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Date: 12 Jan 2011 01:41:00
Title: Working on Saxon Blue

Tuesday night

We put today aside to do work on the boat and it's been pretty successful. First, we had to have a long French breakfast, of course. During that, we had a good discussion of what our plans are. I had a very helpful email from Dave at the insurance company, giving us some options for leaving Saxon Blue in the Caribbean at the end of the "safe" season. We can leave her in Antigua, Tortola or Granada, provided that she's out of the water, placed in a purpose-built anti-hurricane cradle and then lashed down to the ground. At the moment, we're liking the sound of the yard in Antigua which would mean we can explore in any direction from here and just come back when we've ready to come home. We've also had the idea of going to Cuba by air rather than sailing the 1000 miles there and another 1000 back. We'll see how the plans all work out but it feels like we're getting a better idea.

My big job of the day was to decide what to do about the mainsail. I rang Rob Kemp, the guy who made the sail, on his mobile as he's at the London Boat Show. He was as helpful and knowledgeable as ever and I got some very straight answers. The big question was how different our sail would be once cut down and without battens compared to how it would have been if he'd designed it like that in the first place. Rob's answer was that it would be about the same but that it would have been constructed differently had he known it was to have a hollow leach. His concern is that the cut-down sail may stretch more quickly than it should but we're talking years of use before that's a problem. We also discussed the effect on the performance of the boat and it was, as expected, marginal. She may point a bit less high upwind and we'd lose a bit of sail area downwind. I think these possible compromises are worth it for a safer, more manageable system and Rob agreed. So that's decided, at long last. I rang James at St Maarten sails and he's going to get his scissors out asap. It's been a long decision-making process but I feel confident that we're making the right choice.

After that little lot, I've fitted the replacement spinnaker pole car which Andrea brought from the UK and had a quick refurbish of the poles. Their jaws have got damaged by contact with shackles on the sheets and the rough edges have then chafed the sheets in return. I finally got to use my Snap On files to remove the burrs and finished the job with a bit of wet and dry paper. We now have lovely smooth jaws that shouldn't chafe and I lubricated the moving parts while I was at it. What with a heap of other tiny jobs, it felt like a good day so I packed up while I was ahead and went out for a swim from the tender with Kali. Andrea was in a local bar using their internet to do some work.

As we arrived back, we could see that we had new neighbours again - yet another massive motor yacht. We got out of the tender and were busily dripping water all over our deck when the couple who had chartered the super-yacht asked me to take a picture of them with the crew. No problem and it gave us an excuse to find out a bit of gossip. The whole boat had been chartered by one couple so that's two guests for ten crew. It cost them 85 000 dollars for the week plus expenses (food, drink and fuel) plus tips (between 10 and 20 percent). Phew. That's a lot of money by anybody's standards and they didn't seem to be that loaded. In fact, everyone was busily congratulating each other on a successful charter. As Kali said, it must be like having your own personal resort for a week. You still have to share the sea with all the other people out there, though, so I'm not sure how much privacy or exclusivity you'd really get.

I was finally going to sit down with my book and an Orangina (now, that's living) when I got a text from Andrea inviting me up to her bar for a drink so I never did get to do any reading. We came back to Saxon Blue for another lovely meal from Kali. We've all decided that we'd rather eat on the boat as the food is better and much more healthy. As she started cooking, Kali asked me to have a look at our shore power connection to see if we could power the cooker directly off of that rather than via our batteries or the generator. We've been plugged in since we got here but we've been using it through our multi-voltage battery charger rather than our all-singing, all-dancing inverter/chargers. I flicked the appropriate switches and we now have 240 volts but at 60 hertz rather than our boat's designed 50 hertz. The inverters don't seem to mind and they're charging the batteries and Kali was able to use all the rings on the cooker without starting the generator so it was all going well.

Now for the weird bit. I was told by Discovery that the air-con wouldn't work with 60 hertz power. OK. So we tried it anyway and, guess what? It does work. Now then, this is the air-con which will only run for 5 minutes when working from the generator with the correct hertz. I tried turning it back onto the generator and, hey presto, it goes wrong again after 5 minutes. Back to the "wrong" shore power and it's perfect. This is going to be interesting when the air-con repair man comes on Thursday. I'll let them know in advance but it's clearly an electrical problem rather than the water flow which they've all been telling me.

So that's it. I'm sitting in a freezing cold saloon while I test the air-con. Andrea has gone to sit outside in the cockpit to warm up. Soon it'll be time for Battlestar and then another early night. Lovely.

Harvey

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