Tuesday 9th we finally set sail from Shamrock Quay in Southampton. Even though we still had a list of jobs spanning a couple of pages of A4, it felt momentous as we cast off the mooring lines and bid farewell to parents. The day before Kika still resembled a workshop; completing the transformation back into a sailing yacht felt as though we were almost ready to depart for the Caribbean. It was great to concern ourselves again with the weather forecast, tides and direction the of Red Funnel Ferries baring down on us rather than contorting myself into some inaccessible area of the boat to attempt to route some recalcitrant cable.
We celebrated Ellen's birthday on Wednesday with a 5am start from Yarmouth to Poole. Picked up a storm jib and Tri-sail from Crusader sails and were entertained with an impromptu tour of the marina, including multi-story speed boats parking. A significant portion of the water-front at Poole is dominated by Sunseeker luxury boat building which sit rather uncomfortably next to scrap metal and coal quays. Left Poole after a celebratory drink to anchor in Studland bay for the night, planning an early start for Dartmouth
Unfortunately the early start on Thursday wasn’t as early as planned and we missed the tide round Portland Bill, resulting in 4 hours making little headway against a 3-4 knot tide. This gave us ample time to realise that the engine appeared to overheat if we tried to make more than 4 knots – suddenly the list of jobs started looking rather overwhelming again. Still the wind picked up – unfortunately from the west - and we had a fast, but bumpy sail to Dartmouth, nursing Kika into Dartmouth and dropping anchor at 2am.
Our well deserved lie-in on Friday was curtailed at 8.30am by the harbour master enquiring when we got in to see if he could legitimately charge us for a night in his river – 2am arrival was pronounced as a legitimate night and we forked out £6.38. Decided a morning swim was required to inspect the propeller. Thought our speed problems could be explained by a rope around the propeller. Turned out that 2 months of inactivity in Southampton and transformed the propeller into an ineffective lump of barnacles. After an hour of diving the true propeller emerged, the remainder of the day spent studying the engine workshop manual and unblocking and cleaning various parts of the cooling system.
Guests day on Saturday – great progress made with a trail run up the river in the morning during which John pronounced the cooling and speed problems fixed. After some contortions in the aft locker the final section of the wiring for the wind-generator was completed, blades connected and power generation from the wind began. The novelty hasn’t warn off yet – whenever there's a gust and we hear the wind generator pick up I rush to the battery monitor and see how much current is being generated. Record so far is around 15amps. Ian cooked a fantastic curry including the famous “king of rice” – anticipated even more by an hour delay while we upped-anchor and motored round the river looking for a tap to replenish our water supply.
Sunday another break through day – with the SSB finally coming to life. We’ve now signed up with Sailmail – which once we’ve worked our way through their system will allow us to send email from the oceans – although messages are appended with the following warning:
Messages are sent over a very low-speed radio link
Feels debilitating not to have any decent connection to the internet – but I guess we’ll adjust.
Contents of wallet drying out after I dozily ‘forgot’ to tie the dinghy on and had to jump in to recover it.
Monday we tried out the wind-vane self-steering on route to Falmouth in light winds. It controlled the boat for short stints, but quickly went off course. Looking forward to rebuilding it in Falmouth