Afloat and finally under sail

With the travel hoist booked, you would have thought the exercise to relaunch would be ‘plain sailing’, given all the time to prepare, but not so and the tale of woe continues…

Unfortunately, the six months ‘down time’ waiting for the lift onto the keel was not used productively by the retained engineer, despite my repeated reminders and being told that ‘it is all in hand’. How could it be a surprise that the sea cocks needed to be ‘worked’, the refurbished hydraulics needed to be tested, the keel pennant needed a new clamp, and the propeller needed to be fitted after its service and prop-speed treatment, all this following a last-minute realisation that the tanks should really be cleaned before re-installation and replacement bulkheads were required so they could be ‘glassed in’… You can imagine how frustrating it was to discover that all of these issues, had become last minute issues ! Somehow, the hydraulics didn’t function, and the propeller nut had been lost, (along with a box containing the prop-puller, spare prop anodes and spare rope cutter blades – wtf!) I also had to have a new pennant clamp and new ply bulkheads made – overnight!  Thankfully, I was able to get my company, Atom to drop everything and manufacture the necessary components. A replacement (special) propeller nut was sourced (at great effort and expense) and I found a company to drop everything to purge the diesel tanks. Hejira was finally, largely, back together and she was re-launched, the mast and rigging was installed and she was moved back onto her berth.

Having foregone the precaution of testing the water integrity of the keel bolts, it was a relief that there were no leaks, which was as expected given the excellent work that Chris Murch has done on the hull and keel.

Despite her immersion, there have been a lot of issues that needed (and still need) to be addressed and it has taken until now to be able to take a first, post refit, sail.

This is a full 18 months after the original lift for the refit! The extent of the work is outlined at the end of the ‘Modifications and improvements’ technical post. Suffice it to say that, if you were to take a casual glance at Hejira, you would probably not spot any difference in appearance, but it has all cost a ‘Kings ransom’!

So it was that Monday the 6th of November dawned bright and chilly with a fresh westerly breeze. I was joined by Richard Cracknell and John Coe (who were to have been my crew for the Covid aborted trans-Atlantic adventure) together with my old friend, Peter Morton who has apartments and his yacht, Cyclops, in the marina. He had very kindly ‘pulled some strings’ and miraculously secured a berth for Hejira on her Brexit necessitated, return from the Med, despite the closed waiting list!

Filling the tanks with Diesel
Ouch !

First job was to motor to the fuelling berth to fill the diesel tanks, so, £530 later, we were under way and seamlessly under sail.

Finally under sail
Finally under sail and enjoying a close reach.

Chris Murch, the GRP contractor who applied the Silic antifoul coating had been worried that while Hejira was sat on her berth, not going anywhere a ‘fur’ of fouling had built up He was hoping that it would just wash off when under way. Hejira sailed very well, touching 8 knots at times suggesting that the hull was clean and this was confirmed when we got back on our berth and the hull looked pristine.

While everything to do with the rig and sails worked perfectly, our attempt to anchor for lunch was thwarted by a seized windlass – another job. Perversely, the remote-control housing was also broken…

Imagine my frustration when, on our return, an inspection of the bilges showed them awash and with diesel in the starboard bilge. More investigation is required but the source of the diesel leak has, seemingly been found. One of the brass connections into the tank was loose so that, with a full tank, the connection leaked when heeled. Further inspection revealed that the thread into the HDPE tank was stripped – probably overtightened to align the spigot with the pipe, this would have been obvious and must have just been ignored…. Thankfully the female, HDPE, threaded boss is quite long and replacing the short reducer with a longer one should overcome the leak.

The shorter reducer on the right replaced with a longer thread which should tighten as necessary despite the stripped thread
The shorter reducer on the right is being replaced with a longer fitting which should tighten and seal as necessary despite the stripped thread.

Other irritations like a broken blind and a missing gasket on the engine control lever are all in hand but a malfunctioning inverter is potentially more serious.

So, after a splendid day on the water, having said a weary goodbye to the crew, I had to stay onboard to lift the saloon sole (not a simple job) to give access for the refrigeration engineer to re-address a malfunctioning AC unit. Both AC systems work to cool and heat depending on the requirement. Despite having been serviced and recharged in August, the master cabin system showed ‘low pressure’. The saloon system failed to work because of a seized sea cock (not identified before launch !!!) which will need replacing at the next haul-out. Thankfully, with the intention of heading north to colder climes next summer, there will be no need for cooling and the Eberspacher diesel heater, which ducts warm air throughout the yacht, should suffice for this winter and next season.

More shake down exercises will clearly be necessary before I can be confident that Hejira is ready for the planned extended cruise next year.

If any reader had previously been considering boat ownership, the accounts of the last 18 months will probably make them think again!

4 thoughts on “Afloat and finally under sail

Add yours

  1. Congratulations Nick a blessed relief no doubt to be back on the water. A true test of a Captain is being able to deal with the challenges of boat ownership on and off the water to achieve your sailing goals. There is no certificate for this but the knowledge and confidence it in-stills

  2. Nick
    Your last sentence maybe says it all but you have had many years of yachting and only 18 months of disasters you cant easily solve. I suspect ‘Atom marine division’ could be a lucrative overnight service for the super yacht market if you have the energy. I hope the diesel leak, smell and electricals are ok for this weekend’s sail
    best wishes
    john and Ali

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