Finally Sailing Away!

Yesterday was as beautiful as it was promised here in Kinsale. Sunny, warm and a wind hovering around 10-20 knots. I was in luck, because this was the day where I was to take Away out sailing again, and I couldn’t have asked for more.

This time I had it all planned out a little bit better than last time, I had stowed away most of the lose things and the cabinet under the sink was secured. I did however take my time, had a breakfast in the cockpit that was bathed in warm sunshine and my mood was better than most days I’ve been here in Ireland. Sun and warmth tend to do that to me, I don’t know why.

Some time after 10 in the morning I started the engine and let go of the mooring. The plan was rather simple – hoist the sail with an initial reef in it to make sure I wouldn’t have an overpowered boat, aim south and see how far I would come.

As I left the harbor area the wind picked up a bit, but it was still a fantastic say for a longer sail.

It is always a little bit of a challenge to set the mainsail on my own, because it is quite heavy and requires winching to get it all the way to the top. This time though, since I had planned to start reefed, it was a little easier. The wind was blowing from land, so to hoist the mainsail I had to turn back to avoid filling it with wind as it came up, the situation can get a little messy if it does.

As the sails filled with wind, the boat sped away. She is really quick in the water, and it is just fantastic to see! Just out on the ocean I noted that I was doing over 9 knots in winds just below 20 knots. Still reefed. But speed is not all about sail area, as it is often translated to heeling, as I experienced last time when my planning was, quite frankly, nonexistent. I just wanted to get out on the water after months of staying on the hard.

This time it all went smooth, and it all felt really great. It didn’t take long before Old Head of Kinsale was behind me, as I went south. I took aim at Seven Heads, the next peninsula down the coast. The wind was straight in my face though, so I had to go at an angle and tack my way forward. Unfortunately the wind died down a bit and since I didn’t plan to stay over night somewhere (and I stil need to get all the lights working) I felt that it was time to make a decision. I’d call it a successful sail and turned back again. As the wind had died down a bit I had shaken out the reef and had full sails, but in a wind of 5-6 knots I was happy that I could get 2-3 knots of speed.

The best thing happened just before reaching Old Head of Kinsale again. I heard a Puuh-hup sound behind the boat. First I didn’t get what it was, then I heard som chirping in the water and then finally I saw what was making these noises: Dolphins! Well, not sure it was dolphins as I only saw two fins as they came up for air a second time, but it could definitely have been dolphins, so I will call them that.

That was really cool!

I sat ready with my phone to film them if they came back, but unfortunately they didn’t. But some things you just have to be there to experience, right?

I once again passed the lighthouse, this time from the south, that marks the peninsula south of the outlet of river Bandon, and as I changed direction for Kinsale the wind came back, and the approach of the river didn’t take as long as I had expected.

I met a few more boats on my way to the river outlet, it seems that more than me felt that it was a great day for a sail, even if I’d already been sailing for about five hours at that time.

The sails looks really good and the broad reach onto the river was really nice.

I rolled in the head sail and dropped the main sail as I approached Kinsale. I had some issues with the long battens as their cars didn’t drop perfectly, not sure why, maybe it was my fault.

When I opened the lazy bag, where the main sail is stored when it isn’t up, before I left in the morning I noticed that the zipper was hard to open up all the way and now, when I tried to close it, it jammed. No matter what I did it wouldn’t close. Eventually, after some struggle, I got it to move a bit. But not without noticing that I had managed to pull a tear in the fabric of it. It was old and the fabric was brittle. Maybe I used to much force too… But the zipper has a metal slider that was corroded and it all summed up to a failure. so it has to be changed. The lazy bag itself needs to be replaced since it isn’t just the zipper that is old and worn. So I have to figure out which way to go. I want to remake the lazy bag myself, but it was not intended to be done here, since I don’t have a sewing machine nor the materials to do it right now. Oh, well.

As I got to the mooring, I noticed that the tide was pulling the pilot buoy, that is used to catch the lines for the mooring, was pointing upriver and was quite far from the mooring and I decided I wanted to try to pick it up with the boat hook to see if it was a viable and easier option to lassoing the mooring ball. First of all, there is a bridge upriver the mooring, not that far. It does makes thing a bit more interesting when it comes to maneuvering the boat into position. I tried twice to catch it pointing towards the bridge, that didn’t work. I then tried the other way, and on my second attempt I actually managed to catch the pilot line and get it around the cleat, but at the expense of dropping the boat hook in the water. Well, it actually bounced off the boat as I put it behind me on the dinghy and I was wrestling the line onto the cleat. So, what to do…?

I got the mooring set, dropped the dinghy in the water and went on a wild goose chase for my boat hook. It was obviously nowhere to be seen, as the tide was 0.3 knots at the time it floated away with some speed, obviously. To add to it the dinghy ran out of fuel. But I still had the oars, so I started to row.

One thing that I haven’t mentioned before is that at one end of the bridge there is this outdoors gym kind of thing, and a parking lot. On the parking lot stands what attracts all the people there: a fish & chips wagon.

And I was hungry. Not just hungry, I was sad that I lost my boat hook and that the lazy bag needs repairs and at the same time very happy with the day, so I went for a treat. It is really yummy, and I was really full after I had it. But you know, sitting in the sun, thinking back at the day was really joyful.

I remembered that i needed to charge the battery, since the auto pilot uses quite a lot. This will, by the way, be a bit of a headache if I want to sail over longer periods of time. So getting the new batteries will be essential for the future. I got to the control panel, pushed the start button and…


Arrgh! So, the starter still needed to be fixed.

I went to bed that night without fully charged batteries and with no way to charge them in the morning. I have ordered a solar panel to remedy the most immediate issue, but it won’t arrive until Thursday. I had a problem.

When I woke up today my first thing on the agenda was to try to start the engine. It just had to start today, there simply was no option. Last time it helped by just holding the start button a long time, as the voltage over the solenoid (the gray cylinder closest in the picture) slowly rose and finally it would start. Well, not this time. I reached out to the friendly soul that gave me some hints last time it was malfunctioning, but I didn’t get any reply.

So, what to do? I checked what a new starter would cost and how long it would take to get it here. €168 and 3-5 days. Ouch. But I can’t have a starter that is malfunctioning. But I needed it to start now. And I needed to know that if I ordered a new one, I could remove and replace the current one. There is only two bolts, so in theory it would be simple. But corrosion always seems to throw a wrench into “simple” when theory meets reality. But with WD40, some patience and extending the spanner with another spanner I managed to get both bolts lose.

Before I decided to remove the starter I had checked the electronics box, since my source said that there could be relays in there that was about to give up their ghost. On later models there were mosfets, a kind of solid state relay, instead. I was surprised that the box I had had these mosfets, but on the other hand it looked much cleaner than the rest of the engine so it could have been replaced. None the less, there wasn’t much in there that I could validate or repair anyway.

So I removed the starter. then I begun to pick it apart, but the negative pole of the solenoid didn’t want to come off and since there was a crack there I didn’t want to take any chances, so I let it be. I removed the bolts and screws I could, pulled it apart as much as I could. Looked at it with a stern eye and told it to stop misbehaving, and put it all back together again. As a good measure I took a hammer and whacked the starter with it a few times. It might sound like a silly thing to do, but it some times makes things that is seized to come free again.

In the mean time, while I was working the starter, I ordered a new one. There is no way I can have a starter that might work when needed. It. Just. Has. To. Work. Every time, no exceptions. Hopefully it will get here before the weekend. I also received a phone call from the boat yard, apparently I had five parcels there waiting for me. Nice, since they were scheduled for tomorrow. So I took a break from the starter, took the dinghy to the car and the car to the boat yard. all items had arrived for jury-rigging the solar panel, except the solar panel itself, that will come on Thursday.

Since I was on land I thought I just as well could do some shopping. Because that’s how you think as a liveaboard that is on a mooring. Said and done, I went first to the Bandon co-op, that has much tools and equipment for the farmers around Kinsale, and got some oil for the up coming engine service. I also went and bought some food, to replenish my supplies. All in all, a good run.

As I got back home, I had the starter on the table and I was a bit annoyed that it didn’t work. I thought that I at least could try to mount it again, to see how to do it for when the new one arrived. And of course, a small hope that whatever I had done to it would in some magical way had turned a lump of useless metal into pure, shining gold. At least figuratively speaking. It was still a lump of rusty, greasy metal not worth much on the market.

Some fiddling later it was back on it’s place where I found it yesterday and it was time for a last frustrated test to see if any of the I’m-not-qualified-for-this-and-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-poking-around would have worked. I took a deep breath and pushed the start button, and… wroom! It was working! To my amazement it was actually working! So, yeah, I was really happy. Not that I had managed to fix it, since I don’t know what was actually wrong with it. No, I was happy because now I could actually charge the batteries and make sure that they would last until I got my solar panel, yay! I had to charge about 60Ah to replenish the batteries, in my world that would mean many hours to get there but I was content so I let it run while I started to make dinner. After a while I realized that I had to check how much diesel I had left. It was time to fill the tanks, that’s how much I knew. I pressed the button for the meter and… it hardly moved. It moved up to E – as in Empty. Oh, crap. What if I can’t charge the batteries because I will run out of fuel? How will I handle it tomorrow? I have to go to the fuel dock and fill my tanks again (which by the way is a good thing, since I’m a little low on water as well). I need to dock. I have never done that before, how will that work? Do they have personell there, or do I have to manage to dock and fueling all by myself? In a river with some serious tidal current. What if I run out of fuel on my way to the dock? Omg..

Okay, one thing at a time. The last issue can be remedied by making sure that my anchor works. So that is first om my agenda tomorrow. And then I have two jerry cans that I can use if I have to drop the anchor if I run out of fuel. All I have to do is to put them in the dinghy and fill them up and then, after filling the tank, take Away to the dock. Okay, breathe. It’s under control. I got plan A, B and C in place. Nice. Now I can sleep. tomorrow I will tell you how it all went.

Good night!

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