30 Jun 2014

[Captains Blog] Tuning the rigging

The other day when we went out for another test sail in 25-30 knots we had a little difficulty rolling out the mainsail from inside the mast. This was never an issue on Jay Jay where I could roll out the sail by hand. On Tumi I needed to use the winch which wasn't right. The furling system needs to run smoothly. I had noticed that there was quite a rake in the mast (it bends towards the stern at the top of the mast) which I suspected was causing the problem. You can't have a straight pole rotating smoothly in a bent casing, and I reckoned this was causing the problem.

The riggers were out yesterday to look at it, and after some discussion with them they re-tuned and re-tensioned the rigging so that we have a straighter mast now and it seems to allow the furling mechanism to run freely. We will test it out for ourselves in the next couple of days. It seems to me that Jeanneau don't expect too many in-mast furling systems to be sold, and their rig was primarily designed for slab reefing where the sail is dropped onto the boom and secured to reduce the sail area. They need to have this information fed back to them as they might want to take it into consideration for the future. We will be talking to Richard, our Jeanneau dealer about it so he can let them know.

20 Jun 2014

[Captains Blog] Shakedown Sailing

We took Tumi over to Fowey this week to stretch her wings a bit. The weather was OK for the outward journey and we headed off westwards in 15 knots of wind, making a good passage. Tumi sails really well, and she is a very balanced boat that requires little or no steering. We are getting familiar with the sheets (not the ones you put on the bed, but the nautical term for the ropes) as they are all a designer grey colour with different colour flecks to identify them apart from their neighbours. Whoever thought that sailing needs to be designer focused needs their heads testing - at night time, grey looks like grey and the different colour flecks won't show up in the cockpit too well, so we have to know which is which instinctively.

What pleased me about this trip is that the power management system appears to be working well. With the wind generator and the solar panels active, we suffered no real degradation in power levels even with the fridge, freezer, navigation instruments, lights, and TV being used. No need to fire up the generator to boost the batteries. So far so good.

We did have a slight glitch as we were approaching Fowey harbour, the chart plotter went blank and we had to switch everything off and back on again to sort it out, the GPS taking a little while longer than we thought healthy to rediscover the satellite signals and register our position. We will be keeping a close eye on this in case of a recurrence. We had just been using the port-side electric winch when it went off, but that might just have been coincidence.

The other thing we have to be aware of in the UK is that we are a long boat - with the davits and dinghy on the back, we measure over 50 feet and not many moorings are available to accommodate our length. We had to ask our neighbours to swap moorings with us to allow enough swinging room (we didn't realise we were swingers, isn't sailing fun!). They kindly obliged, and we were able to rest easy from that point. 

The trip home was mostly windless, but we did manage a small amount of sailing, much to my delight. Flat seas and a nice breeze, and it was a real pleasure to be out on the water again!

15 Jun 2014

[Captains Blog] The Odyssey continues

After a lengthy year with next to no sailing (why do we live in this country with the weather being so bad???), we are back at the helm again and planning the next episode of our sailing careers. This time we are embarking on a long, long journey which will eventually take us all the way to Australia, and then we will see what happens after that.

We will be joining the Atlantic Odyssey this year, a rally for cruising sailors that is departing from Lanzarote on the 16th November, destination Le Marin, Martinique  where we should arrive in fine fettle several days later. This sailing lark has really got under our skins, and we can't wait to get started again. We have been preparing for this since the beginning of the year, and getting Tumi kitted out for us to live aboard has been an interesting challenge to say the least.

Having just successfully obtained my Long Range (Radio Operators) Certificate, I am now legally able to use the SSB radio we have had fitted to Tumi, which will allow us to keep in contact with the world at large, from just about anywhere on the planet. 

10 Jun 2014

[Cruise News] Sea Trials commence!

After the disappointment of not sailing on Monday, we were determined to head out Tuesday morning to put Tumi (and us) through our paces.  Paul & I haven't really sailed since we arrived back in the UK last June so it was with a degree of trepidation we headed out.

Manouevring in the marina made us realise the scale of Tumi but Paul handled her beautifully and I scurried around with fenders and lines.  We knew it was forecast to be a gusty day but the full force of the wind didn't hit us until we were out in the Sound: 34 knots (over 40mph) and quite big, choppy seas, but we're experienced sailors and so limited the amount of sail accordingly and headed off across towards Cawsand.The conditions really weren't that pleasant and so we decided to test out the anchor when we got there and stopped for lunch in the lee of the land.  The sun came out and it was lovely.  As soon as we departed however we were back in the high winds and lumpy seas and so didn't hang around for long.  That said, Tumi handled beautifully and felt very solid and well balanced.  All good.

Wednesday morning dawned a much nicer day: Sunshine and light breezes.  We headed off again and the contrast to the day before was amazing.  Full sails out, only two layers of clothing and away we went putting Tumi through her paces.  Despite only 15 knots of wind on average, we were making pushing 7 knots speed over ground so were very pleased with her performance. We made another lunch stop at Cawsand, somewhat rolly with the swell today, but very enjoyable to be out on our boat. 

Another successful return to the marina and we had to head home for a few days, but we'll be back out on the water very soon.

[Captains Blog] The Maiden Voyage

We inflated the dinghy to mount it on the new stern davits only to find that the span between the davit arms was a bit too wide for the support points on the dinghy. This is due to the bathing platform being so wide, and the davits had to be fitted on either side of the platform. This was unexpected, and we needed to find a solution. Richard (the Broker we bought Tumi from) and I put our heads together and came up with the answer which involves webbing straps, and a couple of eye bolts. It meant having to deflate the tubes, remove the aluminium floor, drill holes in the base for the new bolts, and re-inflate again. The result is almost perfect, and with some padding on the retaining arms on the outboard end of the davits, we should be done. It has meant that we can now raise the dinghy high enough out of the water to sail properly.

Taking control of a brand new boat in the confined space of a marina is a daunting task and not for the faint hearted. Thankfully, my cojones were big enough to take on the task and even though the adrenaline was pumping somewhat we made our way out very serenely. It's like taking a Bugatti Veyron for a drive for the first time - you never really know how it will handle or how well it will perform, and on the water in windy conditions, it becomes very interesting indeed! We prepared our dock lines and made slips (lines that are wrapped once around the cleat on the pontoon that can be quickly slipped loose when ready) used the bow thruster to move the bow across the wind, and we were away.  All I had to do then, was get her back safely into the marina and into her docking space. This was complicated by the big gin palace that was moored right behind where we needed to go, but we took it nice and steady, pointing into the dock and turning at the right point to nestle gently alongside the pontoon. Phew!

It has been a real challenge getting all the equipment we need to make our lives afloat comfortable loaded onto Tumi. The list of goodies was very long, and we are just about there. We have had to compromise in a couple of places, but overall, we have managed to fit things where we needed them to go, so that they were tucked away tidily but were easily accessible when needed. I have done the radio licensing for Tumi, thankfully keeping the call sign and MMSI numbers that I was already used to, and extending the scope of the licence to include MF/HF radio as well. It's nice to be legal!

8 Jun 2014

[Cruise News] Tumi Boat Warming

We opened the hatches to friends and family on Sunday to toast Tumi and all who sail in her.  A great afternoon with everyone seemingly very impressed with her.  The reaction of my Mum in particular was marvelous: I don't think she had had any idea about how big Tumi actually, nor how fabulous she looks, from the photos we had shown her and to see her in the flesh, so to speak, completely floored her.  It did also give Mum a lot more confidence about our adventure.

Eight hours later Paul & I waved away our final guests and started the big clean up before retiring to our cabin for a good night's sleep before Monday's planned inaugural sail.

6 Jun 2014

[Cruise News] Gear on board

We've worked very hard the last couple of days emptying out the storage unit in Plymouth and loading all of our belongings on board.  And we're pleased to report that Tumi has swallowed it all up with plenty of space to spare. I had been a little bit concerned that storage might have been a bit of an issue because the under-floor area was so much shallower than on Jay Jay, but the extra length and width and third cabin has more than made up for that.

Paul has been confined to all the external lockers, including the enormous sail locker at the bow of the boat which is so deep that it comes with a ladder to get in and out. But I have allowed him back inside after dark .... still a bit too cold to be sleeping outdoors!

4 Jun 2014

[Cruise News] Tumi handover

The day finally arrived for us to take Tumi, over 7 weeks after she was delivered to Plymouth.  But boy is she worth the wait!  Such a stunning boat that is attracting a lot of comment in the marina: How lucky are we?!

The Jeanneau team have worked very hard readying her for the handover so she was polished and spruce for our arrival with everything tidied away after weeks of chaos.  We had hoped to start loading our own gear on board but after the dealer handover and marine electrician briefing it was too late in the day.  Always tomorrow!