Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Sailing, and breaking, boats.

My apologies for not posting at the weekend. The computer has been playing up and although I've got it running again, I'm using and old browser and have lost loads of settings.

But back to some lovely sunshine over the Easter Weekend. On good Friday Stuart gave me a hand and we soon had the mast up on the Heron. We celebrated with a barbecue on the yacht Seline. 

The diverter on the furler wasn't sitting straight but I wasn't too worried as I was sure it would slide into place once the foresail was bent on. I should have got on with sorting the sails and boom but cracking breeze got up in the afternoon and the Seline was ready, so we went sailing.


Out from the harbour and with three of us on board we quickly switched off the engine and sailed out between the rocks.

The sun was bright on the water and the easterly wind had us pushing the boat over on to her rails with a fastest recorded speed of 6.8 knots. If we had put a bit of effort into sail trim and a couple of tweaks on the rigging, I'm sure we could have gone faster.

But whats the point in trying to get the journey over as quickly as you can when you are enjoying it so much?
Whilst we were out we heard a Mayday call from just outside Dunbar harbour. We contacted the Coastguard to notify them that we were in the area (probably about four miles away) and were asked to proceed with best speed. It turned out that a visiting Anstruther motorboat had lost all power and was afraid of being washed onto the rocks. He had put out an anchor and was quickly towed to safety by the RNLI inshore boat. All the excitement was over by the time the Seline sailed back in.

On Sunday I finally got around to fitting the sails. Remember I mentioned the diverter that I thought would be ok? Well it wasn't and as I furled the sail there was a bang from the top of the mast and the halyard came tumbling down.

'Oh dear' I said, or something similar. Worse was to come, I climbed up onto the pier and took a picture of the top of the mast with the full extent of the zoom.

The forestay has twisted and there was no option but to undo all the weekend's work and take the mast down. I've ordered up a new forestay and a couple of lengths of new line, so hopefully I can get it all rebuilt next weekend. Despite all, it was still a great weekend.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Heron is back in the water

The Mighty Heron is back in the water. Yesterday the wind was forecast to gust around 35mph but seemed a lot stronger. This morning didn't look too good either but an availability of helpful friends and we went for it.

I've got a cheek to call that collection of box section and weld a trailer but it does the job. Fellow Alacrity 19 owners may notice that the rudder on the Heron is shorter than usual. That's the way it was when I bought it and it seems quite balanced under sail.

The Heron bobbed it's way down the slip happily wagging it's tail at the prospect of returning to the water. Or of course it could be that the draw bar is too long and starts a weave on the cobbled slip.

The ratchet ties were oiled to make sure they undid easily, rudder and tiller attached, some fenders out, long lines on deck and Stuart holding a the wee ladder to make getting aboard so much easier.

I had fueled up the outboard yesterday to make sure it was running and it fired up again today second pull. Then it was a couple of minutes letting it warm up and then off through the bridge into the blast of the westerly wind. I had to put new risers on my mooring chains this year after the originals mysteriously disappeared, but hadn't left enough for a messenger between the floats. Embarrassingly, I missed picking up the mooring in the strong wind. A quick decision not to even try to turn or drift back, so on I went around the harbour again and picked up the mooring second time.

The wind was really starting to build and was gusting over 40mph so I was quite happy to cadge a lift off an inflatable boat that just happened to be passing by.
The Heron safely on the mooring and it was time to get ashore for a celebratory beer. Here's hoping for sunshine and fair winds.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A bike, a boat, a busy weekend.

This weekend I have had to crack on with getting the Mighty Heron ready for launch. Most of the Dunbar yachts will be craned in on Friday the 11th but I can't get that day off work due to Good Friday falling a week later. The Heron doesn't need a crane to launch as I built a trailer for it a couple of years ago. Amazingly, my welds are still holding.

After taking Fly out for a morning wander, I grabbed a coffee then jumped on the long haul trucker to nip to the shops then head down to the harbour to get started in a chill grey dawn. That's quality green antifoul this year. It was free as no-one else would paint it on their superstitious boats.  I'll take the risk!

First thing I had to get sorted was the electrics for the boat. When I bought the Heron seven years ago, there were no electrics at all; which is no bad thing on a wee boat. All I had was the atmospheric glow of a paraffin lamp and a small gas stove.  I sort of miss the simplicity, but times have changed, and like many others, I have the Navionics chart plotter app on my mobile phone. Also led technology has moved on leaps and bounds and cabin lights now only draw micro watts and can still provide a warm glow.

So out with the soldering iron, a lot of fiddly wee bits of wire and a lot of patience and I built a new switch board.

After much cursing I got every thing fitted and reconnected the battery. Amazingly it was still showing over 80% charge. The little solar panel seems to have worked well over the winter and kept things ticking along nicely. I'll take the battery off the boat and put it onto an intelligent charger this week.

Damp around the port lights has got to the burgees. If you own a wee boat, this is the sort of thing you get used to.

The new switch panel all painted shiny white with everything working. The wee Heron is getting all sophisticated this season.

Meanwhile, Stuart and Ross had got a lift over to Anstruther on Friday and sailed the Seline (Pegasus 700) back in a fast passage of less than three hours this morning. Unfortunately they didn't have a tender with them so guess who got a call to row out and provide the taxi ashore?

It was great to be on-board a boat again and it's good to see a yacht in the harbour. Hopefully the Heron will be joining the Seline next weekend.