Feb 042017

Sometimes I’m not so sure of this ”keep a boat” thing. After all, normal life is hard enough. Adding a boat just seems masochistic.

Something is different with the docklines? Closer investigation reveals that the SE’ly has snapped the stern spring. Yes, snapped!

The port-side cleat has also been taking a little strain and is loose, jiggly to the touch. How much more until the main port line securing us to the dock also lets go?

Someone has kindly reattached the pieces to the boat!

Thank you someone!!

Nov 152016

Back from a maintenance weekend, filled with howling SE’lies. Sometimes wonder what on earth I’m doing. And yet, what else would I do?

“One thing at a time, as in the days when I was building Joshua. If I had wanted to build all the boat at once, the enormity of the task would have crushed me. I had to put all I had into the hull alone, without thinking about the rest. It would follow . . . with the help of the gods. 
― Bernard Moitessier, The Long Way

Nov 132016

I arrived to a filthy, sooty ‘Blue yesterday. Caz mentioned a fire in the Port some weeks back but I never put two and two together. Everything covered in a filthy black grime. Even the halyards and topping lift now the same colour.

Cazza was sweet enough to collect me from the airport and we made a stop at S.P. to collect some parts for the planned repairs. As seems usual with chandlers they didn’t have what we wanted or we didn’t have a clear idea or set of measurements. We left under the misguided hope that A.Y. in the marina would fill the gap.

Back on board the bilges were damp but not flooded. I noticed for the first time a “fault line” (similar to the keel stub crack) in the aft bilge compartment. Is it a structural crack or just the glass which holds the thwartships “bulkhead” in place? [Note to self – Keep an eye on that one!] The mop handle broke, rusted through, and so I had to sponge out the bilges by hand. Add yet another item on the shopping list.

After pondering the reefing block problem, I think I’ ll just need to return to S.P. and take the larger cheek-blocks that they do have. That, together with a webbing strap to hold the cringle down to the boom should suffice?

The stanchion job also didn’t go as planned. Quite obvious when you’re in front of the job but very easy to forget when you’re contemplating a purchase in the stone → You can’t replace stanchions without redoing the entire guard wire system! So, out with the Pratley Putty and some kind of attempt to stick the stupid plastic top piece back on starboard stanchion #3. Note to self and all others – “Don’t trust the life lines”

The most well-executed job was the chart-plotter install, but even that wasn’t without its’ problems. The cable img-20161112-wa0023routing went ok and the plotter powers up with its new “Africa to Middle East” charts. ‘ Blue was eventually found by the satellites and now sits in RCYC instead of on the hard at Mantens but there are two problems. It’s not ideal having to crouch in the cockpit trying to enter waypoints and routes. I’m going to have to source a secondary power cable and run it to the chart table ! An added bugger up is the “all-inclusive” chart doesn’t have St Helena. Damn!!

Oh, and don’t forget the scrubbing of the mould, adding 60 litres to the fresh water tank and an all-round general cleanup.

Anyhow, a day of mixed successes and roadblocks.

Since it looked as if the club galley was taken over by some function, we decided to spend the night in Glencairn, travelling by way of Camps Bay and Chapmans. I wouldn’t have stopped but it seems Caz has really grasped what this “living in Cape Town” thing means. No real plan but a stop at the first easy and not too crowded stop has us scrambling down a somewhat littered path opening up to a tiny secluded beach surrounded by the biggest boulder garden imaginable.

And there, the biggest blessing of the day → tapped on the leg by a Cape Clawless Otter!!

Cape Clawless Otter

Cape Clawless Otter

Nov 112016

The forecast for the next few days is big – 25 to 30kt SE’lies. It’s not unusual for the actual wind speed, especially in the gusts to exceed the forecast by 5 or even 10kts and so we’re in for a windy visit to ‘Blue this weekend.

The nerves are absent though because this is a maintenance visit with no plans to sail. The reefing block and stanchion that we broke last time out need repair or replacement and the chart-plotter install needs to be finished up. While I may tackle a few other projects, that sounds like enough for a couple of days.

The weather has been crazy of late. Wednesday afternoon a gigantic, ferocious thunderstorm dumped on Joburg, so badly that the N3 became a raging flash flood. I would have been there, the very spot and time, had I not taken Modderfontein for the back roads.

These coincidences in life, they continue to puzzle me, There are too many, too often to even consider that they might be random events, just pure luck. Somehow, in all of this, I retain a belief in a God out there. Somehow, the polarised views of Science and Organised Religion have allowed ego and dogma to cloud the search for truth. Somehow, in all of this I think there is a scientific God who, somehow, still looks after things.

Anyway, I digress. All that remains of today is to survive the Project from Hell and disappear to ‘Blue for some honest physical labour. Can’t wait.


Aug 222016

I’m sworn off boats, for today at least. The discovery of yet another structural leak (or two) has me seriously depressed with this entire boating thing. What was to have been a super-pleasurable “living the life” thing is turning into an emotional and financial disaster.

I’ve patched it with wax-based sealer (seems that’s my go-to solution these days). What I really need to do is find some ”underwater” epoxy to mix up and do some kind of botch job with.

For now, I’ve cancelled today’s sailing for fear of disturbing the leak even further. Emotionally and financially drained, I need ‘Blue to sit on her mooring for the next few months while I figure out the next steps. And to do that she needs to keep the water out, at least keep it slow enough so the bilge pump has a fighting chance.


Even the under-water epoxy doesn’t do the job. After hours of sanding in the most inaccessible of places, I seal the source of the leak and it shows me the middle finger, migrating out of the delaminated fibreglass a couple of millimeters away. Anyway, it’s (possibly) contained to a couple of drips an hour, not enough to sink the boat or stress the bilge pump too much.

It’ll need to be addressed eventually, but not now. In a huff I lock up and leave. You’re on your own for a while ‘Blue!

Leak #5

Leak #5

Jul 232016

While I wouldn’t say life has become immeasurably harder, there can be no doubt that it’s harder than it was before now that the boat is in Cape Town.

When ‘Blue was moored in Deneysville, a mere 100km away, it was, while painful, ultimately very easy to hop in the car and check on the bilges. Now that she’s moored at RCYC it’s a whole new kettle of fish.

On the whole the move to Cape Town has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. The sailing in Table Bay has been challenging and satisfying.

There has been one negative though – ‘Blue is leaking, and quite badly.

She’s always taken on a little water during motoring, a natural and desirable thing I’m told. In her previous fresh-water life this has never been an issue. A couple of mops of the bilge and a week later she’s been dry as a bone. Not so at present. The stern-gland leak (an unproven assumption still) seems continuous and threatening at the moment. It’s not stopping at all and seems to let in about 15-20 liters per week. Not conducive to an easy nights sleep when the next trip down was only planned for 4-6 weeks time.

Cazzie did a visit yesterday – lots of water again. It can’t wait until August, and so I have a flight booked to see if I can stem the tide and prevent a disaster.

I unsure at present why it’s taking on so much. Logically, the stern gland seems to be the most likely source of ingress. There has been no evidence of leaky through-hulls and the raw water valve seems sorted. So it must be the stern gland right? Heaven forbid if it’s keel bolts that have loosened!?

This hastily convened trip is first and foremost a fact-finding mission. I need to isolate, beyond a doubt, the source. That’s the first step to fixing the problem.

I’ve never worked on the sterngland before and so, if that is the problem, I fear I don’t have the necessary tools to effect a repair. Just in case, I’ve raided the 253 toolkit and have my plumbing wrench ( dont laugh…it is a water leak after all ? Besides nothing else is large enough) and on oversized pair of gripping pliers. I don’t have too much confidence in these but they offer more hope than my bare hands at least. The plan is to fall back on the ubiquitous toilet-pan sealer if these don’t work….not a permanent solution but a stop-gap that may be better than nothing.

Ultimately, if needs be, I can always have the yard slip her.

Because of the fact that ‘ Blue has always been bone dry in the past I’m unsure of whether the auto -bilge setup actually works or not. I religiously make sure the pump runs every time I leave the boat but I honestly cant say I ever remember it tested with a bilge full of water? That’s another item to check!

This is not an unmanageable situation, just a bit harder because of the travel and logistics involved. The pain is especially felt in the wallet……weekend flights are not the cheapest but at least they are there, allowing the hastily planned visit.

I just hope they let my wrenches fly.

Dec 062015

Late October! That’s when ‘Blue was slipped.

I haven’t visited for 2 wks now, the last 2 weekends being spent on the cottage, but I suspect no progress has been made.

Part of me is frustrated by that, the part that wants to phone up the boatyard manager and give him a piece of my mind, the part of me that wants my boat back, that wants to sail.

The logical, more practical part of me, knows that the delay is for the better.

Firstly, to properly repair the minor case of osmosis requires a proper drying out of the hull. The drier the better! And the only way to ensure that is to allow sufficient time out of the water.

Secondly, there’s the small matter of finance. Top priority for 2016 remains UCT fees. So, should the road voyage to Simons Town be delayed, it will at least allow the cash haemorage to stabilise, for us to see where we stand on that score at least.

It seems the dream, while very much still alive, may yet take a while.

Perhaps I should buy a road trailer for the LJ Sprint and at least get sailing in the interim?

Nov 222015

The things we find hard, difficult to start, those are generally the things that bring a sense of satisfaction and achievement at the end of the day.

The default way we modern humans deal with our lives is by whipping out the credit card for consumer therapy. It’s a very short-lived solution to a long term problem. We have this continual sense of uneasiness, a feeling of something missing. Instead of properly understanding where it originates, we step out and self-medicate by shopping. Problem solved, at least in the moment. The modern world’s easy solution.

Living with a sailboat is not like that. It’s a lot harder. Sure-you can pay someone (in which case you’ve regressed to credit-card-junkie status) but if you do -it-yourself then it’s an entirely different ballgame.

On a visit to ‘Blue yesterday I decided it time to take down the sails. She’s not going back into the Vaal sewer so it’s best to store and protect them off the boat until the grand land-voyage to FBYC. Taking the sails down →It’s not so hard, but it’s not all that easy either. The main, being loose-footed, was fairly simple to remove but the genoa, at three times the size, is a different beast. Then comes the monumental task of trying to fold them while a howling NW ‘|y sweeps the boatyard. Finally, the job is done, not perfectly folded but at least small enough that I can cram the sails into the car.

There are many seemingly inconsequential tasks like this, ultimately satisfying, never actually quite as difficult as feared. The hardest part is always in the starting.

My point is → you need to overcome the ever-present inertia and excuses that present when starting an important job♤. There’s always a sense of it’s too hard, there’s not enough time, what’s the point! It’s always easier to just give up, sit on the couch and promise to try again another day! It’s seldom the best way!

So yesterday evening, after returning with the sails and re-folding them with the help of B and the gang, I tackled Cottage-253’s east windows. Small job, big results in the “I made progress” department.

So, why the persistent amnesia? Why the struggle to get up and do the important things that in turn bring satisfaction and happiness? It’s a mystery !

The important thing is to remember this tendency. When you notice yourself in its grip it’s probably an indicator of something!

Nov 092015

Cruising out on board Strider this last weekend I was trying to remember how long ago it was that ‘Blue and myself left PNYC. You see, the washboards are finally installed and basically that’s when they were damaged – that last fateful break-in on the mooring at Vaal Marina.

The repaired 'boards

The repaired ‘boards

At the end of the day they didn’t turn out too badly. Not an exact match but close enough that, at first glance, they don’t seem to be mismatched.

The plan is slowly moving forward. Once the current contracted work is complete [new halyards, mast steps, new zinc anode, osmosis barrier and new antifoul] then I’ll need to decide….back into the murky waters of the Vaal for a while or straight to False Bay?

Watch this space…..!