Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Counting Jellyfish

Well last weekend the summer unfortunately arrived at last. Now don't take me wrong here I do love warm weather and sunshine; having regularly been heard to contemplate moving South to warmer climes and having come very close to doing so during several cold British summers believe me I love warm weather. My problem is that I'm never satisfied, the sun comes out and the wind disappears. Is it too much to ask for sunshine and wind? Well this weekend it evidently was. 

The Met office was obviously having a bit of a moment when they put out the inshore waters forecast. They managed to get the Northerly backing South Westerly bit right and the sea state of slight was not too far out (well maybe a bit over the top) but the force 2 to 3 occasionally 4 was well off the mark. 

We left Axmouth just before 0900 and headed west at a gentle 2 and a half knots. 

A pretty relaxing sail by any standards, in fact for a large part of the day Epenetus sailed herself with only minor corrections to course, while we all took it easy.

 Some more than others as you can see.


Epenetus wandered on all day whilst we all attempted to count the amazing number of Jellyfish floating by. 

Chrysaora hysoscella, also known as the compass jellyfish

 Despite numerous attempts at photographing these beauties I had no success so the picture above is a stock image. We gave up counting at thirty. I've never seen so many in one trip before, I would suppose it was just that the water was so calm that they were easy to see. 

With about twelve miles still to go we had cause for celebration, a massive 2.9 knots. We did at one point after this make the dizzy heights of 4.2 knots but not for long. We eventually arrived in Brixham at 1930 after ten and a half hours of very relaxing sailing.

The events pontoon was its usual social self with wine and good company a plenty. So we made the most of it, plus of course fish and chips from Nicks a real must for any trip to Brixham.

Sunday morning and we were away again in time to watch the sunrise.

First thing in the morning is always a lovely time to put to sea  

We watched the sun come up and hoped what little breeze there was would increase.
Our hope was in vain because as the sun rose what breeze there was died. 

As we motored home we had no jellyfish to count, just balloons!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eight Boats Lost from Axmouth

"Welcome to Devon where it rains six days out of seven"

 Well it seems that way at present. This Friday night and through into Saturday the heavens opened and to add to that we had some very big tides; the result was chaos.

We went down to the harbour just before high water and things at first didn't seem too bad.
The water was high but Epenetus was sitting happily on the pontoon

There had been a landslip near the entrance and we now seemed to have a tree in the river

The sea was rough with the wind strong from the South East

The usual rubbish from the MSC Napoli was washing up on the beach, BMW parts, syringes and hypodermic needles.

The walkways to the pontoons were flooded (bit odd going uphill to the boat)

There was the odd car to push out from the flood water but all in all everything was well with the world, if a little wet.

Then the tide turned and the river started to flow

It wasn't long until we had our first casualty on the trots

The flow was putting a lot of pressure on the oldest surviving formed concrete bridge

 Spintail was being dragged out by the current and putting tremendous pressure on the finger pontoon

The pressure was flexing the steel on the main pontoon.

Left unchecked the finger would obviously break free so something had to be done. We managed to float ropes down from B pontoon and secure the finger to the digger on the bank and B pontoon. Whilst we were doing this the luckiest boat of the day came down the river. Under the bridge and past the trots without touching anything whilst dragging its mooring it came to rest when its mooring snagged on something leaving it safely moored in the centre of the river where it stayed untill being moved in the morning.

This Maxim should be renamed Lucky

"D" Pontoon moved with the current and the boat on the end of it "Aquaholic" turned turtle and broke free. Off it went down the river and out to sea upside down. Due to the strength of the South East wind she drifted West and not out to sea eventually washing up at Seaton Hole later that night.

As the day went on several other boats broke free from the trots and went out to sea. At one point "Kestrel" a small fishing boat, went out of the river mouth with two sunken boats still fastened too her by the trots which had given way. Amazingly Kestrel eventually washed up at Seaton hole still upright! I can only conclude that the other boats provided a form of keel for her. 

Come high water everything calmed down again but not for long because by 0100 another boat broke free and headed off to sea alone.

Come daylight and it was a different world.

The river had settled down and the entrance was now twice as wide as before 

What a gorgeous morning

It was time to start a clear up and recover what we could. Greg's boat had sunk on the pontoon so it had to be recovered. Not a good day for Greg who is away on holiday as his house had flooded as well.

Greg's boat being moved to the slip with the aid of the harbour launch and Angus in his fishing boat

Beached on the slip an awaiting low water

After a cup of tea it was time to head down to Seaton Hole and recover the boats washed up there.

Hard to believe the weather of the previous day

The water was drained from Kestrel and the gravel dug out then with plenty of pairs of hands she was turned around and relaunched 

Battered and bruised but heading back home behind the club rib 

We needed the digger to turn Aquaholic back over

What a state with the wheel house gone and engines smashed

With the tide now falling we towed Aquaholic down the beach using rollers as skids. At Fisherman’s Gap we loaded her onto a trailer by lifting the bow with the digger and winching with the the Landrover winch.

All in all quite a weekend but you have to feel for those who have lost their boats. Nature has its way of showing us from time to time just how powerless we really are.

The news today is that one of the fishermen has found a boat about twelve miles out in the channel, as yet we don't know any more than that but lets hope that its good news for someone. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

An Eventide and Several Sanders

After all of the bad weather which we have been having when the sun finally came out on Saturday it was almost time for celebrations. Our joy was a little short lived however as the surf in the harbour entrance meant that sailing was off the menu. Given the normal run of things surf in the entrance is not an insurmountable problem, but as you can see from the picture below the entrance has become a little narrow of late so the chances of getting out were around zero. 
A little distant but you might just make out the guy surfing in the entrance

Axmouth Bar with the channel looking very narrow

Well boatyards are busy places so there is always something to do. Time to get on with Darren and Helen's Eventide. Merrywake has stood in the yard for a couple of years before being taken on by Darren and Helen; she's in remarkably good shape considering but given the flaking paint it was decided that the best course of action would be to take her back to bare wood and start again with a proper paint job. 

Putting paint on is easy, taking it off is the hard bit. Here is Darren in action with the belt sander. 

What a nice clean job this sanding is

I don't think anyone came away clean

At least good progress was made and by 1800 the whole hull had been sanded back to bare wood and a coat of Jotun 88 applied. Merrywake is the lucky one, by the end of August she will be sailing again unlike a few of the sad unloved boats around her.

"Rose" Merrywakes neighbour sadly not far off from the point of no return.

"Dab Chick" looking doubtful as to whether or not she will see the water again

Sad isn't; it all of these old boats left neglected in yards all over the country. I'm sure that there are a thousand and one reasons why this sort of thing happens and I'm sure that it has always been the same. Still on the bright side anyone looking for a project will be spoilt for choice. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rain and a little repair job

Last Sunday was not the best of days, having postponed a cross channel trip due to the weather I was passing my time searching for the source of one of those annoying little leaks. Unfortunately I found it and it was a soft area in the deck. What to do? To repair it on the pontoon, although possible would not be easy. To leave it until the end of the season could only result in things getting worse. Nothing for it Epenetus would have to come out of the water. Sunday evening and as I hook up the trailer what would you know, some kind person has swapped out my nice new jockey wheel for a knackered old one complete with a puncture. Aren't  people just lovely! Oh well nothing for it but get on with it. An hour later job done and Epenetus was sitting on the trailer in the yard. 

 After a thorough inspection I found another spongy laminate just below the rubbing strake. 

Another strange thing was the paint had been stripped from the rudder, right down to the metal but just on one side.

After working Monday and Tuesday morning I eventually managed to make a start on the repairs on Tuesday afternoon. By Wednesday evening the soft laminates had been cut out, new pieces put in and everything repainted. I had to get a move on because of the weather coming in on Thursday. Well they forecast rain and rain we got, lots of it. Some summer this is, on the positive side though at least I know that the leak has been fixed. 

Friday evening and Epenetus is on the way back to the water

 With all of this practice we'll be able to launch and retrieve in our sleep soon

Apart from the knackered jockey wheel the launch went well

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Aerodynamic versus Hydrodynamic - A Lesson in Yacht Stability

The plan this weekend was to sail down to Brixham to catch the beginning of the heritage week celebrations and join in with the heritage regatta; however as usual things didn’t quite go to plan.

Due to work commitments I was unable to get away on the Friday to take part in the regatta starting on Saturday morning. Plan B was to leave on the 0530 tide on Saturday morning, but due to not getting home until Friday evening plan B was dead in the water. So onto plan C, depart as soon as there is sufficient water on Saturday afternoon and join in with the land based fun on Saturday evening.

My crew for the weekend was the Flint family, Darren, Helen, Laura and Samantha who are new to this sailing lark having just become the proud owners of an Eventide 26, which they are in the process of restoring. So for the Flint’s this weekend was a chance to get some sailing in as a family ready for the launch of their Eventide.      

Saturday afternoon came along and we sat waiting for the tide but it wasn’t until 1600 that we were able to slip our lines. The Axe was flowing extremely fast in the river mouth so with the Dolphin running flat out we crept out through the turbulent water only just making headway against the current. Once clear of the bar and out in the bay we had a good force 5 from the South East making the swell uncomfortable to say the least as we quickly crossed Seaton Bay under full sail. We rounded Beer Head and pushed on out for some sea room as the wind picked up from a 5 to a good 6, which going across what was now becoming a fair old sea tested the stomachs of a very fresh crew. By 1700 we were on course and heading towards Brixham with 23 miles to run. No problem if this holds we will be in Brixham well before 2100 and in good time for the fireworks.        

This was turning out to be the best sail for quite some time. We were on a broad reach flying full sail with the keels raised to three feet pushing an amazing 7.8 knots and more coming off the waves. We were surfing with a bone Epenetus’s teeth, accelerating at a tremendous rate with every wave. Pure adrenalin! Yes we were over canvassed and Epenetus was telling me so as the helm was getting heavy but wow what a buzz.    

Now a question, what happens when the aerodynamic force on the rig greatly exceeds the hydrodynamic force on the hull and the rudder can no longer compensate? Good question I hear you say and I’m pretty sure that even if you don’t know you can guess the answer. Your right the boat turns quickly across the wind and the inevitable happens doesn’t it, well it did and we broached; inevitable really given what we were doing. A strong gust and a big wave, the rudder didn’t answer so over we went. Sail, mast and even the spreaders in the water!

Now I know that I’ve got a strange sense of humour and maybe this was not the time, but it was a funny sight. As I clung onto the rubbing strake with my left hand I looked down across the cockpit to see Helen, who had been sitting on the lee side, with just her head and outstretched arms visible as the water cascaded over her shoulders, she had the most amazing open mouthed shocked expression on her face; Darren was doing an impersonation of a cartoon cat scrabbling to get away from the water but without any success and Laura and Samantha in a heap on the chart table. It was a very brief moment of comedy which came to a sudden end as I realised that the wash boards weren’t in and we were taking water, but not to worry because as fast as we had gone over we came up again. The whole thing was over in a matter of seconds.

We pulled some canvas down and carried on our way only in a somewhat slower and more responsible fashion. After an hour the rain came in and the wind eased but the sea state remained for a good while making life a little uncomfortable while we reflected on our lesson in yacht stability.

Arriving in Brixham just after 2100 we were greeted by Marcus and Rob the windows with hot coffee and pints of gin and tonic, now that’s what I call a welcome.

Drying out the boat in Brixham

Sunday was spent drying out Epenetus although to my amazement there wasn’t that much water, only four buckets full, proof as to how well the cockpit drains through the keel boxes. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Back in the water at last

After a busy start to the season including a couple of deliveries the launching of Epenetus had to be somewhat delayed this year so as soon as first opportunity to get the bottom wet presented itself it had to be seized upon. There was nothing major to do repair wise so it was just a case of putting up the mast, servicing the engine and a few minor jobs such as building a new battery box and skipping out the accumulation of winter junk (tools and stuff in the main). Well the first opportunity was Sunday 20th May with high water around 1830, which as it happens was ideal as it allowed a full day to erect the mast and sort out all of the bit and pieces that I usually forget. 

    Mast up and almost ready for launching

With the assistance of Darren and Marcus the mast went up with no snags using a pole and the trailer winch at around 1000 so by around 1500 all that was left to do was wait for the tide.

Back to the water

1800 and it's launch time at last. I don't know why but I always find launching a little nerve racking, silly really as we've never had any problems especially when we have Darren around with his gimp suit on.

The gimp suit gets it bi-annual airing 

Despite an excellent demonstration in how not to recover a fishing boat which was being given by another user of the slip everything went like clockwork and we were off down the river to the pontoon in no time. The only disappointment was that we didn't have enough time on the tide to get out for a sail.

Safely on the pontoon and ready for the rest of the season

Well given the fact that that we had missed the tide there was only one thing left to do. Head for the bar to celebrate a successful launch? It would have been wrong not to wouldn't it. 

If the devil should cast his net



Monday, April 16, 2012

A Trailer, a Dolphin and a Gimp Suit

2011 was the beginning of catch up. For the previous six years poor old Epenetus had wintered on the hard at Axmouth. Over wintering outside, especially when its near as dam it on the beach just doesn't work with a wooden boat, well not year after year anyway. At the end of every season I religiously went through everything to ensure that we were safe for the winter and yet every spring it was enough to make you cry. What a difference in just five months. It was no good I just had to find a way of preventing the winter damage from happening. The only sensible solution was get Epenetus under cover in a nice warm dry barn for the winter and to do that I would need a trailer and a big one at that. 

Epenetus at the end of 2010 looking very "end of season"

Well 2010 was not exactly my most prosperous year financially so the spare £2500 to £3500 for a new trailer was never really on the cards, so the search was on for a good used example. Unfortunately a big secondhand trailer that's any good is not easy to find at a bargain price so by the time September came around I was getting worried. Well I'm a firm believer that if you keep your nerve something will turn up, well it did.     

Sitting in a local seafront pub, winding down with a beer after a particularly tough day at work and someone says "the Lurk is selling a big four wheel trailer and he doesn't want much for it.". Well not to be beaten to a good deal I'm off down to the boatyard to find the trailer in question. 

 As per usual when funds are low what turns up is never quite right and this trailer was no exception. Lying abandoned in the corner of the yard where it had lain in the sea air for more than a year or two was an American bunked trailer complete with rust holes in the underside of the draw bar. It was big enough and according to the plate it would take the weight but it looked awful. After a good inspection with the assistance of a 2lb hammer I established that the trailer was built from thick walled steel box section which was still sound whilst the draw bar was build from thin walled box section and was far from sound. In its present form this trailer was no use to me but as ever its not what it is its what you can make it. I slept on the idea then the next morning a little cash changed hands and the work started. 

The bunks, or more correctly what was left of them were removed, the draw bar cut off and a new slightly longer one welded in, hubs and brakes overhauled, chassis cleaned up rust proofed and painted. All in all six days work to turn a heap of scrap into a strong serviceable trailer. Six days, well three weekends really and it was now October so the clock was ticking. All that we required now was to build and fit the wooden supports for Epenetus to sit on. Luckily one of the great joys of the Fairey Atalanta is that every part has its associated engineering drawing and that even goes down to trailers. I had already obtained a copy of the relevant drawing from the drawings master at the Atalanta Owners Association so I had all of the measurements I just didn't have the time. 

Well you can't do everything on your own. Darren had helped me with the trailer and I couldn't have done it without him, a far better welder than I have ever been but he is strictly metal, an engineer by trade. Enter Trevor builder come woodworker extraordinaire. After some discussion Trevor built the supports in the week whilst I was away at work and what a cracking job.  

Epenetus being lifted out ready to be put on the new trailer

Epenetus was lifted out on the Saturday morning and carefully lowered onto the new trailer. A near perfect fit, Trevor your a star.

The finished trailer

The following weekend Epenetus moved to new winter quarters, safe from what was to turn out to be a very hard winter.

Safe, warm and dry in winter quarters

"I bet there's not much to do this year after all winter in a nice warm shed" How wrong can you be!

The old YSE12 had caused me more than a little grief the previous season so something had to be done. The main part of the engine was good with loads of compression but the same could not be said for all of the ancillary bits which were getting past their best. The exhaust elbow fell in half whilst being cleaned up, the water pump required reconditioning again, the fuel pipes needed replacing and the whole lump required cleaning off and repainting. Other than these minor maintenance issues and the fact that the old girl was suffering from being a little on the obese side, weighing in at around 140kg, what a sweet little engine.

Thinking about it, lets take off the rose tinted specs. There were other problems associated with the old YSE12, the noise for one. From outside of the boat the engine noise was fine, no different to any other boat just the almost musical chug of a single cylinder diesel, however inside the boat it was a whole different story. With only a single piece of ply between your feet and the engine your fillings shook loose and you could not hear yourself think. In addition to the noise there was the prop issue. Matched to the engine performance under power was excellent but sailing it was a three bladed drag anchor somewhat akin to dragging a bucket.

Now when it comes to props there are umpteen options available to sole the issue of drag but wouldn't you know it due to space restrictions and a mud berth the only option open to me to dispose of the three bladed drag anchor was a three bladed feathering prop coming in at a hefty sum.  

Well considering the grief which had been caused by the old YSE12, the price of Yanmar parts and the prop issue the only sensible option looked like a modern lightweight diesel and a feathering prop. Well as anyone who has replaced a yacht engine will know when you look at the shopping list the money soon adds up. £3.5k to £4.5k for the engine, £1.2k for the prop and on and on it goes. This isn't looking very likely to happen. 

Time for some serious thought:

  1. Atalanta's sail best when they are light
  2. Atalanta's were originally fitted with lightweight petrol engines
  3. Old petrol engines can be unreliable and spares difficult to find
  4. Even modern lightweight diesels aren't that light
After many hours of thought and as many hair brained ideas it came to me, what about a Dolphin 12hp? The direct drive model weighs just 41kg and given the high shaft speed a 9 1/2 inch two bladed prop should deliver the required performance under power and substantially reduce the drag when sailing. OK only two issues here, one its a petrol engine and two they stopped making them a couple of years ago. Back to the drawing board, time for a beer or two and some thought.

Several weeks passed and guess what no magic answers on the engine front. 

Whiling away the hours sat in a hotel room surfing the net and there it is, good old eBay. A direct drive Dolphin 12hp reconditioned by the manufactures in 2001 then unused until 2007 then serviced by the manufacturers and dry stored again. This has got to be worth a punt.

A dusty little Dolphin

Well the description was correct and nine days later I'm at a farm on the edge of Dartmoor handing over a little cash for a dusty little Dolphin along with a host of bits such as a fuel tank, strainer, exhaust pipe, sea cocks, prop shaft, prop, fuel pipes and filters etc. what a result.

 A few extra bits and pieces would be required to complete the installation such as an exhaust elbow as a wet exhaust is an optional extra with the Dolphin. Now I can go as far as a petrol engine in a boat, a two stroke at that but a hot exhaust running through the aft cabin is not for me. Maybe I'm paranoid or perhaps I just haven't thought this through properly but having experienced how hot a motorcycle exhaust gets (I once had a pannier catch fire after touching a hot exhaust but that's another story) I can not bring myself to surround something that hot with wood. 

I should explain here for those who are not familiar with the wonderful Dolphin direct drive engine, it has a few peculiarities compared to modern small marine engines. Having no gearbox to go astern you stop the engine and restart it again in reverse; this of course means that when the engine is running backwards so is the water pump. To accommodate this two sea cocks are used so both the inlet and outlet are underwater and their functions simply reverse along with the engine rotation. Once you fit a wet exhaust this solution doesn't work and life becomes a little challenging. The guys at Dolphin (yes they are still in business) are very helpful and soon came up with the solution.

One way valves and a couple of tee's and we have a solution

There is not much the guys at Dolphin haven't done with these little engines over the years, at one point they had them kicking out 40hp!

Engine fitting time

The weekend at last and time to fit the Dolphin. The old YSE12 came out easy enough with the assistance of some lifting slings and a fork truck borrowed from Derrick. 

Life becomes easy with a fork truck

The rusty old YSE12

A messy empty engine compartment

Things were going far too well. Much head scratching and screwing up of the previous weeks scribbling on bits of paper exercises followed, whilst we studied the mess of the empty engine compartment debating the best way to sort out the task in hand; new engine mountings, shaft alignment, exhaust pipe routing etc. Well there comes a time when you just have to make a start, so out with the hacksaw, drill and files. Plan A was swiftly followed by plan B and plan C, the day was fast descending into a strange parody of “Scrapheap Challenge” only thankfully without the cameras. Still improvise, adapt and overcome, we will get there. More than a few hours later having skinned more than one knuckle and discovered some best not repeated new language we had the engine bed suitably modified. Really the day should not have been a surprise as it had followed the normal routine with the parts of the job which should have been easy turning out to be a complete git! One day I’ll learn, it would have been easier to start from scratch and fabricate new engine beds instead of modifying the existing.

Sunday morning and a new day, in goes the new engine with no need for the forklift. I picked up the engine, climbed up the stepladders into the cockpit and placed the engine into position on the modified engine bed. How easy was that! An hour later and the engine is aligned and bolted into place with the exhaust and electrics connected. It was all going so well so it was no surprise when we came to an abrupt stop. Modifications were required to conect up the drive shaft and not a lathe or a miller onsite. What do you know its time to retire to the bar for shall we say a design meeting. 

The Dolphin looking lost in the engine compartment
With engine work delayed for two weeks while Darren modified the drive shaft coupling it was time to get on with other jobs. Amongst the mountain of things to do, a new cover for the engine compartment needed to be designed and fabricated, so to work. Digging in the dark corners of the shed I dragged out the marine ply left over from the trailer build. What do you know, it doesn't matter which way you look at it if the wood isn’t big enough for the job then it’s not big enough. Is that really true? Not strictly true if you’ve got a biscuit jointer and some epoxy to join two pieces together. 

With my faithful if somewhat useless assistant Rex the ancient Jack Russell Terrorist the new engine cover and hatch soon came together so time to turn my attention to toe rails.

The forward toe rails were well past their best, it fact they were rotten and needed replacement. With time short a decision had to be made, repair, replace or remove. After much deliberation it was the latter we would just have to do a season without them. Unfortunately removing the toe rails causes more work, laminate repairs and painting what a surprise.

Joy and disaster a day of extreams 

Well today took me through the full gambit of emotions all the way from apprehension moving into excitement followed by shock and then joy, happiness plunged quickly into despair finishing finally with hope and determination.
Today is the day, time to run up the engine and see what we’ve got. The new fuel tank isn’t fitted yet and the new battery box is yet to be built but we can work those little issues out I’m sure. The batteries are temporary wired and the fuel tank jury rigged, hose pipe into the strainer and its time. Fingers crossed. Ignition lever switched to forward, a little choke, touch the button and the dolphin instantly springs into life. Joy, relief and pure delight it runs and it’s smooth and quiet. Stop the engine and start in reverse. I’m shocked at how quick and easy it is, probably 3 seconds from ahead to astern no worries there then. Everything was going so well it just had to happen. As I pushed on the revs suddenly everything shook! It can’t be the shaft alignment was good, or was it? On inspection the casting for the rear engine mountings had fractured. I could have cried. After a short interval and a few choice words we started the autopsy. Cause of the failure turned out to be the LAYRUB coupling which bolts into the flywheel, the bolts were tight but that was due to them bottoming out not being tight so to speak. Engine out time and a rethink on the drive shaft coupling, two more weeks of delay but hey when its done it will be good.

Saturday 2nd July and the engine reinstalled, engine casting replaced, the new drive shaft coupling fitted and balanced, everything working as it should. I’m back on track with plan B four days left to get everything finished and in the water, leaving a day for sea trials then off to France and the Channel islands on the Friday morning tide. 

The 3rd of July and life deals one of those big blows.
Sitting down to an early Sunday morning breakfast, the house to myself for a change, sun shining in through the kitchen windows, outside the gulls squawking their territorial calls and inside Vivaldi is gracing my ears. The coffee is strong and pungent the bread is still warm from the oven, eggs, cheese, cold meat and salami, just a perfect start to the day. A little green light is flashing in the corner, a message on the answer phone I ignore it and enjoy my breakfast in peace whilst planning the work for the day. A shower then dress, I hit the play button on the answer phone on my way to the door and the day hits a brick wall. The big man is dead.

When you loose someone close it leaves a big hole in your life and for a while it turns everything upside down. Apart from the emotional side of things the legal aspects are a nightmare. Now as it happened everything was in good order complicated only by the remnants of my late mothers estate, but I have to admit the official system stinks. Probate, pointless officialdom, Revenue and Customs and the legal sharks even in death they are there to cause you pain and unnecessary complication in their quest for monetary gain. Not much of a civilization that can see nothing in death other than tax and profit. The big man will be sorely missed by many but he leaves behind him a wealth of memories. Furrows in the ocean.   

Happy times

Life moves on and its Saturday 23rd July so it has to be launch day. The plan is to sort the last few little bits and bobs in the morning and then wet launch from the club hoist at high water around mid day. This plan soon fell apart. What do you know the harbour master is away with his caravan for an impromptu weekend and the only other person who can use the hoist and was supposedly in charge of the harbour has buggered off to Lyme for an overnighter with the new found love of his life. Oh good luck to him it makes a pleasant change to see him all loved up instead of playing the lonely guy.
Nothing for it we will launch off the trailer. I fire up the truck and here we go again, where is all that oil coming from? This is not the time to blow an oil return pipe on the truck. With the truck out of action the flat tyre on the trailer and the missing topping lift almost seemed immaterial. Am I doomed not to make it to sea this year? It certainly feels like it.   

Sunday 24th July and its time for plan well we must be on F or G by now at very least. 1000 hour and I’m 30 miles from the boat near Exeter waiting for a well known firm of tyre fitters to open in order to get a new valve body fitted to repair the trailer tyre. Now you would think “can you just fit a new valve in this and re-inflate it please” would be a simple enough request but sadly no. I feel a bit like Victor Meldrew as I argue the fact that wheel balancing is not on my shopping list today and how the hell can you perform a free brake check on a trailer which is thirty miles away. “Please just re-new the valve”. Well to cut a long story short eventually the valve is changed and just £4.75 the poorer I’m heading back to Axmouth.

Arriving back in the yard at 1115 (high water 1230) time was seriously against us. The wheel was refitted to the trailer, the mast was lowered, topping lift fitted and raised again (really easy using the winch on the trailer) fuel tank filled, warps and fenders attached. All we needed now was a truck to launch with.

Darren in the gimp suit

An hour after high water and with the assistance of Darren in what can only be described as a gimp suit Epenetus slides effortlessly off the trailer. We're floating again at last thanks to the aid of a Jeep shall we say borrowed from a guy called Nigel. Thanks Nigel. 

The dolphin fired up and pumped an amazing quantity of water considering how small the water pump is. We test ran the engine up for as long as we dared being by now well over an hour after high water and only on a small tide at that. Time at last to head for my berth.  
I’d forgotten how effortlessly she moves through the water and what a change without the old YSE making the ears bleed. I must admit to some anxiety regarding the stop and restart routine to go astern but there was no need. Flick the lever to stop, wait a second for the engine to stop, flick the lever to astern, hit the button and the dolphin springs instantly into life. All in all the whole stop and restart routine takes only a couple of seconds longer than going astern with the old diesel.