Saturday 2nd August - Final Metamorphosis From Ugly Duckling to Swan

Jon & Carol Dutton
Sat 2 Aug 2014 10:41

Saturday 2nd August - Final Metamorphosis From Ugly Duckling to Swan


It’s been around 7 weeks since we last blogged – at which time we anticipated our departure from the ‘shid’ following the completion of the work on Arnamentia’s deck and topsides.  In addition, amongst a fair list of other jobs completed, the pair of us had replaced one of the two complete systems (compressor, evaporator plate and keel cooler) that drive the freezer.   We’d had the stainless steel superstructure to support the newly acquired solar panels produced and fitted – not without a bit of trepidation as we hoped that (in the temporary absence of both mast and boom) our measurements were right and that the boom would not remove the whole thing at the first gybe.  Then we’d fitted the panels and wired them up.  Our departure from the shid into the big bad world outside happened on Tuesday 24th June.  We were parked just outside to have the mast and rigging re-stepped, the anti-fouling applied and the boat seriously hose-tested to establish which of the 800 or so bolts and 5 hatches, that had been taken out of the deck and re-inserted, now leaked.  There was a bit more to be done, as it turned out, on both the decks and the topsides.  Progress was not enhanced by the fact that the weather chose precisely that moment to turn completely bloody.  When it wasn’t actually raining and the wind wasn’t taking off rooftops it was only because both were waiting for us to try to do something useful before pouncing. 




                                                  Serious Rollers in Puawai Bay, a few miles NW of Gulf Harbour




                                                  And at closer quarters from the steps leading down the cliff




                                                                Oooh – there’s a big bad world out here!



Well, perhaps it’s not quite so scary after all


Inevitably, the final few days before we launched, on Tuesday 21st July, were accompanied by what parachutists would call ‘ground-rush’.  Some things just have to be done before you launch and that’s that.  Seacocks, sacrificial anodes, engine checks, topside polishing, antifouling - that sort of stuff.  We’d elected to have the antifouling sprayed on professionally.  Doubt we’d bother again really.  Jon had done all the preparatory sanding of the filthy stuff and ended up, as ever, looking like a Blue Meanie.  That’s the worst bit of it and we are not quite convinced that the professionals did a better job of applying the paint by spray than we would have done by roller.  Incidentally, that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Brin Wilson yard.  But, it did save us a few hours – maybe four or five each.  Topside polishing followed in-between showers.  But, a period of several months spent working in a boat yard on your boat and in the intimate company of professional boat-builders seems to re-calibrate your tedium meter.  Stuff which you clearly recall undermining the very fabric of your soul now appears a complete doddle.  Therapeutic even.  You have spent time amongst those who produce wonderful results despite the difficulties that most boats present.  They battle on and make it happen by skill, improvisation and tenacity.


 By the bye, it has to be said that, once you’ve taken a look in gory detail at how some (very popular) brands of boats are constructed nowadays, you might conclude that they should not be allowed any nearer the sea than the marina entrance.  But, they are too cheap to be challenged on price by a normal boatyard, have big bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and curtains that nicely match the upholstery.  Lovely!  The price thing is probably why most firms who describe themselves as boat builders in this neck of the woods rarely build boats nowadays.  By and large they re-build, mend, refit and renovate them.  That means that some such boats end up much better, stronger and safer than when new.  A few others, tragically, make their final voyages rather earlier than their owners anticipated and don’t make it as far as the boat yard.  Neither do some of their crews.


Arnamentia’s launch day arrived – preceded obviously by an evening of torrential rain, during which the boat was held in slings on the travel-hoist, whilst Jon attempted to antifoul the patches which had been under the cradle props and had necessarily been left unpainted by the sprayers.  However, first light on launch day was a better prospect and we got the job done just in time for the arrival of the travel-hoist crew at 0800.  Brin Wilson very kindly lent us a few guys to help us get Arnamentia around to her marina berth.  They’d probably seen quite enough of us for the time being and didn’t want to see us back immediately, having just crashed the boat after a long time land-lubbering ashore.  Very wise.




                                   About to get wet – what a lovely bottom.  Pippa Middleton; eat your heart out.




The view from the mast head of the new teak deck, solar panels and the skipper’s scruffy jacket on the side deck.




                                      Closer view from aft of the mast.  Note smart Chinee bike in resting position

                         Note also smart light green jerrycan covers (all Mrs D’s work) on cans lashed to guardrails




                                                                                        Up at the pointy end




                                                                                        And looking aft from thereabouts


In the past week, the weather has improved and it’s been lovely to be able to take note of what’s going on around us.  We’ve had a number of avian visitors, but sadly the camera wasn’t to hand when the black swans glided by.  So, for the time being here is a couple of cormorants:




A common cormorant or shag – no need for eyes in the back of your head when you can twist your neck like this.




         And a, presumably posher, pied cormorant.  Note sure whether it lays it also lays its egg in a paper bag.





                                   We’re right at the end of the pontoon and have a delightful view to starboard


Now afloat we’ve had another hill of testing and commissioning to climb.  Here’s a thing that non boat owners may not know.  Left to their own devices for some time, all the mechanical, electrical and electronic devices aboard a boat conspire in a concerted programme of civil disobedience.  So, the fact that they all worked when you were lifted out and nothing has been asked of them since is not only no guarantee that they will still work.  On the contrary, it is almost certain that a significant but entirely random sample of them will not function without quite a lot of sweet-talking.  In some cases it’s really pretty simple.  Whatever it is, you faithfully record how it doesn’t work, have a lengthy conversation with a professional and call him in to demonstrate the problem.  As soon as he arrives it works perfectly.  He leaves baffled at your idiocy but richer.  Problem solved.  There are other bits – stuff you’d never have dreamt you’d need to understand – which are much more interesting.  Why the two compressors on your freezer keep switching each other off, why your solar panels are not registering the current they are providing to your batteries on your battery management system, why your computer isn’t seeing the chart plotter data any more, why the wheel well won’t drain, why the aux genny won’t fire up.  And, one by one, the problems get resolved and you learn a bit more about life, the Universe and everything.  Ah, but it all takes time.  No sooner, for instance, had we re-installed the gas locker, made all the connections in there and in the black hole of the lazarette and done an extensive leak test on the whole gas system, but it all had to be dismantled again because the wheel well would not drain (probably too much sawdust and associated rubbish had disappeared into it over the past months) and that was the only way we could access some of the relevant drainage pipes.  Boats don’t ‘do’ easy.  It’s a matter of principle.


Meanwhile we’ve been sorting out a great deal of other admin and stuff.  And we have continued to battle gently with Kiwi vowel-mangling.  It’s not usually much of a problem now (we all now know that eggs are iggs, decks are dicks and sheds are shids).  But it can still catch you a bit unawares.  You may recall that we bought a brand new top-of-the-range Chinese-made bike for $88NZ (so, around £40) from a shop called The Warehouse in Whangarei, earlier in the year.  Said bike features in one of the masthead photos above.  It appeared that one of the pedals was beginning to fall off and so new ones were required.  In fact, this was a fatuous misdiagnosis but that’s beside the point.  Whilst on a series of other missions, the multi-taskable member of Arnamentia’s crew entered an outdoor activity shop in Auckland (which sold bikes, canoes, fishing kit and all that sort of Kiwi stuff) to ask if they sold pedals.  The shop assistant confirmed that they did and enquired as to the length Madam might require.  Madam looked a bit non-plussed.  So, she was escorted to the canoe/kayak section of the shop and the assistant demonstrated that what she called ‘peddles’ did, indeed, come in a variety of lengths.  When Carol explained that what she was after was for a mountain bike the light finally dawned in the assistant’s eyes.  “Oh, sorry, you want piddles”.  Well, as it happens . . .          


So now, whence henceforth?  We still have a niggle or two to resolve but we’re pretty much ready to rock’n’roll.  There is a stack to do in moving out of the flat and properly stowing the boat, particularly since Jon has acquired enough new tools to require two mega tool bags in addition to those he already had. All of which is, of course, entirely reasonable.


With a modicum of luck we’ll be on our way this coming week following a local day-long excursion to serve as a sea trial.


Den we goin’ Fiji to get us a bit o’ dat ol’ sun.