25 May 2016 | Sainte Marine
23 May 2016 | L'Aber Wrach
21 May 2016 | Port Pendennis
05 April 2016 | Northwood
28 January 2016 | Hemel Hempstead
17 December 2015 | Boxmoor
01 September 2015 | East Coast
01 June 2015 | Ostend/North Sea
31 March 2015 | Leverstock Green
23 February 2015 | Leverstock Green
13 January 2015 | Leverstock Green
14 October 2014 | Leverstock Green
19 September 2014 | Leverstock Green
15 September 2014 | Levington, River Orwell
11 December 2009 | Ipswich
Another month, another trip up to Ipswich. The last one 'in limbo'. White smoke - at last.
We've got a deal. 'Alea iacta est' as Ceasar said when he crossed the Rubicon. There's no turning back now. Job accepted (apart from the rigging) and contract signed. Work to start 'soon'. Target is Easter-ish and boat to be re-launched not later than May 1st. Good, the old girl is in desperate need of some attention and TLC.
Guapa looked forgotten, neglected and un-cared for. Nothing much has happened since she was 'dumped' at Fox's way back in August. We had other, more pressing, things on our mind back then. And striking a deal by e-mail and phone is not easy.
Anyway, that's all set to change now. From what I gather work's about to start in the very near future. And we've left ample time to get the job done. (Where have I heard that before?) Anyway, here's hoping a professional boatyard of some repute will manage to deliver on time and on spec - something a one-man-band did not quite manage last year.
It was with some pain in my heart that I went on board. Down below Guapa looked abandoned (a bomb site) and damp and smelly to boot. Brought some clothing back with mildew on - euch. Everything ready for the mast to be stepped and the rigging taken down. Get going people. Another four months to put on fast forward.
The final stretch now - it's got to be. At times I find it so very hard to remain upbeat about the boat. She's cost so much, and we've had very little in return. Sometimes I find myself hating the boat, and all she's done to us. All the sacrifices we've made (and still make). To the exclusion of everything else. For what? For a dream. It's bloody expensive having dreams.
Like the kids often remind me: if it wasn't for the boat we'd be well off. But we do have a boat and we aren't.
This has got to be the last year of penny-pinching and living like misers. Next year's got to be the year we go sailing again. Next year's got to be the year we start having fun again. Next year's got to be the year we start doing what we bought her for: long distance cruising. Next year's got to be THE year. Our year.
11 November 2009 | Ipswich
Last year's winter project overran massively. In every way: money, time and even scope of the job. Once bitten, twice shy. Never again.
With this in mind, I want to cross every - t - and dot every - i - before I commit to anything. I have sort of settled on Fox's to carry out the work. When it comes to quality of work they enjoy a very good reputation. However, I've been warned about their billing practices. 'Unforeseen' items in particular.
Not something I'm looking forward to or am willing to put up with. I want to know how much it's going to be before I commit. What's in the quote is what I'm paying - not a penny more.
The last - revised - quote still left a number of substantial loopholes. I appreciate that they need to make a living too, but the boat's been at Fox's for these past three months now. Ample time for them to crawl all over her and look at everything. Ample time to foresee any unforeseen items.
Whilst I have no reason to question their goodwill, I'm feeling somewhat frustrated. It feels like I'm trying to nail jelly to the wall.
Hopefully more and better news soon.
07 November 2009 | River Orwell
A week off work - things don't get much better than this. Wrong; the do, when you're going sailing.
After dropping plenty of hints and some minor bribing/blackmail I had been offered a sail by the world's poorest Oyster owner. The fist time afloat in over three months - a sail was well overdue.
Nothing existing was planned - Landguard and back. Time and weather did not allow for much more.
We did our bit for Trinity House - verified the position of Landguard north cardinal. It's still in the same place they left it.
The genoa on an Oyster 37 proved to be HUGE. Imagine my surprise when I found a great big container ship hiding behind it. I am happy to report that its ship's horn worked just fine. But this little episode may have played havoc with the skipper's blood pressure and heartbeat. The man needs to chill.
A boat owner who actively encourages alcohol consumption while sailing and does not carry life jackets. There ought to be a law against it! Or maybe not.
The weather turned out to be just fine - never more than 10-12kts apparent - sunny blue skies. I knew we were going to be fine as soon as the Met Office had issued a gale warning.
All in all: a most pleasurable way to spend a Saturday afternoon. A nice reminder of what it can be like on the water.
24 October 2009 | Dunstable
Short and sweet - there she is: 'Steps'. Hopefully she'll prove to be a fine addition to the Guapa crew. She's a Brittany spaniel - 7 weeks old when she moved in.
These past few weeks we've been treated to her own, very special brand of puppy mayhem. It's like having another baby in the house. She kept us up at night, pee and poo in the most surprising places and last but not least: everything makes a good chew toy.
Three weeks down the line, she's more or less settled in. She sleeps to the night and she seems to have figured out that when she does her business outside she gets a treat, whilst doing the same in the house earns her a stiff talking to and some time in the kennel (which she does not enjoy one bit).
I sometimes catch myself calling her 'Fleur' (the name of our previous Brittany), and whilst not forgotten (or replaced) it's nice to have a dog around the house again.
The rules (as established by Steps)
1. If I like it, it's mine
2. If it's in my mouth, it's mine
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine
4. If you are playing with it and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
5. If I've chewed it, slobbered over it and I'm bored with it, it's yours - until I want it back.
The season that never was
10 October 2009 | Ipswich
In 2009 we sailed a grand total of five days. Not exactly what any of us had expected, let alone hoped for.
My 44th birthday marked the end of our sailing year. We took down Guapa's sails, took the boom down and disconnected the mast electronics. She was also de-stored for winter. We took home what we could, but as the new house as quite a bit smaller than the old one, we had to leave some items we normally remove.
And that was pretty much it. Not much to add.
Spoke to Fox's yard foreman again regarding the work required and the quote/Schedule/etc...
I really hope this will be the last winter we have to spend in a boatyard. I want to go sailing. Spending my time arguing and bartering about costs and procedures for repairs and upgrades is not my idea of heaven.
Still, it's all going to be worth it in the end. If I keep saying this to myself often enough, I might even start to believe it.
27 September 2009 | Bristol
Long time followers of this blog may recall that our Brittany Spaniel 'Fleur' died a while ago. She'd been part of our family for over a decade and left avoid when she passed away. A void we now want to fill. Without a four footed companion, the family seems incomplete.
Brittany kennels are few and far between, but by the end of last month I had tracked down a litter due early September. Contact made, and to cut a long story short - we drove to Bristol on Saturday for a look. Love at first sight and in a few weeks we'll have ourselves a puppy.
One of my regrets is that by the time we had a boat big enough to take the dog sailing, Fleur was too old and too set in her ways to come along. We tried it once and she did not enjoy it one bit. This restricted our weekend sailing to day sailing as we had to return every night for the dog.
A 'mistake' I'm not going to repeat this time round. Next Spring the puppy's coming along - hopefully she'll feel at ease and we'll be able to welcome 'Steps' to the crew.
It's going to be fun (fingers crossed).
19 September 2009 | Southampton/Ipswich
It's been quiet on here - too quiet. Lots happening behind the scenes. The way ahead's been laid out.
First off: heard from the insurance. The damage to hull, keel, prop shaft and rudder is covered. A great relief. Had it not been, it might very well have pushed us over the edge and postponed the whole project by at least a year. GJW - way to go. Very pleased, especially when you consider the only reason I went with them was because they were cheap. They really come through for you when you need them.
Family day out to Southampton Boat Show. Lots of work required, so I was anxious to cut as many deals as possible in one go. The Boat Show was the obvious place to do it.
Fox's quote to Coppercoat and Awlgrip the hull was quite competitive, so I did not hesitate to award them the job. Propulsion was a more competitive business. Yanmar prices (my first choice given previous boat experience) are out of our league now. Vetus and Sole proved 'not cheap' too - Volvo is out of the question. That left Beta and Nanni - both Kuboto based, both at a price we could afford. Talked to quite a few Beta and Nanni owners, and I decide to go for the Nanni... provided they can beat Beta's price. More on this hopefully soon.
I want a feathering prop too - in light winds Guapa's not that fast and the extra drag of our fixed prop means we motor more than I'd like. First choice was a MaxProp - proven but at a price. So when we came across a similar, but 30% cheaper, alternative I smiled. Consulted with Fox's - 'Yes, they fitted them to Oysters in the past' - another £700 saved. Our new prop's going to be a Darglow Featherstream. Looking forward to giving the world's poorest Oyster owner a run for his money.
Fox's rigging quote seemed to be a roundabout way of telling me 'go away, we're busy'. Nigel's (RigMagic) quote was a lot lower, and since he's been good to us in the past... Still, the last word on this his not been said yet. Fox's have said they would look at their figures again to see if they can match RigMagic. We'll see how it goes.
If and when we get new sails, they'll be Dolphin sails. Spoke to them once already and was impressed by the way they handled my enquiries. Kalik's not exactly a common brand so to a certain degree our sails have to be bespoke (one off). They're not the cheapest, but when it comes to sails I'm afraid there is such a thing as a 'false economy'. It's got to be just right and last years.
So, there we are - if they don't do anything silly, and submit a reasonable and realistic quote Fox's will have secured the whole lot for themselves (maybe even the rigging). Looking forward to next year. Things can only get better.
30 August 2009 | Dunstable
Moved house - finally. After a week of living in boxes, we're more or less done. Spent most of the week taking furniture apart and reassembling and, of course, a lot of shuttling to and fro - can't afford to pay movers at the moment. And then there's all the stuff that comes with it: utility providers, insurance, tax, phone & internet, etc... Not fun.
Tomorrow's the first day in a new job. I'll be commuting to Brussels on a weekly basis for the next year or so. Bit of a leap in the dark really - until last Thursday I didn't even know where exactly I had to be on Monday. Not the finest example of military planning/communication.
Not much has been happening on the boat front. Far too hectic to think about Guapa really. Not heard from the insurance company yet and the yard foreman's been away on holiday (back Monday). Will start chasing people once I'm settled in Brussels - hopefully by the end of the week. Very keen to get things moving; don't think I'd survive another year without much sailing.
Next boat related activity - provided the free tickets turn up - is a visit to Southampton Boat Show. Will be looking at new inboard engines. Though I've pretty much narrowed down the field to two, I want to look over the competition and see what other deals could be done.
It never stops.
18 August 2009 | Marchal / St Albans
Stuck in central France, a couple of hundred miles from the sea, does not mean we didn't manage to get some sailing in. Went dinghy sailing on nearby Trémouille lake.
After all these years, I was reminded how much fun it could be. The perfect weather for it: glorious sunshine and light to moderate winds. One of the kids always came along and one day we even hired two dinghies and had a boys against girls race. Boys won - and that's despite the girls cheating.
Guapa: got a quote from Fox's for the work I want doing. Some parts of the quote are very competitive, some are of the 'taking the piss' variety. To be discussed with the workshop manager when he returns in a week or so. Also got a quote for the engine/hull/rudder repairs - forwarded it to the insurance company. Waiting to hear from them.
Now focussing on moving house and starting a new job the week after next.
13 August 2009 | St Albans
Not even remotely boat related - we lost a family member today. Our 14 and a half year old Brittany Spaniel passed away last night.
Fleur had not been doing to well lately - at that age it is to be expected - so, she didn't join us on our escape to the sun. I felt the heat and 12 hour car journey would be too much for her.
Usual dog-sitter was available, so I thought it best to leave her in a familiar environment.
A couple of days ago we got a call that she hadn't eaten in 4 days. She does sometimes go on hunger strike when she's angry or thinks we've abandoned her. So I didn't think much of it. Then, last night, another call - she still refused to eat and her tongue had started to turn blue - an indication of heart trouble. Vet appointment arranged for first thing in the morning.
Alas, Fleur did not make it through the night. Passed away in her sleep, curled up in her sofa. Big blow to family morale.
Afterthoughts and regrets: 'we should have brought her along' being the principal one.
She never took to the boat - too old and too set in her ways by the time we got a boat big enough to take her along. Whilst not a Guapa crew member she was an integral part of our family.
Still get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes when I see her bowl, sofa, blanket, .... And it's not just me.
We may well get another dog in due time and I'll be taking her along on the boat as a pup.