Thursday, 30 October 2014

Moving On From The Marina ….. Oct 2014

18 – 28 October 2014:  Mt Hartman Bay to St Georges, Grenada:  12 02N 61 45W

Not More Projects (Boring Boat Stuff)PA160043

Just on a year ago when we were stranded in Annapolis awaiting engine repairs we decided to remove our troublesome eutectic engine driven refrigeration system and move to a 12 volt unit.  

We purchased a Dometic All in One “Cool Box” and have been extremely happy with it.  Our plan was always to integrate into the galley by removing the existing freezer box and fridge, cut a big hole in the bench top and pop it in.  But as we found out when we needed to replace the hot water cylinder in Thailand, Balvenie has been built strong and from the inside out ….. there was just no way that the existing fridge and freezer were leaving this boat!!!

PA160044 The choices were to leave Frieda the fridge/freezer coolbox plonked in the middle of the salon floor for the rest of our cruising days or part with copious amounts of money and convert our existing units to 12 volt.   Refrigeration expert Stuart at Palm Tree Marine was very highly recommended, and we went with his recommendation of a Frig-o-boat system, one unit for the fridge and a larger one for the freezer.  We could get the units FedEx’ed in from the USA in under a week and then it would be a 3 - 4 hour job attaching the plates to the inside of our existing units, and drilling a hole through for the pipes to the compressor.  Sounds easy and he does it all the time. 

The parts arrived, as did Stuart and young apprentice Jim to install them – 2 days, several broken drill bits and other pieces of mangled machinery later the units were installed.   Did I  mention Balvenie is rather solid?  For those of you interested, we could have purchased 13 of the fridge/freezers we recently bought for the flat in London for the same price!!!!!   We are very happy with the performance of the fridge, jury is still out on the freezer, but when we are having temperatures of over 35c constantly in the salon its hard work for a freezer.PA210050

Escaping the Marina

The next few days were spent frantically finishing off things, I spent 3 days slaving over a hot sewing machine doing major restitching, repairs and waterproofing on our dodger and canopy.  Mark serviced both our outboards and discovered that our 8hp’s shaft which was badly damaged when it was hit back in Mexico had seized up.  A little like not being able to turn your car steering wheel, ok until you get to a corner!!!  He spent hours trying to get it fixed and a half hearted job has been done by a local company and will do for now.

PA270061 Finally we were ready enough to leave the dock, we were squeezed into a corner and exiting was no mean feat.  With 7 ashore walking and helping to turn Balvenie we successfully snuck out between mooring lines and yachts,  the lines have been severed for another season.

Breaking In Gently

We spent a couple of nights at anchor in Mt Hartman Bay just outside the marina, easing ourselves back in slowly.  Then we broke free and motored 8 miles in no wind around to St Georges, the main town on Grenada.  Sitting peacefully at anchor supping on a chilled rum cocktails watching the most amazing collection of cloud formations as the sun set on our first anchorage of the season, magic.

We Are Cruising Again


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Grinding Away in Grenada

18 Sep – 17 Oct 2014:  Secret Harbour Marina, Grenada – 12.00N 61.45E

From Flat Maintenance to Boat Maintenance    P9220001

We always knew that by extending our stay in England an extra 3 weeks to finish off the renovations there, it would eat away into the time at this end needed to prepare Balvenie for another cruising season.  And this season will be a long one as it is farewell to the Caribbean as we slip through the Panama Canal and finally into our home waters, the Pacific Ocean.

So on day one back on board it was straight into the boat projects, no rest for the wicked.  The dreaded “To Do List”  was compiled and we hit the ground running.  First up it was the boom, for years it has needed some attention but this is the first time we have ever removed the mainsail, so at last it made it to the top of the list.  P9220003

A thorough scraping and sanding of old flaky paint was undertaken by skipper in the scorching sun.  With temperatures in the low 30c’s  combined with humidity over 95 per cent it was exceptionally hot work, and we were starting at dawn to make the most of the coolest part of the day!  Next came the priming, unfortunately we could only get a rusty red colour which really looked terrible, but the two layers of top coat had it gleaming white again in no time. 

The mainsail went way for some remedial repairs, the staysail and headsail were reattached, hoisted and furled – all ready for their first sail of the season.  P9230004   

Next up for skipper it was the emptying and cleaning out of the fuel tanks, last done in Malta a few years ago now, so it was time to have a look inside to see what baddies might be lurking, ready to block the filters at an inopportune time.  Always nice to have our bed folded in half and have the smell of diesel permeate throughout, the joys of sleeping on top of diesel tanks. 

Meanwhile I had all those jars of marmite, packets of teabags and other goodies we had brought back to stow, food lockers to sort out, inventories to update and a major clean out of “stuff” ensued.  With a scheduled boat jumble looming I saw it as as good opportunity to rid ourselves of all those things we thought we might just need – but haven’t so far!!  So off they went. 


PA120041On and On It Goes

With sparkly clean fuel tanks skipper then changed all the fuel and air filters and did oil changes on both the engine and generator.  With fuel and engine maintenance crossed of “The List” it was time to head back out into the sun.  The anchor chain has been checked, topped and tailed, the anchor sanded back and painted with galvanic paint, as was the spare anchor.  The bow was masked up, areas needing attention were filled and fared and the process of painting with 3 part Awlgrip paint commenced.PA060029

As you might imagine we were rather over painting by now, having done the London flat, then the boom, now the bow, but hey why not just keep on going.  The cockpit really did need tidying up too and while we were mixing the Awlgrip up it seemed like just the right time and we are thrilled with decision.  It just looks brilliant, and as we spend so much time up there we can admire the fruits of our labour constantly.

At some point the we collected the mainsail, we were extremely unhappy with the work that had been done and had to add a few patches to the batten pockets and do some stitching ourselves, but frankly just couldn’t be bothered with the hassle and expense of complaining and returning it to them (life without a telephone and car is really quite difficult).  So we repaired and refitted it, Mark reattached the reefing lines and we begrudgingly crossed it off “The List”.   PA060017

But we thought about it overnight, we have thousands of miles to cover this season and we want our mainsail in top shape so we emailed our complaint with photos the following morning.  We had a response within minutes, two staff arrived within an hour to remove the sail and to return it to the sail loft, they came back later in the day to collect Mark so he could observe what they thought should have originally been done, this was all offered at no cost to us, we asked them to do a couple of extra things which we happily paid for. 

They then returned and refitted the sail the following afternoon and apologized profusely for the poor initial work which had been carried out while they were short staffed.  The end result is excellent and our mainsail should happily see us across the Pacific.  Thanks to Turbulence Marine for getting the job done for us.

PA040013 PA040015

A Few More Jobs To Do, A Hurricane To Avoid  …. Then We Can Go Sailing!!!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Recap On The Renovations ….. September 2014

23 June – 23 September 2014:  London

The Final Photos

Our series of previous blog updates on the 12 weeks we spent in London would not be complete without this final posting of the before, during and after shots.  We will let the pictures tell the story …..

First the Kitchen


Now The Bathroom


The Hallway


The Living Room


Lastly the Bedroom


So That Was Our 3 Month Summer Break In London

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The End To Our Time In England ….. Sept 2014

P916029716 – 23 September 2014:  London

The Last Week

We ended our trial run of all the systems at what we can now proudly describe as our luxury apartment, and moved back to Marks Mum to spend our last few days.

While I was busy doing shopping expeditions to purchase necessary delicacies like marmite, wild rice, decent tea, EasyYo yoghurt and other goodies, P9150280Mark pottered around with Jackie and managed to get a few odd jobs done around her home.

We had time at last to see more of Marks brother Greg and his family, but we didn’t get to see them nearly enough during our 3 months, the time has just flown by.

Marks Mum has been a real trooper and has made us immensely welcome, we have thrown her totally out of her routine, but she has never once complained.  P9160284Our original plan of staying with her for a week then moving into the flat as we renovated just never quite came to fruition, she has been an absolute gem putting up with us for so long, thank you Jackie. 

In no time at all we were squeezing all the food and boat bits into our luggage, throwing out most of our clothes and saying our final goodbyes.  We have had plenty of practice farewelling both our families over the last 20 years, but it has never gotten any easier.  This time was no exception.P9160301

We had a dream run around the M25 at 6am, dropped our hire car back, walked across to departures, checked ourselves in at an automatic machine for our British Airways flight, dropped off our luggage and were through to airside at Gatwick just over an hour from leaving home, absolutely amazing. 

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