Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Progess, of sorts, and the training begins

Dianne has just started a 9-day ship's medical course in the Hamble so that we can embark on our voyage with confidence and a full medical kit. As I write she's just completed day 2 (burn and breakages); at the end of day 4 the students get an assessment on the first aid element before they go on to the second, 5-day element of 'second aid'.

Meanwhile, I went down to Totnes on Saturday to try to resolve the stiffness in the steering system that began to be noticeable at the end of last season. Getting access to the bottom of the wheel pedestal and the gearbox below it involved climbing into the cockpit locker and taking apart the box that covers the central heating system. I'm really too tall for this kind of thing!

The downside of bigger boats is the amount of extra kit that gets fitted - lovely when it all works but another maintenance chore. In previous boats the cockpit locker was just that - a space to put ropes, fenders, and if you were lucky, a deflated dinghy. Maunie's locker has all sorts of plumbing for bilge pumps, toilets, sewage holding-tank and deck shower as well as the diesel blown-air heating system (which looks and sounds like a small jet engine!)and a vent fan which extracts stale air from the bilges:

I finally got to the root of the problem - removed the electronic autopilot motor and gearbox from the main steering gearbox and suddenly the wheel moved smoothly without a hint of friction. So the faulty autopilot has now been left with the local expert for repair. Whilst it was a tricky job to get the thing out, I'm pleased to have found the fault and am now planning a modification to the locker to allow better access in future.

The top of the rudder post after removing the autopilot motor. The grey round unit above is the steering gearbox.

Back home on Sunday the wonderful Sailrite sewing machine has been well used again - repairing the 'stackpack' cover for the mainsail and fitting a new zip to it. Over the years sunlight had rotted the stitching, though the materieal was still perfectly sound, so I had to replace quite a lot of seams but it should be good for another few years now. Another job ticked off the list, but lots still to do!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Signed up for the ARC 2012 - and a minor (?) problem

Well, we've finally bitten the bullet and announced that we're off on a big sailing adventure this Autumn. We're leaving work at the end of June and aim to sail off at the end of August. We've signed up to join the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers which leave the Canaries for St Lucia on the 24th November. All very exciting and slightly scary!

So the to-do list has reached epic and compelling proportions. Di is about to go off on a 9 day medical course and we're both doing an Ocean Safety course in April. Graham will go on a SSB radio course in July and we're looking at options for satellite phones, email access and so on.

Meanwhile, the boat work continues with routine maintenance to follow the repaint. Unfortunately, a check of the steering system has unearthed a problem with seized bolts and a binding bearing so the next trip down to Totnes will involve much swearing as I access the bottom of the wheel pedestal from the cockpit locker. The ideal boat engineer is 4' tall with 6' long arms; this is not me so I sense a struggle ahead!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Missing the sailing!

We're really finding it hard not having Maunie in the water at the moment; normally we get some great winter sailing. Having said that, we were pleased to have her safely tucked up in the sheltered boatyard during the gales of the past couple of weeks.

We're looking forward to getting back aboard around Easter time and, in the meantime, this video keeps us going. If you haven't seen it, it was filmed coming back from Ireland in 2010, with spinnaker set, autoplilot in charge, bright sunshine and 'Perfect day' on the stereo.


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