I found my way to Greece, my flight got in on time and I made my way to the bus station in Thessaloniki. From there I took a six hour bus ride to Lefkas where I stayed for one night before meeting the broker in the morning to collect the keys. I’m writing this one week later and pleased to report that things are going roughly to plan.
I got stuck into my list of pre-launch jobs as soon as I arrived in the boat yard. The big one was scraping the layers of biocide antifoul paint off the hull.. with a six centimetre scraper. I planned the job carefully and bought the wonder tool that was going to make all around me envious but the Bosch chisel could'nt find the middle ground between smoothly removing old paint and gouging straight into the gelcoat. The old school hand scraper was much better behaved though painstakingly laborious. Here’s a clip to give you some idea:
Four days and one allergic reaction later the job was done. The next day was spent sanding the hull. Epoxy primer followed.. three coats. The colours alternate between grey, green and back to grey again so you can see if you miss a spot. Another exhausting day!
Today was a mixed day -I had unsatisfactory results cutting and waxing the topsides but I'll have another crack before launch. The day ended end on a high as I finally fought free a serpentlike seacock and tube that has been resilient to every angle of attack. After trying to clear it with quantities of phosphoric acid my neighbour Dirk came to the rescue with a massive spanner that wrenched the whole thing out. Thanks Dirk!
It is now less than two weeks until I leave Amsterdam, Julia will be following two weeks later. I've been so busy with preparations that I've not stopped to think about the good times and awesome friends we'll be leaving behind. Our little boat must also stay behind. I don't think our time here would have been half as fun without her:
When we bought her she was in a pretty sorry state. The seller was leaving Amsterdam and had clearly lost interest and allowed her to half sink and start to fall apart.
The old motor was underpowered so I upgraded to a Haswing Osapian 80 running on 24v from two 110ah deep cycle AGM batteries giving us about 7 hours of play time. The varnish was looking tired so I stripped the mahogany back to bare wood and reapplied multiple coats of 'jachtlak' while also installing a mahogany cover for the transom opening. I also fitted underwater & interior leds, fresh rope 'kabelaring', new brass hardware, carpet and a Dutch flag so we could pass as proper locals.
Whenever the sun is shining or we have friends staying we take to the water and explore the endless network of canals and reservoirs. We've had many happy days fishing, swimming, drinking and cruising. Her new owner is a good friend so this is farewell, not goodbye.
Navionics on the Ipad is clear, easy to use and looks like it will be a very useful addition to our paper charts. Annoyingly it is not available as an app on a Mac. Even more annoying is that I'd have to purchase the charts all over again if I want to run it on my Android phone. I did a bit of digging around and found Opencpn -an open source chartplotter that works on Macs, Android phones but not on Ipads. This could be a perfect set up as I'd have two separate charts to draw comparisons from. The catch however is that the only charts I could find for the Med that run on Opencpn are dated 2011.
After a bit more research I discovered that with a little bit of wiring and a 9 pin rs-232 connector I can hook up the Mac to our Navicom RT-650 AIS enabled ships radio. While not able to transmit AIS data we can receive it, meaning we can keep an eye on nearby traffic and set up collision alerts. GPS data is fed to the Navicom from Bumblebee's Furuno 1650 plotter which is getting on a bit and hard to find charts for.
The cool thing about AIS is all the info available. In real time you can see any large ship's data including where it's come from, where it's going to, vessel details and MMSI, enabling a radio call directly to the bridge.
It looks like Opencpn on the Mac will be our main chartplotter while we are in open water. Navionics on the Ipad will be used alongside providing reliable up to date details. Opencpn on my Android phone will be a backup and paper charts will be used to double check everything.