Thursday, 23 October 2014

Grinding Away in Grenada

18 Sep – 17 Oct 2014:  Secret Harbour Marina, Grenada – 12.00N 61.45E

From Flat Maintenance to Boat Maintenance    P9220001

We always knew that by extending our stay in England an extra 3 weeks to finish off the renovations there, it would eat away into the time at this end needed to prepare Balvenie for another cruising season.  And this season will be a long one as it is farewell to the Caribbean as we slip through the Panama Canal and finally into our home waters, the Pacific Ocean.

So on day one back on board it was straight into the boat projects, no rest for the wicked.  The dreaded “To Do List”  was compiled and we hit the ground running.  First up it was the boom, for years it has needed some attention but this is the first time we have ever removed the mainsail, so at last it made it to the top of the list.  P9220003

A thorough scraping and sanding of old flaky paint was undertaken by skipper in the scorching sun.  With temperatures in the low 30c’s  combined with humidity over 95 per cent it was exceptionally hot work, and we were starting at dawn to make the most of the coolest part of the day!  Next came the priming, unfortunately we could only get a rusty red colour which really looked terrible, but the two layers of top coat had it gleaming white again in no time. 

The mainsail went way for some remedial repairs, the staysail and headsail were reattached, hoisted and furled – all ready for their first sail of the season.  P9230004   

Next up for skipper it was the emptying and cleaning out of the fuel tanks, last done in Malta a few years ago now, so it was time to have a look inside to see what baddies might be lurking, ready to block the filters at an inopportune time.  Always nice to have our bed folded in half and have the smell of diesel permeate throughout, the joys of sleeping on top of diesel tanks. 

Meanwhile I had all those jars of marmite, packets of teabags and other goodies we had brought back to stow, food lockers to sort out, inventories to update and a major clean out of “stuff” ensued.  With a scheduled boat jumble looming I saw it as as good opportunity to rid ourselves of all those things we thought we might just need – but haven’t so far!!  So off they went. 


PA120041On and On It Goes

With sparkly clean fuel tanks skipper then changed all the fuel and air filters and did oil changes on both the engine and generator.  With fuel and engine maintenance crossed of “The List” it was time to head back out into the sun.  The anchor chain has been checked, topped and tailed, the anchor sanded back and painted with galvanic paint, as was the spare anchor.  The bow was masked up, areas needing attention were filled and fared and the process of painting with 3 part Awlgrip paint commenced.PA060029

As you might imagine we were rather over painting by now, having done the London flat, then the boom, now the bow, but hey why not just keep on going.  The cockpit really did need tidying up too and while we were mixing the Awlgrip up it seemed like just the right time and we are thrilled with decision.  It just looks brilliant, and as we spend so much time up there we can admire the fruits of our labour constantly.

At some point the we collected the mainsail, we were extremely unhappy with the work that had been done and had to add a few patches to the batten pockets and do some stitching ourselves, but frankly just couldn’t be bothered with the hassle and expense of complaining and returning it to them (life without a telephone and car is really quite difficult).  So we repaired and refitted it, Mark reattached the reefing lines and we begrudgingly crossed it off “The List”.   PA060017

But we thought about it overnight, we have thousands of miles to cover this season and we want our mainsail in top shape so we emailed our complaint with photos the following morning.  We had a response within minutes, two staff arrived within an hour to remove the sail and to return it to the sail loft, they came back later in the day to collect Mark so he could observe what they thought should have originally been done, this was all offered at no cost to us, we asked them to do a couple of extra things which we happily paid for. 

They then returned and refitted the sail the following afternoon and apologized profusely for the poor initial work which had been carried out while they were short staffed.  The end result is excellent and our mainsail should happily see us across the Pacific.  Thanks to Turbulence Marine for getting the job done for us.

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A Few More Jobs To Do, A Hurricane To Avoid  …. Then We Can Go Sailing!!!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Recap On The Renovations ….. September 2014

23 June – 23 September 2014:  London

The Final Photos

Our series of previous blog updates on the 12 weeks we spent in London would not be complete without this final posting of the before, during and after shots.  We will let the pictures tell the story …..

First the Kitchen


Now The Bathroom


The Hallway


The Living Room


Lastly the Bedroom


So That Was Our 3 Month Summer Break In London

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The End To Our Time In England ….. Sept 2014

P916029716 – 23 September 2014:  London

The Last Week

We ended our trial run of all the systems at what we can now proudly describe as our luxury apartment, and moved back to Marks Mum to spend our last few days.

While I was busy doing shopping expeditions to purchase necessary delicacies like marmite, wild rice, decent tea, EasyYo yoghurt and other goodies, P9150280Mark pottered around with Jackie and managed to get a few odd jobs done around her home.

We had time at last to see more of Marks brother Greg and his family, but we didn’t get to see them nearly enough during our 3 months, the time has just flown by.

Marks Mum has been a real trooper and has made us immensely welcome, we have thrown her totally out of her routine, but she has never once complained.  P9160284Our original plan of staying with her for a week then moving into the flat as we renovated just never quite came to fruition, she has been an absolute gem putting up with us for so long, thank you Jackie. 

In no time at all we were squeezing all the food and boat bits into our luggage, throwing out most of our clothes and saying our final goodbyes.  We have had plenty of practice farewelling both our families over the last 20 years, but it has never gotten any easier.  This time was no exception.P9160301

We had a dream run around the M25 at 6am, dropped our hire car back, walked across to departures, checked ourselves in at an automatic machine for our British Airways flight, dropped off our luggage and were through to airside at Gatwick just over an hour from leaving home, absolutely amazing. 

Back To Balvenie In Grenada

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

All Done & Dusted ….. September 2014

08 – 15 September 2014:  London

And We Thought We Were Finished!!

P9050218 With all the rooms completed and the carpet laid we were seriously in the home stretch – but not quite finished.  Since starting work on our flat we had noticed a musty smell every time we come through the front door.  Over the weeks we have ascertained that the culprits were two shelves in different hall cupboards that have had leaking pipes above them at some stage.  The leaks are long fixed but the shelves have rotted and we had decided that we would replace them if we had time.

Having extended our flights by the extra 3 weeks we did now have the time so the very messy job began.  However we had also called our letting agents to advise we were ready for rental viewings.  They had been to appraise the property and had listed it straight away.  Having the property looking pristine while undergoing the following was no mean feat!

The major problem was in the hot water and water tank cupboard, and the rotten shelf had the water tank sitting on top of it. P9050221 Mark drained the tank as much as he could then stood tip-toed on a chair and several pieces of timber and stretched his arm in holding a small jug and scooped the rest of the brown sludge out – no that wasn’t our drinking water, just the bath and shower supply but the tank has been there 40 years so the sludge was well settled!!! 

Then he disconnected the remainder of the pipes and we slowly edged it out and lifted it down.  The shelf underneath almost crumbled, luckily there are a couple of steel supports!   We foraged around down in the garage and found suitable shelving replacement in some of the old kitchen units and set to sawing them to shape.  Yes the carpet had gone down just the day before so several drop clothes were used, doors were closed and the mess was contained the best we could.

Meanwhile I relocated myself inside the cupboards and started scraping, sanding then painting the internal walls and ceilings – that was cosy!

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P9060227 Mark cleaned out the tank managing to remove all the lime scale, replaced the ball valve, fitted the new shelves and when the paint was dry we put everything back together and he plumbed it all again.  Then I painted the hot water cylinder – changing it from a nasty mustard colour to white, and to finish things off I carpeted both cupboards.   Every single surface has now been freshly painted and what a difference it has all made.

But Does It All Work??

With just 10 days until our flight back to Balvenie in Grenada we moved into the flat to test all the systems.  We had been staying the whole time with Marks Mum who has been a wonderful hostess, looking after us well and going back to hot showers, a clean and tidy environment and home cooked meals every night has been priceless.   But we thought it best to move in and check everything was operational for ourselves, we do not want emails in a month telling us this or that isn’t working.  So we borrowed Marks brothers airbed mattress and “camped” in the flat for a week. 


We spent the week finishing off little jobs, we bought a blind for the kitchen and fitted it, Mark tweaked a couple of light fittings that weren’t working, we installed a shower curtain and rail as our very nice looking and expensive glass shower screen did not stop water splashing on the floor.  We organised removal of all the rubbish accumulated in the garage, I cut and hand hemmed curtains for the lounge that had been given to us by our friends Helen and David and we fitted extra shelves in the wardrobe.  Then there were door bottoms to shave as the new carpet was too high, fresh paint needed to be scraped off a couple of door frames as the doors would now not close and a thinner coat reapplied, slowly the list was diminishing.  Oh and the big news was that we rented the flat immediately, with a young couple moving in in October.  All our efforts have resulted in an extra £300 a month rent, greatly needed to reimburse very empty coffers. 

Time Off For Good Behaviour & Hard Work

In between we managed a trip over to Helen and David in Teddington for dinner and to return their workbench and tools which have been invaluable.  Then we had a day up in London as tourists riding the new double-decker Routemaster buses through the City and East End,.  We visited the spectacular display of over 888,000 ceramic poppies “planted” in the moat at the Tower of London to commemorate all the British lives lost in the First World War.  It is an outstanding display and will keep “growing” until November. 

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We watched as iconic London Bridge opened and traffic was ground to a halt for quite some time waiting for a mini cruise ship to free its lines and exit downriver on the tide.  A traditional wooden boat was in hot pursuit, slipping through as the bridge lowered.  We enjoyed the Riverside Walk and weaved our way along before meeting our good friend Lesley on the South Bank of the Thames for dinner, the area has undergone a remarkable transformation over the years and is now a fabulous, vibrant, scenic area, full of museums, art galleries and restaurants with the Thames lapping its shores day and night.

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There Is Nothing Left On The List ~ Our Work Here Is Done