Full throttle

After a Saturday doing chores, and a Skype call about a website with a fellow Self Publishing School student, I made it to the boat on Sunday. Not so peaceful – there were speedboat races on. The proper professional kind, that sound like racing motorbikes!

The engine cover supports were not yet ready (need another coat of paint). This is my first time using water-based paint for outdoor stuff – really good paint! It’s undercoat and paint in one, just the right consistency for my painting technique, and brush cleanup is a doddle – soap and water! It claims to stick to plastic too, so I’m going to try it in the bilges (if I can find the German version of sugar soap to clean them up). If that works, I’ll think about using it on the decks (where it’s not non-slip).

My mission was to take the 10m of chain to attach as a leader to the anchor warp, in preparation for my overnight anchoring experience. I got the chain there, but the anchor shackle was too big to go through it – so I’ve ordered another. I’ll splice the rope to the chain – easy enough to do and neater.

Other vital mission was to measure the wire part of the main halyard for a replacement. It was destroyed by the welder, who came in the week to weld the crack. I’ll have to ask if I should still drill a hole at the end of the weld… The big bolt that holds the masthead fitting on is missing – I’ll ask about that too! Or just get a new one. I am replacing the Allen screws on the jib fitting as well, so I need to go bolt shopping! Also considering new running rigging for the topping lift (to make it actually run through the sheave and hence be operated from the mast) since I’ll be buying a new halyard rope anyway. Must also lubricate the sheaves! Stop the infernal squeaking.

I also established that the solar panel is dead – shame, it’s a huge Sunware one, and was one of the selling points of the boat for me. I balked at direct replacement, as the price is so high compared to the worth of the boat. I’ve ordered a cheap 40W flexible panel – should do to keep the battery charged up. I can plug the holes for the old one and go for direct deck fitting (must buy more sikaflex-subsitute!) and stop a possible leak source (had a few drops this year, have cured with sealant, but still…). Hmm, planning-wise, I should also paint the hatch cover.

I left the plug end for the nice compact trickle charger at home, so I used the big evil one that came with the boat to take it back up to 13V. Much healthier.

I seem willing to spend a *bit* of money on this boat, but I’m not going top-notch on the gear – it’s not THE boat, so most of it is aimed at workable solutions and being in condition for resale. There’s a chance I’ll do some extended sailing on her, though, so it makes sense to have everything working. The next big expense will be a trailer for the winter and maybe for transport – I’ll have to see.

I managed to get the stowable table mostly assembled, but failed completion due to lack of the right size screws – definitely thought I had more. Oh well, trip to OBI in the week (if I can squeeze it in).

I hope the rigging comes back this week so I can get the rig back up at this weekend or next – I’d like to get back sailing before we all have to come out of the water at the end of October. I wish it wasn’t so, but it does freeze round here, so I have no choice!


Große Krampe

Saturday, before the kids started with the dinghy racing, I escaped and I took a solo sailing trip to Große Krampe. Really not enough wind, so I motored most of the way, having walked to the garage to pick up more fuel. I’ve now used up all the 2 stroke oil that I have on the boat, so I’ll need to dip into my “lifetime supply” that I got as a bargain in the garden centre. I think it’s 5 litres. Or it could be 10. You get the idea. Lots, given I need 100ml per 10l petrol.

After going all the way up to Müggelheim (no places to ashore, just private landings, people’s back gardens and a couple of sailing clubs), it was time for anchoring, lunch and naked swimming! 🙂 Everything that sailing should, at some point, be about. Magic.

After some time, and swinging round the anchor a bit, I notice a “no anchoring” sign hidden behind a tree! Really impossible to see from the direction I came in from. A wee bit further on is fine though, so, thinks I, just move and chill some more. Then I discover I’ve got a huge problem. The pull cord to start the motor is stuck, and I can’t get the top off the motor to try to fix it. Fuckity fuckity fuck. My outboard is mounted inboard, in a well, and the well has a footplate that is half way up the shaft so it can’t even be removed easily. Access at the rear is only a small gap. It puts the motor in front of the rudder – supposedly A Good Thing – but nonetheless, with no hand on the tiller, or the tiller locked off, the boat goes round in a broad anticlockwise circle. Not too not useful when you are, oh, just for example, trying to get the sails down (I’ve lost 2 bungee loops), or the fenders in/out (lost one). I can move very very fast, but still … hairy. The motor is on straight, just a prop wash thing, I guess…

Anyway, after unscrewing the “heads” mirror and using that to see and work out the outboard casing catch, I can at least look at the problem. Removing the round bit in which the starter cord lives, I found that a small steel rod was loose. I eventually worked out, (after 10 mins fiddling, and after testing it was not to do with the forward and reverse gears) that when attached, it is a lock that means you can’t pull the cord unless the engine is in exactly in neutral. So, reattach the rod, and all is good once more.

In the end, it was not at all a negative experience. There was next to zero wind, but no danger (I have a paddle) and I was happy to have had the opportunity to learn more about outboards (I know *engines* but, until now, nothing about outboard starter gear or props) and proud of myself for logically working out out (though gods know my logic abilities get enough of a daily workout in my job).

So, that meant I could move from there before the rain. But that got me just before I got back to the sailing club! I’ll go back there again, though, and anchor NOT right next to the sign. There’s a tiny beach. 🙂

Sunday Grumpy Sunday

What’s the point of a transport app, the official transport app of the BVG, mind, if it doesn’t tell you about disruptions? Or the tram driver suddenly announcing “we aren’t going to Köpenick” just before the last stop to get off and take a bus that only goes every 20 minutes, but not even telling you that, or where the damned tram IS going? Got off 3 stops later and walked back to Schöneweide, in the rain. At least I got to pee behind a bush. I’m only on the tram because the trains are fucked (l for the last month, and God knows how long).

I needed to go to the boat to pick up my jacket, boots and harness to take to England on Thursday for the Round The Island race, which I’m doing with some ex clubmates on their 28 fter. And to dispose of the probably mouldy peaches I forgot to bring back with me last week….

Finally got to the sailing club after close to 2 hours in transit. Could almost have made the coast in that! Of course the jobs I want to do are outdoor jobs that need it to be dry, and to stay dry whilst things dry. I did take advantage of a half hour window to slap some clear lacquer on the hole in the solar panel membrane. Actually it was nail varnish top coat, tough as all hell, totally clear and in a handy small bottle with brush. Various forms of outdoor clear tape have not been 100% successful.

I have also had to take a lot of water out of one cockpit locker – the drain pipe seems to be partly blocked :-(. Can’t get the damned pipe off the fitting to try to clear it, and can’t resign myself to rigging the tarp over the cockpit to help stop the rain getting that far. I wonder how much use a plunger would be… Or skooshing water under pressure through it? I hate leaking lockers, and they always do, somehow. I need to butch up and install a bilge pump with two pipes – one in each locker because though they link round the stern, the low point is at the for’ard end. Then at least I could get the water out fast. I’m still thinking like a sea sailor here, we don’t get waves over the deck or stern in the river, not even with the most inconsiderately fast, big-wash-making powerboats! Though my wee boat copes fine with the waves we do get, bobbing nicely round it rather than slamming, so one good point for performing above expectations!

But it won’t stop raining! I can’t get any of my top priority jobs done. (Properly seal the hole in the solar panel covering, attach wood plate to stern cockpit coaming, so I can hinge and secure the engine cover box – and cut a hole to give access to the starter pull cord, something that will let me sit on the box more securely, and start the engine quicker, if necessary). Small indoor jobs need power tools and something to hold the wood. I keep forgetting the things I don’t have any more. 😦 I used to have a folding workbench and tons of clamps…

I’m torn on how much work to do on this boat. She’s not really a sea boat. I could beef a few things up so she might be OK in moderate weather and moderate waves – if we ever get to the sea. I’m not sure what will leak or fail in anything heavier, or how foolish it would be to find out.

The decks need painting. The roller furling needs either mended, or replaced with roller reefing, or a stay and a large hanked jib with at least one reef. The rub rail needs sorted or removed entirely. I need to build a new anchor locker cover as the old one is delaminating. All the “outside” bilges need painted, the fuel tank platform needs to be secured, the camping cooker needs to be fixed down. Even then, I’m not 100% sure on the deck / house GRP – it’s 46 years old, there are a few possible osmosis bubbles, and I know the hull was epoxied because it needed it. I need a Rocna anchor and some chain. I need to build some fiddles inside. The portapotti toilet needs probably replaced as the last time I picked it up to empty it, it leaked (yuck!). It certainly needs fixed down. I need to finish the 12V/USB socket panel, fix down the inverter, secure the mains battery charger and find a tidy secure solution for the shore power line. I need to finish the small stowable table.

I’ve deprioritised almost all of that in favour of actually sailing. After 2 years with the old boat, 100% work, 0% sailing, I figured I deserved it. And it’s been good, I’ve been pretty ok at sailing on my own, quite enjoy it, which was a surprise. But now, after last week’s incident, I can’t sail until I get the ICC conversion of my license through from the RYA !! Thankfully the logon for the online CEVNI (inland waterways rules) test that I need to sit in order to get the ICC came through today, so I can do that later, and hopefully have documentation that the Water Police here recognise before the weekend after next.

The sailing area is not big enough for me here, I need more adventure, I need somewhere to go. But it will do to practice, whilst I decide what really happens next.

At least the peaches were ok, no smell, no ooze – and 2 or 3 even still edible. It’s the small things…

All the posts I didn’t write

I could write about my encounter with the Wasserschutzpolizei, a wherein I gain lasting fame as the only sailing boat to collide with another in the Seddinsee 25 years (at least that the police came out to). A tale of bureaucracy, neglected licence additions, and the crazy fact that I am (until I get this piece in place) allowed to motor but not sail, despite that the only missing part is a theory test on the signs and sounds used in inland waterways – which one also needs to know when motoring.

I could amuse you with the sailing club trip to see the fireworks, and our impromptu jam session afterwards, where I played a nice acoustic, sang, and vowed to practice playing more, as that’s at least one reason to do so.

I could tell you of the mid-trial-period meeting with the management, where I’m strongly encouraged to talk to my colleagues more – but not loudly, and to let them finish sentences. The management have evidently never met my family!

I could baffle you with my adventures with the 3rd party grid control we use, or even write up my solutions on some far geekier forum for the education and entertainment of future generations.

I could let you know that I’ve spoken to some legal people about a financial affair that’s lost its glamour, and got an estimate to find out if I’ve got a case, or if I’m just gonna have to use my own low cunning and persuasive skills to bring it to successful closure.

I could let you know that I ditched the raw eating at day 20, because the insane hunger was back, and if there were going to be any mental health benefits, the opinion amongst fellow-experimenters was that they’d have shown up by now, and sticking to some mildly tedious task is something my working life, gym life and musical life have already given me plenty of practice at.

I could tell you about the mild floor flooding in the band room, the gig in Hamburg where we survived the Berlin Friday traffic jam, performed well to a modest audience, gained some nice praise, had some excellent photos taken by a new acquaintance and enjoyed an excellent proper meal at 1:30am.

I could tell you about my new Business German evening class – found, booked and started within 3 days of the idea being mentioned in conversation with my boss.

I could tell you (again) how nothing feels like anything, then add “except a few tears the other day, and the constant mild stress-ball round my solar plexus”. No excitement. No disasters. Just things going right, things going wrong, and me getting on with it all, wanting there to be a dream to work towards, but not knowing what that might be.



So… I’ve been saving this one. Longer than I expected to…. Once upon a time, or about 6 weeks ago, I found myself succumbing to a bit of Friday afternoon internet surfing, a little down about how long the work on my apartment in Berlin was taking. I spotted a bargain. A project. A boat. In Wales! I know, I know, I’ve only just (finally) sold a boat, but I’ve been vaguely on the lookout since way before then, since last year, for my one-person, shallow draft, small adventures boat. I needed strongly to be doing something. Something physical, manual, something with the flavour of escape. I don’t want to be like this, life would be simpler is I was happy idle, but I am not. I’m addicted to learning, to doing things that I have no idea how to do when I start, to achievement, to that sense of satisfaction of a job well done.

I don’t know if I will hive off the boat work to a separate journal – that would make sense, but also run the risk of me getting lost down the rabbithole of alternative blogging platforms, or writing/hosting my own and all sorts of other distractions. Which would also be learning new things, useful things… you see my issue? Maybe just another WordPress site. But I have to decide soon, or I will lose the momentum. Having to sit on this for a few weeks longer than I thought hasn’t helped.

But yeah – meet Ho-Ro – a sweet boat in need of a little (lot) of love. She’s a Trident 24, a couple of years older than me. Her name has musical connections, being something in a pre-sheet-music system of mnemonics for remembering bagpipe tunes. I bought her from a Welsh guy called Peter, who is a professional bassoonist (his wife, also pro, plays viola). Feels Meant.

I stood on her deck, in carpark under a flyover in Swansea and thought – “Yeah, this is right”. Love’s never logical.


Don’t miss the Boat

Molly on the North Sea


The boat is not selling. And now the money-grubbing boatyard tardily inform me that it costs £x.silly/day to store the mast on trestles rather than in the boat. Works out to almost 1/3 what it costs for the whole boat. Given it’s high summer and they aren’t exactly pushed for space, it seems ridiculous. It also seems ridiculous that they didn’t inform the co-owner when he was there a few weeks ago, and could easily have organised to have it put back in. I suppose the varnish wouldn’t have fully dried though… Maintenance chores on a boat you DO sail are bad enough. Ones on a boat you don’t seem monstrously unfair. I don’t know if it’s worse being the one left in the same country or the one flying over to do the painting (as the co-owner did). The plan was we’d pay someone to do it – but we really never thought it’d be an issue. Now, not only is she not selling, it seems impossible (in general) to get hold of the workman we thought would do it.

Having run the numbers in my head it would be > 5(7?) years before cutting all losses and just giving her away would be economically sensible. But …

Need. Her. Gone.

Oh, I’ll only buy another one, some point down the line – but that will be one I can sail on my own. I physically can’t with this one, never mind mentally or emotionally. On a one-person boat which I DO sail, the chores will seem less obnoxious. I hope.

Had a good past few days, but now I am hot, tired and fed up. Seem to be going nowhere.

[If anyone reading this is interested in buying a 28 ft gaff cutter, or knows anyone who is, please visit the webpage (http://www.mollyoxford.com/) and use the contact details there. Thanks.]