Hi everybody! If you haven´t found us at Facebook yet, you might not know how we are getting on so we thought it was about time for an update! We are still hanging out at Belfast harbour, waiting for the delivery of the new batteries that we have ordered and that the insurance company will help us with. They are getting shipped from Holland to Sweden first, where our supplier will add some cables and other supplies we need and then send them here in one big package. So, probably another week until they will get here and then there is some work to get them mounted in place and installed in a proper way. The short version is that we have focused on reparation, renovation and getting to know our neighbours!
Learning from this experience we of course started to think about what we can do to make sure the sea water stays outside the boat in the future? Here are some of our ideas:
- Making sure that each chain holding down the bowsprit can take at least as much load as the forestay.
- Changing the permanent design of the bowsprit and replace the current board with a stainless steel netting so that there will be less force when the bow crash down into the water. Or, another possibility is the make our own mesh using dynema rope (similar to what many catamarans have in the front between their hulls).
- Putting a new buckle on the anchor chain locker, so it won´t break open again despite big waves.
- Installing a sea cock and through hull fitting where the air ventilation goes into the anchor chain locker, so that we can close it while under way – making the anchor chain locker completely sealed from the rest of the boat
- Installing a floater in the bilge where the batteries were mounted, so that we get an alarm if there for any reason gets water down there again.
- Possibly move the batteries and make a new mount higher up and thus more protected from any water entering again.
- Get stainless steel covers for all windows making sure breaking waves will not crush them.
- Another weak spot is the companion way entry which could definitely use some reinforcement or possible a complete new design. The current doors cannot take the massive force of a breaking wave so the question is how to find a suitable solution. It must be easy, even with big bulky clothes in big seas, to get in and out. Opening and closing must be possible to do quickly, preferably with one hand only. If a big wave forces you to let go no parts should be lost (a common sail yacht solution is to have two or more sheets that you slide into place but if you drop one of those sheets wind and waves can easy wash them over board making it hard to seal off the living compartment). And, of course not too pricey, ugly or complicated to make 🙂 This part still requires some pondering.
Belfast is a rather large city, so we have spent some time walking out to the industrial districts to buy new 10 mm chain and some stronger shackles to connect it to the bowsprit. We also rented bikes for a couple of days to be able to go to a ship chandlery between Belfast and Bangor.
Except installing the new chains, the through hull fitting and new hatch we are also taking on some more renovation projects onboard. The communication station is complete and Jens is almost done with installing the AIS, so everyone can see where we are (and we can see them). We are still hunting for a coaxial cable to be able to connect it to the GPS antenna, we´ll let you know how it works after that ;-). We also started to think about how to make a new door to the boat, and maybe changing the bunks so that we could keep the batteries a little bit higher up in the boat. Installing all the appliances connected to the VHF and AIS is harder than you might think!
While Jens have been busy with the more technical aspects of renovation, I have made sure to get some holiday spirit into the boat with a little Christmas tree, picking some ivy and making an Advent candle holder (of the piece that was left after adapting one of our cuttingboards to fit over the sink). Now I just need to figure out how to be able to bake some gingerbread cookies and saffron buns without an oven aboard?? Maybe I can find help with that here in the harbour? 😉
Let me tell you, the people in Northern Ireland are a friendly bunch! Here in Belfast we already made friends with a bunch of people. There are some that live on their boats some of the time and quite many spend at least one day a week on their boat. Early on we got to know Elliott, the poet, who spend a lot of time on his boat together with his cub writing a play. He helped us move the boat over to the sunny side of the harbour together with Ian. Ian is also dreaming of the blue water cruising lifestyle and will head off south in the spring. Besides the fact that it´s nice to have some people to chat with as we are stuck here fixing the boat in some weeks, we have also got a lot of help and ideas from the gentlemen in the harbour.
After our closest neighbour Ians boat, lies Sylvana with Simon and Paula onboard. They invited us over the other week to discuss different options for routes down to France, since they have sailed over there several times. They are also planning to go cruising next spring. It is great to listen to the experience from the people who have local knowledge on the routes we are planning to take south.
One day earlier this week, we heard about a Christmas dinner being organized by Simon to gather all the people who have boats in the marina. We asked if we could join and that was fine! We walked into town together with Elliott and met up with all the others at a bar to take a drink before we headed to the restaurant. The crew from most of the boats had joined and there were about 35 people on three tables in the restaurant celebrating the holiday season approaching. When Elliott thanked Simon with a speech he also mentioned the Swedish guests, and we felt we should introduce ourselves and thank them for letting us join. Of course, we couldn´t help but sharing a piece of Swedish tradition, and told the story about the French monk that in the 1600´s wrote down the lyrics to a song he heard the Swedes sing so engaged, that he knew it must be the national anthem. Years later it was revealed that it actually was a drinking song called “Helan går”. So, now at least part of Belfast know the most common Swedish drinking song, and that cheers in Swedish is pronounced “Skål”! The evening ended with some rum and tea onboard Ian´s boat, which is nicely decorated for Christmas.
Since that evening, it feels like we know everyone in the harbour and it´s great to have a nice community surrounding us. Most of the people here expect us to stay over Christmas, only time will tell 😉