A sailing blog about a skipper and his yacht

Winter refit 2023

This winter, whilst Sea Bear was laid up ashore I decided it was time to renew the standing rigging.  I had arranged for the yard to take down the mast for me and arranged for a rigging company to make up a new set of rigging using the old as patterns. With the mast down I removed the shroud deck fittings to check on their condition and to re-bed them, after all I reckoned the old sealant was maybe the original and  so needed  renewing. 

Sea Bear no mast in yard

Sea Bear no mast in yard


It was also a convenient time to replace the masthead tricolour as the lens was very badly crazed, so that was replaced with a new LED unit. Another replacement at the mast head was new VHF antena  and windex, the old one had lost its direction arrows. The steaming/deck light was also replaced being badly corroded. Whilst at it I replaced all the wiring to the lights and a new VHF cable too. The old wiring was just domestic cable  un-tinned so looked and was in a nasty state. All replaced with proper marine grade tinned cables. Last job on the mast was a new radar reflector, the old one having been lost in a storm of Jamaica  some while ago.

new bits on mast head

new bits on mast head

All that done the mast could go back up, the yard did that when I wasn’t there. Ah but there was a problem. They told me the clevis pins with the new standing rigging were too big to fit so they put it up with temporary pins. They said they had told the rigging company of this and it would be sorted.

When I went down to the yard to finish fitting out I discovered with horror that the baby stay was not connected and  the rigging company had put in undersized clevis pins, thinking this would do.

Toggle & pin mismatch

Toggle & pin mismatch

No No No I thought that just won’t do. They took some persuading that  they had used the wrong size toggles for parts of the rig when making up the new rig.

The had overlooked the fact that on a Vancouver, although all the wires are the same size at 6mm, the toggles and of course turnbuckles are different sizes for the cap shrouds and forestay from the lowers, back stays and baby stay. This despite them having the old rig as patterns. A rather schoolboy error I thought. Eventually they agreed that they had got it wrong and would make up a new rig. But of course the mast had to be unstepped again.  Eventually after much delay the right rigging was supplied and the mast back up.

Meanwhile I had finished the rest of the refit, cleaning, checking and maintenace, a long list as usual. Sea Bear was ready to go back afloat so a date for relaunch was arranged. It will be good to get back in the water. It has felt a long, cold and hard winter.


Fitting out 2022

I spent a week down at the boat yard. The big job was re-fitting the engine after it’s re-build.  After a clean up of the engine bay and a lick of paint the boat yard hoisted the engine aboard and it dropped straight in place. It was just a matter of refitting the alternator and water pump and connecting everything up. 

After bleeding the fuel system and with a pipe from pump to a bucket and hose pipe at hand we were all ready to start it up. Oops, turning the key and pushing the starter button – nothing. Obviously something wrong. An inspection soon revealed a wire carefully tucked out of the way of for lift-out not connected – soon remedied. Engine fired up – all well – what a relief.

Engine back in – all connected

Of course there were lots of other jobs to do.

Overhauling and re-greasing the furler, re-reeving the running rigging, up the mast to refit the wind instrument, re-fitting the sails and canvas work, plenty of cleaning, waxing the hull, re-greasing seacocks to name but a few. But eventually all done and now just wait for a launch date from the yard. Something to look forward to after all the hard work.

Sea Bear in Yard

Sea Bear in Yard

Fitting out done & shakedown sail.

I had made a start on the winter work schedule just about as soon as the lockdown easing at the end of April allowed me to travel down to the boat yard. I made a start and got a fair bit done but then was interrupted by a spell of cold and wet weather which put a stop to the work. It wasn’t until almost the end of May that finally we had some good weather and I was able to proceed with fitting out. Of course there is always far more to do than you first anticipate and it all takes longer than expected. There were few nonessential things I wanted to do but decided to put off. Eventually it was all done and the Sea Bear was ready to go back in the water. A few days after the yard told me that she was back on her mooring I went down to Pin Mill with Wendy for company. It was a lovely hot sunny day and after dinghying out to the boat we had a leisurely afternoon just settling in and relaxing.

Wendy & Sea Bear

Pin Mill Sunset

Next morning we slipped away from the mooring, there was no much wind but we did care about that, just sailed and drifted slowly down the river. It was Wendy’s first trip in the area so she was happy to have plenty of time to enjoy the sights. We decided not to go too far and once past Harwich we just headed for the Pye End buuy and hence to the channel to the Walton Backwaters. I though to anchor off Stone point, never having anchored there before but once there I wasn’t too happy with the Anchorage, it either felt too close in and too shallow for when the tide ebbed of far too close to the channel to be truly relaxing so we moved into Hamford water to anchor – much more relaxing. Not long ad after we had settled the wind increased and veered to the NE. This created quite a chop so it was a little uncomfortable for a while but it later eased. Next morning we spotted a pair of Avocets working along the shoreline, it was the first time I had ever seen these distinctive birds. Once the tide had risen enough we set off back out the channel and could just hold the line close hauled so had a good sail back to the mooring. There was enough tide for us to go ashore and have a walk though Pin Mill woods.

Pin Mill views

Returning back I made a classic mistake in that I overlooked the old age dictum of time and tide wait for no man. Actually it was the lure of a pint in the Butt & Oyster, which was perhaps my downfall. Maybe after it was excusable, as I had not had a pint in a pub since before lockdown, October last year, and even so that was just once since lockdown had started way back in March the previous year. Wendy queried whether we would have the time before the tide dropped but anyway the pint prevailed but sure enough back at the pontoon and the dinghy was high & dry. And so it was that I made my first acquaintance with Pin Mill mud – I won’t so easily make that mistake again!