Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Winter Quarters

 Vagabond is now safely tucked up in her quarters for the winter: a nearby farm, neatly parked on her trailer between a pile of straw bales and a small builders dump truck. So now the various “works” that need doing to her can begin. Washing the salt off, scrubbing the decks, polishing the upper works and re-varnishing the woodwork are just the beginning of the list. Not to mention the cabin interior......
My readers (I now realise that there are at least four of you) will remember that I had left her on a mooring at Balvicar on Seil Island, just south of Oban. I was on a three line whip to be home for a wedding. With the help of the local bus, Scotrail and Virgin trains (not to mention the Owners Agent, who met me at a local station late at night) just made it.
The following week, I extracted the trailer from the local farm and headed north. The M6 was trouble free, the Vikings' widow kindly gave me lunch, and the we arrived in Balvicar late on the Wednesday evening.  The trailer was abandoned in the boat yard and I took the car away to fill it with fuel for the trip south.
The following afternoon, when the tide was rising, Doris took me out to Vagabond, Freddie was fired up (first pull even though he had been ignored for a week) and I brought Vagabond into the slipway entrance, to tie up alongside the jetty. The car and trailer were manoeuvred into position on the loose surfaced slipway. I pulled Vagabond so that her nose was nuzzling against the trailer rollers. Then the wind took charge and Vagabond was blown diagonally across the trailer centre line.
Much fiddling about with the anchor over the stern corrected this. Meanwhile the tide rose; the sea lapped around the trailer and approached the tow car.  I unrolled the winch tape and attached to Vagabonds' nose ring, the strain was taken up and I slowly pulled her out of the water onto the trailer. After what seemed like about 10 minutes of winching, she was sitting on the trailer and I was seriously pleased that I had emptied the ballast tanks on the last sail.
Now came the task of moving the car and trailer up the slipway before both were engulfed by the tide. The slipway surface was loose slate. The tow car has front wheel drive and the first attempts to get the ensemble moving were disasters. The wheels slipped, the anti skid system came into play and the whole lot just stopped.  I reasoned that the trailer wheels might have become embedded a bit in the surface, so uncoupled the trailer and moved it back (down slope) a bit (I couldn’t move it up the slope). Pulling in the stern anchor seemed to be a good idea too....

Out of the water with Doris deflating!

When I re-coupled the trailer to the car, I turned off the anti skid electronics and, with my heart in my mouth, gently turned on the power (it’s an automatic). The wheels slipped and then gripped and, with some wheel slip, we moved up the slip away from the water.
She’d been in the sea since May and was weed and other growth free – the CopperCoat, though green, clearly did what it said on the tin.
Two hours later, Vagabond had been de-rigged, Doris deflated , and we were on our way south. Planning the journey was a bit like planning one of the voyages – it was all a question of timing. Timing to miss the Glasgow rush hour. Timing to get to motorway services and the overnight stop  where trailers could be accommodated that meet the drivers needs  (Teebay, on the M6, was the first stop). Timing to miss the Manchester and Birmingham rush hours.
It all worked well; the M74 and M6 were clear and Vagabond was in the barn in Buckinghamshire by 2pm on Friday. I could go home and get ready for the next wedding on time. Why do all these things come together?
500 miles 10 hours VW motor all the way!

1 comment:

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