Wednesday, 8 May 2013

2013 Launch day

How time flies, following a busy winter refit, we are back afloat for 2013. I will add some detailed posts covering the various jobs we have completed over the winter:

1, Galley refit, including new worktop, drawers and doors, sink and pressurised water.

2, New instrument panel, battery box, and more rewiring.

3, New deck hardware, clutches and organisers to bring lines back to the cockpit.

4, Removed and resealed cabin windows.

5, New cabin floor.

6, New curtains.

Finally, here is a timelapse from our launch a couple of weeks ago:

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Winter Jobs

I've been working on a few jobs, and compiling lists of things that need doing. This is our first winter with the "new" boat, so a long list of wants and needs have been accruing, from refitting the galley to sorting the electrics, lazy jacks, painting and varnishing... The list seems to be a movable feast..

I spent a productive day on the boat a few weeks ago, which included removing the rudder and stock, and I was not happy with the bottom bracket, as the bracket was stainless steel, and the rudder stock is aluminium. I decided to strip the rudder right down, and was glad I did, as the galvanic corrosion on the bottom of the stock was quite bad.

I'm now in a quandary, should I replace the aluminium on the stock, or look at getting it repaired? I'm going to get some prices to make up some stainless steel pieces, but I think I may have to sit down when the prices come!

Other than the rudder, I have a few jobs on the go:

1, Updating the electrics, and making a console for the various bits and pieces to be mounted in.
2, Adding Shorepower.
3, Making bags for storing ropes and other items in the cockpit locker, to make organisation easier; it always feels like a battle to find the thing you want in it!
4, Updating the floursent lighting, and replacing them with LEDs

I'm also looking at replacing the chart table and the table in the saloon, with a unit that will do both jobs.

My list seems to be growing.. hopefully at somepoint it will start to shrink :-)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

End of Season

Well, I’ve failed to keep the blog up to date. Sad smile we had our last sail on the weekend, we stayed in the harbour just going down to Sparkes Marina and spent a night there. We had a great sail back up the Emsworth channel, only to be greeted by two powerboats weaving around the moorings.

My 8 year old son was at the helm, and I shouted at them to slow down.. BIG mistake, the lead boat came over, helm angry at me for shouting at him and wanting a fight.. not really civilised adult behaviour. I ignored him, as he was alongside and he shot off under the bridge and carved around in Langstone with his mate. While we were putting things away they came back and went into the marina where we launch the tender from.

We ended up getting the harbour patrol out to have a word with them, as I wasn’t comfortable with putting the children in the tender with the possibility that these guys doing would do something silly.

I find it really sad that people like this want to ruin things for others, Chichester harbour is a beautiful peaceful place, quite often we see guys out fishing in canoes, and others sailing or kayaking around, and behaviour like is so unnecessary. And the vast majority of other power boaters stick to the rules!

On the positive side, my son steered the boat onto the mooring, fantastic! And he got the boat doing 6knots on the way back to the mooring.

Its been a great first season, the boat has lived up to expectations, I have a list of jobs of things to tweak and improve over the winter, but that's part of the fun of it to me.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Portsmouth ahoy..

Our major trip out of the harbour this season, was to be a relatively short hop round the coast to Portsmouth.

We’re slowly easing into cruising, so we decided to use the boat as our floating base for a few days away. With small children the lure of something fun to do at the destination is always a good thing, so we decided that Portsmouth’s dockyard seemed to offer a good range of things to do, whatever the weather.

We took the boat into Northney marina for a night to load up, its always amazing to see a couple of trollies full of provisions,bedding and clothes, and think to yourself, will it all fit in!

Well it did, amazingly, although the Super Seal doesn’t have any bilges, so the under bunk storage seems small, it does seem to swallow everything.

Before we could set off, I had a couple of jobs to attend to, as the pipe for fresh water was leaking where it connected to the tank, and also the pump was leaking too. The previous owner had replaced the freshwater tank, but the pipe supplying the taps was simply pushed through a hole in the top of the tank, meaning it leaked!

I brought a suitable tank fitting from screwfix, and had some other plastic fittings around, so used those and some new blue pipe to connect to a tap. The tap is one of the plunger style ones, that pumps water when you pull the handle up and down.

The first challenge was how to empty the tank, so I could move it, and fit the tank connector. This was solved by shoving the bilge pump inlet into the inspection hatch and pumping the water out. The rest of the task was simply a matter of connecting everything up, and thankfully it worked! I also replaced the piece of pipe from the drain to the seacock, as the drain on the sink didn't;t work.. removing the pipe enabled me to see the problem; the pipe was blocked up with gunk.

My plan over the winter is to refit the kitchen, putting in pressurised water and a bigger sink, as well as sorting out the various cupboards to bring it up to date, so this is a halfway measure.

We also wanted to stow the tender away, while we were away for the week, I’d brought a bracket for the engine to mount it onto the push pit. This was going to be a quick job.. however I didn’t have a socket set on the boat! My wife went off to Halfords to find a socket set. And came back with one for a tenner.. perfect for leaving on board.

Anyway, back to the sailing! We eventually set off late morning, the sea was flat, and crossing the bar was uneventful. there was some wind, but as fate would always have it, it was coming from where we wanted to go! We tried to see what ground we could make under sail, however it was proving to be slow progress, so we ended up motor sailing most of the way there.

During my planning, I had thought we would try out Gunwarf keys, as it seemed local to what we wanted to do. However they could only offer us a berth rafting up to another boat, so it was time for plan B. My next choice was the Royal Clarence marina in Gosport, we called them up, and yes they had berths, great I thought, that was easy. We arrived, parked up, and went to find out where everything was.

A right royal disappointment…

The Royal Clarence marina, was obviously designed by an architect, who had in his mind that the boats would be pretty, but that facilities for sailors shouldn’t detract from this! Its about a ten minute walk to the facilities from the marina, they are tucked way back out of sight, right at the back of the complex. Added to this the wide open empty courtyard you have to cross, and its not really somewhere you want to be with small children.

Third time lucky… We up sticks and moved, much to the marina managers disgust. We went next door to the old Camper and Nicolson’s (now Gosport) marina. It was pretty much perfect. Excellent facilities, including a big family room, which is a god send when you have children to wash!

We spent a couple of days in the marina, using it as our base, and getting the Gosport ferry over to Portsmouth for days out.

Part two to follow..

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Busy Weekend

We (Well I!) decided it was going to be an ideal weekend to leave the harbour and venture over to the Isle of Wight. From the entrance of Chichester harbour, Bembridge is about 8 miles south/south west. So around 2hours sailing time.

Unfortunately, due to the Goodwood festival of speed being on this weekend, it took us longer to get down to Northney than usual. We did manage to avoid most of the traffic by jumping down the lanes south of the A27, but unfortunately took a wrong turn and ended back in the traffic for a long 100 yards!

HW was 13:26 at Northney; we finally set off around 13:00. The wind was almost due South, but a lovely force 2/3 and the sky was clear.

We tacked our way down the Emsworth channel and out into the Solent. We were able to set a course beating to windward across the Solent, and managed to keep the boat speed to a healthy 5.5 knots.

We arrived in Bembridge about 16:30, with very little water left (about 2-3 feet over the bar :-), so we raised the keel and rudder and motored slowly down the winding channel to Duver marina.

The pontoons were all around 5/6 boats deep, and we were allocated a space tucked in alongside a Vancouver 28. But first we had to tuck ourselves in. I motored past the stack and reversed into the gap.

We ate tea, and then took the children ashore for a run. Then back to bed for a 10pm bedtime.

Waking up at 8 on Sunday, to a bright clear but windless morning. We ate breakfast, and could see that hanging around was going to be a problem, as by around 11am the boats on our inside would want to go, so leaving the boat was a bit of a non starter. So at 10am we slipped, and left well ahead of the crowd.

We motor sailed back across the windless Solent, The sails adding a knot or so to the overall speed.

We arrived back in Chichester around 12:30, and snuck our way into a very crowded East Head.  As high water was not for a couple of hours, we lifted the keel and went in close to the shore.

BBQ ashore for lunch, and we left around 15:00 back to Northney. finally arriving around 16:30.

A bit of an adventure, and lots of lessons learned, it was too long on the boat for the children, they needed to get off and expel some energy. Realistically 2 hours is the most they can do in a single stretch. And being somewhere without easy shore access is a real pain.

However my son finally started to get over his phobia of the boat heeling even a few degrees. He spent the afternoon with my elder daughter on the leeward rail dangling his feet in the water when the boat heeled!

Overall a very tiring but enjoyable adventure.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


I’ve had to buy a new charger, as the one that came with the boat unfortunately went bang the first time I plugged it in!


We gave the battery an overnight charge when we were last down there, I’m not sure of its condition as it came with the boat, and its charge was down to 7volts before I charged it which is not good.

I brought the Ring Smartcharger as it seems to have a good range of options including maintenance routines. Is it me, or does this look more like a radio than a battery charger! The leads pack away into the back of the charger, making it a nice tidy package.

Our power needs on board are relatively modest: depth sounder, yeoman / GPS, VHF and LED lighting.

On our last visit two weeks ago, I installed the new 20watt solar panel, so it will be interesting to see if this has managed to maintain the charge in the battery while we’ve been away.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Solar Panel

Stargazy lives on a swinging mooring, and our power usage on-board is limited to instruments, lighting and radio. Recharging the battery currently is limited to using the alternator on the outboard, but the power output from this is very limited.

So we are essentially "off grid" and given that nuclear power is complex, and tricky to install on a 26ft boat :-) I decided to see what alternative energy sources we could utilise.

Jan and I met 21 years ago at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. We experienced numerous weeks of off grid living; the power for the cabins we stayed in came from alternative energy sources (solar, hydro and wind). Now you'd have thought that being on a Welsh hillside, wind would be the best of these, however this was rarely the case!

For Stargazy, I decided to start with a solar panel charger for the battery, on the basis that they are now relatively cheap, simple and hard wearing. The likes of Maplin sell various solar panels, however their construction I didn't feel would last too long in a marine environment.

I happened to notice that Nasa Marine had expanded their product range, and now offered solar panels, so I've taken the plunge and ordered a 20watt panel which arrived this morning, along with a couple of free gifts!
I'll report back when its been fitted.