Diary 2003


 Home Up Starting the Refit

bulletThe first few pages give a brief history of buying Samarang, the refit, trying to stay within budget (and then giving up) and trying and trying to be ready to leave on time. (Or at the very least have the boat in the water by the time the tenants moved into our home!)

Purchase & Delivery:  We found Samarang in the autumn of 2001 lying in Southampton.  She was a bit bigger and a bit older than we had been looking for, but was so close in every other way we decided to make an offer.  She surveyed extremely well and became ours in September and we moved her to her new berth at Eastbourne, which was the closest location to home to allow us to work on her over the winter.  Although Samarang had clearly been well cared for by her previous owner she had been little used over the last couple of years so was starting to feel a bit neglected, in the way that boats do if just left idle.  Also, what had been perfectly serviceable gear was beginning to seize up. Still we'd sort all of that out over the winter and have the next season to get some miles under our belts in Samarang, prior to setting of in 2003.  Anyone who has any experience of boats will realise just how naive we we're!  

Further symptoms of our naivety will occur like punctuation throughout this diary.  And here's the first one.  At Southampton Samarang was moored on a non berth on which the broker was able to store boats which were offered for sale.  It was a narrow strip of water between a very long pontoon with "for sale" boats moored to it and the harbour wall.  Samarang was, of course, at the difficult end.  Peter Luke the previous owner had masterfully reversed her the entire length of this obstacle course after taking us out to show us the ropes - to make life easier for us.  We, or more accurately I, was about to seriously screw things up going forward.  We'd sailed several different production boats over the last few years, but the thing is that custom built boats are different - I suppose that's the point.  But this blindingly obvious fact was to catch us (me) out time and again.  Most boats have a standard Morse lever to control forward/reverse and throttle speed all in one. As throttle is reduced to idle the gearbox transfers into neutral.  Samarang has two levers, one for gears and one for throttle - just like a car.  Reducing the throttle to tick over still drives her along at a couple of knots unless she is physically taken out of gear.  So that's how we, within the first twenty metres on our new boat, reinforced the wisdom of purchasing steel, as we polished the harbour wall with our (now paint free) rubbing strake.

Dawn had just broken as we made our way down Southampton water, a grey morning with next to no wind.  A friend of ours Steve Jenkins had joined to add extra hands, muscle and all round sailing ability.  By the time we reached the Solent, whilst Lindy helmed Steve and I had managed to get some of the instruments working, the main raised using the topping lift (main sheave was frozen) and the Genoa out.  There was only a little scratch and we carried on towards Brighton in better spirits   Neptune however, hadn't finished with us quite yet. 

We entered Brighton Marina, the nautical equivalent of an NCP car park and having been unable to get a response on VHF headed straight for the visitors pontoon.  Right in front of the entrance, long, straight and plenty of room - good news.  I slowed us down, angled us in towards the pontoon, just a burst of reverse throttle to stop us and kick the stern in, perfect.  It was at this point that the engine just stopped.  And this is where customisation got us again.  The engine start key is not conveniently next to the steering wheel.  Its below deck.  So as I threw myself down the companionway 15 Tonnes of steel yacht carried on quite happily towards the equally robust steel pile to which the pontoon was attached.  I of course wasn't in the cockpit to see the faces of Lindy & Steve when they realised that there was nobody at the helm.  I also couldn't hear the crunch of the bow pulpit collapsing  as it absorbed the impact.  The cheery "I'm always doing that" from the lady washing her rib by the pontoon made me feel only very marginally better.

Next stop the marina office.   We desperately needed to register and get a swipe card to open the marina gate so that we could get to the chandlers before it closed.  Also we were keen to access the showere blocks as we were meeting friends later for dinner (The hot water on board Samarang was of course not working.)  No-one there, just a VHF radio hanging from a nail and a note with a calling channel.  I called. The guy on the VHF was sympathetic, but couldn't really help.  He was  nowhere near the marina and just about to go off duty.  All he could suggest was that we hang around by the gate and hope someone would let us in.  Ditto with the showers.  He did however confirm that we were OK berthed where we were.  Actually all of which did work out OK.  Got bits from chandlers, got showered and changed, dropped into the (now open) marina office on our way back to the boat where we were informed that we would now have to move the boat.  Oh joy!

The move did not go well.  No particular reason.  Maybe we'd switched off for the evening,  maybe we were adrenalined out, or maybe our confidence was just completely shot, but by the time we finally met our friends at the restaraunt we were absolutely knackered.  It was all we could do not fall asleep in the starters.  As we crawled into our bunk later (but not much later) that night Lindy and I looked at each other and almost simultaneously wailed "What have we done".

The trip up to Eastbourne was actually pretty uneventful.  I took the opportunity to motor around a bit forward and astern to get more of a feel for the boat.  We then (or at least I) timed our arrival at Eastbourne lock so that we would arrive just after the lock had closed and we could be first into an empty lock.  But of course the lock was running a bit late.  The lock keeper spotted us comeing in and as he had (in his view) a space just large enough for Samarang, he held the gate open and waived us in.  With heart in mouth I crept into the lock.  All the other boats were standing by to take lines and fend of. And actually it was OK.  We chatted to the other crews in the lock.  They admired Samarang's fine lines.  Clearly we were serious sailors, owning a boat like that - who were we to disabuse them.  We basked in a glow for the time it took the lock to fill, but then of course we just had to go and find a pontoon to moor on in the biggest marina in Europe, on a Sunday afternoon!

Starting the Refit

 

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Last updated 5th June 2017