Thursday, 30 January 2014

Securing the Dinghy

Most places in Europe when going ashore from an anchorage we leave our dinghy aka the flubber tied to a pontoon or quayside or even simply up the beach and know that when on our return it will be just as we left it. Likewise it can be tied behind Temptress overnight whilst at anchor and as long as it was tied securely it’ll still be there in the morning. That is not the case everywhere. Dinghy and outboard thefts are common in many countries so, mindful of our dependence on these two fairly expensive if tatty bits of kit, we’ve been pondering for several months on how to secure them. All the equipment required was already on board (hooray a job that didn't require a trip to the chandlers!); a couple of padlocks (there is a box full we've been carrying around for years for just such an occasion), a length of anchor chain (usually attached to our stern kedge), some spare lengths of line and if needed a length of steel rigging with a loop in each end that was once used to secure my topper in Minima’s dinghy park.

All chained up
First task was to ensure the flubber would be secure at the dockside. There are plenty of warnings that dinghy thieves are well equipped with bolt croppers so the wire strop probably would only slow them slightly. Anchor chain on the other hand requires much more effort to cut even with the right tool so Kevin decided to use this. One end is now padlocked to the outboard’s lifting handle, threaded through the handle of the petrol can and out through the eyelet in the transom. Another padlock will secure a loop of the other end of the chain through a cleat on the pontoon or other mooring ring. When not in use the loose end can live in the canvas bag with the dinghy anchor, stowed by the tank.

There are plenty of reports online too that tell of dinghies being stolen from boats in some idyllic palm fringed bay whilst their owners sleep. The thief simply rows or swims out to the anchored boat and cuts the painter with a knife. It is recommended especially in the Caribbean to lift a dinghy out of the water at night. Temptress has no davits at her stern nor would we want any as our dinghy usually lives on the foredeck when sailing. Lifting the flubber out with a halyard somewhere forward of the mast seemed a reasonable approach. However any system for lifting it out must be simple and quick otherwise we won’t bother to do it every evening before we retire to bed.

Temptress’ topsides are too high to climb out of the dinghy or reach down into it at the point where we'd want to lift it. To make it easy the lifting strops have to be attached whilst the dinghy is at the stern of Temptress and be long enough to be held onto by someone on board Temptress as the flubber is manoeuvred forward. Kevin got out the bag of spare line (ie bits too short for mooring or spare halyards) and considered the problem.

Our sturdy Dutch designed Lodestar has three hefty rings suitable as lifting points, one on the front of the bow usually used as part of the bridle set up for the painter and two low down inside on the side tubes towards the front of the dinghy. Aft there are eyelets on either side of the engine in the transom. It took a bit of tying and retying of two rope loops before we worked out where the centre of balance of the flubber lay. With the 5HP outboard on and an almost full tank of petrol it is surprisingly far back, only a foot or so forward of the engine! Each end of one piece of rope was tied to the two transom eyelets and a second longer piece was attached at either end to the inner lifting rings forward. A third line was then passed through the two resulting loops which in turn was attached to the starboard spinnaker halyard.

Spinnaker Halyard as the hoist - note the grey day

Snug alongside
With one person winching and the other acting as a whisker pole to push the halyard out over the centreline of the dinghy the flubber was gently and painlessly raised to be level with the deck well clear of the water. The painter, already secured to a bow cleat, was tightened up to prevent the dinghy flying off in any wind then the dinghy was additionally tied to a stanchion further aft to stop it banging around (it is after all now laying against the cabin where we sleep). The flubber rested neatly and quietly alongside, slightly stern down so that as long as we remember to remove the drainage bung any rain will simply wash the dinghy out. We removed the port hand oar so it won't scratch the topsides if the dinghy does jig around. The only thing remaining would be to chain the dinghy to Temptress which will be easy now the dock security measures are in place but not needed here in Las Palmas. Any intending thief will now have to get on board Temptress without waking us to cut the flubber loose, having swum out armed with bolt croppers and I’m sure there will be easier targets.

View looking aft
One bonus from all this is that spending time out of the water will restrict the amount of growth on the flubber’s bottom – already after only a week in the relatively cool seas here a certain amount of fauna has taken up residence and will require scrubbing off before we leave. The lifting lines could all be left in place whilst we are using the dinghy however once the system has been user tested a bit they may be replaced with tape strops, D rings and carabineers or quick release shackles to make it easy to remove when stowing for sea or leaving the dinghy on the dock where they might be stolen.

PS: For other ideas for lifting your dinghy see these useful tips which we found afterwards!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Navigation and Time Zones

If you have ever flown across the pond to the USA then you’ll know that you end up with a long day – leave Heathrow at midday fly for seven hours and arrive around 2 pm local time with some five extra hours to go before bedtime. All because being further west on the globe New York is five hours behind UT (the correct terminology for GMT). It isn't too much of a problem, set your watch in the air above the UK, snooze for the flight,  stay up late when you land and soon your body catches on. So what happens to the clock change when you go more slowly, in our case at six or seven knots for the 2,100 nautical miles from Cape Verdes to Grenada? Having never sailed across the pond before I wasn't certain and nor was the skipper so it needed some investigation...

Time zones were agreed by a 1950’s convention to be centred on lines of longitude. Basic maths says divide 360 degrees (assuming the Earth is round not flat) by 24 hours and you get 15 degrees per hour. So starting at the Greenwich Meridian every 15 degrees you move West you need to subtract one hour to get the current time at that spot (hint the sun rises in the East and moves West). Therefore it is easy isn’t it to change the clocks? The aim is to keep midday on board ship approximately when the sun is at it's zenith (highest point in the sky). Well no the navigator still needs a bit more maths as the same convention states that though the time zone is centred on 0, 15, 30, 45 etc but it actually changes midway between these lines of longitude so the clock should be moved back by one hour at 7.5, 22.5, 37.5, 52.5 and 67.5 degrees West. Still with me?

Just to complicate things further nation states don’t have to abide by the convention, indeed some have never adopted it completely for example Delhi in India is five hours and thirty minutes ahead of GMT! Such is the case too with Spain or more precisely the Canaries. The islands are located either side of 15 degrees west so firmly in UT-1 however mainland Spain uses (rightly or wrongly as covers more than one time zone) a single time zone UT+1. All this means that if the Canaries were in the “correct“ time zone for their latitude at best there would be two hours difference and in the summer with Spanish daylight saving* the difference would be three hours. For convenience of business and government, the Canaries are actually always on UT making the difference only one hour in winter and two in the summer. This in turn means for us that during the 850 nautical mile trip south to the Cape Verdes (in time zone UT-1) Temptress needs at some point to lose an hour despite remaining in the same longitude range! We’ll probably do to that the ships clock as we leave Las Palmas harbour, again for convenience, much like crossing the English  Channel to France except the voyage is much further.

As for Grenada, the eastern Caribbean is in zone UT-4 meaning we need to lose another three hours as Temptress crosses the Atlantic from the Cape Verdes. If we did this in one go at the start of the trip our poor bodies would complain at the delay to meal times plus the dark mornings and light nights initially would not be conducive to sleep adjustment. Therefore the sensible approach is to change the clocks each time we sailed across one of the time zone boundaries ie latitudes (22deg 30W, 37deg 30W and 52deg 30W ) but with the slight adjustment of delaying the change to coincide with the next main meal of the day which is when the watches will also move (another subject entirely but mainly to avoid someone getting the same dead of night hours every night for the whole trip). We plan to eat lunch or dinner (depending on your origin) sometime in the early afternoon whilst it is still light enough to see what is being cooked/eaten/washed up so unlike the end of British Summer Time which happens around in the wee small hours giving you an extra hour in bed we will be extending our lunch break every few days!

Haring through some rough but inaccurate maths based on distance and speed also gets me as Temptress' erstwhile navigator to the approximation that the ships clocks will need changing every 4 to 5 days. However this estimation doesn’t take into account the wind speed or the course we actually manage to sail so the longitude change is what we'll be monitoring rather than distance covered or time at sea.

For more on time zones and navigation with a neat diagram showing how Time Zones work refer to Tom Cunliffe’s Celestial Navigation book.

And if you ever need to know what time it is somewhere else in the world then try the useful

* Daylight saving is only useful in the higher latitudes where there is a marked difference in the length of day light hours between winter and summer – why is a topic for another day!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Escape from Lanzarote

Southern Lanzarote from the sea
It took a bit of perseverance but finally all the repairs were done, Henning and Berndt of Waterline Yacht Services departed with their tools, Michael and Gilla on SY Wolf left in the morning (a day later than planned) and by 16:00 Temptress had refuelled; time to escape Puerto Calero. And our first task once on open water was to reconfigure the autopilot. On Tuesday, a sunny late afternoon with the wind off the land the sea was ideal being flat;we motored round in slow circles and then a straight line until “George” the autopilot was pronounced fit to take over by the skipper. The sails were set and Temptress on a broad reach headed out to sea until we could gybe and point down the channel between Lanzarote and Fuertaventura.

As the sun set, the wind increased so we furled up some genie, avoided the interisland ferry steaming towards Playa Blanca and thought about warming up a vegetable curry prepared earlier. A small blue hulled yacht sailing down from northern Lanzarote never quite caught up with us as the wind acceleration between the islands increased our speed to seven or eight knots. We ate supper early but in the dark at around 19:30 – one reason why on longer passages our main meal will be at midday in these latitudes. We tucked in the first reef to make it easier for the watch keeper, Kevin took the first watch whilst Susie retired to a bunk for three hours dozing with vivid dreams. Kevin had a similar experience on his off watch.  Was it being at sea after so long tied to a pontoon or the result of the stress of getting away before the weather broke or simply the vegetable curry?

The forecast was for F3-4 from the North or North East in other words typical trade wind sailing but we knew that the Azores High was moving east squashing up against Africa and would cause the wind strength to increase to perhaps gale 8 or above in the next couple of days, the increase occurring earlier at our destination. If we didn’t leave when we did we’d be stuck until the following week. The night sail was chilly with occasional spits of rain and later a couple of heavier downpours which were followed by brief almost dead calms making sail trim interesting for the watch keeper! The coast of Fuertaventura gradually disappeared but already some 60or 70 miles off the loom of the lights or our destination showed like a mini sunset on the clouds ahead. Our course was just west of south west. Little shipping was spotted even approaching the lanes between Gran Canaria and Fuertaventura. One light though was a bit odd – Kevin noted it on his first watch and we gradually overhauled it during the night – an all-round white light incredibly bright. Dawn proved it to be at the top of a yacht mast, a yacht considerably bigger than six metres (the maximum for which an all-round white is legal), very confusing as we had no idea what course it was making without red or green navigation lights. We gave it a wide berth.
Not the most scenic of anchorages

Kevin found us a convenient spot in the anchorage, tucked right in south of the yacht club basin wall so only wash from the tugs and ferries reached us. After a big breakfast we slept until noon then taking advantage of the still hot water showered before heading to the marina office by dinghy to check in to Gran Canaria. The port authorities know how to fleece yachties – boats over 12m have to pay a monthly tax for ten months of the year (the last two are free), so even though we expect to be here at anchor or in the marina for less than two weeks we had to cough up over 50 euros for a month’s tax plus a small charge for each day in the anchorage which covers use of the shower block and dinghy moorings! The marina charges seem quite cheap in comparison with recent marinas at around ten euros per night for Temptress based on her square metres (LOA x beam) but again are front loaded with a nine euro charge for water and electricity but as the man in the office said if we come into the marina we don’t have to pay the tax again!
Slap up cockpit breakfast

We then went to explore the town a bit, no provisions required but a few little errands like topping up the mobile phone (failed due to big post-siesta queues) and replacing the battery in Susie’s alarm clock (almost a fail as it is a posh travel clock with a complicated battery housing so was left for collection the following day). And we finally bought a new boat hook that will stow in a locker. It had only taken six years for the malfunctioning old one to actually fail completely.

On Thursday it became apparent just how cosy our spot is, the wind got up as forecast gusting gale F8 and between the showers we needed to buy some meat and veg. We’d been told that the local market opens between 08:00 and 14:00 so that is where we headed with the rucksacks after a home-made yoghurt with a banana for breakfast. What a pleasant change after Lanzarote – really fresh veg and plenty of variety. The fish and meat stalls were well stocked too whilst upstairs we found a little place selling herbs and spices where we could replenish our dwindling curry spices. A small carrier bag of turmeric, cinnamon sticks, green pepper corns, mustard seeds, ground coriander and more wafted its fragrances every time we added more to our shopping bags. The lady running the stall and her friend from the fresh pasta stall next door explained in halting English that this upper floor of the market hall was closing at the end of the month for good but that they were both moving to premises “in the street” and provided us with a phone number printed on a cotton napkin in case we need to find them later! A quick dash into Superdino for Mr Jones baked beans (they aren’t Heinz but are edible) and cereal rounded off the provisions. We also remembered to collect the clock and recharge our Spanish mobiles as we walked back.
The dinghy hadn't been used for a while so
it needed some air

With heavy bags we stopped for coffee at one of the several cafĂ©’s tucked under the esplanade along the marina’s landward side. The marina looks full – over a thousand berths with lots of sailing boats many flying German ensigns and most looking like it has been a while since they moved anywhere. A wet dinghy ride to windward north up the marina channel, out through the entrance on the right then left into the chop of the harbour then turn slightly more left towards Temptress. She is tucked above the northern mole of the marina with the (imported) sandy beach to the west, the main harbour wall way out to the east and the yacht club basin wall to the north. We were quite damp by the time we reached home. With the wind and rain increasing we lounged around all afternoon reading and snoozing or catching upon the internet.

Thursday night proved a windy bumpy one with the chop kicked up by a F5-6 reaching even into our corner and the gale force gusts continuing though no rain.  It felt like being at sea with all the rocking and rolling but with the anchor dug firmly in and 40 m of chain out Temptress wasn’t going anywhere. Both of us got up at intervals to check but the anchor alarm didn’t go off and apart from the occasional banging of halyards or the dinghy straps flapping on the deck there was nothing untoward. We must have slept a bit because both of us were aware of dreams but at 8am it didn’t feel like it!  The wind is decreasing as I write and there are some patches of blue sky but it is still too rough to consider going ashore without donning full oilies meanwhile the forecast for later says fog!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Fitting A New Rudder

Probably the most powerful pressure washer- stand clear!
Primed ready to go

Taping up

An expensive coffee table

Stormy morning on Fuerteventura

Standing up right

Lifting it 15 cm using the forklift truck so the lifting platform will fit underneath...

Ready to be lifted into place - yes that is a fluffy bath mat!

Gently does it

The bearing needed silicone grease and WD40 to help it slide into place

An audience

The lifting trolley pushed the rudder home

A steel collar and a bolt hold it all in place

Meanwhile a new through hull has been fitted too

Antifoul almost complete

Rudder ready to go

Cleaning up

Greater spotted skipper

Ceremonial tape removal
(yes the bow will be re-taped tomorrow once new cowls are fitted)

Satisfying seeing a neat waterline

Looking smart!

Quick and Easy Crew Lunches

When I was working I was more than a little addicted to Tesco's chicken pasta salad with honey and mustard dressing, eating it several times a week if I was in the UK. In the Middle East stuck for quick and easy lunches that would keep even when the coolbox ice had melted during longer desert trips I discovered John West tuna snack lunches that need no refrigeration (we actually have a few of these in the bilge as emergency rations as they keep for years). Then I realised I could easily make these myself cheaper and probably more healthily. If we are sailing I often dish these up into small lock'n lock type boxes as soon as I've made it then store in the fridge/coolbox until required. That way each member of the crew has their own salad "bowl" and the meal is ready when they want it, great on longer passages when watches don't always coincide with usual meal times.

The key is to cook extra pasta or rice when preparing an evening meal so it is cold ready for making  lunches over the next couple of days.  You need less rice or pasta per person for a lunch than you'd cook for an evening meal, I usually allow one main meal portion per two lunch salads.  After that it is a case of adding things from the store cupboard or fridge:

1. Chicken with Honey and Mustard dressing
Add shredded cooked chicken, a tin of sweet corn (drained) and some finely diced red pepper. Make up a dressing with mayo, dijon mustard and a teaspoonful of honey, thin with yoghurt or milk if needed and season with ground black pepper and some salt to taste then stir through the salad ingredients.

2. Beetroot and Pulpo
Vac packed beetroot chopped into small dice, chopped fresh tomato, tin of pulpo/octopus and a tin of sweetcorn (drain both tins first), dress with a mayo-yoghurt mix and sprinkle with chopped herbs eg basil

3. Tuna Salad
Tinned tuna (drained), a handful of cooked peas, chopped green pepper or thinly sliced courgette, some olives, season with freshly ground black pepper and dress with mayo or french dressing

4. Ham and Radish
Any cooked sliced meat even salami or chorizio will do for this one chopped up into slithers. Add slices of radish, tomato and finely diced green pepper. Make a dressing from mayo thinned with a bit of yoghurt and a dash of chilli powder and stir through.

5. Blue Cheese and Egg
Hard boil one egg per person and steam some cauliflower florets over the pan, then cool both. Add tin of sweetcorn (drained), cauliflower florets and chopped tomato to the pasta or rice base, season. Crumble plenty of blue cheese into some mayo and stir well then mix into the salad lightly. Top with quarters of egg.

To ring the changes add nuts like cashews or walnuts or some cooked pulses such as creamy black eyed beans or green lentils, try smoked salmon instead of chicken replacing the honey and mustard in the dressing with horseradish, substitute sweetcorn and/or tomato with mushrooms, lettuce or lightly steamed green beans. The options are endless, the crew won't get bored and it is so easy to make in advance.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Project Mossie Net

Under hatch nets - courtesy SY Rampage
Mosquitos and noseeums love me whereas my body hates them usually producing big weals wherever I've been bitten so I am all for keeping them out of the boat as much as possible. With the new sewing machine on board I was very keen as my first major project to make some mossie nets for Temptress but it took a little longer than I'd planned. As it turned out purchasing cheap mosquito netting online last May was the simplest step with me rapidly realising why the things are so expensive to buy. Here is my tale which perhaps will help anyone embarking on a similar project....

Commercial Mosquito Net for over hatch
First every hatch on Temptress is a different size, well not quite but almost. There are two pairs of rectangular hatches (one each above the aft cabins and two above the master cabin) that have similar dimensions but the other three are all different. So if you want to make your own mosquito nets carefully measure every hatch a net is required for. Which brings me to the second point - simplify the task by deciding whether it is worth making a net for every hatch. A quick survey of Temptress and our hatch use came up with the following; the port aft cabin is used for storage so the hatch is rarely if ever opened likewise are the ones in the master cabin which often have the dinghy on top of them so by habit the opening portholes in the hull are usually used for ventilation (screens for these was a project in itself). The forepeak hatch is so far forward as to be useless for ventilation unless the windscoop is in place which in turn means no room for a mossie net. Then there is the main hatch into the companionway which has technical difficulties of its own that I'll come to later. So that left the saloon hatch, the starboard aft guest cabin and the forward heads - so three mosquito nets plus something for the main companionway. Much less work than tackling all seven hatches and the companionway.

Next was the design for the hatches. We'd discounted nets fixed inside (SY Dos Libros has a good blog on making this type) as we already have blinds and also didn't want ugly velcro stuck around the underside of the teak hatch surrounds. It had to be external popping over the open hatch. I started examining nets other boats were using - RC Louise had some rather snazzy ones with a wide white weighted edging supplied by the builder, Summerwind had chain inserted through the hem of nets that a previous owner had made. The basic design of both was much the same a sort of stubby toblerone shape. So thinking "roof shaped" a design evolved; two triangles (gable ends) sewn onto a rectangle to make a net that slips over the hatch and theoretically permits it to be opened or closed from within the boat without removing the net. I started with the largest of the three hatches, the one over the saloon and measured the height of the open hatch plus the dimensions of the opening. It is almost a square opening so the triangular ends must be at least 60x60x60 cm  and the main piece 120x60cm. Add a couple of cm for a comfortable fit and another couple for for seam allowances all round. I simply measured and marked the shapes out with pins - this wasn't haute couture requiring a perfect fit!
How about weighting the net down? This was the long pause in the project whilst I solved the problem and sourced something reasonably heavy. Curtain weight seemed ideal as it is heavy and comes in a continuous strand so could be threaded through a hem but wasn't available in Morocco where I first started this project. Or at least my limited French couldn't describe what was required in a couple of fabric shops. What else? My initial plan was to hem the netting over whatever was to be used for holding it down but on sewing the long side of rectangle to two sides of one of the triangles I discovered that mossie net is extremely slippery and has no structure to cope with the pressure of the sewing machine. It quickly vanishes down inside the feed and becomes a mess. When dressmaking with fine material I knew that layering tissue paper either side of the fabric when stitching the seam avoids marking delicate fabrics and provides some support. I tried it with the net but it wasn't that neat a job as once removed the stitching was quite loose due to the holes in the net. OK but not perfect so the remaining net only seams were sewn by hand as it was just as quick as fighting with four slippery layers of fabric and tissue.

The foreward heads - mossie net in place
So how to attach whatever was going to keep the net in place? I decided a second fabric was needed. For the Mark I version I tried a strip of spinnaker material as a 1.5cm wide binding (I should have made it wider than this) then threaded it with elastic but the lip on the hatch is not very high and the elastic simply rose up and slid off in the slightest breeze, string to tie it down wasn't going to be much better without some thing to tie it onto on the deck which was too difficult. So onto Mark II. Whilst  walking the souks of Rabat with Kevin looking for U-bolts (for his jerry can/plank project) I found some sink plug chain sold by the metre to replace the elastic with the aim of weighing the hem down but it too wasn't up to the strong Moroccan sea breeze. Mark III - hunting around the forepeak I found a length of 14mm rope too short to do anything useful on the boat so as an experiment I wrapped the spinnaker hem around it and hand stitched over the whole to hold it together. Success!

Into production went this design for the two remaining hatches with a minor modification of a wider 6cm hem made of cream canvas so I could stitch the rope into the hem as the hem was attached to the base of the net - a bit like doing cushion piping on a massive scale! The only improvement I would suggest is that the resulting nets are a bit snug so closing the hatches tightly from the inside is impossible as the net gets caught up, the dimensions could be 5 or 6cm larger in every direction for easier use but in some places Temptress' hatches are set down into the deck (a consequence of having a false deck under which all the lines are lead aft from the mast) making it difficult to fit anything too bulky.

Typical companionway net
- courtesy Distant Shores
Next the companionway. After a lot of internet research I discovered not one net pictured for a similar companionway to our own. Temptress has a large top fore-aft opening but a very small washboard height as she has a comfortable bridge deck on which to perch whilst on watch. My favourite seat! As the washboard is only some 15 or 20 cm high we usually leave the full hatch open in order to create some airflow into the saloon below. Many boats with a far larger washboard space slide their hatch shut and the netting is suspended from it to the deck in the space where the washboards fit. How to suspend slippery net over a horizontal opening without the dreaded velcro? A further complication is that Temptress has granny bars either side of the companionway opening as well as a two dorade vents so there is little surface for a net to cling onto. Eventually I realised I could use some of the uprights on the granny bars to my advantage as posts to tie the net to.

I measured, I drew, I measured, I cut bits of paper as a pattern and after pondering on the subject for several weeks decided I had a design that might work. Mosquitoes are cunning little things and can get through the slightest of spaces so it was important there were absolutely no gaps. So with a length of net longer than the fore aft size of the opening plus a couple of times the washboard height and slightly wider than the width of the companionway and including a couple of cm extra all round for seam allowances ( ie 73x125cm) I started construction.

Companionway net in place -
you can even have the hatch closed if needed
Two wide pieces of folded canvas became the side supports. A third thinner piece sewn across the forward end acts as a tab to hold the net in place across and behind the raised edge of the open hatch. Stitching canvas and net posed no problem for the sewing machine which made things less frustrating. Then I hand sewed lengths of cotton tape onto the upper side of the canvas supports to be tied to the granny bars. Once tied on the knots can be pushed down so the canvas is in contact with the bobbly non-slip surface of the deck - hopefully this will be mossie proof, if not then I can add some fluffy loopy velcro to the underside of the canvas hopefully filling fill any gaps. The canvas sides are about 5 or 8 cm down from the cross hatch tab so there is plenty of net to fill any gaps between the hatch itself and the slightly higher deck. At the other end I left over 30 cm of net hanging down and rolled the very end of it over a couple of lengths of plug chain before hand stitching the hem and chain in place. This loose part fills the washboard gap as well as ensuring the sides of the washboard area have no mossie sized spaces.

Rolled up and tucked away behind
the lip/handle of the perspex hatch
I thought about some additional fastenings in the form of elastic loops over the dorade vents but decided if it was too well fastened getting in and out would be onerous. So simple reef knots to tie it onto the middle granny bar uprights, one on either side a task which can be done easily from inside or from the cockpit. The forward end of the net can remain in place even when the net is not in use as it all rolls neatly onto the top of the hatch. Result!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Lava Land

Henning sets to at the back of the liferaft stowage area
There is now a large (and intentional) hole in Temptress as Waterline Yacht Services attacked the rudder access panel a couple of days ago with a cutting tool. After doubling the size of the vertical hole Henning extended the cut out into the floor of the cockpit. The aim of this intentional destruction? To gain workable access to the top of the stern tube and the supports for the top of the rudder post. No one would really want to be working with epoxy in the confined space inside the transom via the usual access from the aft cabin and the small access panel provided by Jeanneau wasn't big enough for a pair of hands let alone a head and shoulders.

Now the top of the cracked rudder tube could be trimmed up ready for its repair. Amazingly the tube was found to be made of grey downpipe strengthen with epoxy and glass fibre so it's repair will be fairly easy to do. Since then Berndt (in the blue overalls above) has been down each day to coat with Hammerite the steel frame work that supports the top of the rudder post as the galvanising was showing signs of age after 22 years.
Almost done

One BIG hole into the stern of Temptress
(the two round holes either side are cockpit drains)

The stern tube is made from drainpipe
It has opened up a new view through the boat!
Meanwhile Kevin screwed down some metal loops behind the saloon sofa cushions and tied in the new leecloth so sleeping on our vast sofa bed in a rolly sea should be more comfortable.

The skipper trying it out for size

Whilst Henning and Berndt continued working on Temptress' bow and stern, we decided to take a morning off and go for a guided walk in the National Park arranged by the marina. It was a wonderful 3km experience and is provided absolutely free by the park. The path is marked by small lava rocks and underfoot the ash and lave is like very sharp sand as there has been little or no erosion due to the very low levels of rainfall on the island - Lanzarote is only a hundred miles or so west of the Sahara so is extremely arid. You need shoes or boots that completely cover the foot to avoid injury. Walking on the ash was like walking on desert sand, hard work! Christina our guide spoke excellent English and had a vast treasure trove of knowledge both about volcanoes and about the impact of the eruptions on the citizens of Lanzarote in the 18th and 19th centuries which she was very good at passing on to us. Not surprisingly these tours are heavily oversubscribed by some of the 2 million tourists who visit the island every year.
The moonscape of the Termasana lava flow

Descending into a lava tube

Our guide Christina explaining how the tube was made

Drips of lava still needle sharp as there is no water to erode them

Looks like cooling fudge!

A wave on a lava lake has broken up as it solidified

Fig trees survive on dew settling on the ash
with two sometimes three crops per year

After almost three hundred years plants
like this spiky succulent are beginning to grow

Basalt has amazing colours - here in blue but also in purple, red and black

A 1730-36 volcano

This volcano demonstrates the prevailing wind
with the ash piled to the right or south of the vent

And we all made it back to the visitor centre!