Boat ownership: learning lessons

The last few months have been, to say the least, busy. I could write a few pages just on the list of work that I have been progressing through – after all the ‘to do list’ is over two-and-a-half pages of A4 paper. Regardless of the necessary work done on Coralee, I have been lazy when it comes to this blog, so it’s definitely time for an update.

I finished at my job in London in early April and, having packed the house up (leaving it in a state unseen since I first moved in), I moved aboard Coralee while she was still in the shed at Hayling Island. This wasn’t exactly ‘the yachting lifestyle’, as Coralee was pretty much just a workshop atop a ladder in a dusty shed with little space and no working galley, heads, or non tool-strewn beds.

I was hoping to have Coralee out of the shed within a couple of weeks of moving aboard but this was to be my first lesson in the realities of boat work and how long jobs actually take. If nothing else the lesson of the past couple of months is that regardless of the amount of knowledge that I had about sailing, I knew very little about boat ownership and the time that yacht-jobs take to complete (they’re not quick!). I was shed-bound onboard Coralee for six weeks and the amount of help I got was really humbling, which also gave me a fighting chance of hitting my amended deadlines. My thanks to all those who helped me during that time, especially Mark and Glenn.

The big ticket items during that time were tidying up the issues that were identified with the CopperCoat and paint finish, as well as re-fitting all the deck hardware. Over the past 18 months I had gradually removed the various bits of deck hardware and had quite forgotten how much I had removed and how much work there was to get this all back down and seated on the deck. To compound the issue, having checked over the jib-tracks it seemed opportune to replace them, unfortunately, having ordered and received replacement tracks, I noticed that the old tracks had imperial spacings (4”) and the new tracks were metric spacings (100mm), meaning that they didn’t fit.

Barton Marine Equipment kindly offered to drill custom tracks at the standard retail cost and so I packed up the old tracks and sent them to Barton via ParcelForce 48hr delivery. Unfortunately, seven days later the tracks still hadn’t arrived and I was getting a little concerned that the tracks wouldn’t be back with me before Coralee was due outside for rigging. Thankfully, after pushing ParcelForce rather hard, the tracks turned up and after Barton rushed them through production I popped up to Kent to pick them up in person – no longer trusting ParcelForce to deliver anything other than a bad service. My thanks to Barton for their help, and somewhat less thanks to ParcelForce who offered little help and no compensation.

In the last week of May, a friend and I launched Coralee to move her to Haslar Marina, Gosport, to continue the work but this time on the water. Having Coralee afloat felt great and even this brief ‘sea trial’ was a useful test of some of the systems that hadn’t been tested for over year. On the move to Hayling Island 18 months ago I had noticed that there was water in the bilge and understanding why had always been a bit of a concern. The good news of the delivery was that I found out where the water was coming from but the bad news was that it was coming through the rudder stock. Not knowing what state the rudder stock packing was in, I dared not merely nip-down the packing material but decided to replace it all instead – nearly a full day’s job.

Coralee is still at Halsar and I am working hard to get her ready for a trip to Falmouth before July. There is lots yet to do but I am now able to reduce the works’ list down into a MoSCoW* list (Must, Should, Could, Will get to). The benefit of this is that it reminds me that the aim here is to sail Coralee, not to repair every bit of hardware, software, electronics, and rigging that she has. Old boats, regardless of how loved they have been throughout their lives will always need work doing to them, and I must draw the line under what must be done, because one of the key things that must be done is for me to learn to sail her alone and love doing it…. which is of course the aim of this adventure.

Fair winds,
John and Coralee