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Date: 16 Mar 2011 00:37:00
Title: Alden has a hard day at work

Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua, Tuesday night

Alden arrived this morning just as we were getting out of bed so he'd had an early start. We got his bag into his cabin and then went to the nearby cafe for breakfast, chatting all the time and generally being excited about our new crew member. As soon as breakfast was over, Alden and I got to work on some jobs which had been niggling me.

The anchor windlass hadn't been serviced for months and it works really hard. In fact, it must be one of the hardest working bits of machinery onboard and it lives right up on the bow so it gets covered in salt water every time we take a wave. Every time we let the anchor down, we just let it spin on the clutch so it must get very hot in there. When we stripped it apart, there was no grease left so no wonder it was squeaking a bit. The bigger job was refitting the cowling which directs the chain down the hawse-hole. This had got ripped off when I forget to tell Andrea to load some chain into the forward compartment of the chain locker. The chain just backed up and off came the cowling. We did the same thing in Greenland and fixed it there so I had an idea of how to go about it.

We found the stud-removal kit but it was difficult to get the hole drilled into the broken stainless bolt and Alden did a good job of remaining calm until finally succeeding. Once we'd got that far, the broken bolt came out easily so I was glad we have all the tools onboard. We went over to the chandlery in the tender to get some allen-key bolts to go back in and filled up with petrol while we were over there. One bolt was a bit too long but we ground that down and then refitted everything. So that was one thing off the jobs list before lunch - a very good start.

Alden, Andrea and I had lunch at the cafe and then Andrea went off to Hamiltons to get some peace and quiet while us boys got stuck into the accumulator tank for the fresh water system. This has a bladder inside which pressurises the water, allowing the pump to run less often. It gradually loses its pressure so I'd put a bicycle pump on there to put more in but the last time I'd tried to use it, I couldn't achieve anything. When we looked at it, we realised it would come out fairly easily and then we could see what was wrong.

Alden got stuck in (he has good long arms so he's clearly been genetically engineered for doing work on boats) and soon had the tank out. We worked out that the valve seemed OK but the pump hose was leaking so the air wasn't getting into the bladder. With the unit on the table, we got it re-inflated, removed the pump so the pressure stayed in, refitted it and hey-presto, the pump runs for longer but then doesn't cycle all the time. Great. It was now 4pm and we had two jobs off the list. The boys were cooking on gas.

I wanted to do some proper jobs with Alden on his first day so that he could find out where all the tools were and learn a bit about the boat systems. It also gave us a chance to work together and hopefully, he feels like he's achieved something already so we can all relax a bit. It all worked out very well and I certainly feel more chilled-out than I have for days. I decided we should quit while we were ahead so I went off to chat to Andrea while Alden went into Falmouth to find a friend of his.

We met back on Saxon Blue at 5:30 and Alden said he'd seen Nahlin, James Dyson's boat in Falmouth. I'd told Andrea about her but she'd gone by the time we went for a look so we all headed over there straight away before it got dark. Playing the old "I'm so confident that I'm not even going to look at the Security Guard" trick, we walked into the marina and down the pontoon towards the boat. Wow! She is even better close up. The whole boat gleams with the varnish work set off beautifully against the cream paint on the hull and superstructure. She's almost completely shaded by canopies and has all sorts of interesting davits and poles sticking out along with a monster winch on the bow. I took some pictures while Andrea and Alden got chatting to one of the crew who told us about where they'd been and something about the yacht.

Her main engines are now diesel-electric as the original steam ones had been taken out and scrapped long ago. She does have steam-driven winches and a donkey engine onboard, though, so she still has a boiler in the engineroom. They're on their way back to Germany for a warranty list which must be the length of War and Peace. We chatted about how beautiful she is and how other vessels have called them up on the VHF to compliment them. She was sitting there among much bigger boats (Nahlin is about 250 feet which isn't that big for a mega-yacht) and making them all look very ordinary. Good effort, Mr Dyson.

After all that sightseeing, we headed back to Trappas for the usual excellent dinner. I had my regular beef curry, Andrea had beer-battered Grouper which is a strange mix of English and Caribbean but she said was excellent. It must have been good because she ate the whole massive fillet and I never even got a taste. We're back onboard now, Alden has gone to bed so I must have done a good job of wearing him out. I think he got very little sleep last night so he's done well for his first day. It's been a great day and I'm sure he'll fit in well with us. Tomorrow, we have our final preparations for our guests arriving so that's going to be good fun. Now just time for some Battlestar and then off to bed.

Harvey

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