Lessons after a 6 month boat abandonment

So about to go to bed for the second night aboard after a 6 month gap through a Welsh winter. We hadn’t expected such a long gap. Back in October we were expecting Wales to restrict entry from Manchester but we hadn’t expected the double restriction of not being able to enter Wales and not being able to stay away from home to last until mid April.

The only problems we found were:

  • Our duvet and pillows went mouldy. We wouldn’t have left them all winter, we certainly wouldn’t normally leave them with no heating in the boat (not sure when our electricity ran out but until it did we had the heating set to come on at 5 degrees C)
  • One of the only deck fittings on the main saloon roof has leaked (a u-bolt for a harness to clip to). It isn’t much but we will remove it and check for damage to the balsa core.

The great thing we found:

Both our composting toilets were in perfect shape to continue to use them right away. We had emptied the urine bottles but not the compost areas. There was no smell, no mess. They were absolutely ready to use straight away. If you had left a chemical toilet partially full then it would have been disgusting, as would the holding tank of a typical boat toilet. Any toilet with water it could have had problems with freezing and the smell of the stagnant water would have been unpleasant. I don’t think there is any other form of toilet that you could unexpectedly leave for 6 months and find no problems at all (and of course most boat toilets can’t be used while the boat is ashore anyway)


Since arriving we have spent more time working on non boat related work than anything else. So the only real progress has been to check some of our plans against reality.

Also it has been pretty cold here both days. Tonight it is due to drop to 1 degree C, our two infrared electric panel heaters can’t maintain a comfortable temperature in the cabin. We are ok in bed with a replacement duvet and hot water bottles but running out of fleeces to where while out of bed. This has been made worse because earlier this evening our electric fan heater blew up and tripped the electrics. With that we could keep a comfortable temperature, since then it has been dropping a little each hour.

Anyway we have:

  • checked reconnecting the steering to the rudder and in the process checked whether a Cape Horn Wind vane self steering could be fitted (we think it can)
  • reviewed our plans to remodel the aft cabin (better double bed with easier access, comfy seat, wider door to heads compartment, better support for the mizzen mast)
  • come up with a “final” design for our dyneema chainplates
  • reviewed and improved our design for a solar arch, getting very excited by how that is looking now.
  • rethought our chart table area (we are going to follow the recommendation from Attainable Adventure Cruising and do chart work in the cockpit, so we are removing our chart table to make an excellent spot for a Refleks Diesel heater (looking at a 62MSK which heats directly, plus radiators and has a stove top). Apart from that we will have extra storage.
  • rechecked our measurements for the dinghy on the foredeck and that it won’t cause problems for the windlass and inner forestay.
  • taken lots more photos so that we won’t have to rely on memory so much in the future 🙂

I’ve a 4 hour zoom meeting tomorrow morning (Saturday) then home in the afternoon, so not much more to do here except enjoy the views and the relief at being able to be back here.

A nice place to do the washing up

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