A cold, wet spring

Fitting out

Fuga had been hauled out ashore following our departure last October at Gosport Boat Yard. We had left her in the water, alongside the yard's pontoon, as there was no space ashore at that time. Following our last trip of the season, to Chichester and back, I had found the fuel contaminated and water in the filters. It seemed a good idea to take the injectors out and give them a treat, for the first time in our ownership, and the yard arranged this for us.

We drove down the day after our return from New Zealand, found a ladder and climbed aboard. All seemed well, the batteries were full and it was dry down below. We wished it was dry and warm outside too!

Our initial priorities were to go and see John's sister, in hospital in Basingstoke, following two falls in quick succession. Eventually we summoned up the energy to do the jobs. We pumped out the fuel, and threw away the bottom half that had not really cleared, filtering and cleaning the remainder. We changed the fuel filters throughout, and we burnt what we could with the Eberspacher heater to keep ourselves warm. We did our best to wash down the decks outside.

After the major work on the hull in Cagliari in 2011, Fuga's bottom was not too bad. There was some apparent collision damage down the port side at the bow, where the epoxy had been scraped, and also evidence of our encounter with a mooring in Majorca on the back of the keel. So we applied some tlc, and made good the epoxy where necessary, before applying the two and a half coats of antifouling. Cleaning and polishing the hull presented unexpected difficulties: blue paint spray had drifted on to the hull to starboard from another job in the yard, and on the other side rust spots, presumably from some angle grinding to port.

In the meantime, we had some visiting to do, and wanted to meet up with the house agents in Bicester, so we were frequently away from the boat. Finally, when we were ready to launch, other boats were in the way of the crane! We were content in any case to wait until the yard were ready to launch us, as it was cheaper in the yard! Finally on 23rd April we splashed, and the engine started almost immediately with its newly serviced injectors and new filters. We motored around to Haslar marina, and were given a vacant berth on D pontoon.

More time prevaricating

Our initial plan was to leave very shortly after 9th May, when John planned to meet up with some old friends from school in London. Sanders Sails had delivered our new sails to Haslar,and we picked these up when we arrived in the marina, and these needed to be bent on. First of all, though, we needed Jerry Henwood, the rigger, to fit our new roller furling gear. Peter Sanders had picked up that one of the extrusions was on the point of failing: we had not noticed it when we took the sail off. The roller furling, despite being a Selden Furlex, had never been very satisfactory, and Jerry was worried that in getting it off he might not be able to get it back on again. We had decided to bite the bullet, and get a new one. Although Jerry's mate, Ross, had a family funeral and there was a slight delay, we soon had a brand new furling gear. They had also picked up that one of the baby stays was failing (again) and replaced the pair of them for us.

We went out for a sail the following week, cut a bit short when I found the jib battens were falling out. Fitting the new sail out in a wind, I had not got the velcro retaining strap right, and it also turned out that I had not appreciated how the main battens were retained, using a combination of velcro and a retaining tie. The sails looked very nice, though, and most important of all, fitted!

While I was enjoying myself in London with my mates, Mo was busy shopping for enough stores to last us for the summer! When I got back, I shared my latest thoughts with her. Perhaps we had other priorities? She was not best pleased, but we decided that we should relax and forget about sailing for the time being. Haslar Marina kindly offered us a good deal and we felt able to stay on until the end of June.

Steve, Nicole, Emma and Harry at Southsea castleSteve looks on as Nicole catches a crab
We spent a week decorating for John's sister Gerry, and were back and forth visiting Sue. Mo's son Steve, with Nicole, Ella and Harry came on a visit during half term week, and we pootled up to Port Solent, anchoring off Porchester while we had lunch and went for a walk ashore. We spent the night in Port Solent. We spent a couple of nights in Berkhamsted with Peter, Debbie, Tom and Emma, had the car serviced, I saw the doctor, and we visited friends and family. Sandy came to visit, and we sailed up to Newtown river on the Isle of Wight for the night, almost grounding at anchor in the low spring tides. On the way out we actually grounded: it seems the channel has moved in the last 12 years or so?

On our way at last

With July looming, Mo had to set about more frenzied shopping for supplies. The weather has continued to be mostly diabolical, windy wet or cold, and sometimes all three. The jobs list has almost, but not quite been beaten into submission. You have to hold something back for a rainy day, after all. After a final visit to friends Peter and Sue, just returned from the warmth of cruising in the Mediterranean, we were at last ready to go.