Well, a lot has been happening since the last post, so time for an update.
Once I had finally shaken off the chest infection that had me so ill in February, I jumped on a plane to Athens and went out to the boat for 4 days. Luckily I found her pretty much as I'd left her in October and nice and dry down below. Our worries about her being full of rain water and everything damp down below were unfounded. Whilst I was staying on board there was a huge electrical storm one night, one of the biggest I have ever been in, and sitting alone in the boat was pretty scary, at one point the lightening seemed to be coming down within a hundred meters of the boat and she was being pummelled with hail. So much for tame Mediterranean weather!
This trip enabled me to make a start on the jobs list, but most importantly measure up all the batteries so I could order the replacements back in the UK. This done, I flew back home for less than a week before renting a van from Pips and Ian and filling it with all the equipment and posessions that needed to be transported from the UK to the boat. My brother Will very kindly agreed to help me drive out and we loaded up and left on Wednesday the 14th March.
In the back of the van we had, 12 brand new batteries, the new dinghy, 2 new anchors, satellite phone and other electronics, a new loo and deck hatch, Antifouling, all the nav and pilots books I've bought for the trip, children's books and toys. In total I worked out that there was over £8000 worth of new equipment in the van. Customs in and out of Switzerland certainly took an interest in what we had in the back!
As usual Will and I had an eventful drive down, we left a bit late and were in a race against time from the moment we got off the channel ferry to get to Ancona in Italy and catch the next ferry to Greece. Amazingly we drove over 1000 miles, through the night, in less than 14 hours to get there in time to buy a ticket and board the ferry for a well deserved beer. The next morning we arrived in Igoumenitsa, Greece and drove one hour south to the boat yard.
Immediately Will and I began work on removing the old batteries and installing the new ones. This was definately a 2 man job and I was really grateful to get it done while Will was there to help me. A day later and they were all fitted successfully and working well, including some new battery boxes fitted up in the bow. Next was to start work prepping the hull for new antifouling. There were several areas that needed a fair amount of special attention, I don't think the underneath of the hull had been given much maintenance for 5 or 6 years and seeing as she is going to be in the water for probably one and a half to two years, it needs to be in good shape when she is launched.
It took 3-4 days of scraping, sanding, filling and priming before I was happy to start putting on the new paint, starting with a primer for the anti-fouling. One of the biggest areas of work was the bow thruster tube, it was pretty caked in flaky old anti fouling and once the scraping began it was obvious the whole lot needed to be properly taken back. A whole morning of scraping and sanding later I was happy that it was suitably prepped for paint and glad that I was doing jobs like this myself, so that they were getting done properly. I have no doubts a paid yard worker would not have spent the time and care sorting it properly as I had, hence the flaky paint in the first place.
By this time Will had had to fly back to the UK, and I had dropped him on a bus to Athens on Sunday morning for him to catch his flight back. It was amazing to have him there, our first official visitor, and I could not have done it without him, so am massively grateful to him. He really enjoyed seeing the boat and hanging out in the boatyard, which is quite a sight with somewhere near 1000 boats stored out of the water in our, and another 800 or so in the 2 more yards next door. We had fun wandering around and looking at what weird and wonderful boats we could find.
When I started applying the primer to the hull, my mistake ordering the paint became obvious, I didn't have enough! In the rush to get everything I needed ordered and delivered before driving out, I hadn't properly worked out home much paint I would need, for the primer this wasn't too much of a problem, as I bought a different brand from the local chandlery which would be fine. But for the antifouling itself I only had enough for one and a half coats, and I couldn't mix that with another brand, and I can't get the brand I was using locally in Greece. Oh well, I had enough for one complete coat, and the other one will have to wait until next time.
The other mistake was ordering the wrong type of deck hatch to replace the rear one in our cabin, which leaks terribly right above our bed. That would have to come back to the UK with me in the van to get swapped for the right one.
Once the first coat of antifoul was on and she was looking much better with her bottom all one colour and a nice new dark red, my attentioned turned to the topsides, which are very scratched, stained and generally in need of some love.
As you can see from the photo's, with the right amount of elbow grease and cutting compounds I was able to restore the colour and shine, but it was really hard work. The first photo shows how far 2 hours of polishing got me, the second was a day later when almost the entire starboard side was done. She really looks like a different boat now, although I am not finished, and a protective polish needs to be applied as well other wise the shine will be lost very quickly.
Then it was time to pack up and get back on the road, I left Greece on Saturday night and spent Sunday night with Fabritzio in Lake Garda. Driving on my own I made slower progress across Europe, but was back in the UK early hours of Tuesday morning, home for lunch. The big focus is now getting packed up and moved out of our house in London. We have our leaving drinks on Friday which should be fun, then the girls are going to stay with my Mum while we get moved out. The tenants move into our place on Saturday the 7th April, which is only a week and a half away!!
I still have a fair amount of work to do\arrange before the boat can go back in the water, so Fred and I have agreed to aim for the 21st April (her birthday) as the day we all move on board. Less than a month away!
This will also allow some time for the weather to get a bit more summery in Greece, and for other jobs to be done by the professionals. The biggest of which is to install the water maker which I have on order. After much deliberation we decided to go for it, and I think we won't regret that decision, but it won't arrive for another week or two, so time is tight to get it installed.
If anyone has managed to read this far, well done!
Next time I'll try and make the updates more regular and shorter.
Old antifoul all sanded back and prepped for painting over.
The dreaded bow thruster tube, this took half a day to prepare, but at least it's a proper job now!
This is how far 2 hours of polishing gets you!
The next day, starboard side completed!