It is just soooo good to see that the days are getting longer and there is the occasional promise in the air that on average it is a little less cold, a little less rainy and a little less windy than in the previous months. We see everywhere the spring flowers and the buds on the trees as they show their bright colours and the essence of new life flowing. Life is happy !
As we live on the boat it is surprising how much more in touch we are with the natural world outside. With the days getting longer (and warmer), there is more motivation to get up and do things in the light, so our time in bed is shorter and we are no less tired as a result.
We have had some really warm days where T shirts were required as we sailed in the sunshine and other stormy days where we were happy to be just inside and to watch the activity of the world around us.
Each time it rains, we hear the pitter patter on the deck above – like sleeping under the eves of the house, it is cosy and comfortable to hear these sounds. We watch the air pressure rise and fall and try and guess what these changes will bring. With rapid pressure changes the wind gets stronger and we are often surprised at the strength of the gusts and the changes in direction in this part of France. There is such a cacophony of sounds from the hundreds of sailboats around us when the wind picks up, banging, rattling and clanking of ropes on the aluminium and carbon masts. The rigid masts seem to sway in the wind like a forest of trees as the boats rock backwards and forwards on the turbulent waters.
With all this additional daylight it is time to start putting our projects into action and get our yacht ready for the sailing season ahead. These more major projects include:
· Building a structure for and installing a large solar panel - next 2 weeks
· Lengthening our anchor chain
· Installing an improved in-mast furling system - next 2 weeks
· Installing our improved WIFI and 4G communications whilst within 30km of land - will be done as soon as the solar arch is completed - lots of photos to follow soon on all these projects.
Our original anchor chain was 50m long and this would be suitable for safe anchoring in water depths of up to 12.5m. In general, for our grander plans an anchor chain of at least 80m is recommended and many sailing forums suggest 100m - 120m. In the end we opted for 110m, which would be suitable for water depths of 27.5m under normal conditions and in excess of 15m in stormy conditions.
A small problem with anchor chain is the weight – yes this is the reason you have a chain, rather than a rope. However, getting 140 kg of extra chain from the shop to the anchor locker of the boat is not so easy. Especially with only bicycles for transport and the effect of the large tides on the ramp up from our floating pontoon which varies from horizontal at high tide to what feels like 45 degrees at low tide.
Choosing the high tide for a delivery time (Who would have though this ?) was essential for a safe ramp crossing without the risk of a runaway wheelbarrow and chain. Though delivery was later than expected, there was no problem in crossing the ramp to our pontoon as the tide had not fallen too far.
After delivery we needed to paint the chain at 10m intervals, so we can easily estimate how much chain runs out when the anchor is dropped. A combination of fluorescent green paint and fluorescent orange tape seemed to have the desired effect.
Linking the 2 chains together was accomplished by 2 x special C shaped links that have a hammer together structure and a specific tensile strength.
All painted and joined together it was just a matter of evenly distributing the 110 meter of chain in the anchor locker and hoping it would all fit, which of course it did as Ingrid was in charge of the organisation; the chain was just told what to do.