Boo! Is anyone still there? Few words have sullied these pages for a while, but as Covid lock downs ease across Europe its time to make plans and dream of getting away …..
But first a new heart for Pippin
Pippin sails like a witch when I get it right, but motored like a dog, though I have no idea why each of those 2 creatures should be referred to in such terms. It wasn’t that Pippin didn’t do her best when under power, it was just that her tiny, 24 year old Yanmar was not only past its best, like the skipper, but it had never really been man enough even in its youth to shift all 8 tons of Pippin against the boisterous winds and free flowing tides that inhabit these beautiful islands.
I prefer to sail with company these days, so Stone de Croz has been promoted to cabin boy, but he’s a tricky crew mate for he never listens to his skipper. Ever! Period!
Age brought impatience – why the SH one T should I not want Pippin to perform to her best both under sail and power, something she might like too? Fortunately downsizing our home allowed my dream to become reality, so the project began with the decision on size and type of engine. I have had Yanmar’s for decades and found them pretty solid beasts, so that was the first part of the decision out of the way.
The laws of hydro dynamics dictate the maximum speed of a displacement vessel and even I could calculate that Pippin was good for little more than a smidgeon over 7 knots – that and limited space determined the maximum size of engine and 40 hp seemed about right; enough power but not so much that fuel consumption would rocket.
Mr Yanmar informed me that he was only making common rail diesel engines from 40 hp upwards and such beasts have caused much sucking of teeth amongst the long distance, self reliant cruising fraternity. But I can’t fix any engine anyway and the environmental considerations helped me make the decision – common rail diesels burn less more efficiently producing less pollution.
I signed the cheques and watched what the experts did, with a little not always helpful intervention from me and eventually, 5 months after Pippin came ashore, she slipped back into the water on a cold March day in 2021. And I haven’t even mentioned the ‘C’ word! Suffice to say Pippin’s heart beats much more strongly now and her performance under engine has been transformed making it a joy rather than a chore to journey under engine. A cross Channel motor is now possible within the hours of daylight and even the journey to that other island, Jersey, should be considerably less. Great stuff, just don’t ask about the bill!
Meanwhile Pippin and I have been pottering about at Warp speed round these shores and I have sat admiring bow waves and wakes the like of which I have never seen before – and I should even be able to keep up with my daughter’s rowing crew, who could comfortably outrun Pippin before!
Where to Next?
With Pippin in tip top shape, unlike her comfortably ballasted skipper, it was time to pull out my notepad and to start working up a plan for 2021 and good riddance to what is going on with the big ‘C’. A friend had sailed alone 2,500 miles around the United Kingdom in lockdown, whilst I had cowered indoors binging on solo sailing videos, all involving skippers with more grit and skill than I possess. But I can’t use that as an excuse for keeping Pippin tied to the dockside..
A Swat analysis seemed a pretty good idea to start with, and after much chuntering and head scratching, the results of my labours boiled down to three simple sentences;
Strengths – the boat
Weaknesses – the skipper
Threats – collisions and sinking.
With that exercise completed, it was time to get cracking so I have got some charts, drawn some lines on them, panicked over rations, wondered where I am going to put everything and lost all sorts of bits and bobs I thought I had somewhere. So no change there then.
Where to though? Well I’ll cross the Channel to Plymouth to catch up with friends and my Royal Marine nephew very soon but will keep the plans that are gradually forming for another day, lest courage fails me. But it would be nice to head south, towards sunshine and warmth .. but then no plan survives past the start line so we’ll see.
Until then “Cheeri” as we say down ‘yer’.