At the risk of sounding rude (well, more than normal), I must admit that this is probably the most annoying question I get asked as a full-time liveaboard. Along with “you’re so lucky”, but that is a whole new post I will get to eventually.
So I have decided to document a week in our life as live boards. Those of you that live the lifestyle will know that this is actually a euphemism for “Let’s see what breaks this week.”
Day One: Saturday (this is important as we seldom know the day of the week, and we seldom get the month right too).
I am not going to add in the obvious “do the dishes, check the bilges (we have a shaft problem), sweep the floors, straighten up the boat” things we do every day. Well, almost every day.
We went to Cape Town for a week recently and locked up the boat. It rained. We came back to DAMP and MOULD. Yes, they deserve capital letters. Today the sun is actually shining so I have had the pleasure of doing the following. Strip all bedding (those of you with V berths and the other funny shaped cabins know exactly how much FUN this is, no need for onboard exercising today). Plug heater into radiator, feed 2 leads along the deck and through porthole and position heater in the aft cabin to drywalls. Buy dehumidifiers. We are also looking at a more permanent one instead of replacing every few weeks.
Armed myself with spray gun filled with anti mould muti and vinegar, plus a few cloths and attacked every visible surface in the boat. The whole 43 foot of her. Everywhere. Found corners and ledges I didn’t even know she had. 4 hours later and she smells fresh and clean and beautiful again!
Captain Mike has in the meantime being removing paint with a wire brush on a drill that bubbled up on Waggis after the welding we did last week.
He is about to go and help repair the jetty where we will be placing Waggis once she has finished her facelift on the hard. This involves him standing in a dinghy at low tide hammering extra-long planks into the jetty for the boat to go alongside without being damaged; we are in a river, not a marina. Therefore we have to wait for the exact right time, low tide and the current not too strong; I am apparently going to hold him safely in the dinghy with ropes. And beer. Definitely a few beers.
That should take an hour or 2. Then we need to find a (nother) leak in the dinghy and put tape on the deck where we think we have leaks running in to the aft cabin. Sun is shining today, good time to get outside and do what we can.
Down tools at 5.00 pm to head to the local pub to watch South Africa hopefully whip Australia’s ass in the rugby. So, in a nutshell, that is day one of “what do you DO all day?”
Day 2 – Sunday -“What do you DO all day…”
Up at 7.30. Michael wandered off to clean the welding on Waggis and paint the new plates with an epoxy primer.
After that, it was back to the jetty in the river for Michael (where we will be mooring Waggis) to nail the last few planks in at low tide. Actually, the 80-year-old neighbour seemed to do most of the work with Mike giving the odd instruction from above.
This took until 2.00 pm when we went off to good friends in St. Helena Bay, about 40 minutes away for a wonderful South African braai (BBQ!).
Got home at around 10 last night. I think.
Oh, what was I doing all day while Michael was doing handyman stuff? Recovering. Celebrated the fantastic South African rugby thrashing of the Aussies the night before a bit too energetically…..
Day 3 – Monday- of “What do you DO all day”.
Another busy day.
After our morning woffie (have I mentioned we have a ritual, coffee with a splash of whisky to kick start every day i.e. woffie), Michael set out to discover why the smart charger was running but the battery voltage was getting lower and lower. The generator is running only for the heater and the battery charger. The inverter is running for supplying computers etc. etc. Realised after about 3 hours that he had connected the charger to the inverter output and basically the charger was chasing its own tail using battery power to charge the batteries! Haha, even engineers with degrees can make mistakes!
Next, we wanted to figure out why the generator kept tripping. Closer inspection of the wattage consumption of the charger revealed that it uses up to 400 watts so added to the 600 watts of our heater, close to the maximum power rating of the generator. After running it like this for some time the thermal cut out of the generator kept kicking in. Captain Mike had to don wet weather gear and go on deck to restart. Damn inconvenient. Sorted now, lowered the charge rate on the battery charger from 15 amps to 7 amps and now down to 2 amps where it seems to be happy. 2 amps is not a great help but better than nothing. Luckily sun popped out for a brief time and the solar panels contributed about 10 amps. Yes, much easier to just plug in the heater if you are in a house with normal electricity!
\The new fibreglass floor arrived for the bathroom. Sadly, although the floor calculations were done correctly, nobody figured out how to actually lower it in to fit into the floor space! Even removed the whole toilet to see if we could slide it in somehow. We couldn’t. Sent it back to be slightly modified, hopefully, it fits today.
One plus is that the new cushions finally arrived! After months (years actually) of the shitty green ones, it is heaven to have new foam and nicely covered cushions. Have done all the mattresses too, feels amazing. Off to buy new red cushions (I think) to jazz it up when the rain stops.
Talking of which, we had to (actually not “we” ; Captain Mike) brave the elements and secure lines, adjust fenders for the 40 knot plus winds and heavy rains on the way. We are tied alongside the jetty and will be pushed in to it fairly strongly. Taped up where we think we have leaks too, trying to isolate the source of the leaks and will then need to apply sealant.
Had a friend around for dinner, Captain Mike did his famous “please-don’t-let-him-set-the-boat-alight” flaming steak – check it out here. Lots of wine, laughter , music and a damn good meal. Washing up has to wait as we first have to run the engine for half an hour to get hot water to do the dishes and shower. Can wait for the morning.
Day 4 – Tuesday – “What do you DO all day?!”
Michael was up bright and early to make the woffies and then attack his computer. After an hour or 2 he submitted the final application to the Apple I-store for an app he has just developed, hopefully it gets approved by the Apple store I- gods and that project can be put to bed.
I battled along most of the day with the blog, am changing from one host to another so everything needs to move over – pain in the proverbial ass.
The rest of the day was spent doing general chores on the boat, shopping, cooking, drinking wine, the usual. (We have decided we need to seriously buy a still for when we cross oceans).
After dinner watched a new You tube sailing channel I came across, Sailing MJ, and dived straight in at around episode 83 because they mentioned they wintered in the Azores then sailed on to Ireland, Scotland and Norway for the summer. My bucket list! Had never considered the Azores for a winter hideout, looks really promising. Anyway, although we are preparing to leave South Africa in the near future, we still do not really know if we will go left in to the Indian ocean or right in to the Atlantic. Depends on the season. It is nice to view all theses exotic locations in the interim and dream!
Around midnight the expected storm hit us, winds of around 70km an hour. Boat was pushed up against the jetty very hard, all our fenders obviously out including the ones designated to be dumped, even bow fender was deployed on to the jetty. Water rushing past like the Niagara Falls, pretty intense. Northerly winds smash us right up against the jetty, port side of the boat took a bit of a beating but no major damage.
Was suggested by another cruiser (Richard Curry here is the answer) that we should move off the jetty and put out an anchor. Therein lies a small tale. A while back we went out sailing at 2 in the morning as one does when there is a full moon, a slight breeze and the water looks so perfect.
However, we forgot to pull up the anchor we had on the starboard side to balance the boat and make life more comfortable and accidentally went over the chain. With the prop. Bit of damage, bolt popped out, thread was stripped, bolt needs to be refitted and anode attached so that this does not happen again, anode can only be found in Australia so we have to wait patiently. Apart from that , Mike couldn’t dive anyway as his lead belt was stolen off the deck recently (discovered this when we looked for it to fix the prop.) We are not in a marina where we can borrow one so he ordered a new lead belt late one night via the internet. From Holland! Clearly did not read the small print. Was wine involved in all the above “mishaps” I hear you ask? Possibly. Maybe. Probably.
So that in a nutshell is Day 4. I obviously write these posts the next day so right now its Wednesday and so far this morning I have heard: “why is the washing machine making that funny noise?” and “something has melted here” plus “somethings gone pear-shaped” when he looked at the regulator. I don’t even want to ask….will report on both tomorrow. And they wonder what we do all day…..
(When I set out to do a weeks worth of “What do you do all day” posts, I didn’t realise that it has actually disciplined me! Instead of mooching around all day, I now consciously open the computer to write and am somehow more productive for the rest of the day. Sometimes I am a lazy ass and lol around in bed all day but I would be too embarassed to admit that so suddenly I am action gal!)
Anyhow Day 5 of “What do we DO all day?!”
Wednesday. Woffie. Washing day as there is a bit of sunshine.
Our boat has a lazarette at the back, houses a large fuel tank, rudder assembly, autopilot, gas bottles. Plus my fully automatic washing machine which to anyone setting out on the cruising lifestyle I couldn’ t stress enough that, although a tad luxurious, is worth it! Anyhow, lazarette lid would not close as washing machine was too high so we had this fixed, cut out a chunk, raised one side (now have an extra seating area ) and she fits in perfectly. All done in sturdy fibre glass by the same guys repairing my bathroom floor (which I am still “patiently” waiting to be completed.)
Captain Mike was sniffing through the cabin like a bloodhound yesterday because he smelt something “electric and burning”. He found it.
The wiring to the solar regulator (the bit between the solar panels and the batteries to check we don’t overcharge the batteries and fry them), well that bit got fried. A short piece of the wiring that the Captain had added was too thin and became hot like a light bulb, melting the insulation around it and nearly destroying the regulator. Connector was burnt to hell so he had to solder a thicker wire directly on to the circuit board. Hours of cursing as the solder would not heat up enough so I had to improvise and heat up with our flame thrower device ….lots of 4 letter words…..eventually all quiet on the homefront again and circuit board restored.
Spent the rest of the afternoon worrying about why the shaft, the stuffing box actually (no idea why it is called that, somehow always sounds a bit rude) , is heating up alarmingly, even when loosened. Anybody have any bright ideas out there as to why this is happening? Will have to tackle that tomorrow plus perhaps look at the water pump which is suddenly growling alarmingly.
The usual wonderful warm happy evening: heater, wine, movies, chilled on our gently rocking cosy home. Love it.
Day 6 – “What do you DO all day?”
Wakeup, woffie and then the BEST suprise ever…..my incredibly fantastic children arrived for a visit. Lovely lunch, plenty of wine and laughter. Art auction in the evening , for the local animal shelter, lots more fun (and wine). What a glorious day. Boat problems can wait for tomorrow.
Day 7 of “What do you DO all day” – Friday.
Day started off slowly due to copious amounts of alcohol yesterday, nothing a woffie can’t fix though. Sailor trash!
Waggis was the focus of attention today. Michael has had his 35-ft steel boat for over 20 years, bought it when he lived in Switzerland, sailed the Med extensively and then took off solo across the Atlantic – twice. (Can read about his journey here.)
Now we have our 43 ft Bruce Roberts Mauritius ketch with a lot more bells and whistles (and space) which we will sail away on. So, what to do with Waggis?
Well, first of all we thought of selling her. However, she has been moored on a jetty for 4 years and had not been hauled out once so that needed to be addressed. Booked her in for some love and attention at the local boatyard. Was frightening to realise that the only thing that saved her from sinking in the river were the hundreds of mussels and barnacles forming an impenetrable barrier on the hull and covering the 4 x one cm holes she had under the engine area.
Fortunately Captain Mike had been too lazy to dive and scrape off the mussels would have meant a very quick watery grave for Waggis!
Looking at all the work to be done on Waggis we then contemplated cutting her up. We could get more for the steel and lead than a fair market price for the entire boat. Captain Mike considered it but is too emotionally attached to Waggis so we shelved that option. Once we started fixing her up we realised what a fantastic steel boat she is and we may land up passing her on to one of our children to maintain and enjoy.
Oh, the welding saga! Welder number one said he could do the job, big mouth man who later decided there were too many rules and regulations involved in welding on boats in SA. We have a foreign registered boat. These rules do not apply. After 4 days of dithering ,he decided he is not going to do the job.
Enter welder number two. This guy actually assembled a crew and cut out all the steel under Waggis, 2 sqm , and then disappeared! When we eventually tracked him down he said he can’t do the job, too busy with his local engineering company. Really?? A boat on the hard with holes in, in a small village with no other welders??
Enter boatyard owner and friend who called a friend who called a friend. We had, at this stage, been on the hard for 3 weeks and all we had to show were gaping holes in the bottom of Waggis! The quote we got was more than 4 x the original quote, almost the value of the vessel so we politely declined. Luckily one of the guys on the crew approached us privately , and together with the most talented welder on the planet, did an absolutely fantastic job of welding those damn holes . All the necessary coded qualifications, total professionals! Thank you Frikkie and Louis. Bonus is that they can also make us a still for when we hit the open seas, what luck!!!
Michael cleaned up the blistered paint around the newly welded bits and we passed the survey with flying colours. Phosphoric acid based anti rust applied.
So, to get to yesterday, time for the primer coat to be applied. 2 pack International epoxy primer. 2 coats. Done. Barrier coat then applied as anti fouling does not bond well on to epoxy. Next step, 3 coats of anti fouling which is what we are busy with right now. Waggis has a new lease on life, boat will probably outlive us!
Next week she should go back into the water. The engine (Volvo Penta MD2B) is being serviced at present, the ring gear on the fly wheel has a bunch of teeth missing so needs to be repaired. The deck will need to be painted and then we tackle the inside. All this work on a boat we will not be sailing away on but Captain Mike feels its the “honorable” thing to do to a boat he loves so much!
So the day revolved around Waggis and then off to the local pub where they had a singing/talent show, hugely entertaining, crawled (literally) home at 3 am , woke up this morning just in time to catch the last ten minutes of the rugby – SA vs New Zealand where we scored the equalising try and conversion in the last MINUTE ! Whoop Whoop, you go boys! Great way to start the day! Woffie too of course…..
So, there you have it. 7 days of “What do you DO on a boat all day?” If you read any of it, thank you! Its been quite interesting to write.
Next week we attack the shaft, stuffing box and water pump issues. Never ending. LOVE it though, would not change this lifestyle for the world!
Captain Mike and Nikki.