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Farewell and adieu, you fair Spanish ladies…

April 9, 2013

The title should have been ‘Farewell to Sant Carles’ but I couldn’t resist it.

OK, OK.  It’s been some time since we last brought you up to speed with what we’ve been doing but today it is pouring with rain so it seems like a good opportunity before we depart from our winter berth.

 

Mike aboard his new narrowboat "Gotaroundtoit" before we set off from Tamworth.

Mike aboard his new narrowboat “Gotaroundtoit” before we set off from Tamworth.

While J was enjoying her “Erotic Onions,” D was hard at work in an icy-cold UK helping his brother and wife move their new narrowboat to the marina where they are going to be based most of the time at Tattenhall in Cheshire.  Mike, whether by accident or design is unclear, managed to sprain his ankle on Day One of the trip so Jane and Duncan were obliged to do all the leaping ashore, working the locks, tying up etcetera.  One day they did no less than 25 locks and were utterly shattered by the end.  D, unused to the extremely cold weather, found it particularly bitter, especially when taking his turn at the helm.  He and Mike would do hour and hour about, going inside to thaw out and warm up before taking their next stint.  Unlike with a sailing boat, there is no autopilot, so whilst at the helm you cannot allow yourself to be distracted for a moment or there is every likelihood of careering into the bank or another craft.

 

Yes, it really was as cold as it looks.  Jane and I work the locks as Mike takes photos and takes it easy at the helm......

Yes, it really was as cold as it looks. Jane and I work the locks as Mike takes photos and takes it easy at the helm……

Anyway, Duncan rejoined “Rampage” safe and sound on the 5th March, ready to tackle the remaining tasks on the Winter Jobs List.  First, however, we decided to have a day out while we still had the use of a rental car so on the 6th we headed towards Tarragona, making first for the Francoli aqueduct and Puente del Diablo or Devil’s Bridge.    The aqueduct lies a few miles north of Tarragona and was built by the redoubtable Romans to supply the city with fresh water from the Rio Francoli.  The bridge, which is composed of two tiers of arches, stands 26m high and is 249 metres spanning the valley.  Despite the fact that it was raining while we were there, it was a spectacular sight although we later realised that we would have been better to have visited later in the day, as will become clear shortly.  It was still trying to rain when we drove into the centre of Tarragona so we decided to find somewhere for lunch first.  As a result we reached the cathedral at about 14:05 to discover that it was closed from 14:00 during the winter months and we were therefore unable to go inside which was a shame.  We did have a nice potter about the narrow streets of the old town and admired the remains of a huge Roman circus with seating capacity for 25,000 where chariot races used to be held; Tarraco, as it was known, was quite obviously a significant place in Roman times.  Then as we were making our way towards the amphitheatre down near the waterfront, we came across the Historical Museum which proved to be well worth the €3.25 entry fee because it gave access to very impressive underground vaults and tunnels beneath the circus.  Since Roman times these have had a number of different uses included a storage area for military munitions and a prison.  As we walked back to the car, the sun came out and it turned into a lovely afternoon.  Had we gone to the town first we’d have been in time to see inside the cathedral while it was raining and enjoyed the aqueduct in sunshine.  Ah well!

The Devil's Bridge - a Roman acqueduct near Tarragona.  I visited this about 40 years ago on our first overseas holiday.

The Devil’s Bridge – a Roman acqueduct near Tarragona. I visited this about 40 years ago on our first overseas holiday.

 

Since then, we’ve been focused on finishing the Winter Jobs List before Iain and Terri arrive next week for their cruise to Mallorca.  The list had been whittled down somewhat since we arrived with projects such as the dinghy cover being completed and ticked off.  However, there was still quite a lot left to do and not all that much time to do it in.

Perhaps the most difficult of our winter projects; a UV cover for the dinghy.

Perhaps the most difficult of our winter projects; a UV cover for the dinghy.

 

J has been doing a lot of sewing, some of it on purely domestic projects like a lovely apron for Lily but most of it making things out of canvas.  We had thought that we might make a new sprayhood this winter but we figured out that we needed to replace the cockpit tent at the same time but didn’t have enough canvas to do the job.  We got a quote from the local sailmaker but it was far too expensive so we dropped the project.  Instead, J simply (!) replaced the worn out windows in it – a job that had her cursing and muttering for several days before she produced a very professional result.  (J would particularly like to thank Sheila for her excellent tip of using paper, between the pvc of the window panel and the sewing machine foot to help to prevent it from slipping.)

 

Lily's apron.

Lily’s apron.

She has also made a bag for the dinghy, spray dodgers for the stern of the boat and other little projects like a cratch cover for Mike and Jane’s new home.  Oh and there have been various knitting projects as usual.

Just to demonstrate that you can now see through the windows on the sprayhood.

Just to demonstrate that you can now see through the windows on the sprayhood.

 

In the meantime, I’ve been finishing off projects that I started some time ago.  I’ve wired in the light sensitive switch for the masthead anchor light (final step on that is to replace the current bulb with an LED one), replaced the old VHF radio with a new one which has a cordless remote (so we can use the main radio from the cockpit), re-done the wiring behind the chart table instrument panel so that it’s no longer quite the mess it once was and completed the work on making an antenna farm to lift the Navtex and GPS antennas out of harm’s way on the pushpit.

I’ve installed a gas drain in one of the cockpit lockers and we now have a 6kg gas bottle there to replace the (very expensive) camping gaz bottle.  At usual rates of consumption, this should last us about 3 months and cost the same to refill as a camping gaz bottle.

 

Spray dodgers, new windows in the sprayhood and all the fenders wrapped up in their new fleece covers.

Spray dodgers, new windows in the sprayhood and all the fenders wrapped up in their new fleece covers.

And we did all of this before we lifted out last week to do the usual bottom scrub and anode replacement thing.  Although we had thought last year that we could probably get away without a long liftout, I decided that we needed to make sure that the Saildrive oilseals were intact and the only way to do that is when ashore.  We lifted out on Monday 25th March and returned to the water on Thursday 28th March.  We found that the Coppercoat, despite being 13 years old this month, is still holding up very well and very little fouling had built up over the winter.  The Saildrive leg and skin fittings were another matter!  The heads fittings were so overgrown that the heads were almost inoperable and it was a miracle that the engine cooling water was making it in through the growth on the Saildrive leg.

 

A very fouled Saildrive leg and a surprisingly clean prop!

A very fouled Saildrive leg and a surprisingly clean prop!

We spent a busy couple of days on the hard, interrupted by a rainy afternoon on Tuesday but got the few rust patches on the keel sorted, oil in the Saildrive changed (the seals were in good shape, so we left well alone), primed and antifouled the Saildrive and refitted a very shiny Brunton Autoprop.  We also inspected the anchor chain and found that the middle 20 metres or so had lost all the galvanisation and was going rusty and weak, so we chopped it out and bought new chain from the Fisherman’s Co-operative here in Sant Carles.  J repainted the length marks so we’re all good to go on that front; apart from the fact that the anchor windlass decided not to play.  More on that later.

'Go faster' stripes on the anchor roll bar....  aim is to make it easier to spot underwater to make sure its set properly.

‘Go faster’ stripes on the anchor roll bar…. aim is to make it easier to spot underwater to make sure its set properly.

 

Thursday morning saw us removing the masking tape from the boot top (where we’d repainted the anitfoul) before being lifted back into the water at 10am.  An intense but very rewarding 3 days which saw lots of jobs ticked off the list but one added – sort out the anchor windlass.

Antifoul paint on the Saildrive leg along with a highly polished Autoprop.

Antifoul paint on the Saildrive leg along with a highly polished Autoprop.

 

Once back on the berth we took the rest of the day off and relaxed.  I then spent a happy morning doing fault-finding on the windlass.  The main relay box seemed to work just fine.  The wireless remote also seemed to be doing what it was meant to, so I investigated the connection between the winch and the power cables; this is where the problem lay.  I removed the winch and replaced all the connections and J patch painted the winch where some of the paint had come away.  Anchor problems now sorted.

"Rampage" on the hard, with fesh antifoul on the keel.  Sant Carles yard is one of the best run we've come across and not too expensive either.

“Rampage” on the hard, with fesh antifoul on the keel. Sant Carles yard is one of the best run we’ve come across and not too expensive either.

All of this activity was, in some ways, displacement from the main remaining task.  This is one we’d been putting off all through the winter, namely removing all the caulking between the teak strips in the cockpit and replacing it.  Have you ever put sealant round the bath or shower?  It’s a bit of a messy job isn’t it?  OK.  Now imagine you’ve got about 50 or 60 metres of this to do, with only a couple of inches between each strip of sealant.  And it’s black.  We’ve done the seating area but the deck will have to wait until we pause for a week or so in Sardinia in May.  Partly this is because we ran out of sealant but also because we’ve come to realise that we have to let the sealant cure for a few days before it can be sanded back into the wood so time is against us on this.

J with a masked up area of the cockpit seating ready for new caulking.

J with a masked up area of the cockpit seating ready for new caulking.

 

It hasn’t been all work and no play though!  Quiz nights have continued and we’ve set the quiz again and won once or twice.  It’s great to see that people are still coming to the evenings and that we started something that folks enjoy so much.

 

Bottled meat stew and chilli con carne ready to be used when we're in out of the way palces this summer.

Bottled meat stew and chilli con carne ready to be used when we’re in out of the way palces this summer.

We’ve been geocaching once or twice as well.  For those of you who haven’t heard of this, there are lots of small containers hidden about the place which have a little log book inside them.  Their location can be found from a website (www.geochaching.com) which you download onto a handheld GPS and use that to navigate your way to the site.  On finding the container (making sure no one’s watching) you record you visit and re-hide it.  You log your find on the website and that’s it.  It’s possibly rather “ geeky” but it’s simple to do and a good way to get out into the country away from the boat to explore places we possibly wouldn’t otherwise visit.  As there are thousands of geocaches dotted worldwide it fits well with our roving life and we have to thank Maggie and Colin for introducing us to this new hobby!

 

New cockpit cushion covers in the completed cockpit, ready to set off.

New cockpit cushion covers in the completed cockpit, ready to set off.

So that’s it.  The newly-covered cockpit cushions can finally come into use without fear of being covered in black from the old caulking, the smart, protective fender covers (again courtesy of J) are in place and “Rampage” is looking pretty shipshape and ready for another season’s cruising.

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3 comments

  1. Dear Duncan and Julia,

    Happy 4th anniversary! It has been a pleasure to watch your adventures from afar and dream of life post-retirement. Congratulations on living your dream and all of your hard work (and play!).

    Much love,

    Ruth and David


  2. She looks beautiful – Happy Sailing! I hope you have a wonderful summer.
    Mags XXXXXXXXXXXXX


  3. Are you headed back across to Greece again, Duncan? If so, may well see you at end of May – Day Skipper course with Sail Ionian! Need to “DM” you with a bunch of questions following your two posts in answer to my (and others’) queries.



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