The other day I left you in suspense, wondering about the conditions inside Vagabond after the winter. Worry no longer - apart from some mould in one of the cockpit lockers, a good layer of grime in the cockpit and a layer of dust inside the cabin, Vagabond had weathered the winter unscathed.
A thorough sweep inside and the cabin was as good as new. The gas heating worked. The kettle was boiled and various bits were washed. The batteries were checked and both seemed to be in good condition. The solar panels appeared to have kept the winter discharge at bay.
But this is procrastination - avoidance activity. It's time to get on with the most important task - fitting the spreaders and baby stays to the mast.
Attentive readers may recall that I had started this last October by drilling two groups of holes in the cabin roof and then filling them in with solid epoxy. Now I had to fit D rings on either side of the roof to provide the securing point for the baby stays. The problem was that this required me to hold the heads of the securing screws still from inside the cabin whilst tightening the bolts on the outside. My arms weren't long enough by about 6 feet! I had worried about this on and off throughout the winter. My solution was to make a special "self locking 3 screw" screw driver which grip all three screws for one D ring at the same time, provided I could wedge in place inside the cabin.
Bolts and washers were slathered in silicon and pushed up through re - drilled holes in the deck. The triple screwdriver was wedged in place and, with fingers crossed, I went on deck to slather more silicon around and place the D ring in position. I carefully tightened the self locking nuts and was mildly pleased that everything stayed in place. The first D ring was secured! The second was secured with similar ease. Phew. Time for lunch.
Now came the tricky bit - the mast. Swallow boats had provided me with a fitting to place on the mast which would form the upper securing point for the baby stays and the mounting point for the spreaders.
Measure twice and cut once - or so I had been taught. The mast was measured - various datum points were identifed and marked out with masking tape. At this point, doubt set in - perhaps I had better check this lot with Swallow Boats.
I've just realised that this is degenerating into one of those nausiating "how to do it" articles in magazines like PBO. And, sadly, it's not a parody. So I'll stop.
Suffice it to say, the fittings were fitted, the spreaders were spread, the stays were stayed, the mast raised, the rake adjusted and ithe mast was lowered again. Job done.
Now to fit the extra solar cell - mains charging sockets will be in short supply where we're going. this proved to be surprisingly easy and by the next afternoon the cell was fitted and happliy charging the batteries. In full sun, the combined panels provided enough power to continue to charge the batteries even when the VHF was running. Job 2 done.
Freddie was unearthed from the car boot and lifted into position (aren't these 4 stroke outboards heavy!)
Friday morning brought heavy rain. And it was time to head south.
Don't drive on the M6, south, on a Friday.