Monday, May 22, 2006

The Launch and Shakedown Sail

Written – 22nd May 06

The shakedown sail was a trip to Ramsgate since Felicity’s family live in Broadstairs and we planned a week there to say our goodbyes. My mum and dad have come along for the ride and the opportunity to meet the other half of the family for the first time (after 11 years!!). We set off from the river Hamble at 04:00 on the 16th May with no wind and motored all the way to Brighton under leaden skies.

The next day was a little better as we set-off for Ramsgate at 06:00. Some sunshine, and we actually had enough wind to turn the engine off for about 10 minutes. This trip is not what I would call anything like a shakedown however, we now know that the engine works for extended periods.

Galebound in Ramsgate

Having arrived with no wind, the forecast turned to gales. Felicity’s older brother (Stuart) works in Ramsgate marina and, next morning, found us the most sheltered spot courtesy of the usual occupant whose boat was not launched yet.

Mum & Dad On-route to Ramsgate (Cold!)

The week has been a full-on social event with more food and wine than we have consumed in a long time. Lunches out, dinner with Fliss’s mum (Val), drinks and nibbles with her aunt Meg and Uncle Ron and a night on the tiles with younger brother Ash, his friends, cousins etc etc….. All very nice thanks to their generosity and Val’s personal taxi service.

The gales of the Wednesday and Thursday abated just in time for the gales of Friday and Saturday to arrive. There has been a consistent set of low pressure systems forming out in the Atlantic and barrelling up the English channel. We were planning on leaving today (Monday 22nd) at 01:00 until we heard the updated weather forecast last night. It is now midday on Monday and blowing a Force 9 gale. Needless to say, we are staying put for the moment.

From Flika-Fliss-Floss…..

It has been lovely seeing my family and Pete’s mum and dad get on really well with my family and I have really enjoyed bringing the boat down.

On the day of arrival at Ramsgate I did feel totally overwhelmed by the moment and I do admit that a few tears were shed, sorry mum! Mum you have been a total superstar and I really appreciate the hospitality that you have shown to us all.

We had a big bash with around 12 of us hitting the nightlife of Broadstairs, eventually we left the youngsters partying at 1:30am and hired a taxi to take us back to the boat, chips on the sea front was a fitting end to boozy evening, luckily we both didn’t suffer to much the next morning.

So here we are still in Ramsgate waiting for a window to head back to the Hamble, it does feel like groundhog day as each day is the same weather. I am really going to miss everyone but I am looking forward to the big adventure ahead.

Not much more to add plus my washing is waiting to be put in the tumble dryer so good bye for now.

Written – 7th May 06

So far I haven’t added anything to this blog spot but it’s about time I represented a lady’s point of view.

It’s been my task to sort out the house thankfully it all went to plan but being a true female I hated chucking out my knee high boots and fancy designer skirts and tops. The hardest “chuck away” was my hairdryer, I know I’m shallow but I have learnt to live with it. Whilst shopping for new clothes to take away on the trip they had to go through the crumple test if there a was a remote crease then I couldn’t have them. I have probably bought far too much hair products as Pete has assured me that whilst on long passages I won’t need to wash my hair.

I did have some good news as Pete has bought a generator which he said should be able to run my travel hairdryer….

The day before the launch I ventured down with Pete and his dad and was stunned at the chaos inside the boat, but thankfully with a bit of man management (directing Pete) we now look like home.

Why does disaster strike when you really don’t need it? on the day of the launch (she was in the water at this time) I decided that I should go to Tesco’s to provision, we needed Champagne, very important, new duvet covers and duvets & of course dinner for the evening. I picked up the bits and parked in the marina when I spotted Pete’s dad, too busy chatting about his nightmare drive down that locked my car keys in the boot of my car along with the spare keys, I know stupid but we had just moved out the house. The AA arrived and it took 2 and half hours plus a call to VW asking how they could get into my car. They did say that next time they saw my name they would take an early lunch break. I did say to the AA man that he should be thankful, as he had learnt a new skill and he should treat it as a training day, you have to put a positive spin on it!

Life on Nadezhda is good our social life has never been this good as we have a regular stream of visitors wanting to wish us “bon voyage”.

Getting used to living in a small area is interesting and putting things back where they belong (not a core skill of mine) is proving a challenge but so far I’m really enjoying it.

Funny really as I thought I would really miss home comforts, baths, TV and all the bits you take for granted but so far I haven’t even thought about it and I really don’t miss the TV.

Nadezhda before launch

The Launch

Having managed to get the engineers to commit to getting the engine ready, I spoke to the person in charge of the boat-lift schedule who told me that there would be no available slot for a couple of weeks. This is the same jobs-worth that I had needed to deal with for the servicing and it took a mixture of pleading and brow-beating until he gave me Thursday 4th May as the launch date. I spoke to the guys who actually do the work and said that I would be down just after half-past seven in the morning if they wanted to get going early. Sure enough, as we arrived, the 65 Ton hoist was being manoeuvred into position above Nadezhda.

20 minutes later and the guys assisting the launch had her in the water, attached to their ‘Tug’ boat and towed to a nearby berth.

I rang the Gas Fitter who I had taken to calling each day. He was tetchy and accused me of calling him three times a day (not true) and said that he would call as soon as the required part arrived. This has been going on for nearly two weeks and I have little faith in the gas being connected soon – cold beans for breakfast it seems!

The electrician came and finished wiring the engine and we added to the chaos inside by unloading another two car-loads of stuff (essentials?) to growing pile that is sitting on top of all the homeless engine covers/panels. The engineers were working elsewhere and were unable to commission the engine until late in the afternoon. Just as well as it turned-out since the Gas-man unexpectedly called and said his fitter was on his way. So, at 16:00 we had no working engine or gas, and at 16:30 we were fully operational. Talk about leaving things to the last minute!!! At 17:00 we were gently motoring up and down the river Hamble listening to the sweet purr of our new Volvo engine.

The priority the next day was to re-fit all the panels that surround the engine so that we could get to the lockers inside and stow-away all the ‘stuff’. With a new engine and other bits, they no longer fitted but with a bit of judicious planning, sawing and rasping I managed to get a couple of millimetres clearance and the rest of the day was taken sorting things out and finding places for everything. I packed whilst Fliss documented where everything went so we might be able to find things again when we need them. Most of the gear is tools, spares, ropes and safety gear…how people manage on smaller boats I cannot imagine!

So we are here. Home is now Nadezhda.

After a gruelling and stressful final month of preparations we are about as ready as we will ever be. Time to slow-down and hopefully being to reap the pleasures that we have worked so hard for.


So. The good, the bad and the ugly of re-fitting…..The best and the worst.

Number one best and most diligent worker award goes to my Father who has fabricated a new Navigation station, done wiring and plumbing work, re-made the engine control-panel enclosure, climbed unsteady ladders, squeezed into unnaturally small and inconvenient spaces and suffered the aches and pains the following morning. Without him and my long-suffering mother, we would not be where we are now. I apologise for my occasional stress induced terse behaviour!

Number two award must go to Roger the ‘Iron-Man’. He delivered exactly on-time having worked through the most unpleasant and adverse conditions to deliver a perfect structure for wind and solar power that complements and enhances the look of the boat. All of his effort and attention to detail was done at a price that was so cheap that it deserved a serious tip.

The worst of the bunch were the managers at Moodys boatyard. Lack of communication and organisation meant that we never knew what was going-on. However, once Moodys were taken-over and the service personnel became self-employed, things started to happen and a good rapport was set-up. Thanks to Ray and Geoff the engineers as well as Andy the electrician for doing a sterling job with the engine fitting.

Best new kit is the engine. The old Perkins used to shake the entire boat and you couldn’t talk above the rattles and engine noise. Now Nadezhda purrs gently along without any vibration.

Second must be the D400 Wind generator that puts-out 5 amps in a light breeze and is, unlike many, almost silent in its operation.

And, of course, I must not forget Fliss who organised the rental and packing of the entire house and managed not to bite my head-off even when the two of us were at the end of our tethers!

Written – 1st May 06

The Wind Generator went onto its tall post without much trouble even though it is exceptionally heavy being made from a solid casting and the internals being pretty much solid copper. The solar panel is also on but neither are yet wired into the electric regulator and thereon to the batteries which they are designed to charge.

The aerial for the SSB radio is a long stringy bit of wire that needs to go as high as possible and therefore I decided to run it up the wire that goes from the back of the boat to the top of the mast so that the mast does not fall forward (the Backstay). However, the problem was getting it up there. The boat being still out of the water means that even deck level is a good 3.5 metres above the concrete and the aerial needed to go far up the backstay above this. I decided that a ladder could be place on the deck and leaned against the backstay wire and somehow secured and therefore handed a spare ladder up to my dad so that I could attempt the manoeuvre. By the time I got back on deck, dad was halfway up the ladder, tying it off and asking for the aerial wire. He was a complete nutter standing on the second to last rung whilst leaning against the single string of backstay for support – this is something that a person with vertigo (like myself) would never attempt but, thanks to him, the aerial is now fitted as high as anyone will ever get it.

The packing of the house continued with ever increasing stress as ‘stuff’ kept emerging from the deep recesses of the house. However, on the second to last day of leaving, we reckoned we had it beaten. The lounge and dining room have been repainted and the floors re-varnished, the rest of the house has been cleaned and touched-up and all of those jobs that you can put-up with yourself but cannot leave for tenants have now been fixed. Isn’t it amazing how you put-up with all sorts of issues in you own home when one day of effort will see them all completed?

We were due to leave the house on Friday the 28th April. On the Wednesday, Pete and Sandra from the other half of our Semi-Detached invited us around for drinks. We had been so busy and had run-down our supplies so much that we had not had the opportunity to eat anything all day. The baked potatoes in the oven were taking too long and I had an outstanding promise to set-up their new laptop with scanner and wireless Internet and so we gave dinner a miss. We joined them where they treated us to Champagne in the garden and we then retired inside for lashings of red wine whilst I configured the computer. Beware alcohol on an empty stomach. I was sitting on the nice beige carpet working with the laptop on the coffee table when the back of my hand caught my full red wine glass that was sitting on the carpet and thee result was a yard-long streak of crimson that soaked-in rapidly. Salt was liberally poured-on and then Fliss remembered that she had half a bottle of white wine in the fridge, lady luck must have been smiling as any one who knows Fliss knows that it is against her religion to leave a bottle half empty. This was also poured into the mess and amazingly leached the red out. We staggered out shortly afterwards with much apologising.

Anyway, on the previous day we had had a couple of beers at the local and ran into our other neighbour (Pete and Julie). I said “do you mind if we pop ‘round with a couple of beers on Thursday night to say goodbye?”. He said that 7 O’clock-ish would be good, so on Thursday…… Fliss told me adamantly that I must eat before we went out and she prepared lasagne and jacket potatoes (we still had loads of potatoes). The last morsels of gargantuan meal were coaxed into my distended belly and we grabbed the last of the tinnies and went next door. We were greeted by Julie who was wearing an apron. She told us that dinner was nearly ready and showed us the table that was beautifully laid with cloth, and cutlery for four people!!! Arrrrgh!!! We couldn’t lie because neither of us could have eaten another scrap and we suggested that we leave to let them eat and come back in half an hour or more. But they would have none of it and refused to let us go.

So, Pete & Sandra, Pete & Julie, if you read this, thanks for all your kindness and let us hope that your new neighbours are not so troublesome!!

The boat should have been back in the water before we moved out of the house. However, even though the engineers set-off with gusto, the effort waned until it came to a dead halt. However, I have asked them to prioritise and they have pulled the plug out and we have a launch date of Thursday (4th April). I reckon that they will meet the schedule. The real problem has been with the gas fitter. He passed-by a couple of weeks ago and said that he would connect the gas that afternoon. It didn’t matter because it does not seem like a big job and I didn’t chase him. So, when I started thinking that things were not happening, I went to the office to ask. They told me that he was made redundant a couple of days earlier and they no longer employed a gas fitter. I got the forwarding number and rang his new boss who gave me a date of the next Tuesday. I rang on the Monday (no answer) and the Tuesday (“Oh yes, he is on his way”), then on the Wednesday (no answer), the Thursday (“Will do it today”) and it is now Bank Holiday Monday and it still has not been done, and we are moving aboard on Thursday!! I feel another brusque telephone call on the way tomorrow morning.