Here we are, inside Saetta, trying to keep warm. Last week we had amazing days, but the last couple of days it has been wet and windy! But a bit of rain is a good thing, so we keep busy with inside jobs, like writing this entry!
So what happened last week? A few things were crossed off the to-do list. I think we are finally at a point that when we cross a to-do off we don’t add two more!
Last week we really wanted to go for a sail but instead, we took advantage of the nice weather to paint the dingy, which has been on the list for a long time. It took us so long because we were trying to sell it. The dinghy, although good, is old and unfoldable. This doesn’t seem like much but creates some problems on deck. As you can see on the photo, we lose all the forward deck and the access to the bow is severely disrupted. Anyway, we tried selling it to no avail, so we decided to make it work for us. Now that we were going to keep it, we needed to address some of the damage to the fabric (Hypalon). Glueing little patches seemed unpractical, so we thought to paint it, that way not only does it give the whole top section of the dinghy a new look it will also protect it all from UV. Done some research and Hypalon paint isn’t easy to get hold of, and when you do it seems to have very poor results. What’s best, a paint that will probably not last long, or patching the whole boat and probably have problem areas? We decided to continue with the painting solution. In the Netherlands, we couldn’t get hold of any paint. Then, thanks to Instagram, I found a shop in the UK that sells an American product “Inland marine topside paint for inflatable”, so we went for it. Now that we have everything, we just need a couple of sunny days. The time had arrived! We cleaned and degreased and masked the dinghy on day one, and on day two we opened our can of bright yellow paint and went crazy! The first coat looked horrible! The way the paint flows wasn’t nice, so you could see the streaks of the brush, and the grey was very strongly coming through. Too late to back down, might as well keep on going! After the third layer we admitted: it looks pretty cool! So now our dinghy is better protected from the sun and we are easily recognised!
Up the mast
Another job that needed good weather with not a lot of wind was going up the mast. An inspection would be nice, but more than anything we needed to refit the windvane for wind instruments.
We bought the “topclimber”, equipment that allows you to climb unassisted up the mast. This is done with 2 cars that run on a halyard, and you caterpillar walk all the way to the top. Miguel tried first, but only got about 6m up before chickening out. Too wobbly and no safety line made him feel too insecure. And he is not a big fan of heights, which didn’t help. Oh yeah, and also the last time he went up he fractured his ribs when he was slung off the mast and into the standing rigging. It all played a part! Anyway, Miguel is out, I’m in and quite excited too! Miguel made sure I was secure with a safety line he controlled, and I caterpillared up the mast with our mast climber. It is a nice workout, which is rewarded with a great view. I was wearing a GoPro to film the whole adventure, but after coming down we realised that the GoPro was in photo mode, instead of video mode. So I took a photo before I went up the mast, thinking I was turning the video on, and once when I was down again, thinking I was turning the video off. As Miguel says it: typical! And I have to admit, it is not the first time this happens to me and it probably won’t be the last.
When Miguel got Saetta, some of the fenders had covers although most in a poor state, so these were thrown away. It was only later that he understood why it important to have them. Even when in a marina, the fenders move with the wind, and scrape against the paint. And it is very noticeable! Fender covers can be very expensive! For 2 of the fenders, the cost of the cover was over 50eur each!! It’s nice to have covers, but come one! So we decided to make our own. The material might not be as good, but it’s better and good enough! So last Sunday I spent my day practising my sewing skills. I made covers for all fenders that did not have a cover yet. I haven’t had much practise sewing, but this project did not seem too complicated. With the help of some youtube videos of how to use the sewing machine and how to make covers, I was on my way! I also thought this would be a perfect time to practice my filming and editing skills. So I tried documenting the whole process but it can be such a pain!! Anyway, by the end of the day, I finished the covers and, I have to say, I am quite pleased with the results! Not all were done very well, but for a first try, they’re awesome! The movie is not too bad either! You can catch it in youtube or follow this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1qeLcQYoqQ
Without a doubt, the biggest job of the week was installing our Aries windvane. A windvane is a mechanical device that steers the boat automatically in relation to the wind. This system requires no electricity and will keep the boat going even if we’re sleeping (or making tea). We also have an electric autopilot that is a lot more comprehensive and capable (features wise). However this uses much power, it can be overpowered and disengage without warning. Those are situations you do not want to have! For a long time, we’ve been debating whether to have it or not, as it represents a significant financial investment. At the end this is a safety piece of kit, as well as normal use, so we had to get it. A great advantage of it is that it can be converted into an emergency rudder. It happens that a boat hits floating debris, such as tree trunks or containers. If this debris hit the rudder, it might snap it off, leaving the boat without a way to manoeuvre; we’d be left floating around. These times you’d have to make an emergency rudder in whatever way you can. The most usual way is to make it with a door and a spinnaker pole. However, you’re still left having to make a strong point on the boat where to pivot this rudder. The Aries, although not designed to be used as an emergency rudder, can be quickly retrofitted and be used as one. The loads on the equipment will be too great to be used continuously as a main rudder, but in an emergency it will hold. We cannot forget the loads on the transom (ie back) of the boat either. The Aries windvane (and the like) don’t usually put too much strain on the transom, but when used as an emergency or external rudder, it will. If you have issues with the rudder, the last thing you need is issues with the mast too! If it’s only in an emergency, the transom should hold, as it hasn’t been weakened. A very different condition to a windvane that is used as an external rudder.
Anyway, now we decided to get it, it’s time to install. Last Thursday I took off to have a drink with a former colleague of mine, while Miguel and Lean stayed aboard putting it together. By the time I got back, the windvane was installed, so there was time for me to enjoy a great afternoon with my sister, and do some laundry in the meantime. It was nice to socialise a bit. With the Corona measurements in place, we do keep to ourselves a lot, so the times that we do see someone are extra special now.
Miguel and I are feeling that all the work is catching up on us and it is time to take some time off. Which for me sounds like a weird thing to say: I don’t have a regular job anymore, so why take time off? But we have been very busy lately so taking a little break will be nice. We are planning to go out on Monday for a sail, stay somewhere overnight and come back on Tuesday. We hope we can shoot some nice footage to show you that owning a sailboat is not only hard work but also really relaxing and fun!