The Sailboat Live Aboard Life; Frustrating or What?

from 'The Journal of Alacazam', by Mary Swift...

It's Wednesday 11th July 2001. Woke up early and Dick ferried Phil ashore in our new dinghy before 0800 hours to buy a parking ticket for the car. Of course the dinghy had to be inflated again but hopefully this will soon be sorted.

Anna took the advantage of a lie-in but the smell of egg and bacon baps and fresh coffee for breakfast soon lured her from the forepeak. Phil and Anna gave us gifts which, they tell us, are not to be opened until we cross the Equator.

As we have no current intentions of crossing the Equator we have been given leave to open them as we are approaching the Caribbean about two days away from landfall.

Phil and Dick disconnected the wind generator ready to take ashore when we had found an engineer who could help.

The weather forecast for Biscay and Finisterre is not good and it looks as though we will be in Falmouth for at least a week. Thus it was arranged with the sailmaker that Phil would take the 'yankee' sail back to Plymouth for him to put in a leech-line to stop the flapping.

So mid-morning saw us all boarding the water taxi complete with sail, sleeping bags and luggage only to be taken to the Prince of Wales Quay which meant a long laden-down walk to Phil's car at the other end of Falmouth. Dick and I bade our fond farewells to Phil and Anna who were visiting a friend near Padstow before returning to Plymouth. We look forward to seeing them again next Sunday when they will be bringing the repaired sail back.

Dick and I headed for Trago Mills and bought a few useful items for the boat. We then found the Bosun's Locker Chandlery where the helpful staff gave us details of a local marine electronics engineer to check out the wind generator.

Next door at Marine Instruments we bought new pilots of the Leeward Islands and Venezuela before partaking of a leisurely lunch at the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club.

Dick contacted the Marine Engineer who wanted to see the wind generator at source so Dick headed back to the boat with all the parcels from the Yacht Club to reinstate the wind generator and I continued with the shopping, mainly food and more provisions for the boat.

It was getting late but the engineer contacted us as promised and Dick blew up the dinghy once more and collected him from the shore. The problem was a faulty fuse holder, which formed a hot spot and destroyed the spring holding in the fuse although the fuse itself was OK.

Thursday 12th July 2001

Stayed on board all day trying to sort things out. Dick installed the electric cable from the inverter to a double socket under the salon table for the laptop and the printer, which meant that all the carpets and the floor locker covers had to be taken up from the 'walk-in' locker through to the saloon. Tools were needed from the aft cabin and the saloon lockers and were soon spread out over the boat. At the same time I decided to re-stow the seaberth, galley and heads lockers. Chaos!

The laptop worked fine from the inverter, although Dick was concerned that it drew 8amps whilst charging the internal NiCad batteries.

Problems occurred in setting up the printer. The self-install programme would not get past the acceptance of Microsoft's terms and conditions. We kept trying and then the computer suddenly recognized the printer and set itself up to print, but gave no indication as to whether or not it had downloaded all the other programmes from the CD.

We gave up when dinner was ready.

Friday 13th July 2001

Another eventful day; we must have spent a fortune on phone calls.

First, the printer. Hooray, Dick's sorted it, he thinks. Second, the dinghy is still going down - cockpit full of soggy dinghy to check for leaks with washing-up liquid - can't find any. Dick spoke again to the supplier, Marine Bazaar, who were as mystified as he was.

"What can we do?" they said.

"Replace it", said Dick - and they agreed to, bless'em.

Arranged for Phil to pick up the new dinghy from Marine Bazaar and bring it down with the 'Yankee' at the weekend. What a star he is, and what would we do without him?

The yacht on the next buoy to us has left today for Spain but the weather forecast is still not good. We are stuck here anyway until we get the 'Yankee' back and have sorted out the dinghy.

Dick re-stowed the 'walk-in' locker yet again, but it is now getting much tidier. At least we are learning where everything is.

At last the wind generator is working well. Also the inverter and Dick's electrics are a success.

The wind has died away but Navtex still forecasts bad weather in Biscay.

Saturday 14th July 2001

I woke up to find Dick at the laptop again trying to set up the printer using the infra-red wireless link. He was to try again later to no avail; however we are able to print using both mains and battery power.

Checking the weather forecast for the umpteenth time we decided that we should change our plans to go straight to Spain and instead to set sail for France (probably Camaret) tomorrow.

Phil rang at 0900 hours to say that he was on his way to Marine Bazaar to pick up the new dinghy and would be at Falmouth at approximately 1100 hours. We swapped dinghies, unloaded the sail and Phil had remembered to bring a spare dinghy valve tool with him.

The replacement dinghy looked like the shop sample, not brand new but obviously unused, and the minute Phil had gone we noticed that a part on the transom was broken. We inflated the dinghy however and it seemed fine. We then also discovered that the thread of the new valve for the inflatable floor that we had picked up yesterday was incompatible.

What to do? We decided to go to the 'Bosuns' Locker' for help but my now it was 1200 hours and we were due to meet Helen Franklin who was bringing us the spare bolt for the Aries windvane self-steering gear. Helen had brought other spares she thought we may need and we bought them all for £20.

She was very sympathetic to our plight and walked with us to the Bosun's Locker and offered to drive us anywhere. The one thing becoming abundantly clear is that we are already meeting some wonderful people in our new sailboat live aboard life.

Rex (we are to know him well), at the Bosun's Locker could not help with the valve but gave us a phone number of a company (Inflatable Boat Services) just opposite the Falmouth Yacht Marina up the river towards Penryn that should be able to help.

The weather forecast shows northeast winds, perfect for a crossing to France. What should we do? A drink in the pub might help so into the King's Head for a planning meeting. By this time we are feeling really depressed. I want to hire a car and take the dinghy and inflatable floor back to Marine Bazaar at Plymouth, and tell them what they can do with it. However we start chatting to an American lady who manages to put everything into perspective and more cheerfully we head back to the dinghy (which had stayed up) and to Alacazam to ring Inflatable Marine Services. They can help, but close at 1600 hours.

Off we go in the dinghy, both looking forward to a trip up the river. Things are looking up - we are allowed to leave the dinghy at Falmouth Marina and Inflatable Boat Services has exactly the right valve for our inflatable floor costing £5 - Marine Bazaar had sent one to fit a completely different dinghy - the dinghy stays up and so now does the inflatable floor. We spend a pleasant few minutes talking to the Salesman about the Caribbean as he had spent some time there a few years before. This sailboat live aboard couple are feeling better already, and just about ready to set off for Spain tomorrow.

Next: The Sailboat Live Aboard Lifestyle, Part 3

The Bee Incident, and other developments...

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