Checking the Boat After Storm Angus

It’s fair to say it was with some trepidation that I drove down to visit Flora last weekend. Storm Angus had barreled through the south west during the previous weekend and he had wrought havoc. The wind and rain had been incredible and much of Devon and Somerset was affected by flooding.

At the time the storm hit all I could do was lie in my warm bed and wonder how poor old Flora was fairing in the tempest outside. Did I tie mooring ropes well enough? How much water would she take on? Then I remembered the state of the sail cover. Flora’s previous owner, Dennis, is married to an incredibly patient and talented seamstress who had kept the sail cover going long after most would have given up.

Incredible patience shines through this stitching!

Incredible work right? But it struck me that the fabric itself must be pretty weak if it had needed that much repair and stitching to begin with. As I remembered a velcro under tie coming off in my hands when last securing the cover, I imagined Angus fingering away at it until prising it loose. With nothing left to protect the mainsail, I imagined it flogging away in the wind, driving Flora off her mooring and taking down the mast!

So as I approached in the dingy I was greatly relieved to see Flora bobbing away merrily on her mooring with her sail cover in tact. Apart from one jib sheet trailing in the water it looked like Angus hadn’t so much as ruffled her feathers. I climbed on board and lifted the hatch in the cockpit fearful of how much water I would find. The locker lids don’t look all that waterproof and Dennis had mentioned that he recently made modifications to the cockpit sole hatch as it had leaked. For those reasons I expected to see the water up around the prop shaft. But, Dennis’ hatch fix had withstood Angus’ battering and I happily removed the paltry three or four sponges full of water I found there.

When Barbara – the met office names storms in advance here – comes flailing across the UK I don’t want to be plagued by the same worries that Angus caused me, so I set about measuring up for a new sail cover, which I brought and fitted later that afternoon.

Old sail cover.
Old sail cover.
New sail cover.
New sail cover.

And here’s Flora wearing her new cover proudly.

Proudly wearing her new sail cover despite the weed on her water line!
Proudly wearing her new sail cover despite the weed on her water line!

The other cause of concern during the storm had been the mooring lines. As you can see in the picture below the run of the lines on the front of the boat isn’t very good. There are no handed fairleads to guide them, so the last time I tied them off I ran them around the outside of the pulpit bars and onto the samson post.

The mooring lines had been chaffing on the pulpit.
The mooring lines had been chaffing on the pulpit.

Inspection of the ropes showed that they had indeed been rubbing on the pulpit and had started to show wear. I couldn’t leave them like this. I picked up some off cut tubing at the chandlery while I was picking up the new sail cover and ran the mooring lines through that. I took the anchor off the anchor bow roller temporarily and ran the tube and lines through that. At some point I will need to add some handed fairleads to run these lines through. I put the stern lines through tubing too.

Mooring lines and tube running through the anchor roller.
Mooring lines and tube running through the anchor roller.
Stern lines get the same treatment.
Stern lines get the same treatment.

With those jobs now done, when Barbara inevitably shows up I hope I shall be able to rest easier in my bed and that Flora will rest better too!

I didn’t have time left for a sail, so I sat and enjoyed a cuppa, then set to taking the covers off the birth cushions and packed them ready to go home for a wash. Heading back to shore I saw a number of boats on the moorings around Flora were missing. As it was a pleasant sailing day I had assumed that they were out in the sound or beyond, but later spotted them lined up ashore for the winter.

I know I’m going to have to have Flora taken out of the water before next spring but I’m going to leave it as late as possible for a number of reasons. Firstly I’m sure to find more jobs that can only be done when she’s out the water. Secondly, being ashore is expensive, and finally I want to get a few more sailing in before she has to come out!

My Kids Meet the new Boat

After getting the engine running nicely and having had a good first sail on the new boat last weekend, it was time to let my kids loose on board. They have grand schemes of making it look super cosy inside, and making the interior a nicer and more comfortable place to be.

We set off for Plymouth on Saturday afternoon and arrived just in time to watch the Guy Fawkes night fireworks on Plymouth Hoe from Jennycliff on the Turnchapel side of the sound. It was a fantastic display, and the fairground on the Hoe looked incredible.

It was a cold evening, and we had plenty of sleeping bags and blankets to get onto the boat. It took us two trips in the dingy to get everything onto the boat, where the kids immediately started organising the boat and setting up their beds.

Knowing it would be cold on board I had bought a Origo Heatpal bio-ethanol heater and a carbon monoxide alarm.

Origo Heatpal 5100
Origo Heatpal 5100

They’re advertised as being suitable for marine use so I was hopeful of a snug night on the boat. The thing with burning stuff on a boat is that you have to ensure that there’s enough oxygen to feed the fire, or your little ray of joy will start throwing off carbon monoxide and you may get a better sleep that you bargained for! With that in mind I had all the air vents open, and a good draft through the boat, to the point where I’m not sure the boat was any warmer than if I’d kept the vents closed and not lit the heater! Anyway, the carbon monoxide meter showed zero, and my kids got a great night’s sleep. I didn’t sleep too well up in the V-birth, with my head close to a damp underside of the foredeck, and being a bit paranoid about the CO thing. This meant I spent the night checking the CO meter every 30 mins although it has an alarm that would wake me up should the levels rise to a concerning level.

Eventually morning came, and it was beautiful. The sun illuminated a rippling alto stratus cloud layer, reflecting on the oily calm water of the Plym. You could see your breath and feel the sharpness of the air in your lungs


Meanwhile, the girls were still warm, cosy and fast asleep.


When they woke up we tidied away all our bedding, got dressed in our warm clothes and rustled up some breakfast. Bacon sandwiches for the girls and an egg sandwich for me. Then we dropped our mooring and sailed across the sound. Compared to the previous weekend there were hardly any boats out. It was like someone had declared the sailing season over. I was struck by the huge number of masts poking up out of the marinas we passed. Hundred and hundreds of boats all tied up going nowhere. Yes, it was a bit chilly, but the sun was out, and there was a good northerly breeze and we hoisted the sails and took turns at the tiller. All those boats were missing a glorious day, but it was all to our gain, as it was lovely to have the sound almost to ourselves!

I was hoping to get up the Tamar and into the River Lynher, but it wasn’t to be. We had dropped the mooring later than I’d planned and the tide running down the river was too strong to fight so we didn’t get as far as I’d hoped. We ended up picking up a mooring just off Royal William Yard, Stonehouse, where we ate salad boxes and crisps for lunch.

Happy on the tiller.

We needed to get home at a reasonable time to get ready for school the next day, finish homework and all that stuff so we dropped our mooring and headed back across the sound. Tilly took a turn on the tiller.

Cockpit or day bed?

The breeze was strengthening, gusty and disturbed due to it having ruffled the city’s hair as it travelled southward. We sailed on genoa alone and with the tide with us we fairly flew along. Before we knew it we were back on the mooring and decamping all our stuff again. All in all we did seven nautical miles, and spent around three and a half hours off the moorings. By the time we got back the girls had made the cockpit into a day bed and looked very cosy! It was a great day!

Back on the mooring.

Video Footage of the day and a wildlife encounter!

I’ve bought a boat (and fixed it)…

So, in the last instalment I bought a boat, had it fail to start, bought a new alternator and worked out that the old alternator had been wrongly fitted. I refitted the new alternator and proceeded to run the engine with the diesel tap closed until it stopped. Not clever.

So on the Saturday morning on my new boat I awoke with the job of bleeding the diesel through to the injectors to get the engine started again. I had also been disappointed when the engine had been running the previous evening to note that the bloody charging light and alarm had still been sounding, leading me to believe that the alternator still wasn’t quite wired correctly. Booo.

So, I bled the engine through, and poured over more internet pages with schematics of Hitachi alternators. I came to the conclusion that the connection on the wire on the alternator marked ‘P’ for phase simply wasn’t required in my set up. P is used to power rev counters and such like, which my boat doesn’t have. So I connected live to the lug that the chap in the shop had indicated, and connected the boat wiring’s neutral cables onto a nut and bolt on the alternator body marked ‘E’. Earth right?

I then got a new battery for good measure and fired everything up. It all worked beautifully. No alarm from the Yanmar starter panel, no charging warning light, and a good 14V+ across my batteries! Yay! Finally success. Time to get out for a sail before high tailing it back to Somerset. Maybe a pasty first…

I grabbed a pasty from Dizzy’s in Oreston, where I was very pleased to see, they were making the pasties right there in the shop. And very nice my pasty was too!

Then I got back to the boat, dropped the mooring and headed out of the Plym for the sound. Once I rounded Mount Batten breakwater it was time to put some rag up and get the noisy old engine shut down. I took a good look around for approaching vessels and then pulled out the genoa. Took another quick look around and a hydrofoil sailing dingy had sliced its way out of nowhere and was flying past! What a sight!

I pulled up the canvas and found Dennis and I had left a reef in the day before. Still, I had canvas up and was goose winging across the sound.

With the reef shaken out and all canvas up I had a good sail. I’d left the dingy on the mooring, and the transom mounted outboard was up and not dragging and consequently the boat behaved much better, tacking happily and although you wouldn’t call her quick she was OK. I’m sure she’ll be like a new boat when all that weed comes off!

Later the wind picked up and the sun came out briefly. It was a beautiful autumn sail, with moody skies, dancing sunbeams and fickle winds.

Gallerys of Floresca from Purchase.

These are the pictures I took of Floresca when first viewing the boat.