A good season

Oyster 406 October 2012. Sorry to all but I have been sailing instead of updating the blog. So after the "First Trip" Sephina has been out and about most week ends. This has been actively restricted to my wife and I so we can get experience together of short handed sailing. We have found our rhythm and now can get in and out of marinas, anchor, set the spinnaker and generally get about without too much drama. So far we have had several trips through the straits to Caernarfon via the Swellies, spent nights at anchor, visited Beaumaris and done our first circumnavigation. OK around Anglesey is not a vast circumnavigation but small steps. Throughout this time Sephina has been a solid and comfortable boat. She has served us well and most if not all the work and modifications have been worthwhile. There is of course jobs still to do and some systems still need fine tuning. This week end was the first trip out without my wife and some work colleagues joined me for the second trip around Anglesey. What a great week end. The weather was perfect and the trip down the western side under parasailor was idyllic shortly followed by lunch in the sunshine in Pilots Cove.

So what now. Well the season is nearly over and we have decided to make the major decision of replacing the engine. I have agonised long and hard over this but in the end it is the only system left that is not been replaced or upgraded. As we intend to go for several years it would probably have been necessary at some point so while we are around people we know and trust best to get it sorted. Also on the list for this winter are, extend the copper coat upwards, fit the broad band satellite system, replace the batteries, upgrade the battery charging, fit the holding tank and forward heads, replace a couple of split teak planks on the deck and work out where everything is going to be stowed.

Additionally my wife has been busy doing her Ships Medical Course so she can stitch me up!!!!

First Trip

Oyster 406It was a highly exciting two weeks as Sephina had her first trip out and what a trip it was. General pictures here. But before that there was frantic preparation to get her ready. The mast was sealed, the solar panels installed, the new engine for the dinghy fitted, flares purchased and general rigging. There were several things on the list not completed but the day of the first trip arrived. We were going to cruise in company with my friend's yacht "Kika" a Rival 38 but this was in Port Dinorwic. This meant we had to get Sephina there first so my old boss volunteered to help me on her maiden voyage. There were certainly nerves as we inched out of the berth and I had to be reminded that a centre cockpit boat has a lot hanging out the back! The sail to Port Dinorwic was magical, a light breeze and a quick visit to the Gazelle pub for lunch meant we arrived at the Swellies in time for High Water Slack. Luckily I had navigated this interesting stretch of water a number of times with friends but doing it in your own yacht for the first time is a little daunting. The arrival at the lock to meet Kika and assembled friends was a delight and my "Shed Mate" on Little Ship a superb Grand Banks was also there. Much champagne was consumed!

The next day we set off for Aberdaron over the Caernarfon Bar and anchored in the afternoon. This was in preparation for an evening departure to Kilmore Quay in Ireland. The weather forecast was E 4 or 5 increasing 6 or 7 later. The direction was right but I hoped we were tucked up before the 7 arrived. We weren't. The following sea meant for a miserable night and the corkscrew motion got to 5 of the 8 crew of the two yachts. Luckily I was OK but this meant I was on watch for 15 of the 16 hours we were on passage. There was some excitement as the visability dropped to less than a mile as we approached the traffic separation scheme of Rosslaire. Thankfully we had AIS and the appearance of shipping on the chart plotter gave a welcome reassurance that we would not hit anything big. Further excitement of Tusker Rock saw a local FS8 kick in, as we had electric reefing for main and genoa it was simply a few seconds of button pressing to reef. A fabulous close hauled sail brought us quickly to Kilmore Quay for mid afternoon arrival. A quick bag of chips from the local chippie saw me tucked up for 3 hours of much needed sleep.

The next day saw a SE 4 or 5 and this pinned us on the pontoon. Ahead there was precious room to turn and astern there was no room either. I helped Kika by using the dinghy to pull her bow into the wind and as I had a bow thruster I was confident I could just make it. Fate reared its head. The control for the bow thruster was water logged and wouldn't work. It was probably the only switch I had not replaced. We decided not to risk Sephina's new topsides to a botched departure and remained to chase up a supplier of a new bow thruster control panel. Internet searching revealed the supplier in Norway and as it was a Bank Holiday in the UK we telephoned them. They gave us the UK details but we had to wait to the next morning to make the call. The part was TNT'd to Waterford our next port of call. As the wind was light and a large trawler blocking our departure went out to fish, we set off for Waterford to rejoin Kika. It was a great sail beaming along for 2 hours. We then decided to try out my new toy. The parasailor was deployed in the Welsh Flag design I had commissioned. It was not only stunning to look at but was a joy to use. A journey up the delightful Suir brought us to Waterford. Oh and yes a slight brush with a Starboard buoy saw a green stripe on Sephina's paintwork, quickly removed by Ciff!

Oyster 406The weather was set for storms so a few days in Waterford was going to be necessary. Unfortunately one of my old university friends was joining us for three days and there was no prospect of sailing. Luckily the Guinness and history of the city plus fine fish resturants kept us occupied. The part for the bow thruster was deliverd by TNT to the quay side. Great Service. It was quickly unwrapped and installed but it had 5 wires instead of 4. The spare wire was left out and it failed to work. Inspection showed the connector was wired differently and some rewiring resulted in a working bow thruster. 'Parking' as my wife calls it will be easier! A crew change ensued and my old boss returned to take us back to Wales. After three days the storm abated and a fantastic sail back to Kilmore Quay was rewarded by another fine fish dinner.

The next day saw fair winds for Dale in Milford Haven. The sun shone and the Parasailor was quickly deployed. It sat there untouched for 10 hours giving us 5.5 knts average in a FS 3 - 4. Combined culinary skills between Sephina and Kika produced a fine evening dinner and Sephina with its airy saloon took on its usual role as after dinner drinks venue. Sephina has also hosted 3 film nights in the trip showing; Battle Royale, Master and Commander, Transporter and The Commitments.

An early departure from Dale to Fishguard in fog kept us in close formation. We even resorted to use of the fog horn in Skomar Sound. Dolphins joined us for the trip and they were captured by the mast head camera here. Anchoring in Lower Town Fishguard was made tricky by a number of mooring buoys with extremely long pick up lines. Kika ran over one but her long keel and skeg rudder protected her prop. Sephina dropped the dinghy (thank goodness for the powered davits) and scooted both crews to the beautiful harbour for a shower and Guinness. Sephina's crew discovered a shop selling gourmet frozen meals and Coq au Vin for dinner at anchor with fine wine befitted the Oyster herritage.

A lack of wind meant a long days motoring up to Porth Dinllaen on the Llyn but a pint in the Ty Coch and aquantance with old friends was a just reward. We had a caravan near Morfa Nefyn for many years and we always dreamed of sailing our own yacht into the harbour. Job done. The wind increased and a FS 5-6 was predicted for the next day but tides meant we had to wait for an afternoon departure for Caernarfon. A fine reach saw Sephina pick up her skirt and at over 6 Knts through the water and 8.5 Knts SOG we quickly arrived at the fairway buoy. In driving rain we struggled to pick out the channel markers but were soon off the Benllan narrows for berthing in Victoria Dock. A little trouble ensued as the berth we were given was too small so a nifty bit of reversing in a cross wind to the other end of the dock saw us parked up. Kika went to her home port of Port Dinorwic but her crew joined us for drinks at our Yacht Club (only the second time we have been able to visit) but would you believe it was closed on Thursdays!!!! A swift pint in the Caernarfon Sailing Club and dinner in the Chinese on the Quay topped off a fabulous two weeks inaugural voyage.

The next day we had to get Sephina home so an afternoon departure in blustery conditions saw a spirited trip with tide through the Swellies on to Beaumaris and around puffin to a final beam reach to the channel. Arriving at Deganwy and final "parking" quickly saw us showered and in the Bar at the Quays. Sephina, the crew and good company made for a very successful first outing. Yes there is a list of niggles to sort out but the number of people who looked at her and thought she was a new Oyster made ours and Barry's 20 months of cold work in the shed all the more worthwhile.

The adventure begins.....

The masthead CCTV camera was also tested and some clips can be seen here:-

Arrive Backwards into Caernarfon

Wave off Waterford from passing Ship

Following Kika


General pictures here


Week 36. Well I've missed two week ends as I have been off sailing. Joy. The trip was from Port Dinorwic on my friends Rival 38 to Largs Scotland via the Isle of Man, Port Patrick and Arran. A great week to blow of the cobwebs and reminded me about what is to come when Sephina is ready. This week end I have now started to remove the huge amount of silicone sealer around the removed port light openings. I am going to use Arbomast to seal the new ones. In the compound where Sephina lies the owners of a HR42 are refitting and replacing the teak deck. They have already done much ocean sailing and it has been useful listening to their experiences. And yes I should have mentioned the bilges are finished! The bilge cleaning team (my wife and occasionally younger daughter) have moved onto the dingy. An old tired looking craft has been transformed and now looks fantastic. Next week I hope to start to refit the port lights. Also a number of contractors are about to descend on Sephina. Barry our project manager is coordinating topside painting, watermaker, generator and aircon and other various jobs. It might get busy and there will be no room for us amateurs.......

Sailing again

Week 41 and 42. Off sailing again. We had arranged to have a skipper for a week for myself, my wife and youngest daughter. Originally when we booked, just after the purchase, we thought we would have Sephina but as the refit has taken some time we used the skippers boat Altea. We had a great week doing an Irish Cruise, visiting IoM, Malahide, Dublin, Holyhead and Caernarfon before returning to Deganwy. The weather was very variable but one thing for sure was it rained and rained. We had a quick passage to Douglas in just under 11 hours with sailing all the way. A joy. The trip to Ireland was equally quick with a recorded wind speed of 30knts. Dublin was wet but the Guinness factory was a treat and a drop of the black stuff at its birth place tasted sweet. We even had a lesson in how to pour it correctly. Remedial shopping soon put a smile on the girls' faces. The trip back to Holyhead was again another quick one and then next day onto Caernarfon using the crusing shute. We had a great evening in the Royal Welsh Yacht Club with its truly spectacular setting in the castle wall. As it is one of the oldest clubs in the UK and near to Sephina's port of registration I think I will join so she is grounded in a Welsh Club as we circumnavigate. So what has happened to Sephina while we have been away. Well not a lot! The watermaker, generator and air con team have done some preliminary work but some fabrication is needed before they can progress. Back to the usual routine for next week and hope to update on progress.