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Emerald Tales
Summer 2015: in the Greek Ionian
Inside our liferaft
18/02/2013, Ocean Safety, Southampton

Pic: Trying out our liferaft for size

At the weekend we took a trip with our liferaft down to Ocean Safety in Southampton who were running an open day. Here we could leave our raft for servicing but before that we would be able to open, inflate it and familiarise ourselves with it so that in the unfortunate event we have to abandon ship we have an idea of what to expect from it.

In normal use the raft remains inside it's plastic canister in a cradle on the back deck and would never be opened apart from during servicing or in an emergency.

The day started with us cursing ourselves for forgetting to take the raft off the boat before we'd come out of the water and trying to lower the very heavy thing off the boat.

At Southampton we were met by friendly staff and shown around the facility before being directed to a service technician. We watched as the liferaft was unpacked and each part was described for us. First the painter and hydrostatic valve were removed (we would be inflating in a controlled manner using an electric pump rather than by the gas cylinder that would be fired in an emergency) and the tape removed from the liferaft box to reveal the raft itself.

The raft is supposed to be within a vacuum sealed plastic bag but we were very disappointed to see what looked like moisture inside ours. On closer inspection we found squares of gaffer tape covering up small holes in the bag! The gaffer tape had peeled off and let water in. ADEC Marine who had carried out our last service had put these pieces of gaffer tape on rather than using a new bag as they should have done. Suffice to say, given that we'd paid over 400 for our last service, we weren't very happy with them.

Gaffer tape over holes
Pic: Gaffer tape covering holes in a supposedly vacuum sealed bag

Luckily there didn't seem to be any damage caused by the moisture, just a bit of mould that would be dried and cleaned off as part of our current service. More of an annoyance than anything but glad it had been found before any damage had been caused to a potentially life saving bit of kit.

Then onto the inflation and a chance to get inside. We have a Plastimo Offshore Plus 6 man raft so it was very spacious for just 2 of us. Within the raft are several survival packs that we were taken through; there are items such as flares, a bailer, paddle, fishing line, emergency food rations, first aid kit and water. Oh, and a pair of my prescription glasses that I had packed in last time. The liferaft has a flashing light, ladders to aid climbing into it, a covered canopy so that we can seal ourselves inside, has a built in water catcher for catching rain and drogues that we can trail to stabilise the raft in heavy seas. We took a look at the underside of the raft where there are weighted sea anchors and discussed how we might try and right it if the raft did end up the wrong way round.

So, a very useful trip to have the opportunity to get to know our liferaft - although we're hoping we never have to put it into practice!

2013: Brandy Hole winter
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18/02/2013 | Ju (Little Else)
We did the same thing a couple of years ago, taking ours to Ocean Safety in Greenock. As you say, a very useful thing to do. However, the night after we had inspected everything and left, their building went on fire (quite spectacularly, since there were a lot of flares there!). Ocean Safty were excellent, and we were given, as a replacement, a better spec liferaft than the one which went up in smoke. Bit of a bugger though!
22/02/2013 | Nichola Wright
Oooh that must have been a good fireworks display! Bad thing to happen anyway but terrible timing if they had all those liferafts brought along for the service. Ocean Safety did seem very good at customer service and the staff very knowledgable about what they were doing.
The Last Steel Tank is Out
Nichola / Just started raining
08/02/2013, Brandy Hole, River Crouch, Essex

Pic: One more floor beam to cut...

Colin had to do quite a lot of floor surgery to get the second of the tanks out from under the galley floor. Plus moving all the existing water pipes and wiring that runs under there, as well as cutting out part of the wall that backs onto the engine room, some of this in preparation for the new tank to go in.

The floor had to be cut to get the new tank in, so the hope was that with some luck, the old tank would come out through the enlarged hole without the need to cut it into pieces.

And this afternoon the plan actually came to reality for once! With a bit of shimmying and jiggling, it lifted out of the hole without any more metal dust polluting our home.

The tank is out!
Pic: The tank is out!

Now we just have to hope the new tank fits in the space. Colin has measured and thinks it might fit..... just!

Meanwhile, I'm still scraping away at the antifoul and Emerald looks like she has an unpleasant skin disease now. Also doing lots of research on what we need to buy or sort out before we head off and some sewing bits and pieces.


2013: Brandy Hole winter
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08/02/2013 | Rick
Colin looks like he could use a pint or two!
11/02/2013 | Osprey
Hi - good to see you guys still hard at work. You're right we have listed Osprey on Yachtworld. This is done with heavy hearts but we find ourselves truly land locked and cannot see sailing off into the sunset again for a few years.
We are looking forward to reading of your adventures in warmer climes.
Cheers! Vicky and Tom
Teabag Tank Removal
Nichola / Spring like afternoon
01/02/2013, Brandy Hole, River Crouch, Essex

Pic: Seacock removed and ready to start on the tank

So far we have replaced 5 out of the 7 stainless steel tanks that Emerald had on her when we bought her. The 2 diesel tanks have been replaced with Tek-Tanks custom made, the bow water tank with 2 Vetus rigid plastic tanks and the 2 saloon water tanks with Vetus flexible tanks (flubbers as we call them).

All of the stainless tanks had developed leaks and as we took each one out we saw why - they were made with cheap 304 stainless steel rather than a better marine grade stainless; as well as being 33 years old.

Now was time to tackle the last 2 water tanks that are under the galley floor. We haven't been able to get these out before because to move them involves taking 2 seacocks out, probably not a good thing whilst in the water. You can see in the photo above, the hole where the seacock goes and the edge of the tank which is under the galley sink and freezer. The plan was to slide the tank out into the space, cut it into pieces that could be lifted out of the hole, slide the next bit of the tank out and so on until it was all out.

So yesterday Colin removed the seacock and set to with an angle grinder on the tank, the boat filled with a metallic dust that beat all our attempts to contain it and smelt like a burning clutch, which I could still smell this morning. Yesterday was not a happy day.

The tank required 2 hits and today Colin won and got the first one out. Here he is grinding away and making fireworks.

Colin grinding up the tank
Pic: Colin grinding out the tank

Now the tank is out leaving behind a 33 year old sludge - lovely!

So, one down, one more to go. The last tank is in a mirror position to the first and will involve taking out another seacock and yet more grinding.

But that probably won't be started tomorrow what with it being the start of the Six Nations - Swing Low Sweet Chariotttttttttttt - hee hee hee.

Meanwhile I'm getting covered in red anti-fouling dust from scraping off the old stuff from Emerald's bottom. As it dries out the anti-foul starts to crack which makes it easier to scrape off in those places, but unfortunately there aren't too many of those places and I keep looking at just how big the hull is and thinking..... should of got a smaller boat!!


2013: Brandy Hole winter
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01/02/2013 | Dean
Come on Ireland!
02/02/2013 | Nichola Wright
We could stay friends this week but next weekend the battle lines will be drawn down the middle of the boat :-)
Lift out time
Nichola / Cold, snow forecast
25/01/2013, River Crouch, Essex, UK

Pic: Emerald coming up over the rise out of the water

Last week we came out of the water and will be in the yard for a few months. We had to wait for a big spring tide to have enough water to get out of the mud hole we've been in for 15 months. The weather on the morning of lift out was quite mild with no wind but unfortunately the tide was still out. By the time the tide was in it was cold and sleeting but fortunately still no wind, so the boys got on with the job.

Ready for lift out
Pic: Placing Emerald in the cradle before lift out

We'll stay out of the water for a few months now. We don't want to go back in the mud as it will take off the new antifoul we put on, so we'll stay out until we're ready for the off. We haven't been out of the water for 4 years and other than a few patches of small barnacles and some very black mud (which took some scrubbing to get off and is still stuck on in places), the hull was pretty clean (we used Jotun antifoul which we'll use again) although we don't know if that is due to the scrubbing effect of going up and down in the mud or a very good product. We found a lump missing out of the back of the rudder which wasn't there before, but that could have happened anywhere in the many miles we made around the UK and through the Baltic.

A coating of black mud
Pic: Colin removing the prop anode and some very black mud

After an interlude where we swapped boat jobs for house jobs on our rental property, Colin has since removed two seacocks and taken the rudder off.

We removed the seacocks as we no longer have deck drains, having replaced them with scuppers we made in the hull instead. We found that when we took a large wave on board, the water would take ages to drain away through the deck drains and would come back up too into the cove lockers at the side of the cockpit, which also had a drain in them.

When the weather warms up the seacock holes can be filled and epoxied up. Two less holes in the bottom of the boat must be good!

The rudder wasn't on our list of jobs but when we investigated it we found a lot of wobble in it and on further inspection found a large piece of fibre glass around the rudder spindle had broken away allowing mud and water to get inside and make voids within the rudder. More on this later with pictures.

It's forecast to get warmer from tomorrow which is good as the cold is limiting what we can get on with at the moment.


2013: Brandy Hole winter
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26/01/2013 | Phil Owen
Hi Nic and Colin, wow you guys have been busy. No lazing around on deck for u peeps. No doubt there are plenty of times when you have, and will, feel the apparent high maint of boat owning is rewarded with priceless views and experiences. I have no idea about some of the stuff you write about but like to read it anyway. Pictures certainly help us non sailors :-) Although my diving career is closer to its end than beginning I will certainly take notice of the detail on diving boats in future and may well on occasions ask .... are there any scuppers on this boat
Happy 2013!
Nichola / Blue sky to start the year
01/01/2013, Brandy Hole, River Crouch, Essex, UK

Thought I'd get one new year resolution off to a good start and write a blog (resolution = write more blogs).

First off a Happy New Year to everyone and fair winds, calm seas and sunshine to you all.

We hope this year will be a goodd one for Emerald and crew as we plan to head off across Biscay later in the year, aiming for southern Spain or Portugal for next winter.

Before then we have a few jobs to do so we''ll be cracking on with them tomorrow. These include:
Hard dodger
Replace leaking water tanks under galley floor
Remove two seacocks (we've replaced the deck drains with scuppers so don't need the seacocks anymore and the less holes in the hull the better)
Paint hull

In 2012 we got a lot done:
Replaced Genoa tracks
Removed and rebedded all deck fittings and stantions
Removed deck drains and made scuppers for water drainage instead
Installed new batteries and rebuilt the storage area in the tunnel so that the batteries are securely held but can be easily maintained (batteries are wet lead acid type)
Insulated under the aft bed and rebuilt the bed base
Ripped out aft head and installed a compact washing machine and built storage in the space instead
Repair starboard fuel tank
Build and install prop alternator
and many more little jobs!

Happy New Year!

Colin and Nichola x

2011\12: Winter jobs at Brandy Hole
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Who: Colin 'Skip' Wright, Nichola Wright
Port: No fixed abode
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