We used the excuse of wanting the mast epoxy primer to full cure before using the filler to go out in the Dinghy again.
So a very, very early start (alarms off at 7:30am and straight out as soon as we could to catch the falling tide out to Puffin Island. We bumped into both the SeaCoast Safari and Starida teams getting ready for a busy day doing tours from Beaumaris to Puffin Island and they thought we were made 🙂
This time I found a new technique which helps a lot with the longer walk with the Dinghy at low tide. I tied the two ePropulsion batteries to the very end of the tubes. This brought their weight well behind the axles and made the front much lighter to lift.
Notice the coffee, essential for an early start.
Some pics of the ride out:
Yes we saw a seal 🙂 He swam around us a few times, having a good look.
We managed to land on a very rocky beach just past the lighthouse. We got the dinghy well up using the wheels, then we went to find the Pilot House Cafe where we had a fantastic and huuuge brunch, sitting outside in the sun with a view towards Conwy 🙂 Excellent, highly recommended.
On the trip out I ran the trial version of Navionics on my phone and also OpenCPN on my tablet (with the oeSENC OpenCPN Encrypted System Electronical Nautical Charts for the UK from o-charts). Navionics is easier to use, but is limited to phones and tablets with communication to dedicated chart plotters. However, our plan is to run our main navigation on a Raspberry Pi and for that OpenCPN is the only option I’ve found so far. Been doing some playing and while the Android version of OpenCPN shows signs of not being fully adapted to mobile sizes and touch screens the actual display is good (especially as the tablet should be a mobile duplicate screen rather than the main navigation system).
After a rest on the beach to check that the tide would be with us all the way back we set off. Getting off the beach was the trickiest task of the trip. We got some water over the bow because we left the wheels on a bit too close to the waters edge (so dipping the bow down). Despite having 30 minutes of battery left we switched to the second one and opened the throttle to 600watts for most of the trip back (and still had loads left when we got back), which was in glorious sunshine.
After all that work we needed a nap 🙂 Therefore we didn’t get any boat jobs done (other than ordering some mast parts off ebay for a huge saving over new items). We have also made a tentative, weather permitting plan for the filler, undercoat and 2 top coats (the challenge being much shorter maximum overcoating times).
After getting exhausted yesterday with the epic sand and first coat of epoxy primer on both masts (see Masts are epoxy primed!) today needed to be a lot more gentle.
So we got up late, with plans for some nice brunch, but by the time it gets to 1pm is it really brunch? Anyway fried eggs in harvester baps from the Beaumaris bakery was very nice to eat in the cockpit on a beautiful day.
Then we added the second coat of epoxy primer. We had a long break after painting the first side of both masts so that it would be nice and dry when we turned them over for the second side. That meant time for a late afternoon nap 😊
Very pleased with the results. We are going to give this a bit extra time to cure and get really hard before we do anything else to them. This few days of work has transformed how our masts look and how we feel about them. We have solid confidence that we caught the corrosion in time and that even if there are patches where our technique with the epoxy primer (and preparation) isn’t perfect we can tackle them in small bits.
While this has added a whole load of extra work to what we had planned there is now no reason why these masts shouldn’t give decades of reliable service. That is definitely a win for sustainability 😀
Just emptied the wee bottles of both composting toilets. Second time this holiday. So we seem to be pretty consistent at filling 2 bottles a week. Not had to empty either toilet of solids and they are nowhere near full. We don’t tend to use the clubhouse toilets very much. A reasonable picture of a week at anchor or while sailing.
Just to remember that emptying a composting toilet is quick, clean and easy. The wee bottles just pour down a normal toilet with no mess.
Today has been long and hard work. However, we have managed to sand/grind, wash, clean with acetone and then paint with Epoxy Primer both our masts.
Part of the challenge is that for the primer to stick to aluminium you have to paint very quickly after sanding. At least within 8 hours/the same day. With the amount of sanding preparation our main mast (in particular) needed this was a big ask.
It took a while to find the best technique. It isn’t always obvious how deep a scratch/corrosion pit goes. So I found it best to just tackle the worst with the grinder (using a ScotchBrite pad to avoid metal contamination). Then I sanded using the orbital sander (by keeping one battery on charge while using the other I was able to work continuously). I used 120 grit with with occasional 80 and 240. For any marks that didn’t disappear reasonably quickly I switched back to the grinder.
For some reason the starboard side of the mainsail track was much worse than the port side with lots of deep scratches. There were also lots of marks from shackles that must have been allowed to bang the past in several concentrated areas.
Jane hand sanded all the tricky areas like the masthead, tracks etc.
After sanding we washed the debris off with water and a sponge. Fortunately it was still very hot an sunny at that point (about 4:30pm) so it dried off really quickly.
Then a quick clean with Acetone, judging by the cloths we used for that it was well worth doing.
Next came the painting. International Paints give you a 10 minute rest once the paint is all stirred, mixed and then stirred again), this was very welcome 🙂
Fortunately, even by the time we were finishing painting at about 7:00pm it was still warm enough for the first parts to be touch dry, so we were able to rotate the masts and paint the parts that they had been resting on.
Here are a few photos of the progress through the day.
For most of the day we didn’t really think we would get this far. But once you start you are pretty much committed or lots of the sanding will be wasted if the Aluminium is left long enough to oxidise. We had a very late lunch as Jane had to make an emergency run to Toolstation for more sandpaper, by then it didn’t feel like we had more than about 1/2 the main mast sanded.
Anyway, this feels like a huge milestone completed. There were a number of places where we felt that we had caught corrosion just in time, much longer and we would have had corrosion holes in the masts and a much bigger task.
Tomorrow, epoxy filling and then 2nd coat of primer (hopefully).
With a beautiful day we had a nice slow morning with family and then got back to preparing our main and mizzen masts for painting (well we also washed the dinghy and equipment).
We now have all the wiring out of the main mast.
We have put messenger lines in for them all.
We have removed both winches (a single speed Lewmar 8 and a double speed Lewmar 16, neither self tailing) and all other fittings showing any corrosion.
I was a bit annoyed by the winch mounts. The winches has been fitted with bolts that were too long and so instead of beinfg simply bolted to the winch mount some of them has gone into the mast itself. That has caused more corrosion and extra holes.
So everything is off and the masts have had a wash including a wash of the inside with a hose.
We have decided we don’t have to do a perfect job immediately, so we have not removed anything that we still need and that isn’t showing any corrosion eg spreader roots, spinnaker pole track. Similarly we have decided not to remove winches and cleats from the mizzen (upgrades can come later).
Tomorrow, is clean with acetone, sand, clean and get a coat of primer on. Then we can fill holes we don’t need to reuse with thickened epoxy, then we can sand and clean before a 2nd coat of primer. That then buys us some time for the rest of the work as the aluminium won’t be able to oxidise.
Another task has been looking at all the hardware we need to fit to the masts.
We are now looking at re-purposing the existing Lewmar 16ST for our mainsail reefing. Then 2 Harken 20ST for the halyards. If we can find something suitable secondhand then we will go for that instead.
We are only going to fit 3 actual halyards and supporting hardware at the moment (Yankee or Genoa, Staysail, Main) but with messenger lines for 2nd headsail, trysail and spinnaker.
We are also going to upgrade from cleats to Rope Constrictors for these halyards, skipping all the generations of clutches. Rope Constrictors are about twice the price of a standard clutch but they don’t damage the Halyard at all. But a replacement Halyard is about three times the extra cost. We have found 2 sources Ronstan and Cousin Trestec.
We are going to replace the tired halyard exit sheeves with the newer, simpler plates (and go from 2 to 5 of them so we have support for all the halyards we will ever need.
We have decided to simplify the lighting. We don’t have a simple way to fit lights to the spreaders and get the cables into the conduit at the front of the mast. That means keeping the deck light and the steaming light on the mast Deck light is lower than the spreaders, steaming light is above. However, it looks even simpler to get a combination LED steaming and deck light. One less cable to run up the mast.
Anyway, painting and filling is the first priority. All the fittings can wait for a while.
Yesterday we had family with us. So we went on an epic dinghy ride in the afternoon. It would have worked better with a high tide that was a couple of hours earlier. Anyway we set off towards Puffin Island.
The electric ePropulsion motor again worked faultlessly. I was fooled by some breaking water ahead and a red buoy far off to starboard into going further than I needed from the shore and this got is into a bit of a wet patch of wind against tide. So we headed into the last full bay before Penmon Point.
We went ashore but I soon realised that the bottom of the bay was almost flat and with a falling tide we risked being stranded for ours. In the end we managed to drag/push ourselves off, hampered by the sand turning to mud before the depth increased enough for us to properly float.
Still we did approx 14km with quite a bit of the second battery left despite coming back against the tide.
I still want to get to Puffin Island!!
Good to keep confirming that it was worth stretching to the 2.9m Highfield Classic, we can’t fit (or lift) larger but the extra length was great with 4 adults.
We have done a lot of thinking about our foredeck (mostly related to anchoring, sail plan and dinghy storage).
During one of the lockdowns we did some thinking about how to use the forecabin beyond the anchoring plans in terms of layout. We checked a lot of those measurements when we were able to visit, however, we didn’t really check the forecabin as it was full of stuff.
Now that we have cleared space we were able to see how the plans above and below the deck can work together.
Length is our key challenge, above and below decks.
On deck we want to store our 2.9m rib upside down on deck in front of the mast. Actually we can store it so that the two tubes slightly surround the mast, but to get it on and off the deck it is going to be a million times easier if the gap between the dinghy and the inner forestay is at least 2.9m.
Starting from the bow we need to cut the existing locker hatch so that the forward part becomes part of the fixed base for the bow roller extension.
Aft of the bow roller will be the electric windlass. We will need to cut the aft section of the locker lid so that becomes part of the base for the windlass. The windlass needs to be far enough aft that we can have a small opening to the locker below (just to store ropes). The opening to this locker space is critical as we need to be able to get our arm and head in to be able reach 5 nuts (3 from the deck, 2 from the bow) that need to go on the bolts holding the bow roller in place. On the other hand if the windlass is too far aft it will interfere with the inner forestay and the dinghy being on deck.
In the end we have decided on a compromise 🙂 The windlass will be directly on to of the existing chain pipe. We will cut the locker lid to position the windlass here and we will add a glassed in network of wood beams under it that the windlass will be bolted to. The aft section of the existing lid will end up sandwiched between the windlass and the network of beams. The middle section of the lid will be refitted with hinges and a latch. If we find we can’t get good enough access to all the bow roller nuts then we can unbolt the windlass and remove the aft section of the old lid to give us more space.
All of that leaves little space to attach the inner forestay. However, as we do not want a low tack point or a low foot for the staysail or storm jib (because they have to be above the dinghy when it is on deck) we have a little more freedom. So we are going to use a bridle, one leg connected to the deck each side of the tail of the windlass. The tensioning of the inner forestay will happen between the top of the bridle and the bottom of the shroud (which is where the tack of the sail will be attached). Conveniently this means the bridal legs are attached (using the same system as all our chainplates) right next to the bulkhead that is the aft end of the existing anchor locker. We will strengthen this to handle the extra loads with the network of glassed beams for the windlass.
So, we are confident that we can fit everything on deck. There will still be room to move when needing to raise/lower/reef the staysail and for anchoring.
Below decks we have reached a new set of compromises. First, the acceptance that the existing forecabin was never really suitable for two adults. The longest measurable bed length is 6 feet, that assumes you have your head right in the aft outer corner and your feet taking the opposite corner at the forward end.
So rather than try for a substandard double bed that puts limitations on what we can achieve for anchoring we are going to put in a much better single berth that will allow us to improve the chain storage and fit some crash bulkheads.
To achieve this we will move the ply foot board from the V-Berth. Approximately, 100mm forward of this (which is just forward of the where the chain drops down from the windlass) we will put in a watertight crash bulkhead (with little inspection hatch). This means the berth will be 100mm longer, so more full adult size.
With just one full length berth on the port side we can bring the chain down inside a low friction tube that curves to the starboard side (so the berth can be a more comfortable width) and brings the chain much further aft to a carefully shaped “bin” that is the correct proportions for the chain to self stack behind the current anchor locker.
This frees up what was the chain locker and the route to it for an additional watertight crash bulkhead. This is the area most likely to be damaged by hitting a floating object and will give us some protection. It also moves the weight of the chain about 1000mm further aft than it actually was (about 500mm aft of where it should have been).
We will change the current floor level of the forecabin which provides a tiny space with headroom with a too small awkward step so you can get on the bed (which is then too tall compared to the floor to use as a seat). Instead there will be a new floor at the right height to sit on the single port bunk. You will climb up onto this from the heads compartment (which becomes your entrance/dressing area) as you enter the cabin. The reason for this change is that under that new floor, running full width, right down to the hull and forward to the new chain locker will be a built in GRP water tank (to make up for the loss of the water tank in the bilge which is now for our batteries).
The starboard size of the forecabin will now be a dedicated storage area (which means it should be a lot easier to free up the port side bed from a storage area to be available for single guests).
We will therefore ensure that the dinette in the saloon is easily turned into a comfy double bed with thick curtains separating it from the galley/companionway/chart table. That means we still have capacity for 2 double and 2 single beds which is plenty. When sailing we can have 2 excellent sea berths in the saloon plus the aft cabin. If we find the aft cabin is too close to the stern for comfort, and we need a 3rd sea berth often enough, then we can create “pop-up” quarterberth in the corridor leading to the aft cabin. All of which means we are happy with the choice to reduce the number of beds from the theoretical (but completely impractical) original 8 too 6 by switching the forecabin to a single and not having a pilot berth above the starboard “sofa” in the saloon.
What we like about this plan is that we have significantly reduced the amount of work to get the foredeck and forecabin ready for our launch compared to what we feared. We also gain a far better chain storage, a large water tank so that we are heading back to enough capacity for ocean crossings, and watertight crash bulkheads that are better than we expected (with less work too). Plus on deck we have a workable solution that gets us much better anchoring, a proper cutter rig and space for the dinghy on deck.