Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Get Back To Work

Since we were now in a place that we would be for a while, we have several boat projects that have been building and it was time to get to work.  Most of the projects we are able to work on ourselves but a couple of them would involve finding a professional to assist.  

First on the list was an engine service.  Sailing from the Chesapeake up to Canada, across the Atlantic to Spain, north to Ireland and east to England incurred hours on the engine and it was time to change all the engine oil, transmission fluid, the filters, check the water separator and fuel filters, check the impellers and make sure our Yanmar was happy.  Fortunately, our engine access is reasonably good - not as good as an engine room but pretty good considering Terrapin is a 1982.  

Next up - our compression post.  This is a steel rod that runs vertically next to the mast, into the cabin, down to the keel.  It helps the deck and the structure of the boat as it pounds into waves and flexes.  We had noticed a small crack in the base plate while offshore and knew it had to be managed at some point.  This would require removing the compression post, fabricating a new base plate and reinstalling.  

Another project we had been working on since Deltaville was our Jordan Series Drogue (JSD).  The JSD is a line that will have 132 jellyfish-like cones tied to it that will be deployed when wind speed and waves are so high, speed has to be reduced to prevent the boat from broaching (flipping upside down end over end).  This is a tool that we would like to have on the boat for extreme situations but really don't want to be in conditions that require its use.  It has been a big project to undertake and we have continued to work on it as time has been available.  We are almost done.

User manuals are critical information on the boat.  Since we have dozens of disparate systems that have to function together to move the boat forward comfortably, we need to make sure we have the appropriate information to fix each of those systems.  I had been able to keep the manuals together but my filing system had gotten out of control as new manuals had been added and systems replaced. Usually when you need the information, because something is not working, you don't have time to fumble through pieces of paper to find what you're looking for, so having the manuals organized helps to keep stress levels low.  

As long as we have had Terrapin, there have been issues that we have dealt with that didn't work as they should but they weren't critical and out attention was on other things.  As with any previously owned boat, sometimes things have been done incorrectly for some unknown reason and you are left with the legacy of a) figuring out what happened b) sorting it out so it works as designed, or as close as possible. Now was the time to fix the odds and ends that we had been putting off.  Like our deck light.  The deck light which shines down on the deck and the steaming light which shines out from the mast are wired together but have different switches on the electrical panel.  The problem was the deck light wouldn't turn on but the steaming light would and the root of the problem was not only the  lightbulb.  So, through hours and days of troubleshooting Baxter fixed it.  For the first time, we have a deck light that works when the deck light is switched on and a steaming light when the steaming light is turned on.  Turns out it was a bad switch, a bad relay and a bad lightbulb.  Hard to troubleshoot, but, he fixed it and it all works perfectly now. 

There were still a few things on our list but this was a good start and we had another five months left to finish the things we needed to get done.  
Time for an engine service.
The compression post is the metal rod that screws into the white post on the bottom.  You can see the base of the post has a small crack, caused by corrosion due to the aluminum of the mast and the stainless steel plate.
A new base would have to be fabricated so the riggers are getting all the info required.
Corroded metal turned to rubble.
Manuals, organized and labeled
A nice sunny day to work on the Jordan Series Drogue
Checking the wiring for the deck light and the steaming light (the wires go from the electric panel up the mast to the light)

The steaming and deck light above my head, but don't be fooled by my being up there - Baxter is the one with the magic touch.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Plymouth, UK

Plymouth, a city at the mouth of the river Plym, in Devon, England is our new home.  With it's cobblestone streets and historic landmarks like the Barbican, the Mayflower Steps, The Hoe, The Royal Citadel and the Royal William Yard - there is plenty to learn and do to keep us busy for a while.  The best part is it was all walking distance from the marina.

Like Falmouth, and as mentioned before, so many landmark voyages and sailors have departed from Plymouth, such as the first colonization voyage to New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.  Expeditions including those with Sir Frances Drake, James Cook, Darwin, Shackleton, and so many others.  Captain Bligh (Mutiny on the Bounty) was baptized right down the street at St Andrews.

Another notable mention is the strong military presence in Plymouth, with the Royal Citadel (still active military) and the Royal William Yard (no longer MOD).  These strongholds may seem like an advantage, but during WWII, they were the detriment of the city, becoming a target of German aggression.

Less than 75 years ago, planes dropped bombs flattening the city of Plymouth.  To put this in perspective, Germany is about 700 miles from Plymouth (450 from London).  That would be like Idaho attacking Utah, Ohio bombing Michigan, Alabama bombing Georgia.  Never having an international war on US soil, it is difficult to imagine the devastation right out your front door but it was real.  There are still scars from the bombs and some of the half-shelled buildings have been left in place as a reminder.  Other landmarks were left in rubble and dust.  But consider this, there are no grudges held over from the war.  Germans come and go, cross borders, buy houses, become neighbors, just as much as any other European.  We should all take a lesson in letting the past go.

So, we walked around Plymouth, learning as we went about history and about...beaches and where doggies can run.  Kala doesn't really care about the Mayflower or WWII so off we were in the dinghy to find fun places to run and swim (she also doesn't care that the water is about 55 degrees).  It is fortunate that Plymouth is just as, if not more, dog friendly than Falmouth and we are lovin' it!  Kala goes with us to lunch and lays at our feet just like she does at home on the boat.  It makes life so much easier for us to explore when we can take her along.

There was a lot to see and we were just beginning to scratch the surface.
The Hoe overlooking the Plymouth Harbor
A view of The Hoe (left) and the corner of the Royal Citadel (concrete structure on right) from the channel into Sutton Harbour.  You can see the light house on The Hoe, just left of center in the background.
The last place the people aboard the Mayflower ever stepped in England.  They never returned after colonizing America.
The Mayflower steps from the water - it is in the center, below the white house in the center - you can see the "balcony" as it stretches over the water.
Virginia and North Carolina Colonization by Sir Walter Raleigh
Newfoundland Colonization
Bermuda - by accident - Colonization
That's a long trip - with a fun adventure around Cape Horn, going the wrong way

Lunch time for my peeps
Plymouth Gin Distillery - on the list of "To-do's"
A bevy of swans lives in Plymouth.  There are at least 20 of them.
At low tide, across from the marina.  Their wings are extremely powerful.  When they take off in flight, it sounds like a train going by.  
Beaches, my dinghy, and sticks - best things in the world
Happy Dog
Very happy dog

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sailing to Sutton Harbour

As much fun as we were having in Falmouth, it was time to head out.  We had made plans to keep Terrapin in Plymouth for the winter, based on suggestions from Jenny and TJ on Rocket Science who we met in La Coruna, Spain.  Plymouth sounded like a great place to spend a cold and rainy six months and the beginning of those six months had arrived.

We picked a nice Saturday afternoon to sail the 45 miles east to Plymouth with the wind about 130 degrees behind us - and nice following seas.  We also left at first light in order to time the tides in our favor.  

Sutton Harbor where we were headed has a lock system (think Panama Canal) so that the water levels remain consistent and the low tide that would typically dry out the harbor, does not drop the water levels below a predetermined height.  The locks also help to keep swell from storms out of the harbour.  However, in order to do this, the lock is only opened for three hours before and after high tide (aka "free flow").  It is possible to "lock-in" at other times as necessary, through a series of steps that essentially let you in one door, wait while it closes and then the other door opens to let you out.  

As we motored through the lock and into Sutton Harbor - our slip was straight in front of us.  We secured Terrapin and headed out to check out the town of Plymouth.

Leaving Falmouth at dawn's early light
Sailing past the Royal Citadel into Sutton Harbor
The outside lock at Sutton Harbor
Into our protected marina with the lock behind us
Our home for the winter
The Sutton Harbor lock under the white bridge - next to the fish statue.  Also, you can see the tide level on the rock wall - this is low tide so the lock is closed).  Lastly, the Mayflower steps are on the bottom left where the people are standing.  This is where the Mayflower left from about 397 years ago.  More about that later.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Travel Money

While we travel, we have to be prepared for weather, language, culture  Since January of 2017, we have needed to use eight different types of currency:  USD, Euros, EC, Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC), Cuban Pesos (CUP), Canadian dollars, Irish pounds and British pounds.  Sounds simple but if you think about converting and (typically) losing money in the conversion, and finding an ATM or bank to get cash, it is not that easy or cost efficient.  Also, when it comes to Northern Ireland and Cuba, the process is really complicated and you don't know the details until you are in the midst of a transaction.

In the Caribbean:
French islands use Euros
Dutch islands take guilders or USD (so we just use USD)
Most British islands use EC (Eastern Caribbean); some use USD but will charge more; except the BVI, which uses USD.
Dominica and independent islands generally also take EC.
Cuba uses the CUC and the CUP.  Foreigners should only use the CUC and cubans use the CUP.  However, Cubans realized they can get better goods if they use the foreigner's CUCs so they started trading using that currency.  Then foreigners realized they can get things cheaper with the CUP, so they started using that currency and things soon became all mixed up.  Generally, a foreigner should expect to use the CUC except at local markets and very small paladars but will probably end up with CUPs and have to get rid of everything before they leave the island since they can't use it anywhere else on earth.

Canada wants to get along with everyone - you can use Canadian Dollars or US but will get more for your money if you use CAD.

Euros.  Pretty simple.

Republic of Ireland:
Euros.  Again - let's not complicate this.

Northern Ireland:
Pound Sterling - you can use Bank of Ulster, Bank of Scotland or Bank of England money - they will take any of it, but....keep reading about what happens when you get to England.

Pound Sterling - oldest currency in the world still in production and the fourth most traded.  A person can only use Bank of England money in England.  So if you have anything left over from Northern Ireland that is not Bank of England, it is worthless and you should have used it while you were in Northern Ireland but before you went back to Republic of Ireland.  (Northern Ireland kind of gets treated like the red-headed stepchild by England - I think if I were them I might want to leave the kingdom too)

Whew...Keeping it all straight and also sorted in its own pocket is a challenge.

Well, off to do laundry and figure out my coins.

A geographic representation of some of the money we've used.  *As a note, CUPs (for local Cubans) are distinguished because they have people on their money versus CUCs (for foreigners to Cuba) which have monuments.  This is Camilo Cienfuegos, other denominations have Che Guevara or Fidel Catro.
A handful of everything

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

More of Falmouth and Beyond

We continued to explore Falmouth and the surrounding areas for a couple weeks.  One of our absolute favorite things to do was the National Maritime Museum.  With the purchase of one ticket for £12, a person would have entry for an entire year.  We took full advantage, pacing ourselves and saving plenty to do over the course of a couple of weeks.  Every day that rained (remember, this is the UK, so that's just about every other day), we would explore another section and learn a little bit more.   

The main exhibits at the museum are currently the art of tattooing and the story of Captain Bligh, famous for the mutiny aboard The Bounty in the South Pacific.  William Bligh was a unique character who had drama follow him everywhere he went and there is definitely more to his story than just that mutiny episode. His ancestral home was in Cornwall which makes learning about him here in Falmouth pretty significant.  

When it wasn't raining, we would take the dinghy up the Fal river (thus the name Falmouth, which lies at the mouth of the river) to Mylor or we would go across Carrick Roads over to St Mawes.  We also took the bus up to Truro which is the county seat of Cornwall.  As usual, the experience is not necessarily the destination, but more about the journey.  We explored the area on a daily basis, whether it was beaches or villages or museums - Falmouth was entertaining and fun, much more than expected.  We were sad to leave but look forward to going back next spring.  

There were a couple feet under the dinghy when we went ashore but you guessed it, low tide leaves the dinghy high and dry.  Good thing we can carry it back to the water.
The gaff-rigged schooner, Eda Frandsen, in front of St Mawes castle
Dinghy-ing around castles
Watch your food...finders keepers
Up close with St Mawes castle
Guess what time it is....lowwwww tide
All bundled up, ready for a dinghy ride
Upstairs on the double decker
"Take care on stairs"
Yep, even in the UK this is a common sentiment.
Truro Cathedral
Beautiful flying buttresses
In the maritime museum workshop, they are recreating a lifeboat from the Titanic.  The model they are working from is on the table
This is the radio that was onboard Suhaili, which belonged to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (knighted after his voyage).  Knox-Johnston was the first person to sail solo, nonstop around the world (1969).  Wow - times have changed - I couldn't imagine having a radio of this size aboard Terrapin
They have a tower in the museum where you can see tidal levels through the windows.  See the high tide mark on the wall  (top right) and the mid-tide halfway down.  The placards on the wall below "Mid Tide" are about 6' up from the floor.
The only place we ever want to be in a life raft is in an exhibit in a museum.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Other English

We thought we'd have to wait until we were in Norway or Sweden, maybe France to be entrenched in a culture that spoke another language. 

Don't ye know, Ireland has two official languages:  Irish (Gaelic) and English.  Sometimes, people use a combination of the two.

Here are a few of our Gaelic favorites that we've heard:
Cobh = Pronounced Cove; A town close to Crosshaven
Youghl = Pronounced Yawl; A town close to Crosshaven
Slan = Bye or Cheers
Slan abhaile = Pronounced slan awallya; Safe home or Have a safe trip
Go Mall = slow down
Tog bog e = please go slow
Baile Átha Cliath = Dublin
Lough = Pronounced lock; A lake
Bruscar = Trash can

Even when the Irish are speaking English sometimes it can be hard to know completely what is being said.  Quite often, there are idioms that are being expressed that will take us a minute to understand and respond.  A couple that we heard were:

> If the sun were out, we'd all be flyin' = Could you imagine if the sun was shining?
> How ye keeping'? = How are you?

Even when we arrived in the UK, there was an adjustment period where we might not understand what the other person was saying, and worse, they might not understand us and don't you know we were all speaking English.

The most common translations for us:
You alright? = Would you like to order something in the bar?
Half Twelve = 12:30
Granary or bleached? = Which type of bread would you like - wheat or white?
Car Park = Parking Lot
Lorry Park = Truck parking (o'carse)
Squibbly/scribbly = Signature, as in "Can I get your scribbly on this receipt please?"
Chips = French fries
Crisps = potato chips
Bonnet = hood of the car
Boot = trunk of the car
You’re having me on = you’re kidding with me

Baxter and I even find ourselves using a couple of these now and again.  It is fun to fully embrace the culture, even if it's technically the same language you thought you knew.