Dec 16, 2014

Our home is starting to look like home again

N 28° 7.632', W 15° 25.510'

We have been back in the marina for an other four weeks already. We are in the same pontoon where we were before. We think it's the best one in this marina. The whole pontoon is very small, hidden behind the gas station. On the other side we have the marina office and on the other side a couple of Guardia Civil vessels. Here is a big problem with bicycle thefts, but ours have been ok since January, parked right next to the office (knock on wood that our good luck continues). Toilets and showers are also very near and they are the best ones here, not too many users, so we mostly get a hot shower. They are also the kind that you can control the temperature, not just one push button. We are quite far from everything, but walking is good exercise, so we don't mind a bit.

After our vacation in the anchorage we have been kind of slow to start the boat work. But you know, schedules make all the difference. New Years Eve is getting closer and two days ago half of the boat was still under construction. 

We thought, it's best to start solving the puzzle with the biggest part. After that Timo put all the parts together very easily. It was much easier than what I had expected. There were only a few small details that he had to build from the scratch. Mostly all the screws just went into the old holes. 

Next was my turn. I put all the plywood where it belongs. Once more we have too bunks in the aft cabin. It was time for my test rest.

Until today our home has been full of things that we have been moving around all the time. Now I have put lots of stuff under the new built bunks. Tonight is the first time in more than six months that my home actually looks like home again!

Nov 21, 2014

Our vacation is almost over

 We have now been on vacation for almost four weeks. On Sunday we go back to the marina. Yesterday I already talked to a marinero and we have a place reserved in the exact place where we want to be. I think it takes you a long way here when you smile to everyone, be polite and try to speak as much Spanish as you can.

But back to the present and past, Sunday is still in the future.

First we were a bit irritated about the ARC fleet taking over the marina. It felt really stupid to do some temporary installations, just to be able to move to the anchorage. There was also the brighter side. We really had a dead-line when we had to be able to move back on board. You know how you just somehow finish things a bit faster when under pressure. It was only a couple of weeks difference anyway, because we were staying in an ARC-boat and they were coming back soon. 

This four weeks have also been very good "practice" for our future life, where we plan to be on the hook most of the time. We left Finland 15 months ago, but we have only been in the marinas, not counting some odd nights in the anchorage on the way.

Now it was time to test how our solar panels and wind generator work in real life. For the first 2 and half weeks everything was fine, but then we had some calm and cloudy days. Finally we had to start the engine and let the alternator do it's job. We use our computer a lot, especially Timo, since he has been working on his own anchor watch application. And you know how laptop wants a lot of juice from the batteries.

I have seen a lot of big boats from outside, but this week has been very special for me. Leopard by Finland is trying to (I mean it is going to) break the ARC record. I've known the Finnish project leader since I was a kid. We were invited to their welcome party on Wednesday. What a yacht! 100 feet of the latest technology.

This is Leopards command center. For a nerd like me, it looked really fascinating. 

There is also an other interesting Finnish project here. These guys are on board Volvo 70. 

I happened to be there at the right time to help these guys out a bit. They had stickers to put on the side and it's a bit difficult if you can't walk on the water or you don't have a tender. So I let them borrow our dinghy for the job.

Meanwhile they were doing their job, I got a really good and long tour on the boat :) The boat participated in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009, it has been kept as it was in the race. They have only made one modification, you don't have to do your business in the public... In the race they really don't have any walls or even a curtain to give you privacy.

For the first two weeks we were in a real vacation mode. I guess we were just so tired after all those months of hard work that we needed to sleep late and take everything very easy. After a while I started to get some of my normal energy back.

We are still missing half of our storage space, but I have made my best to have our things in order. I sometimes get surprised myself when Timo asks me for something and I actually know where things are.

We also had to do some engine maintenance that was long overdue.

Living on board while doing any work means endless job moving things around. Here is our bedroom in the living room.

I don't like to live too much to the dead-lines, but some are really good for us. Next we have to build our aft cabin back to a livable two bunk cabin for my brother-in-law and his daughter for New Year.

Last winter we were planning to sail to the Caribbean this winter. Now we know it's not going to happen. We are going to spend an other winter here in the Canaries. I hope it's not going to be as cold and rainy as the last one was. Anyway, it's much better than back in Finland. Southern Finland got their first snow today, and I definitely don't miss that.

Oct 28, 2014

It's anchoring time

N 28° 7.870', W 15° 25.498'

So much time has passed again after the last blog entry. All the ugly work is now done. Inside bottom is painted and also most of the interior has been sanded and varnished. We moved back on board last week. All our storage places are not yet rebuilt, but somehow we could fit all our stuff back in. Well, the longest and strongest mooring lines are still on the deck.

Las Palmas is the start place for the ARC. There are more than 200 boats in the rally and most of them are big. All those must fit in the marina, so the rest of us have to go. We didn't go far, just to the nearest anchorage.

It's quite a change after being in the same calm harbor since the beginning of this year.

This anchorage is a bit rolly, so we won't be doing much work here. Now it's just time to enjoy life and relax.

There is still some work left when we return to the marina after the ARC leaves. We didn't have time to finish all, but the boat is livable. All the important stuff is done. Our toilet is working, our stove is working and our own bunk is perfect to sleep in. We don't have our water tanks installed yet, but that's no problem. The nearest place to fill our water cans is just 5 minutes dinghy ride away.

It's going to be interesting 4 weeks to see all the ARC boats.

This one is for sure the most interesting one, Leopard by Finland. They are going to break the ARC record, hopefully! 

Aug 16, 2014

Things I thought I would never do!

N 28° 7.643', W 15° 25.510'

I think I've always been kind of scared of all the tools that make a bad noise. But I know that I have always been TERRIFIED with the tools that make a lot of sparks.

And then here I am. Behind our diesel tank and under our sofa. The reason why I'm there instead of my husband is that he's a bit taller than I am. I could barely get down there.

There was a steel bar that was on the way to clean the bottom and the t-bars from the rust. This steel bar was also useless. It was just sitting there, nothing on top of it, taking storage space from the things we put there. So we decided it has to go.  So, for the first time in my life I took the angle grinder into my hands and turned it on...

This is the first part that came out.

And this it the second part.

We don't have a picture of the third part, because now I was already a pro and there was no need for pictures anymore.

After the previous blog we have been working like crazy. We have also been moving a lot.

We lived in s/y Manta for two and half months and then Auli and Hanski were back. Next we moved to an other Finnish boat, s/y Villa Mare. We thought we'd stay there until the end of September. But then all of a sudden there was yet an other Finnish boat and right in the same pontoon than our Iiris. This was too good to be true. We had met the skipper's partner a few times back in Finland. And now here we are, living in s/y Defyr. There was nothing wrong with the last place, but this is a very big marina. The distance between Villa Mare and Iiris is about 2 kilometers. We do need the exercise and we do go for walks every day. But this is just so much more convenient. Walking back and forth took a long time and now we don't even have to wear our flip-flops...

We have made a lot of progress since the last blog, but there is still a lot to do.

Now all the rust we can see is gone. We have already painted a lot of areas.

Here I'm painting this impossible place...

We believe that next week we'll be starting to paint all the rest. There is a very big area left so it's going to take four days to paint, one layer a day.

Then we start rebuilding. That is also going to be a huge work.

And by the way. I figured out an other way to remove urethane foam. It was a bit more physical work, but not as nasty as Timo's method.

Jun 13, 2014

Working almost full time

N 28° 7.643', W 15° 25.510'

Four weeks ago we moved temporarily out of our home. We didn't move far, just to the opposite side of the marina to an other Finnish boat. Our good friends Auli and Hannu from s/y Manta flew back to Finland for a couple of months and they were glad that someone is looking after their boat when they are gone.

Moving was done by dinghy. It was very easy. We loaded as much as we could in it. I drove the dinghy and Timo came to the other side by bike. It's incredible how much stuff you can carry on a little dinghy. We still had to make quite many trips, so I guess the cycling was a good exercise for Timo.

Manta is just a little bit bigger than Iiris and now it's quite full of stuff. First their own and now ours as well. But it's more than enough for us that we have a nice and clean bunk to sleep in. And we haven't filled all of the boat, we still have couches (well, maybe half of them) around the table so we can have breakfast there. Usually we are too tired to cook dinner and we just go to a nearby Sailor's Bar. We have also watched some movies from DVDs. We don't have a tv on board, so this has been quite a change for us. Last time we watched tv or DVDs was back in Finland more than a year ago. We don't count the occasional football we see in a bar.

Now we can really work on the boat when we don't have our things filling every place and we also don't have to worry about inhaling the dust at night. Now we can do the whole bottom at one time. But what a long time it takes. It's not an easy job. Under the bunks there was first glass fiber, then urethane foam and then well... there should be just the paint and the steel, but in some places there is also some rust. We have now maybe revealed half of the bottom. We sure hope there is not going to be any big surprises. 

Our biggest problem is that we have to disassemble quite much and we are running out of space on the deck. Lucky for us, an other Finnish couple just flew home for the summer so now we are moving things there. They are also glad that someone is looking after their boat. 

Doors and floorboards on their way to s/y Stormy. 

We have everything that we believe that can handle the outside weather (some covered, some not) stored on the deck. That includes batteries. 

First there is the GRP to remove. Timo first cuts it to pieces and then forces it out, pretty physical job. No need for any other exercise. And if you have any idea of the positions you have to work on the boat...

The urethane foam is quite easy to remove with a wire brush attached to a grinder. 

But this is how my husband looks like after 5 minutes.

I bet all this sounds like really hard and ugly work to you. I can assure you that it is. But everything has it's good sides, I hope. We are going to make some pretty big changes when we put everything back together. One of the biggest changes will be that our batteries go to a new location. When the boat was built it was a normal maintenance routine to check the acid levels of the batteries. So they were in a very easy place to get to. Now that's ancient history and all the batteries need no service. So we put the batteries where they are out of reach and we get a very good and large storage place with a very easy access.

In the end we believe that we'll have things a bit better than we used to have. That is of course that we don't find any big surprised in the hull. Let's all keep our fingers crossed.

May 6, 2014

Still in Las Palmas

N 28° 7.643', W 15° 25.510'

You know how sometimes days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months... This is what has happened to us. We are still alive and doing well, our minds have just been a bit too occupied to write anything to this blog.

When we arrived here in Las Palmas in the beginning of the year, our plan was to do some boat maintenance for maybe a month or two and then explore all the Canary Islands.

But there are times when everything does not go according to the plan. 

First we replaced all our three hatches on the deck. It was supposed to be an easy task, but it wasn't. It took way more time that we thought it would. The old and new ones are sold under exactly the same name, but over the years there have been some modifications. All the parts are a bit different and of course the holes for the screws are in different places. But we got them installed in February.

At the same time when we were working on our hatches we also installed a new windlass. It's exactly the same kind of Lofrans that we threw away last June. The old Lofrans had served good for two circumnavigations, but it was old and tired and had to put to rest. In between we had a Lewmar installed and some welding done to the deck. So it was again very much work to fix the deck so that we could install the windlass. This time we didn't get anyone to do any welding, instead  Timo made a base from teak. I feel like under the windlass our deck is starting to look like Swiss cheese.

Our deck is once more ready for a new windlass.

Our life has not only been hard work. My niece and nephew spent one week with us. We had so much fun with these two teenagers. Even though we don't have any own kids, we are lucky that we have some kids in our life that we can love and watch them grow up.

All the fun and games are about to end. Last card game before taking Siiri and Kasper back to the airport.

Our next task on the list was to take out our water tanks. They have never been taken out in the whole 25 year history of the boat. We knew there would be some rust under them, but we were quite shocked when Timo started removing rust and there was so much of it that came out. We have never owned a steel boat before and we have never worked on one before. We got so worried that we might not stay afloat that we lost our sleep for quite a few nights. Finally after two weeks we had the worst spots measured with ultrasonic and now we are not worried anymore. In some spots the hull is a bit thinner, but not too much.

First of our water tanks is ready to go out to the deck. We have two tanks that can in total hold a bit more than 300 liters of water.

And this is where all the fun begins. We want to see all of the bottom inside the boat. Some parts are easy, but some parts are not. Under the bunks there is urethane foam and glass fiber on top of it. It has made a nice storage place, but impossible to check and maintenance. Our head and storage room (the later used to be a sauna) in the bow have what you could call bathroom kind of floors. They are water tight and both have a floor drain. These are easy to take apart with some force, but building them back needs a bit more time. Then there is still our aft cabin left and it's small floor that is built under everything else. We haven't decided yet how we are going to take that apart, but somehow we will.

Our sailor friends are flying back to Finland for a couple of months and we are going to move to their boat while they are gone. We haven't done much work in the last month, because everything is so much easier when we don't have to sleep here. When we started removing rust it took me two hours every night to clean up so that we could go to sleep in our bunk.

There was so much fine dust to remove that I had to use a mask when cleaning up. And this I did every night for about 10 days.

This food locker I did not clean every day. We didn't know how much dust there would be. When we next continue our work we do a bit more work to protect our stuff from the dust.

We had some friends here for a week during Easter time. It was nice for a change to just relax and only think about where we would have our next drink or meal. But we do know that after we have done all this hard work our home is good and ready to go to the adventures to come. We had been planning to sail to Azores this summer, but now that won't happen. But one day when we are ready we'll head somewhere. Only time will tell what direction our boat might then be heading.

It was definitely the best lunch we had that came from this counter. I can sure recommend Amigo Camilo, but don't go there too late, it might be full...

Jan 30, 2014

Life in Las Palmas

N 28° 7.643', W 15° 25.510'

Feels like we just arrived, but I guess it's been a while when I last wrote anything.

We like the place we got here in the marina. We are right next to the office, so we think this spot is very safe. All the officials and harbor police coming and going. The shower/toilet building is also very close and there is only a few people using it so mostly we have hot water while taking a shower. We kind of have a long way to go everywhere but we think the extra kilometer (one way) is just good exercise.

We also enjoy being next to the reception pontoon, so we see all the boats coming in. There is also a service station on the other side of our pontoon and they sell very good fresh bread in the morning.

Our old reflex camera stopped working a few months ago in Bayona. Here we finally bought our new Canon 100D. The next  photo is one of the first test pictures I took with it. By now we only have the kit lens. We already know what lens we want to have for long distance photos, but it's such a new product that none of the stores have it yet.

Our estimate for the height of this mast is about 60-70 meters.

The boat carrying this mast also has pretty big fenders :)

Here is our biggest project at the moments. We are replacing all the three hatches on deck.

We have been working a lot, but we also always have time for our friends. First we had our Scottish sailing friends Ruth and Pat visiting us, they took the bus from Pasito Blanco. Then we have had some Finnish people visiting us, who are here for just a holiday.

Last Friday we had our old friends Auli and Hanski vising us. They also took the bus, their boat being in Puerto Mogan. They have this great plan to sail to the Antarctica.

These boys we met for the first time in Brest, France. Here they are setting sail for the Caribbean. I just have to admire these guys. Four young men chasing their dream to sail around the world.

Jan 12, 2014

Finally in Las Palmas

N 28° 7.643', W 15° 25.510'

When we were still in Europe we kind of thought that we'll be in Las Palmas in November or December. Well, what's an other month more?

Sailing from Tenerife was nice and easy for a change. We sailed close hauled for the whole way. 

Our windvane was doing the driving. When wind is shifting a lot, the windvane is much better than the autopilot. Sails have to be trimmed a bit better, but then it's easy when we don't have to worry about the wind shifts.

In the evening the wind stopped and we motored the little way we had left. This was a good test for our newly fixed autopilot. It worked perfectly. So hopefully we don't have to do any hand steering for the next decade or so...

When we left Santa Cruz, we motored out of the harbor. Our speed was not good. When we motored the last miles to Las Palmas we were missing at least one knot.

It was late in the evening when we arrived in Las Palmas. We anchored outside the marina for a few reasons. One, it's easier when you just want to go to sleep and do nothing onshore. Two, we might have to pay for the night we spend in the reception dock, even thought we don't use any facilities. Three, we wanted to know where our one knot had gone. 

After breakfast I took out my mask and snorkel and jumped to the almost filthy sea. Water was quite dirty looking, so it was no pleasure swim.

When I took the first look under the boat I saw the problem. There was lots of thin rope around our propeller.

I'm very bad at diving and I'm actually quite afraid to dive under the boat. So we made me a tool out of boat hook and bread knife.

This is the largest part that was in our propeller. Lucky for us it wasn't stronger so we still could use our engine.

After freeing our propeller we moved to the marina. We got a place that feels very good to us. We are right next to the reception pontoon, so we see the boats coming and going. The nearest shower building is a few steps from our place and so is the nearest mini market (gas station) to buy fresh bread in the morning. And the best part, we have a very good wi-fi connection.

We have started to do the boat work we have been planning to do and I think in a couple of days we are at full speed.

The weather has been good, mostly sunny. Sea temperature is about 20 C and the air is about the same during the day. In the sun it's actually pretty hot.

Jan 6, 2014

New Lewmar windlass

N 28° 7.643', W 15° 25.510'

When I bought Iiris I was told that the 15 years old Lofrans windlass is broken. Previous owner had been very satisfied with the Lofrans windlass, so I tried to order the same device from Finnish distributor Maritim. They promised to check the availability. Weeks passed and nothing was heard from Maritim. I visited them and I was told that there are some problems with Lofrans and it was impossible to order anything from them.

This was becoming a major problem. Reliable windlass is one of the most important equipment on a cruising boat.

Previous windlass had 1000w power and we have 10mm chain. With these specs Lewmar V3 seemed like a good choice.

Installing a different type of windlass means welding a plate over the  the old holes on the aluminium deck. This costed me more than I expected. New cover plate was bent to fit the deck. I had to make a padding of teak under the windlass.

Next I drilled the holes for bolts and the windlass. It was an unpleasant surprise to find out that the holes were not in correct places. The drilling template was not in scale. I should have checked it, but I was still trusting Lewmar quality.

After I had enlarged the holes to fit, the device was in its place. Luckily the drilling template differed only a few millimeters.

In the first test we pulled chain out of the box. There was a tiny twist in the chain which stopped the chain for less than a second. This minor twist caused the shaft to bend remarkable.

I complained about this and got a new deck part. This time the drilling template was in scale and the serial number far away from the previous one. We hoped the new one was manufactured at a different factory than the previous.

When we anchored the first time on our trip the same happens. Twist in chain and bend shaft.

Naturally I complained to Maritim but haven't got any answer.

After less than a half year from installation the windlass motor is already rusty. It is clear that this device will not last for 15 years.

The deck switches were installed at the same time. The other one must be from old stock and the new must be build from the cheapest materials you can get. That rusty one, less than half year old deck switch, doesn't work any more. 

I think the same is true with the shaft. They are using less expensive stainless steel, which is too soft for this use.

I tried again to ask Maritim about the situation. No answer!

It is clear we cannot continue our trip with this Lewmar V3 windlass. However, at the moment I don't know how to proceed. 

We can't trust our Lewmar V3 windlass because it is built from cheap materials which cannot bear forces used in anchorage. These materials also get corroded by the sea water.

So we are back to square one, we have to find us a new windlass.