Ready to Go on the 26th July...

Oyster 406

The final preparations are over and we are due to start the long journey around lunch time on Friday the 26th of July. The ARC flag is hoisted from the spreaders and final stowage is taking place. As the photograph shows the Storm Sails were hoisted to check they were rigged correctly. We both hope this is the last time we see them! The Marina is a hive of activity as the All Wales Boat show is due to take place here on Wednesday. The plan is to go out to Ireland and go as far west as we can then look for a weather window to cross to northern Portugal. It is now 20 years since I fist set foot on a yacht and my desire to sail around the world from the moment land disappeared over the horizon is about to become a reality. Who knows what will happen but the most important thing is that we are about to try. So the cats are settled, the new engine is a dream and finally as I sit typing this I am waiting for the final master piece to arrive. This will signal the end of the refit and the beginning of the journey. So what is it. It always annoyed me that the fist thing you see as you enter the yacht is the saloon table. It was battered, chipped, faded and didn't reflect the hard work we have put into this project. So six months ago I decided that TLC Boat Repairs be set one last challenge. To make the table a centre piece. OK it was not going to be cheap but Paul the joiner dedicated himself to the task. I am sure it has become a love hate relationship for which he is equally to blame. His search for perfection has meant he has repeatedly come up with ideas of how to do it better. Supervised by Barry who is equally a perfectionist I am sure the result will be worth the time, money and wait. I will post photos but for now I wait expectantly...

Sephina in the water

Oyster 406 Finally after the winter in Beaumaris at ABC PowerMarine she is finally afloat and back in the marina. The guys at ABC were fantastic and we had a good time working with them. I'd like to thank them for their expertise and care and attention to my pride and joy! So the launch was on Saturday and luckily for the first time in 3 weeks there was calm water all around. The final checks were made in the hoist and as previously happened in testing the new Yanmar started first time. So a little reverse and Sephina was floating again. It was a sunny day and soon we were into the fairway flying past Gallows Point. The engine behaved and at 2000 revs were were doing 4 knots. Past B6 and we headed to Penmaen Swatch to take the short cut to Conwy. We were towing the dingy as our emergency engine but it was unnecessary. Towards the fairway buoy we heard our friends out on "Kika" who were testing their new parasailor. As I had my long lens we went over and did a drive by to take some shots. It looked fabulous in the sunlight and as they had Stuart from Seateach on board they had a great time flying it in all sorts of configurations in the hands of an expert. Out on the water was also "Pensiongames" fellow Oyster 406 owners but as we arrived after high water I think they must have been long gone to Puffin island. Perhaps we will see them next time. The dingy was shipped as our confidence grew. Now at 2800 revs we were doing 6.2 knots so it looks like the prop pitch is sweat.  After the spin around Kika, we headed for the Marina and Sephina's home for the next two months of fitting out for the big trip. It was nice to have her in the water again. On the 1st of June Barry and his team are back on from TLC to fix a couple of teak planks and sort out a couple of leaks and soon the refurbished saloon table will be installed. I've seen it in progress and looking forward to the "reveal". It is special!

We will "Liveaboard"

Oyster 406

We are nearly “Live-aboards”. So much has happened on both the boat and domestic fronts.

Boat. All the systems are now installed and the jobs list is so small I can’t even find it. The new engine continues its running in phase and it is a little frustrating that we have to motor about in this fine weather to put engine hours on the clock when I’d rather be sailing. New additions since my last post are many but the Tropical Bimini is of note. This has been made by Stephen and the boys from the BoatShed in Port Dinorwic and is beautiful made being both adjustable for height and position. It also has a window in the roof so I can see the mainsail! My brother joined me again at the weekend and his engineering knowledge made it so much easier to finish a couple of jobs including the diverter valves for the water-maker. The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is now operational and Sephina’s progress can now be monitored. This can either be achieved by using the iPad/iPhone app "MarineTraffic" or going to the MarineTraffic web site here and in both cases searching for Sephina of Beaumaris.

Domestic. The house is now available for rent and all our belongings are either in storage or at the local recycling centre. As I sit here writing this I realise it will be the last time I do so from a house on land. I hope the IT connections that I have spent hours installing will allow me to continue to update the website from the boat.

Last of the Refit

Oyster 406

July 2013. Sorry for the delay in updating the blog. The reality is I have been working almost every day since retirement on finalising systems and jobs to get ready for the off. There has also been a lot of activity from the various contractors and as usual it takes a little coordination to make sure everybody gets access to areas uninterrupted. So what has been going on? Firstly Barry and TLC have been replacing the couple of teak planks that had hairline cracks. It was interesting watching how they did this so if I have to do some repairs on the journey I will know how. There are also three small leaks that we have traced to the bonding between the inner teak planks and the superstructure. TLC have used a Fein tool to dig out the joint so to speak and reseal it. 
I can’t understand why, but as if we haven’t replaced enough my wife wanted the saloon floor replaced as it had become dented and scratched over the years. Barry and Paul set about this is double quick time as they knew the urgency and as soon as it was done Barry told me he was prepared to bet that when my wife saw it I would be forced to replace the other floors. Of course he was right. We now have completely new floors.
The “toys” as my mates call them have also been steadily installed and Carl from TLS Electronics has been on board for a couple of weeks and I have been working with him to both understand the systems and be able to fix things if they go wrong. Carl reckons the boat is worth it's weight in copper alone! So what are these finals necessities? The most important is the Satellite communication. I went for the Fleet Broad Band 250 and once the dome was installed on the ScanStrut pole the rest was easy. Last week I made my first telephone call from the boat and downloaded an Atlantic GRIB weather file in seconds. It is great to know I will now be in touch with great long-range graphical weather forecasts at the touch of a button. Everyone asks me if the system will video skype and the answer is yes. BUT…… at the cost of $18.30 per megabyte I will not be skyping from the Atlantic. I have also installed a Single Side Band (SSB) receiver as a back up for downloading weather. Next was the boat alarm. This is a great system and Carl has added an even nosier siren than original so if it goes off all hell breaks loose. There is also a blue flashing strobe on the stern that looks very "Miami Vice" as my wife calls it. The system also has a wire lead that can be used to protect the dingy, outboard and other expensive deck equipment. Finally other “toys” are remote launched Jon Bouy, AIS transponder, engine bay lights, towed generator, second WIFI range extender, LED bow and stern lights, second inverter for the Espresso coffee machine, icemaker and connecting the Fusion HiFi system to the network. However the highlight was the two LED lights Carl put in the back of my wife’s wardrobe. When he demonstrated them the reaction of glee was reward enough for all his efforts. I am sure I will still get a bill. Finally “The Boat Shed” have fitted the new spray hood and will install the Biminis and dingy cover this coming week. Also the twin head sails are due for delivery to take advantage of the twin tele-poles PD rigging fitted. This will give me a fantastic simple downwind rig with the ability to reef at the touch of a button when the squalls hit at night. This “Twistle rig” combined with the Parasailor will be the prefect compromise between speed, safety and comfort.
On the domestic front the house is almost empty and this signals imminent family move to the boat to begin the adventure. The cats have no idea they are about to become “Ship's Cats”

We are Liveaboards

Oyster 406

We have done it!

On the 15th July we moved onto the boat. We had no idea what a momentous day it was to become. Not only did we leave our home of 25 years but we also became grandparents at the same time. We arrived on Sephina and as usual my wife had the place organised, clothes hung up and put away, myriads of items stowed and we went to the Quay's Hotel for dinner as we were exhausted. The bottle of champagne to announce the arrival of Luke David at a whopping 4.74Kg went straight to our heads. The next morning the folding bikes were put into service as we cycled to the shops which will have to be out usual mode of transport as we wean ourselves off the cars. The order of the next few days will be more storage of items and getting in some engine hours. Its not a bad life.