Sunday, November 27, 2005

Atlantic preparations

Kika now has a bimini (a cockpit sun shade). Despite our bimini maker, Miguel's, lack of English and my infamous Spench, we somehow managed to communicate successfully and we're pleased with the final result. Completing the bimini means we've ticked-off all the major items on the to-do list, which is a great weight off my mind - now I can concentrate on studying the weather for the crossing to the Caribbean.

Bimini in place
Bimini in place

Originally we'd planned to complete everything before leaving Southampton, then before we headed across Biscay, then before we headed to the Canaries... In the event we left Southampton with most of the new equipment only partially installed and a couple of the instruments which were working well when we bought Kika, waiting to be reconnected. It didn´t help that I read A Voyage for Madmen soon after we set off and felt a little like Donald Crowhurst setting off with cable runs everywhere, but nothing connected. Talking to other boats it appears to be a common theme - there comes a time when you have to leave and providing the boat is sea-worthy, all other jobs are postponed until the next opportunity.

Here's a record of what we've been up-to:
What?Completed where?
New stoveSouthampton
Detachable inner-forestay for storm jibSouthampton
Inserted insulators in the backstay for the SSBSouthampton
Additional batteries with a series regulator for the engine start batterySouthampton
New high-output (140A) alternator with 'smart' regulatorSouthampton
Battery monitor, and the rewiring required for the battery monitor shuntSouthampton
New circuit breaker panel covering radar, heater, VHF & radio, SSB, Sea-me and inverterFalmouth
Duogen wind/water generatorDartmouth
SSB radio and modemFalmouth
Wind-vane self-steeringCorme
Cockpit archGibraltar
Solar panelGraciosa
Twin head-sail, trade-wind rigTenerife

Thanks to all those who have helped out along the way.

Re-wired battery compartment
Re-wired battery compartment

On-going maintenance

Before we left Gibraltar I noticed that the sea-cocks under the sink were leaking - not significantly - in fact more of a weep than a leak, but still something to be concerned about. So not having time to fully investigate I tightened them and the leak stopped. When I finally got round to inspecting the sea-cocks again in Lanzarote I discovered my lack of experience had meant I'd overtightened them and now they wouldn't budge. They were stuck open. I had visions of requiring the boat to be hauled out of the water or at the minimum spending many hours diving under the boat trying to free them. Fortunately Mark regularly services his sea-cocks and and helped me out. A days work resulted in two smoothly running, leak-free sea-cocks, without a trip under or out of the the water.

As a friend of Mark's said, cruising is about fixing your boat in exotic locations - we're looking forward to the exotic locations.

Winch overhaul
Winch overhaul

As well as boat maintenance, Ellen has been busy working out how much pasta, cans of tomatoes and plasters we need to sustain us, before we arrive to sample to the delicacies on offer in the Caribbean. Apart from a final trip to the market for fresh fruit and veg, we're ready to go and Ellen´s confident we won´t have to resort to some of my more desparate concoctions.

Small proportion of Quartermaster Ellen´s stores
Small proportion of Quartermaster Ellen´s stores

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