Monday, 30 April 2012

Drag racing..

...so it may have only been a half hour, but yesterday afternoon I finally broken my duck... it was only just to the end of the Northney Channel ...  I think I made Sweare Deep just...  up on the donk, and then a stupidly fast sail back with a third of a jib, a shed load of tide, and nothing else....

...still it blew the cobwebs out...

Brambelmet says force 6 or 7....  wouldn't have wanted to go much further...  not in Pap anyway...!

As a postcript...  by this time last year I'd got 3 sailing sessions and almost 30 miles under my belt..  the year is not starting well....

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sails on...

Before...... looking a bit bare....
Quick trip out to see Pap today in order to get the sails on...

With tides at 7 in the morning and 7 in the evening, and a damn chilly force 5 from the north east, there was no opportunity today for the first sail of the season..

Any way mission accomplished - she's now re-rigged and ready to go when I do have the opportunity..

While I was out there I took the opportunity to get a few shots of the winter projects that I hadn't managed to get on launch day...


Cockpit tidy from above - showing attachment.... 

Same from the front - just sits on the cockpit step...

Tempted to start calling this blog "101 Uses for a Plastic joining Block"... Bolts form the attachment for...

More blocks... yee gods I need to do that varnish soon...

Stereo in place...  alternative blog title might also be "101 Uses for a Pine Slatted Bed" since that was what formed both box and stereo body...

Damn cosy.....  just off camera - tea on the go, and Kindle.....  well I had to warm up after almost freezing my nadgers off putting the sails on...

After...  and all dressed nicely...
Oh...and I also took courage in hand and called the Coastguard to make sure the VHF was working... and yes I did use Channel 67... and yes it was working...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Cheap plotter.. update....

Just a brief update to bring my last post up to date...  the following may help someone who comes along and experiences similar issues...

So...
  • For Christmas I bought myself a Netbook - make and model probably immaterial but it's an HP Mini 210 which I chose primarily on battery life. More importantly it's running Windows 7 Starter (which is a 32bit operating system - Windows 7 Starter can only be 32bit, this is important later..)
  • For £10 I doubled the memory from 512Kb to 1Gb RAM, again probably immaterial, but I take the view it can only help...
  • Plotter software, based on feedback on the Practical Boat Owner forum [clicky] I decided to go for OpenCPN [clicky] - it's free and open source, and is constantly being developed, and the version I started with was v2.5.0... Check the web site for the latest stable version, as almost certainly I'll be on a later level than this post...
  • OpenCPN then needs charts - charts for OpenCPN are difficult to source as there are currently (at time of writing - since then I believe VisitMyHarbour [clicky] have made a set available)  no UK charts available to buy in the correct format - you have to search the web for a suitable download (I Googled "CM93"); the set I found are old'ish - 1993 - but as a backup to my proper paper charts they'll do... they are also vector format ie. digital charts that allow you to set layers of data over the original display...

    Example Vector Chart from http://celebrating200years.noaa.gov/
    NB. According to the chap from the VisitMyHarbour site, they will be producing a set of OpenCPN compatible charts later this summer which would definitely be on my "buy list"..the advantage for me is that one they will be more up to date, two they will be legal, and three they are in raster format ie. non-digital, basically a straight scan/copy of a paper chart - in this case the Admiralty charts that most UK based sailors recognise (and I prefer to the vector format). There isn't the same ability to zoom (if you zoom in to close they blur) but the charts are more useful to me and I don't need the full digital functionality anyway.
  • So - with charts downloaded, file them in the OpenCPN charts folder - when you start OpenCPN you need to tell it where your charts are, and it should then start up with the relevant chart loaded and your position indicated by a black boat symbol - first time this will be at latitude 0 longitude 0 (the default when no GPS is attached...)...
  • Next step, set up your GPS - originally I used my Garmin GPS72, but I've now bought a dedicated GPS satellite receiver - I'm using a GlobalSat BU 353 (right - and approx £20 from eBay)  Before plugging it in, follow the instructions in the box and find and load the drivers for the GPS, also download a program called GPSInfo which you can get from the same website.. I got my versions of these direct for the web site as I assumed these would be newer than the one's on the CD in the box.
  • Next - and don't struggle, just trust me on this - source a free application called XPORT [clicky] and download it. Why do you need it?? Two main reasons.. 
    1. XPORT is a virtual COM port splitter - what's that?? It allows multiple applications (like OpenCPN, and GoogleEarth, and  etc etc) to use the same GPS - if you don't have it you can only use one application at a time.
    2. It allows you to predefine a COM port for the GPS and irrespective of whatever port Windows then decides to give it (which can change every time you plug it in, and whichever USB port you use) you always know the GPS is on a specific port
    3. I have no idea why - but I also found that it stopped my GPS from timing out in OpenCPN every 15 minutes or so...
    4. OK so that was three....but hey...  Oh, and the 32bit is important because XPORT only runs on a 32bit version of Windows...
  • Next plug the GPS in - it'll show a solid red LED while it's searching for satellites - once it starts to flash, it's found them. Then (and only then) start XPORT. When starting XPORT, if it's currently installed there will be no window, just a tray icon. Double-Click on the tray icon to open the configuration dialog (that's it, right). Scan for your GPS or set the input port manually if you already know (you can find it via the Control Panel), and set the output to an unused COM port on the right, make sure the Baud rate is set to 4800 (which is the BU353 speed) then hit "Enable Ports" and it's ready to go. You can now close the dialog as XPORT will continue to run in the task bar and will start when Windows starts. The XPORT web page explains all the other fields..
  • You can now start OpenCPN; when you have select the toolbox icon on the menu, and select the GPS tab - set the COM port as the one you set in XPORT (the unused one you set on the right), set the Baud Rate to 4800 (not sure if you need to do this here as well as you set it in XPORT, but hey ho no harm done), and I always check the "NMEA Window" option as I like to see the GPS talking to ensure its working - click OK, and you should appear as a red ship icon on the OpenCPN screen on the relevant chart ... See following.... which shows me as being moored inland as that was where I happened to be with the GPS at the time...  you can also see the NMEA conversation window (labelled COM2) and also a sample of the vector charts that OpenCPN uses

  • If it doesn't show that - or the ship icon is black, or the NMEA window doesn't show any "chat" then there may be a problem with the GPS - this is where you can use the GPSInfo program you downloaded above - GPSInfo is a simple interrogation tool that you can use to check your GPS is working - us it in conjunction with the LED light on the side of the GPS to find out whether the GPS is working...
...and that's it!

Feel free to drop me a comment if you have any questions and I'll see if I can help...

Sunday, 8 April 2012

...and we're in!

...

So 06'sparrow f*rt yesterday (7th) found me heading for the sailing club for my appointment with the launching hoist... high tide was 12:45 up my way so I wasn't 100% sure why I needed to be there so early but all became clear once I got to the club and saw the list of boats that were also due to go in that day... at least 15 to 20 of them...

We use a hoist like this...
I was really lucky, and at dead low water they put me down the bottom of the slip first..  no incidents, and ten minutes after I arrived Pap was safely placed on the shingle, next to low water line... just three or four hours to wait for water, but I'd be first off...

Over the next 20 minutes two other sub 20 footers were also brought down  and placed alongside me, they then started bringing down progressively bigger boats and placing them between me and the shore ... the kettles were on, people were nervously getting warps ready for mooring (or towing in case engines wouldn't start!), bit of idle chat, but mostly just sit and watch the tide come in...

Me? I started the kettle and had a play getting the plotter going!

Before I knew it Pap started to shift slightly.. I could feel lateral movement when I moved - she was beginning to float...  plotter was working a treat, time to start the engine...  she started up sweet as a nut, and having warmed her up I put her into idle and engaged reverse gear - I figured a gentle backward pull would pull her off when she was ready, and less than 5 minutes later she did exactly that...  best launch I've had in four years of putting her back in the water!

Now this must have been about 10'ish still way before high tide and I was a bit worried that there wouldn't be enough water to get on the mooring...  no worries there, plenty of water on the new mooring even this early...   the very high spring undoubtedly helped...  fantastic to be back on the water again, under the bridge, motor pulling well, on the mooring 10 minutes later....

Having tied up I then decided the time was opportune to put the mast up (!) - moved the mast backwards still in the crutch at the back of the cockpit, re-bolted the mast foot to the deck fitting, checked the A frame was still secure and set up the jib halyard and main sheet to provide the attachment points... one more check of the stays to make sure they weren't caught on anything, and moved the front of the boat to start pulling her up ...  five minutes later it was up and the forestay attached...  amazing...  and on my own....chuffed to nuts doesn't come close... very pleased!

Tidied up, checked for water ingress (none), checked in with a mate on the mooring next to mine to see if he wanted to put his mast up (no), and ten minutes later I flagged down a club launch and headed for home...  back by12...

Still amazed at how well it went...*

Apologies for the lack of photo's, the camera battery was flat when I got it out (it wasn't b.t.w - just in the camera back to front!)

Addendum...  when I got back to shore they were beginning to shift the really big boats...  the biggest boat in the club is a Bavaria 38 footer - fin keel - sure is a sight to see a 9 ton boat being lifted on a 10 ton hoist... it would scare me to death.... amazing to think that everyone manning the tractor and hoist are all club members - they don't do it for a living - absolutely amazing job done by all...

* Just in case you think it all went perfectly, when I got home I couldn't find my boat keys...  hunted high and low and was forced to the conclusion I'd left them on the boat....  so back to the club, cadged a lift, and sure enough there they were...  sat on the cabin roof.... still in the padlock...  

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Done!

Done... absolutely knackered but she's ready to go in...

Busy, busy week....

  • Tender finished - some items not on the list but needed doing anyway.. pipe lagging (fendering) replaced, woodwork painted and re-bolted/screwed, wood on trailer replaced..
  • Mast down ready for the launch - confidant enough to do that on my own with the A frame... Windex reattached... aerial bracket bent back down so as not to be in the way.. NB. May need new aerial next year, cable was scored from its contact with the bridge at lift out last winter,I've repaired it for now with amalgamating tape - we'll see if this is good enough.. also fitted an additional pulley and halyard, and checked all pins/fittings are good..
  • Pick up buoy now on the mooring (b.t.w. new mooring this year is brilliant!) and tender moved back to pen..
  • Cockpit tidy constructed/painted and ready to use.. really chuffed with this... pictures of this and other stuff later...
  • Tiller extension fitted...
  • Cockpit cleat re-fitted (was only attached with screws!) and sealed..
  • Amplifier wired in and working - delighted with this...
Wash and scrub up required, but she's ready for another season...   fair winds!!
 
PS. First plans being made for the intrepid Round the Island crew to reconvene and cross the channel to Cherbourg in June - now that'll be fun!