Fitting Out

Since the boat's launch in May we have had the wettest June and July since records began with hundreds of square miles of the country inundated with floods. Fortunately, floods have not hindered me but the rain certainly has.

Every day I have had to go down to the boat and pump the rainwater out of the bilges because I do not have a self draining cockpit. In an otherwise tight and dry boat I had to pump out up to three inches of rain water in twenty four hours drained from the cockpit into the bilges, all because of a four week delay in delivery of the cockpit tent designed to keep the rain out.

Work still went on and all of the outstanding items to the electrics have been completed and all are up and running. I overcame the short inner shrouds which were incorrectly manufactured by attaching a length of chain to the chain plate and the bottle screws. This I covered with domestic 32mm plastic waste pipe. The ends were dipped in boiling water and squashed nearly flat. The bottom end to cover the outside of the chain plate and the top end to fit inside the belled end of the fitted shroud covers.

The berth cushions and curtains have been fitted and most of the crockery and cutlery is on board and apart from a full gas bottle on board is very nearly ready for cruising. The single line reefing to the first reef which leads back to the cockpit is fitted and works very well. I have had to modify the original kit as the block at the foot of the mast was of the stand up type and the lead angle to the deck organiser was far too high. An eye has been attached to the mast pad and an ordinary swivel block connected to it and works well. Having played around with the first reef during installation has given me some ideas for a simpler system to install for the second reef which I have yet to fit. The spinnaker attachments have been fitted although I have yet to purchase the sheets and a pair of snatch blocks. The pole sits snugly against the forward face of the mast and is out of the way. At present the spinnaker is stowed in a shallow sail bag which is attached to the pulpit in front of the forestay. I think this will be a bit of handful when single handed so have ordered a snuffer to make life easier. All foredeck work will be done by exit through the fore hatch on to the deck where I have the pulpit and guard rails and can take the auto helm remote control with me for any course alterations.

The good news is that I have taken her out twice and she sails like a dream. She tracks as straight as a die and on two occasions had her sailing down wind goose winged for a couple of miles with no hand on the tiller. On the wind she is perfectly balanced and tacks very well. What did surprise me was her turn of speed and I think she is going to be quite a fast little boat. I have yet to take her out into the Solent and have been restricted to sailing her in Forton Lake, a creek in Portsmouth harbour, it dries at low water and is about two miles long. The seaward end is blocked by a lifting bridge for pedestrian use and is run by the local council who require twenty four hours notice for it to be opened. That may be alright getting out but not very clever when you want get back knowing the vaguaries of the English weather. On a 4.2 metre rise of tide I have about half a metre of water under the keel so my eyes are constantly glued to the depth sounder when tacking. I am actively pursuing a berth in the harbour along side a pontoon and where I can get out at any state of the tide. Previous experience on a drying mooring dictated that when the sun was out so was the water and when the tide was in the weather was awful. I guess that is sailing in the U.K for you.

Because of the extra weight of a larger engine plus a fuel and water tank in the bilges close to the aft bulkhead and despite 30 Metres of chain in the chain locker she was down by the stern slightly. I was expecting this when I put the tanks in but had no where else to put them with out losing stowage space in the saloon which is at a premium. On the last sailing trip I had a colleague with me and I asked him to go and stand right up in the bows and what a difference that made to her trim and performance. I resolved to put some ballast in right up foreward. The question was how much and where could I put it.

The next morning I went down to the boat armed with the bathroom scales. My colleague was roughly the same build as myself so I weighed myself and came in at 12 stone 4lbs. When the boat was well afloat I climbed up on the coach roof and walked right forward keeping to the centre of the boat and stood close up to the pulpit, I then made my way back aft along the same path and got off the boat and walked along the pontoon to the bows to see where the water mark was when I was standing on the bows. There was a difference of about three inches and clearly that was where she needed to be trimmed down by the head to.

I knew there was some four inch wide triangular pig iron ballast in the yard workshop but they were 14" long and would require cutting to length and with only a hacksaw with which to cut it made me think of looking elsewhere. I came across five pieces of 4"x4"x9" pig iron, that called for a visit to the yard Director with a request to purchase it. I was told I could have it. Procuring a wheelbarrow I loaded it up and trundled it down to the boat, lifted the floor boards foreward and carried it one piece at a time on board. My keelson is 8" wide and 1" thick and the deep frames 9 ½" apart so they fitted very snugly there. One piece right up in the bow and two pieces side by side between the next two deep frames. They did not interfere with the floor boards so that was where they would go. I took them ashore on the pontoon and weighed them. 156lbs --- 12 stone, I reckon that if I lose 4lbs the trim will be right!!

They were then epoxied to stop them leeching rust and were strapped in with angle iron to prevent them moving. Problem solved.

My project has come to an end. It has been for six years a labour of love and I have enjoyed every moment of it. Would I do it again --- NO, I am too old, I am going to be a geriatric sailor now and enjoy sailing my beautiful boat wherever she wants to take me. What she has cost me in materials and time I have no idea, amortised over six years it has been insignificant and she was a freebie when given to me. What price does one put on pleasure --- to me it is priceless and so is "Wina 11".


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