Sunday, 28 January 2018

Dunstaffnage Visits 2 and 3

Hi everyone,
Long time no posts!  Since my last post I have visited Zen Again twice.  The first occasion was in mid-November and second was this weekend.

Gas-fueled heater is up & running!
The November visit focussed on emptying and cleaning both water and diesel tanks.

The water tanks have been emptied, "shocked" with bleach and refilled regularly but they haven't been physically cleaned for at least 5 years.  It was important to completely empty the tanks since there was a real risk of freezing with the boat ashore.  All the tanks have inspection hatches which allow us to reach all parts of each tank.

The water tanks were surprisingly clean.  The only dirt at the bottom appeared to be fine sand.  There was a trace of rust on some of the welds around interior of the tank.  Before closing up the tanks I sprayed some clove oil and vinegar mixture to stop mould growth.

Water tanks ready for closure
The diesel tanks were last emptied and cleaned in 2013 during our Thailand refit.  With the inspection hatches off I used a hand pump to transfer about 60 litres of diesel into jerries.  Then it was a case of sponging the last of the diesel out into a bucket, including the expected lumps of gunk.

Diesel Gunk
Diesel tanks ready for closure
It was good to fully inspect and clean the tanks.

Now we fast forward two months to this weekend.  As in November I travelled by coach from Woking to Heathrow, Heathrow to Glasgow, and Glasgow to Dunstaffnage.  The trip is an overnighter taking 15 hours.  The trip from Glasgow to Oban is spectacular...

Snowy Mountains
Misty Lochs

On arrival I had a quick look at our new standing rigging and furler.  It was a quick look since it was literally freezing!  The boat's deck had a glaze of ice, the dodger was frozen solid and frozen water droplet hung from the s/s rails.  Twas time to get below and try out the gas heater!

New ProFurl and StaLok turnbuckles 
Icy Deck
On Friday afternoon I met with the Dunstaffnage Works Manager Phil and Harbour Master Hamish.

Phil and I sorted out the small programme of work on Zen Again prior to her relaunch.  That includes fairing, priming and anti-fouling around the filled-in transducer; prepping and antifouling the shaft and propellor; and quoting on tidying up small scratches in the topsides paint.  Hamish and I discussed the relaunch and possible dates.

Finally on Friday afternoon I visited Owen Sails and met with John who is coordinating our rigging and boom work.  On the rigging I asked for some of the pins to be replaced with shorter ones to avoid their touching the mast.  The boom work includes removing the excessive play at the gooseneck and fitting a larger vang bracket.  The latter will spread the load and provide separation between vang and boom brake.

On Saturday I cleaned below, charged the batteries and installed a dehumidifier.  The latter will supplement the tube heaters we have running and avoid condensation.

Chilly Dunstaffnage
It's always fun to be aboard our boat.  Can't wait to get her back in the water and sailing!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Dunstaffnage Visit 1

Hi everyone,
We have just returned from a long weekend visiting Zen Again.  On Wednesday night we travelled north from London to Glasgow on the Caledonian Sleeper.  On Thursday morning we continued by coach to Dunstaffnage.

Before leaving Zen Again last month we prepared her for haul-out and de-rigging.  When we arrived she was ashore with the rig neatly laid out alongside.

Zen Again ashore

Rig awaiting work
We spent Thursday afternoon installing a replacement for our old Raymarine ST40 log/depth instrument.  We installed an Airmar DST800 "triducer" which measures boat speed, water depth and water temperature.  Raymarine, Garmin and Simrad all appear to use this unit which can be bought with an NMEA2000 interface.

The yard staff had already removed the old transducers from the hull.  We removed the old ST40 display and the wiring to the old transducers, then fed through the cable from the DST800 and connected it into our NMEA2000 network.

Next we removed our very old Garmin GPSmap450 from the cockpit and replaced it with the newer Garmin GPSmap451 from the navstation.  Rearranging the cabling took a little while but this eliminated SeaTalk and NMEA0183 from everywhere except the autopilots.  And we were left with a fully functioning NMEA2000 network connecting AIS, triducer, chart plotter and VHF.  Sooooo much neater than NMEA0183!!!

Setting up the GPSmap451 to display boat speed, water depth, COG and SOG was easy.  That will be our main cockpit display instrument.  We'll be chart plotting on our iPads using our Vesper XB8000 AIS's WiFi hotspot.  The AIS is now the heart of our electronics system with NMEA2000 and WiFi feeding and distributing data.  Simple and effective.

View of Oban from the northern end of the harbour
We were very pleased with sorting out the electronics in a single afternoon.  We took a taxi into Oban where we checked-in to Corran House, our accommodation for the weekend.  Below the hostel is a nice cosy pub Markie Dan's.  Highly recommended and I especially enjoyed their Crofter's Platter (a Scottish Ploughmans').

Crofer's Platter
On Friday morning we took the bus to the marina.  We stopped for a minute in the marina office and while there a DHL delivery man arrived with our new heater.  Amazing coincidence.  We spent the day installing our Dickinson P9000 heater.

The simplest part was mounting the heater itself at the forward end of the saloon on the port side.  This located it under the hole in the coachroof once used for the chimney of a solid fuel heater - when the boat was Japanese and named Shirahae.  Since then there has been a mushroom vent filling the hole.  Back in 2011 while in Darwin we replaced the headlining and the new headliner had no hole for a chimney.

To fit the chimney we had to take down the Laminex headliner and cut the hole for the chimney.  Then back up with the headliner and fit the P9000's flue cap.  Finally we offered up the chimney pipe and found it was exactly the right length.  More happy coincidence!

Dickinson Heater showing chimney 
Dickinson Heater detail
We had previously met with the gas fitter who will extend our gas system to supply the heater.  Hopefully that will be done in time for our next visit when it will be considerably colder.  After a full day working aboard we returned to the hostel and had a quiet evening with a fish and chips take-away dinner.

We spent Saturday morning tidying up the boat and making her ready for winter.  The yard mechanic had winterised the engine when Zen Again was hauled out.  We went through the boat making sure all clothes, towels etc were stowed in sealed boxes or bags, all five low-power electric "tube" heaters were safely placed and working, and all tools oiled and stowed.

View of Oban from the ferry dock
View of Oban from southern end of the harbour
It was great spending a few short days on Zen Again.  And great to get so many jobs done.  We enjoyed exploring central Oban too.  On Saturday evening we took the coach south to Glasgow, stayed in an airport hotel overnight then flew south to Heathrow on Sunday morning.

Preparations for replacement of our standing rigging and main furler are now in place with Owen Sails.  They will also be tidying up our sails and boombag over the winter.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Readying for Winter at Dunstaffnage Marina

Hi everyone,
We have spent the last two days preparing Zen Again for her winter stay ashore at Dunstaffnage Marina.  Here are the items ticked off the to-do list:
  • Cleaned below decks
  • Cleaned and aired cockpit lockers
  • Emptied water from the void below the chain locker
  • Derigged, dried and stowed jib, staysail and mainsail
  • Derigged and stowed the boom and rodkicker
  • Cleaned, dried and stowed running rigging
  • Removed and stowed over a dozen blocks from toe rails, boom and mast foot
  • Stowed anchor below
  • Stowed outboard below
  • Stowed side dodgers below
  • Disconnected electrical cables and antenna feeds at base of mast

Zen Again ready for haul-out
Boom stowed
At the marina itself we have arranged for the boat to be lifted out, derigged and the engine winterised this month.  She will stay ashore until April.

We arranged for a gas fitter to visit us this afternoon.  We hope to extend our system to fit a heater (probably a Dickinson P9000).

We also arranged for Owen Sails to inspect our sails and store them over winter.  We hope they will also be able to replace our standing rigging and do various other rigging jobs.

Our depth sounder has been misbehaving over the last two weeks.  The Raymarine ST40 unit is very old.  One of our two old Garmin chartplotters is also misbehaving.  We'll be thinking about replacement and how best to optimise our instrumentation over the next month or two.

At Dunstaffnage we've enjoyed two great meals at The Wide Mouthed Frog hotel restaurant.  We may stay there when we visit.