Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay, Watchin' the Tide Roll A way

Jon & Carol Dutton
Mon 26 Sep 2011 23:25

By Sunday night we’d been in Vigo a week.  And we’ll be here for a little longer yet.  At least Otis Redding managed to roam 2000 miles before making ‘Frisco dock his home.  Things are getting sorted gradually.  The alternator is fixed, the spinnaker has been repaired.  Other spares have arrived. Other niggles come to light – a very slightly leaking hydraulic backstay tensioner for example.  More spares required.  More waiting needed.  This is a nuisance but no more than that.  Had it been possible to get afloat a great deal earlier than we did – say late May or early June – we’d have had the opportunity to shake all this stuff out before we set sail from the UK.  But, that just wasn’t possible.  By the time we were ready to put the boat through her paces it was time to go south - to ensure that we avoided the worst of the weather in the Bay of Biscay.  Ha!  Not sure that that bit of the plan worked quite as intended but . . .


Thoughts of shakedowns reminds me of happy times as a forward observation officer in Germany in the late ‘70s.  Mounted in an ancient Mk13 Centurion tank, my job was to play soldiers with the cavalry, mounted in much more modern Chieftain tanks.  Few Centurion tanks worked in Germany – they were pigs to maintain and work on.  But, mine did because, following the advice of my predecessor, the moment we got back from Christmas leave, the driver (the redoubtable Bombardier Scawthorne – he of the world-beating pre-dawn egg banjos, resplendent with trademark oily black thumb print) would be despatched with instructions to drive it as far as he could and then get REME to recover and mend it.  Then, repeat the exercise until he could manage the entire Munsterlager ring road without breaking down.  On the first foray, in a good year, he might make the camp gates – so, several hundred yards.  But, by the time REME had recovered the thing about a dozen times over ever-increasing distances, and rebuilt it each time, we’d be ready for the spring exercise season.  And, despite the fact that we lagged badly on roads, we could lick the Cav cross-country.  Proper tankin’ – none of your namby-pamby tarmac or cobbles stuff.


The principal hold-up here has been with the B&G wind instruments.  If we want them fixed, this is a pretty sensible place and time to have it done.  Having had the masthead unit fully serviced in the UK before fitting it to Arnamentia in June or so this year, we were reluctant to accept that the problem lay there.  But the electrician has established that as fact and we can now see that the printed circuit board (PCB) inside it is corroded.  Must have been a bad day in the office on the day that it went in for service in the UK.  The UK agents have asked that I deliver the whole masthead unit back to them so they can see for themselves.  Yeah, right.  We have suggested that there might usefully be a service agent to service agent conversation to get at the facts.  But, of course, they are two independent companies who just happen to have been appointed by B&G as service agents.  So, when B&G claim to have a ‘global network of B&G support’ it isn’t entirely clear what that means.  Glass half full or half empty outside the warranty period?  We’ll see.  But, had a corroded PCB been diagnosed in the UK, it would probably have made more sense (and cost less, all things considered) to buy a new unit (and get a warranty).  One might have expected to be so advised.  Whatever, the new part will not now be with us until mid week or so. 


The hiatus has given us an opportunity to rationalise a few things, service this and that  and mug up on stuff like communications and instruments (you rarely get round to this tooling about in the English Channel).  Some stuff that wasn’t earning its keep has gone to the tip.  One item might be of interest to others thinking of venturing afar by sea.  It will be of little interest to others so a skip here is advised.  Let me make it clearer - if you are not interested in how to avoid taking aboard contaminated fuel, don’t bother with the rest of this paragraph – see ya later!  Anyone who knows about this long distance stuff will say that you have to take the risk of fuel contamination in far-flung places seriously.  Various filter funnels are on the market that will separate out water and debris from the fuel before it gets to the tank.  In the US they are marketed by Mr Funnel and West Marine.  In the UK, similar stuff comes from Parker/Racor.  They all comprise a funnel in which there is a cylindrical Teflon coated stainless steel filter   Having sold 3 sizes of such filters for some time – the biggest of which supported a flow rate of 19 litres (5 US gallons) per minute – Racor brought out a new filter funnel which was the same 10” diameter as their standard large funnel but had two filter elements.  The flow rate claimed for this was 56 litres (15 US gallons) a minute despite the fact that the filter elements were much finer (74 microns compared with 127).  It sounded just the ticket if, perhaps, a little too good to be true.  It is.  The flow rate we have achieved with this using two different fuel berth pumps is laughable.  The explanation is, we are told, that the diesel coming from the pump is naturally full of air and that this coats the filter element.  So, almost nothing gets through.  That is, doubtless, safe.  But it’s not quite what we’re after.  Apparently, if we refuelled by pouring diesel into the filter funnel gently using a little jug . . . Fortunately Jonathan Calascione obtained a West Marine version of the less ambitious 19 litre per minute model for us and this works fine.  It filters to 149 microns and we hope that’s good enough.  It’s a little slower than we’d like and we’ll have to get used to chatting up the fuel attendant and ignoring the hostile looks of the owner of the mega stink pot next in the fuel queue.  But, if that’s what we have to do to avoid contaminated tanks, so be it.  We’re going to keep digging at this one and have engaged in e-mail correspondence with both Parker/Racor and Mr Funnel to get to the bottom of it.  And, with luck, we’ll identify the optimum solution – which would achieve just enough filtration and impose the least possible delay in the refuelling business.


The service we’ve had in Vigo from the marina staff at Marina Davila cannot be faulted.  Even the marina restaurant rates a mention.  Here it is, on the upper floor of the only building of any architectural merit in the immediate area – the marina office building.  It has wonderful views across the Ria – provided that you ignore the first few hundred yards that are taken up with lines of hundreds of little white vans awaiting export.  The rest of the immediate hinterland – for half a mile or so - comprises industrial buildings where chaps mend nets and fix whatever has to be fixed in a major port.  So, there can’t be much passing trade for the restaurant – one imagines.  We went there at half past eight on Saturday evening.  It appears to be expensively staffed and all of these were still adjusting their aprons and ties – 8.30pm being a ludicrously early hour for anyone to wish to eat dinner in Spain. So, the restaurant was otherwise deserted.  Hence, the Maitre d’ got a slightly old-fashioned look when he enquired whether or not we’d booked.  But, he sorted us out and didn’t seem fazed by the fact that we chose to skip the first 3 courses or all of the possibilities that followed the main one.  By 10 o’clock, just as we were beginning to wonder how any restaurant staffed like this could possibly survive outside the sailing season (for this is where we now are), in poured those who had booked tables and filled the place up to the brim.  We legged it a little later, having had an excellent couple of hours and some very passable food in thoroughly pleasant surroundings.


So, what now?  We’ll keep on taking the medicine.  There is no particular rush.  Chris and Penny Copeland join us on 17th October in Lagos in the Algarve.  And, if it has to be Lisbon, it will have to be Lisbon.  But, there is little reason to doubt our ability to make Lagos in time, despite further delay.  Meanwhile, the weather here is sunny and warm.  Vigo is a city of huge variety and we’ve seen quite a lot of that.  What’s not to like?