newtown Creek included as one of 12 Top Spots for a Summer Sail.
Now we are due back at work the sun is sparkling on an aquamarine sea.
Shallow Newtown on a spring tide makes for interchanging views. Mudflats and an ancient training wall at low water then at high the sea stretches clear over the wall and banks making The Solent and Newtown look like one big lake.
Taking advantage of the fine weather we caught up with cleaning and airing out, we are still drying the forepeak from the big waves in the Alderney Race over a month ago. There was no need to leave the boat for entertainment, plenty was provided by one or two boats coming in for the night and running aground at low water while sniffing out a berth. The few deep pools were popular but you had to get in to them first. Fortunately we had plenty of choice and were able to spend a comfortable night afloat.
At The Folly, on the River Medina above Cowes, next day we bumped in to our friend Alan who had a problem at the top of the mast on his boat. Colin took a bit of exercise and climbed up to fix a new shackle and block to the topping lift (the rope that holds the boom up). It was sunny and hot again. We almost put the sunshade up, I did say 'almost', this was the weather we had been promised in South Brittany.
Leaving Dartmouth early on Sunday a thick blanket of fog filled the river valley and spilt out of the harbour entrance. 45 miles across Lyme Bay lay ahead and as usual the wind was on the nose. After crossing the bay we were undecided about where to stop, maybe Studland Bay or continue on to Newtown Creek inside The Solent. The wind would decide, the faster we sailed the better it looked for heading closer to home.
Visibility was poor on a hazy day it was getting a bit boring with nothing to look at but mist. When suddenly the radio crackled to life with a mayday for an injured diver, quickly followed by a Pan Pan for a small boat adrift in the Portland Race and another for a 23ft motorboat sinking in Poole Harbour. It was all happening for Portland Coastguard.
Then it was all happening for us, less than an hour later a customs and excise cutter appeared out of the mist, circled across our bow and started to follow Taransay as she struggled against a foul tide five miles off Portland Bill. 'not transmitting on AIS' noticed Colin. When a big black rib with 4 men in black aboard launched we knew they could only be coming to see us.
Once aboard the 'Boss' offered us his ID. Colin remarked that it was probably easier to forge an ID than to pinch the Customs Cutter on our port quarter, he took the joke well. Phew! They were disappointed we had 'only' come from Dartmouth. We were not to know that the biggest UK drugs haul ever, found on a yacht off the Isle of Wight, had been discovered only last week. All other questions about drugs, immigrants and vat were answered with out joking and after inspecting the paperwork they jumped onboard the rib and vanished in the direction of Weymouth.
By dusk we were approaching The Needles Light. A big spring tide whisked us up through Hurst Narrows and on to Newtown Creek where we anchored just outside on peaceful Hampstead Ledge at 10pm.
Regretably it was time to head back to the UK and home.
All boats, like us, wanting to sail north from Camaret have to pass through the tidal challenge of the Chenal de Four. When we left Camaret the sun was still shinning, however two miles further on it was not, more fog, not wanting to miss the tide we carried on. The sound of our foghorn was soon joined by many others, all hidden from view, quite a symphony. An hour or so later the fog burnt off a light breeze filled in and it was possible to start sailing.
The shipping lanes were the busiest we had ever seen them, it was like trying to cross the M25 in rush hour. Then we settled into the overnight sail across The Channel.
After 150 miles and 28 hours we moored in Dartmouth
Despite the northerly wind, three days of good weather were forecast. We decided to start making our way back to Portsmouth and of course work.
For 'good' read slightly improved, the first day visibility was down to ½ a mile and it was raining so we diverted to the huge marina in Crouesty. Everybody else had the same idea. There are 130 visitors' berths here and they were full by 12pm.
The following day the sun came out and with lightish winds, we managed two days sailing to the Odet River and on the third pushed on to make the tidal gate at the Raz de Sein by late afternoon.
A beautiful picture of an anchorage off the Crozon Peninsular in the pilot book, all turquoise sea and verdant cliffs persuaded us to anchor overnight even though the rocky cliff just 50 meters away was more imposing than pretty.
Our plan to explore ashore next morning was thwarted when we woke to find misty clouds engulfing the cliffs and Taransay. The fog didn't clear so we moved to Morgat just an hour away to pick up water and provisions. Morgat's wide sandy beach would be lovely in the sunshine.
Another foggy sail brought us to Camaret where the weather improved, as you can see from the photo, the sun was shining just in time for us to leave Brittany.