It is a bit hard to grasp that i’ve been in Ireland and on Away for just about a month already. That it’s been thirty-two days since my heart dropped like a rock when I arrived at the boat yard and was greeted by a sign, saying “The boat yard is closed until further notice”.
It was, to be honest, a bit unexpected. Coming from Sweden where Covid-19 has been addressed a little different from other countries it hadn’t even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be able to get into the boat yard! A quick call to the owner sorted that out, but before that happened I saw myself sleeping in the rental car for the rest of the time until the boat yard would open again.
Thankfully that wasn’t needed. But as I arrived all I had was my bag and hand luggage that I brought with me on the plane. Little did I know then that it would take about fourteen days until all my luggage was in place.
The first night was brutal. It was just a few degrees over freezing and all I had was a sleeping bag, some sweaters and one of those neck rests you have on a plane. I’m happy that I had the sleeping bag, but it is for summer weather, not Irish mid-winter conditions. The boat was cold as well, so it took some time to get her warm. Days actually. That first night I slept with as much clothes as i could find, but I still froze.
But I was still happy. I managed to get to Ireland, despite missing my connecting flight (yeah…. a minor mistake on my part, got me sleeping a night in Heathrow. Not recommended) and being able to get to Cork, where I could rent a car and get the last kilometers to Kinsale. I mean, I expected everything would be more or less open as in Sweden. food was also something that I just presumed would be available. I had a small breakfast in the hotel at the airport when I left Sweden, some sandwiches in Heathrow and some chocolate bars in the train station in Dublin. The first warm meal I had was after I got to a supermarket and made made my first lunch on Away, two days later.
Cooking on the boat works fine, except that the gas system is not one that is standard in many caravans and RVs, but smaller tanks which obviously have other fittings. But more about that later.
So, you might wonder, what have I’ve been up to all this time. I mean, it is quite a whole month after all. Well, Away has kept me busy. Boats is always good at keeping their owners busy, trust me. And I haven’t even started the things that I thought that I would do before I got her in the water. Oh, yes, forgot to mention. She is on the hard, waiting for some maintenance and less viruses, to be truthful.
Things you do on a boat that you own but never really gone over properly
When I was here in the autumn 2019 to take a look at the boat and decide if I wanted to buy her or not, I noticed some water in the bilge. To be honest, it was more than some. Under the engine, in the sump, there was water up to a hole that made it go into the bilge from there. The sump s normally not connected to the bilge since its water might contain things that you don’t want to flush out into the open sea. Well, eventually it will overflow into the bilge some how. The owner assured me that it was the seal of the propeller shaft and he would make sure it was replaced on his expense.
So I spent my first weeks just cleaning out the bilge and the engine sump, ignoring all the muck and yuckiness that was in there. Eventually I could see the bottom of the sump, it was white. I confess that there is still things to do, but better done than perfect. It took me many liters of boiling hot water, washing-up liquid and buckets of water to rinse before I got to that point. Just doing that removed much of the dirty engine smell that I felt every time I got into the boat.
Oh, yeah. Dirty engine… It was not cleaned for some time either, and since the sound proofing is falling apart in some places (most of it is replaced though) the engine, that someone probably spilled some oil on at some time, was less than okay. Got some engine de-greaser and went to work. It also took some time and persuasion, but eventually there was a reasonably clean engine in the engine compartment!
Speaking of oil… The auto pilot on Away is hydraulic. There must be a leak somewhere, or maybe the person filling it was more than allowed clumsy doing it, because in the tiny room where it is situated in the very aft of the boat there was oil on the floor. It, in it self, might not be a very bad thing. But since there is no way to stop this oil from going forward, into the sump, there was a greasy surface everywhere. And grease attracts dirt. So everything was greasy and dirty. Ewww, just thinking of it is enough for me! The thing is that where oil was sitting, is where the cables goes into this little compartment, and over time oil has been creeping along the cables forward making the cables rather disgusting too.
Oh, yes, the cables.
They are really a story by them self, but as we all know the electrical in a boat pretty much can tell how a boat has been maintained. In this boat it was no different. As I mentioned earlier they were oily, but that was actually not a big thing compared to how the rest was. For some reason Poncin Yachts, that made the boat, had the idea to make cable harness out of all the cables, tightly wrapped with electrical tape and attached with cable-ties. I guess it makes it much faster to install the cabling in the factory. It does give me a veritable hell trying to figure out which cable goes where though – and the people doing maintenance earlier on the boat as well. Which was easy to see, since there was cables added later outside the harness. They obviously didn’t have the time or the interest in digging trough the harness for every cable they needed to replace. So, as a consequence, there were cables going nowhere.
The last three days I’ve been trying to undo this harness, but the way it is routed and was attached to the boat there was about a meter I couldn’t reach, since it was behind the wet locker and the chart table, just below the switch board. It took many hours and many curses before I surrendered. I couldn’t unwrap the cables as it was at the moment. Luckily I had some power tools with me, among them my circular saw, and I decided to do an inspection hatch, probably something I should have done already on the first day.
After I made a small hole to have a peek, I went ahead and enlarged it as big as I could do it. Wow! Totally of a sudden I could actually see the cables I was trying to unwrap. Amazing. It took me no-time to free the last meter of the cables and then the fun begun! I spent most of the afternoon chasing cables, finding which went where and which wasn’t connected. I managed to remove a full bag of cables, of most wasn’t attached at all. I also removed the old GPS-unit since it will not be of use when I get the AIS I have ordered. I will make sure I have redundancy, no worries.
That is probably most of what has happened in broad strokes so far. My plan is to have her in the water by the end of May, but being on the hard has its up sides. One is that I have “shore power” – 230V straight into the boat. That is the only way for me to keep the boat warm at the moment. Another is that I have unlimited water, which helps when cleaning the boat. Putting her in the water will not be warm, so I will do that at the latest point possible. The reason is that we’re still in lock down here in Ireland, and most of Europe, so I don’t have anywhere to sail, really. Rumor has it that it will change tomorrow. I’m not hoping too much though.
There is more to write about regarding my exploration of the boat, leaks for instance, but this post is long as it is so I’ll leave that ’til later.