…and another hectic day…

Anchoring in Newtown Creek is always a delight. So little to disturb the peace except a few quarrelsome birds and the very occasional rumble of the anchor chain as she settles to subtle changes in the tide and wind. No tide to catch until much later in the morning, so a cup of coffee in bed sets us up nicely for the day.

The early sun sends dappled light across the cabin roof, but there is a chill to the wind even this late in May.  

As we heave up the anchor (OK…so we’ve got an electric windlass!) we seem to bring half a ton of best Newtown mud with it. Heydays breaks herself free and we push out into the Solent for a short hop round to Cowes for lunch…and then a squall comes through. Fortunately, we saw it coming and were already in our wet weather gear…ha! John and Yee Tak bravely face the weathery maelstrom!!

The showers continue like this for the rest of the day, but it is just wonderful to be out on the water again. Cowes is its usual busy self and the Red Funnel ferries give no quarter. Some unlucky (or incautious) souls get madly hooted at for their troubles and we feel like being back in school with a cross teacher. Once you know it is not you in trouble but one of your mates, you can sit back and enjoy the event!

We pass by the posh places and head for Shepherds  Marina for a short stop. Years ago it used to be free….it can’t be more than forty…but the very pleasant and friendly receptionist smiles very pleasantly and friendly as she takes £21 for 4 hours! Lucky we didn’t go posh.

Cowes is of course very nice and quaint and still has a decent range of very local shops with polished brass steps and old bells over the door. It must be expensive keeping all that brass polished as they wanted over £20 for a deck brush.

However, a couple of pints and a prosecco later and all is well again. Lunch by the river watching the activity is very therapeutic and we finally head off up the Medina to the Folly Inn. The river is a strange mix of faded Victoriana, modern steel and glass and old industrial. All interspersed with some lovely countryside.

We moor on the pontoon and discuss important stuff like when to go over to the pub for a drink, when to have dinner…or snooze as the tide gently recedes….

The water taxi picks us up at 6.30 and we have a lovely 15s trip to the bank. Only £12 for a return journey, however, the boatman has a lovely smile and it is a lovely (albeit short) ride….

The Folly Inn is itself a bit of an anachronism. Set miles from anywhere, it is something of a party place and it brings back memories of John’s stag do years ago when he was seen dancing on the table with a ‘few’ ladies….just sayin’.

Dinner back on board as the sun provides a colour display to end the day…


Simple stuff…

So, this is not the most adventurous of starts to the sailing season, but for us it is a milestone. Lockdown did the old girl no favours, but we are reasonably proud of her after some gutsy work over the winter. Just laying alongside the harbourmaster’s pontoon we feel that once again we are ready to take on what the sea has to offer…OK OK….the Solent then!

Even the simple act of trundling round the supermarket to get some stores in feels like we are off once more and evokes such happy memories. The ‘essential stores’ turn out to be a bit heavy on the booze side, but… plus ca change.
We fill up with diesel and with our new super-size water tanks we are ready to take on whatever the south coast can offer. Oddly we had wondered whether we were out of practice in general boat handling, but while not quite the well-oiled machine we once were, we feel that we are still not too shabby in that department.

With South Westerlies for the start of the week and Easterlies at the end, we wisely head east. Newtown creek is only an hour away and we keep the engine ticking over to get the tonic and white wine cool in the fridge. But it is glorious just to have the sails up and to hear the water chuckling under her keels once more. This is what she (and we?) were made for.

It is not the adventure into the unknown, but Newtown never fails to delight…and it is right on our doorstep…we are so very lucky. The entrance at low water is always interesting (and tight) and a long keeled German boat almost on its beam ends shows the pitfalls. We drop the hook into a couple of meters…she holds fast in the mud and within a quarter of an hour we are at the gin! Smug or what?
An evening just chatting, listening to the birds and the sounds of the mudflats…plus some oysters as a starter and a late rum…how lucky are we to be born into a stable, tolerant and prosperous part of the world. With a sunset and showers elsewhere, we head to bed humbled and grateful.

Post Covid…an improved Heydays?…

So, here we are. May 2022 and Heydays has just been launched after what turned out to be an extended period ashore. Our last post suggested that the old girl had suffered from a lack of proper use during the almost 2 years of stop-start lockdowns and reduced ability to get out. Once ashore and with everything out, the jobs seemed to mount.

The first issue was the interior woodwork…don’t read on unless you are endlessly fascinated by other people’s DIY and boaty exploits. The original joinery fitted by Moody’s is a laminated ply. The problem is that inevitably the laminate is thin and doesn’t take kindly to any real sanding to get old varnish off…it is all to easy to go right through to the bare ply. After a few successful and less successful sorties with the loo door we settled on a mix of scraping and mild heat. Too much heat lifts the glue on the laminate (don’t look at the back of our loo door!). Our best friend in all of this was a complete revelation…the mighty BAHCO scraper…brilliant. A remarkably simple but fantastically effective scraper. With a lot of patience we got through around 5 or 6 layers of varnish and then the next issue was what do we put back. We didn’t want to varnish as we wanted something which we could easily touch up or recoat. In the end we settled for Osmo Polyx Hard Wax Oil. This is used for laminate floors and is hard wearing, reasonably shiny in a satiny kind of way and hopefully easy to give a quick titivating coat to in a couple of years if needed. We are pleased with the results so far and will bore you all with updates after a season sailing. We were on a roll and decided to do the cabin floor as well and to reconfigure it to make easier access to the bilges to dry them out.

We knew that we needed to replumb the water tanks as we have suffered from ‘water anxiety’ ever since the old ones were cut out and replaced with plastic when a previous yard replaced our keel bolts. A close inspection and a look back through the original Moody specs showed that, far from our lack of water being simply a pipe issue…the new tanks were less than half the original capacity, even if the plumbing actually enabled access to it!!! We took the plunge and ordered purpose made tanks from Tek Tanks and were assured that they were the original spec. 10 weeks later we collected them. 10 weeks and 4 hours later…they don’t fit! We assume that, like most boats, tolerances in original build are quite big and we decide that with a bit of judicious sanding and cutting we can get them in. A little bit of sawing and then a largish chunk of plastic ‘comes off in me ‘and’. It turns out that this is the rim of the original tank….and was designed to be removed not hacked out. The yard who did the repairs to the keel botls (and who will be nameless) did a real bodge job. With all the old rim removed…surprise….the new tanks fit like a glove and are over 2x the capacity of what we had. Hot showers on board here we come.

Other stuff we have done….a self-tailing winch on the mast for the main halyard to help increasingly arthritic hands, a new aerial on the rear arch for future AIS and some repositioning of the GPS aerial (this turns out to require a new one after some overly enthusiastic treatment of the old one). All old incandescent lights replaced with LEDs and USB charge points in all cabins. We even have ‘new’ carpet on the fore and aft cabins although it turns out that carpet fitting is not a major skill on my (James) part! Oh…,and probably more importantly, we checked/tightened all the keel bolts.

It just leaves the engine battery to be rewired, but where is the bit of paper which showed where the 5 leads connected??? Enthusiastic tidying has evidently consigned it to a great dustbin somewhere. A happy hour spent tracing wires and checking voltages and we are back to what appears to be normality…and we haven’t set fire to her.

Sails bent on, superstructure and topsides rubbed back and polished, anti-foul applied and we hardly know the old girl. Still stuff to do (new cushion covers/upholstery, shot blast and re coat the hull) but hopefully ’22 will see us actually sailing and giving Heydays the continual TLC which old ladies need.

This is always a slightly anxious moment even though we know that the yard have done this a zillion times before…

They hold us in the water so we can check for leaks, of which there never are any…until this time! A small weep around another old redundant transducer and we are lifted out again and placed on the quay. Old one out, cleaned, resealed and tightened….lifted back in and hey presto, all’s good.

…and off we go. It’s always great to be back on the water, even under some threatening skies. We slip away from Keyhaven and inch down the chanel with just a cigarette paper between us and the mud at times (but we’re on a rising tide so all is well). With a gusting F6/7 on our tail, we reach Lymington in less than half an hour with just a scrap of genny flying…happy days.

Post script

Back on the mooring and we tidy up and pack the dinghy. The outboard has been run up and checked so all is …..*******. It doesn’t start! Investigation the next day proves to be the new E10 petrol causing problems. We clean carburettor, tank and all the fuel lines. New petrol (E5) added and all is well…until the next post?