Saturday, 1 November 2014

Out of the water

I drove up to Kirkcaldy last Thursday, then on to Cairnbaan on Friday. It's a long way with one driver! The break in Kirkcaldy lets me see my parents, an only adds about an hour on to the driving time, so its well worth it. Julian was down south, in Slough at an Open University residential school, but I took Alex. He doesn't sail, but he's an old hand at boat cleaning and painting!

We got to Cairnbaan just before lunch time, and signed into the hotel and had a drink at a snack before heading over to the boat yard. The yard is pretty small, and Robinetta was tucked in right at the back on a cradle. She must have been the first boat out of the water! It was a pretty grey day, and very damp, but fortunately that did not matter.

We had told Adam Way that we did not want Robinetta pressure washed since Paul Drake, who her recaulked her for us, had warned us that the new putty might take a couple of years to harden up. We had ignored this advice last year, and some of the stopping had come out during the wash down. This year we paid attention, and had come prepared to scrub her down manually.

Given that Robinetta had been in the water since mid April her bottom was surprisingly clean. There were some barnacles, but only right at the base of the keel. It's possible that sitting in the fresh water of the Crinan Canal for a week before she was hauled out had killed most of them off. The weed that in other years would have been really thick round the water line was hardly visible, and it scrubbed off really well to leave a hull that looked in better condition than since we first bought her. In previous years there had always been an obvious amount of bare wood showing after haul out. This year there was hardly any.

Adam way had put the foredeck cover on carefully, pulling it taut so that no water pooled on it. He had also brought the main cabin cover forward, so the foredeck bulkhead was not exposed. There was still water in the bilges though, so I pumped them out as much as I could, then mopped out the rest.

There was a little oil in them from when the engine had its oil and filter changes ready for winter, but more worryingly the step that covers the engine would not go back into place. Something somewhere is getting distorted and the step was about a 1/4 inch too wide for the gap it used to fit in easily....

Alex had just about finished scrubbing the hull by 1630; the damp had turned to drizzle and it was getting too dark to see what we were doing, so we finished work and headed over to the hotel. Ten minutes later it began to rain heavily, and continued that way all night.

Next morning was bright and sunny. Just what we wanted! After a huge cooked breakfast we headed back to the yard. Alex finished cleaning the hull (we had missed a few bits in the poor light yesterday) and I checked the bilges. They were still nice and dry, so the covers are doing their job. I still could not get the step back in, which makes getting in and out of the cabin a bit of a stretch.

Alex touched up the hull and rudder with grey metallic or underwater primer as required, then rubbed down the bowsprit which had lost quite a lot of varnish over the course of our trip. We managed to get a complete coat of varnish on! Only one, so its hardly a complete job, but all the bare wood got covered, which should hold it until spring.

I stripped off all the mast furnishings, antenna and wiring, strops, shrounds, stays, ropes and hoops and loaded them into the car, together with the seat cushions. Robinetta is very bare now!

By 1600 we had done all we could. It had clouded over again and was beginning to drizzle, so it was time to head to Kirkcaldy, ready for the long drive south tomorrow.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Light Airs and Yachtsman's Gales

We've published a book of the blog for the last two years. The first one covered five years of sailing, and the second just one, 2013. They are available through Amazon and suitable for reading on any electronic reader, but they are just collected blog posts. This year I thought we should do something different, since we were spending a lot longer on the boat!
Our new book is not just a collection of blog posts, but has been edited into a continuous narrative that I hope will make for a more consistent and enjoyable read. You can find it by searching for "Light Airs and Yachtsman's Gales". Have a look at the preview, which covers our first fortnight aboard, and if you like it, why not buy it!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

End of year totals


I always like to total up the numbers at the end of the season, and this year is no exception, although the numbers are much higher! We spent 11 weeks living aboard Robinetta, and travelled 1245 nautical miles, taking 367 hours on passage.

We had decided we were not in a hurry, and would sail when we could, and stay in port if we could not, but we still ended up having the engine on for 276 hours. We would never have got to the Orkneys without using the engine on the trip up the east coast when the winds were too light for sailing, which they were for a lot of June. In the event we only stayed in harbour when the winds were too strong for safety (and not always then.....)

Robinetta had brought us to many small but perfect places this year, that reveal themselves best to people travelling round (and through) Great Britain by boat. Next summer we will be off again, with as much time as we can get off work!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Last day aboard of the year


Julian made a delicious cooked breakfast, then we walked round to the pontoon by the boat yard, and moved some boats around on their ropes to make the gap between them large enough for Robinetta. We left Worm behind, and motored the few yards across the canal.
The space on the pontoon was still only just big enough to squeeze Robinetta into, so I pointed the bow in and Julian got off from there with both stern and bow ropes and we eased her into her final berth of the trip. She would be craned out from there and into the yard once her mast was removed, so we spent a good bit of the day preparing her for that; packing the car with sails and ropes. The forecast was for rain and high winds on Sunday night, but the foul weather held off long enough for us to get everything done that we needed to. We even managed a rowing trip south along the canal in Worm before we brought her ashore to tie onto the car roof rack for her trip home.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Cairnbaan to Ardfern


Once we were securely moored Julian and I headed for the hotel for an overdue lunch, then headed up the hill to look at the neolithic rock Cairnbaarn is famous for. It was a lovely walk on a fine October afternoon, and made a fitting climax to our day. However the day was not over yet! We needed to get back to Ardfern to pick up the car.

Julian had checked the buses before we left home, and thought we might have to walk to Lochgilphead to catch one. We checked with the hotel, who told us that there were no buses at all that Saturday! For some reason this years bus timetable had nothing on the first two Saturdays in October. Not to worry, we could get a taxi! I thought that was a better idea anyway as my ribs were starting to hurt again as the Ibuprofin wore off. The hotel gave us a taxi number and we called it, but there was no reply.

Our final resort was hitchhiking, or failing that, walking the 12 miles to Ardfern. It was 4pm by this time, so it would be dark before we got there if we had to walk the whole way, but we decided to set off anyway. We had walked about 3 miles when a lovely lady stopped and gave us a lift. She was going all the way to Ardfern, which was perfect! She dropped us just outside the shop, so we went in and bought food for breakfast before picking up the car and heading back to Robinetta for a much needed early night!