Saturday 22 April 2023

New sails and Lift in April 2023

The week before Easter we collected "Susan J"'s new sails from SKB in Penryn.  The boat was facing the right way on the hard, and we were able to bend on the staysail and tried the jib, but not on the bowsprit until the boat building college residents had gone home.  The jib now has a torsion rope rather than wire and a set of tell tails.  The new, beige jib sheets lined up with the fixed, Tufnol" fairleads and all seemed well. 

The mainsail proved less so.  Instead of two, adjacent  small eyelets, for the new replacement robands with parrel beads, the sailmaker had made large eyelets for lacing - "standard on Heard 28's" - we had to remind them that - "no two Heard 28's are the same"!   More and more of the 91 small, original ash, parrel beads were splitting and have already been replaced, at some cost ,with a bag of 100 replacements, on new 5 m lines!  To be fair, SKB fixed this within 24 hours and we now have the option of lacing or, now one extra, eight in all, robands, which have always proved satisfactory in the past, especially when reefing.  

The new main sail has four battens, not three and an elegant "S j" rather than the simplistic gaffer tape "111" for a sail number.  The clew is now held down to the boom with double sided Velcro,  The spar lacing has reverted to spiral and is separate from the clew outhaul line.  being very stiff and unwieldy I had to temporarily extend the toping lift tackles.


We returned on the after Easter, with a blustery day for Julie to antifoul the propeller with Propshield, heated over a camping stove, polish the top sides, stow most of the remaining gear including the life raft, top off the water tanks and switch on the solar panels, in lieu of shore power.  Further rain on the Friday meant a wet morning launch in a strong, cold north easterly.  We set just the new staysail for the reach back to our mooring at Helford Pasasge.  A steady 4-5 knots meant we were back soon after lunch time and able to get ashore with the ferry, to launch our Anarth dinghy, with new wheels on it's trolley.


The next three days were ideal for stretching the new sails and Julie to have a kayak.  Initially the mainsail was disappointing, with the tack to gaff end crease persisting, despite repeated tightening of the outhauls.  However she was sailing well and off Manacles Buoy a gust of around 20 knots, seemed to sort it out as the pictures show.


We were delighted to find that the jib could be unfurled and furled with ease as the new "cage" on the lower Wickham Martin kept the furling line on the drum in all conditions.  Some adjustments to the staysail sheet cars was necessary.  After three shake down day sails to the Manacles, Gull Rock and on the Monday, St Mawes.  Where we followed the SS "Shieldhall", the largest remaining steam vessel built on the Clyde in 1952 and on the National Historic Ship Register, being welcomed by the Falmouth fire boat but no spray as there is still a hosepipe ban in Cornwall! We missed Roger, who had finished his painting but "Lizzy Dripping" is in fine fettle on her mooring.


"Susan J" has been moving at 4- 5  knots in as little as 7 knots of apparent wind.  While a  clean bottom and relatively flat sea undoubtedly helps, these "sasil" trails bode well for the forthcoming season. In the past we would give up if the wind dropped below F3 or 12 knots.  She also appears to point closer with an intact mainsail luff if we crack off to 45 degrees off the wind.  That was 60 degrees before!

The spray hood is about to have some repairs, requiring a final day trip, to include more fettling, next week.  Our remodelled new sail cover, commissioned 18 months ago, should be ready as well.

 As I write, it is just over two weeks before we sail to Plymouth to join the OGA60 Round Britain Cruise, then sailing clockwise to Ipswich.  Train tickets for the bank holiday after the Coronation, hair cuts and final dentist appointments are already booked.  Last minute stores, including a small bag for "Molly" the dog, who may join us in Kent but could be sent up at any time if she misbehaves, are being collated.  Hopefully there will be a few short sails, with some of the girls, between the bank holidays. 

Thursday 30 March 2023

Manacles Race and laying up. Winter jobs in preparation for Round Britain in 2023

 Following the Manacles Race at the end of September, where much weed, a supernumerary dog and a mislaid start, ensured no line honours, although we did finish and enjoyed an excellent meal at the Port Navas YC,we decided on a relatively early lift out in mid October. 


After catching the bowsprit tackle on a cleat as we left Falmouth Haven, after our last night aboard, "Susan J" was lifted out in the middle of October.  

As suspected, the zinc cone, replaced annually, from the propeller was missing.  I first noticed this in August, while swimming and cleaning the boot top and top 6" of red antifouling, a not unpleasant summer task given clement weather.  The other zincs were well depleted, after there planned two year deployment.  

Before replacing all the anode, with the somewhat larger one, now supplied by Darglow, using longer bolts, the propeller was thoroughly cleaned with screwdriver, wire wool and green scourer.  The grease was replenished and the slight play in the blades was no worse than usual.  the other anodes were replaced with new.

Julie rubbed down the antifouling.  Washed and checked the rubber dinghy and cleaned up the decks.  A day was spent de rigging the bowsprit and removing the broken wooden blocks.  The tackle rope was very worn anyway and I took one of the redundant foresail tensioning lines to the riggers for making rather longer than the original and equipping it with a suitable eye.  In February I discovered he had shortened it to the original's length, so I just ordered some traditional braid on braid with a soft eye, so  saving weight. I have found two redundant, refurbished 4" Colin Frake blocks of similar size.  One with double bronze sheaves will serve at the cranse iron and, with a single on the bobstay its self.  It will provide some additional purchase to bowse down the bowsprit before tensioning the jib, each time we sail.  David Carne, of Riggers UK, has made some lighter acetate sheaves, minimising the weight at the end of the bowsprit.  

The boathook and staysail pole chocks required re varnishing as did the taff rail and gas box.  I had used one pot International Compass, a polyurethane varnish and it had not stood up well to the sunlight.  I have stripped it off and used International Woodskin, instead, just  three coats, to preserve it's breathability.  Hopefully, this will be much easier to patch up, if necessary and has a pleasing tint.  I have replaced all 91 parrel beads in anticipation of a new mainsail.  


Another winter project has been to create a "cage" on the lower Wickham Martin furler. This is to try and prevent the furling line falling out when slack, off the wind in a seaway.  A short length of shock cord on a clam cleat to the furling line helped, but it would still fall off and prevent the furler working at the most awkward moments! I had read about it but saw it first hand on another yacht at Brixham Heritage Regatta. 


I did a few jobs down below, out of the rain in February and we returned for a more productive five days at the end of March.  Julie sorted the antifouling, while David de winterised and serviced the engine and filters, installed a BT Navtex receiver and cleaned up generally.  We both sorted the lockers, eliminating some redundant or out of date items and installing more for the imminent summer cruise around Britain.

Other innovations include a more effective man overboard ladder, with rigid, rather than fabric, steps.  A four man life raft, to be stowed under the cockpit seat.  Sufficient floating cushions so that the helmsman can see over the coach roof and dinghy, while seated with some back and leg support.  A small Danforth pattern kedge anchor, easily accessed from the lazarette, now utilising the 30 metres of nylon and 2 meters of chain, that we have been carrying around for 5 years!  We have retained the enormous but relatively light, Fortress anchor at the bottom of the forepeak locker, useless as a ready to deploy kedge but still a reserve for the CQR if we ever loose it.  We have deployed a box of bedpan liners and absorbent pads for use in lieu of a holding tank in marinas etc.

The biggest change will be the new sails.  SKB, of Penryn, condemned the working jib completely and the UV strip on the staysail.  The main sail has very baggy and, "would probably do another season or two if sailed gently"!  With our imminent plan to sail around Britain in 2023, we took the decision to let them build a new suit of sails and  a try sail as well.  As one gets older, it made sense to get this done and enjoy the benefits while we still can!

So with only three trips to the boat, including lay up and the weather remaining cold and wet, we rather hope that our lift in will be delayed until after Easter!  However, we could manage before if needed and the new sails are ready.

Tuesday 6 September 2022

The Fal with Lil and Molly - Late August 22


After a few days on the mooring and visiting friends staying at the flat. We decided to undertake the, previously planned, few days exploring the Fal.  We started by anchoring at Turnaware,  

Took the dinghy to the Trelissick pontoon and Julie walked the dog, while David repaired a leak in the dinghy pontoon and filled the collapsible water carriers at the convenient tap.   This was the first time we had used these and one leaked slightly.  We now have three 15L containers on board for future reference.


The next day we walked form Trelissick to Round Fort and had refreshments at the NT cafe. 

The following day it was clear that the easterlies were set in despite the glorious weather so we moved to the pool off St Just in Roseland.


From here, it was a short dinghy ashore for Julie and the dog and we walked to St Mawes to visit St Mawes Castle and Lamorran Gardens.  


Another day we caught the bus from St Just to St Mawes, the ferry to Place and then walked around the coast to Portscatho, ending with a delicious cream tea with Roger and Rosemary Teague (Heard 28 "Lizzy Dripping").

On the Wednesday, Lil was coming down by train, so we moved to anchor off Falmouth Haven, where Molly had her first experience of a marina, taking on diesel and water, never a tidy operation, waiting outside the showers and generally behaving well.  Molly was rewarded with a hot afternoon walk out to Pendennis Point before we were joined, just as we completed our ablutions, by Lil at the  Chain Locker..  We adjourned to The Front pub for a pint of local ale and fish and chips from the Harbour Lights.

The next day, was rather dull and little wind, so we sailed into Carrick Roads and then motored up the Truro River as far as Maggoty Bank, as Lil had never done that trip.  We returned on the tide and anchored at Turnaware point, where Lil and Julie could practice with the paddle board.  


The following day we sailed back to our mooring in theh Helford, in the rain.  It now being September, Molly could go ashore and to the flat, as the weahter became calm and sunny again.


Wednesday 24 August 2022

Mollie's shakedown cruise to the Iles of Scilly August 22

The summer of 2022 turned out to be perfect for local pottering with our new "boat dog".  Molly was acquired at 8weeks old in November 2021, from a local litter of eight cocker spaniels.  she seemed the least boisterous and hopefully would be small enough to lift aboard with ease. Plans to introduce her to sailing at a young age were partially scuppered, along with Falmouth Classics, by a retro orbital infection, fortunately dealt with in Bristol under her insurance. 


She eventually embarked with us, in August, for a gentle introductory cruise in local waters.  However the weather was so benign, that her first passage was around the Lizard to Mullion Cove for her first night aboard.  




This went well and after an early run on the cliffs, we raised the anchor and headed west across Mounts Bay, towards the Isles of Scilly.  


The wind remained favourable and we arrived at St. Agnes well before dark, to a very crowded anchorage.  By the time we had found a spot, with somewhat less scope than we wold have liked, Julie gave Molly a run ashore and it was dark with a brilliant full moon, while we dined aboard.


A long walk around Ghue was followed by a tidal sail through St Mary's Sound, to St. Helen's Pool, after finding the most sheltered spot from the gentle swell, the anchor was laid for five days of island hopping by dinghy. Teal the first evening, Round Island then, Tresco and the Gardens on day two, all followed by a swim.


On day three, "Nomad", the Shaws successor to "Susan J", was anchored at New Grimsby (we missed them at Tresco Gardens the previous day) and it is but  a short walk form Old Grimsby, where we landed the dinghy, across the Island to the New Inn where we enjoyed a pleasant breakfast with Mike and Dan and Dan's family. 


New Grimsby was as packed as St Agnes, as we had anticipated and a fair few Helford and Falmouth boats were at anchor, including two Luke Powell pilot cutters.  A long walk around the NW of the Island, included a thorough exploration of Cromwell's Castle, ended in a swim from the fine white sand, south of Old Grimsby, where Molly actually swam out of her depth!


The next day, with a slight mist but otherwise glorious sunshine, was spent on St Martin's, enjoying another swim and on our return to the dinghy we visited the Seven Stones Inn, where we chatted to Luke, Jo and "Pellew"'s crew. 

A last day at anchor and ashore, in perfect weather and light, before an early meal aboard. 


It took a while to raise the anchor after four days, there being considerable kelp wrapped around the chain from swinging in the tide.  We left the anchorage with plenty of light left for the pilotage out through Crow Sound and on towards the Lizard.  The night was frustrating, in as much as the wind was almost directly astern and some motoring was required in the calm patches.  Otherwise, an uneventful passage was completed, stopping at 09:00 off Coverack for Molly to have a run ashore, before a hearty breakfast and a sleep, returning to the Helford for a night near the entrance.  Before returning to our mooring in the rain.