Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall charting our adventures as we sail around the world. We're sailing up and down the east coast of Australia after a summer back in Britain.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

To Fail to Prepare is to Prepare to Fail!

I'm sure that was a quote from some training event or other that I attended in 'normal' life - it was probably followed by: "There's no I in TEAM" and "To assume makes an ASS out of YOU and ME". Grrrr. Anyway, if there's one thing we've learned in this voyage, it's that good and thorough preparation before a potentially testing passage is vital. It's hard, not to say demoralising, to have to fix a problem in a bouncing boat at sea when you could have dealt with it easily in a calm harbour before you left.

So today we've been working at a couple of jobs which should put us in good stead just in case we encounter the kind of 'challenging' conditions that confronted the boats who left last week. The first was to remove the anchor.

Our anchor (a 20kg 'Kobra' design) normally lives on its bow-roller, ready for immediate deployment. On passage to Fiji, though, the water will be considerably deeper than the 80m of chain that we carry and, no matter how well it's lashed in place, the force of big waves crashing over it in bad weather could be considerable, enough to break the lashings, possibly. So, we remove it and, thanks to its clever design, can fit it, just, in a locker below our bunk.

The anchor being lowered onto the pontoon walkway

The point of the 'plough' is filled with lead and the bolt can be removed to allow the shank to fold down a bit

The 'folded' anchor ready for stowing 

The locker under the head of our bunk. The anchor fits with just about 4mm to spare and is surrounded by tins of food. Stored here (just behind the mast) we won't have its weight up front so that helps reduce the tendency of the boat's bow to pitch up and down. 

Once the anchor was removed, the next task was to deal with the chain locker. On Maunie the 10mm diameter chain wraps around an electric windlass (for hauling the anchor up from the seabed) and then feeds down through a hole in the deck into a locker below. Any water that follows it drains into the bilges at the bottom of the boat and if we encounter lots of big 'green water' waves over the bow, that would not be a Good Thing. One boat left here last year and turned back as their bilge pump was struggling to keep up with the ingress!

The windlass and chain - the chain goes down through the curved metal chute into the locker below

We remove the chute, tie a specially-made teak plug to the end link of the chain and then wedge it into the hole before replacing the chute. Now fully watertight.
The next job was to get the dinghy back aboard and first of all it needed a good scrub. After a summer in NZ, the bottom had a good collection of barnacles as, unlike Maunie, the dinghy doesn't have antifouling paint.

An unpleasant mix of green slime and barnacles, even though we usually hoist the dinghy out of the water at night

Halfway through the scraping and cleaning process, using the wonderfully-named 'Grunt' fibreglass cleaning chemical

Job done
For us, the dinghy is just as important (if not more so) than a car was to us when we were at home. It's a real work-horse and we were lucky that this one came with the boat when we bought Maunie. It's a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) so has a solid fibreglass bottom (vital if landing on coral-strewn beaches) and inflatable tubes for buoyancy and stability. It's 3.1m long so had good cargo capacity and the 9.8hp outboard motor will allow it to plane at about 12 knots with the two of us aboard. Unusually for a RIB, though, the transom (the back, where the engine is mounted) folds down flat when the tubes are deflated so the dinghy fits into a neat canvas cover and lashes down on to the Maunie's deck where it doesn't get in the way.

Securely lashed in place.
The dinghy is 18 years old, which is about 96 in human years, but the fact that it's been stored in its cover for much of its life has protected it from the UV light that kills inflatables. It has a few war-wounds and patches but we are very fond of it and hope to keep it going until we sail back into British waters.

So, two jobs that took most of the morning to complete. Luckily, as you'll have noticed, they were done in bright sunshine. More preparations to do as the week progresses; we won't bore you with them all but thought you might be interested in a flavour of what we do as the countdown to departure continues. Now, where's that to-do list?

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