As cold as.

“Cold as a wiches tit” i believe is the official sailors expression.

Just back from my first spring visit to WABI”’ in her mud-berth at Topsham on the Exe to do the housework and get some jobs done.  Mark, the boatyard boss, said that it had been so cold down there that they had to turn the water off to the pontoons so that they don’t pop, and that they were hardly able to get any outside work done.

WABI” was absolutely fine in her mud-berth, i had prepared things such that i could go out had i wanted to but a combination of awkward neaping tides and the intensely cold wind changed my plans to working inside the boat as much as possible. In fact once the sun was on the boat we were sheltered from the east by the high quay and church that side and at times it was almost warm enough to take one layer of fleece off !


It might be apparent from my last few posts that i really haven’t been able to decide what i am going to with the Liberty this year, and indeed what i might be doing with my sailing at all.  Going to the boat clarified a lot of things this weekend in that i enjoyed being onboard, enjoyed the jobs that i tinkered around with and came up with at least a working plan for this year.

Basically, WABI”’ is now going to get a thorough refit as she has been in continuous commission since i bought her and i have only had her ashore long enough to scrub and antifoul, most of the work i have done has been reactive and piece-meal. She would really benefit now from bringing ashore, emptying right out and setting-to with a long job list.  Nothing is major league work but lots of detail needs doing.  In a future post i will lay-out the refit plan and then hopefully talk through each project as i do it.

The master-plan is that i want her ready for some serious cruising next year as a shakedown again and with a plan of going cruising on a longer term basis the year after.  I have as many will realise been mulling-over having a slightly larger boat mainly for a bit more space and speed but to be honest i will always be looking for that whatever i have so i figure i may as well just get on with this one as it works so well.  I did bid on but didn’t win a Waarschip 725 as one with the ‘right’ keel came up …..could have been ‘3 boat’ steve for a while but didn’t happen.

This is the one…has the shallow ‘bulb’ fin keel.


Anyway, onto jobs that i have been working on.

I had a long think about the sailing ergonomics given that i am less ‘bendy’ around the boat.  One big problem i have had with the boat right from the start is going forward to reef, un-reef or hand sail.  The Liberty side decks are really narrow and the low guardrails only act as tripwires.  I made some temporary fixes so that i could pull down one reef from the cockpit and that ‘sort-of’ worked but was nothing like as slick and quick as it needs to be.  The project i have long had in mind is to get all the relevant lines aft to the area just to the right of the hatch (in this picture) so that would be : main halyard, mainsheet and vang, 1st and second reef clew and tack downhauls….plus the lazy-jack that side.

So far i have got the main halyard, mainsheet, vang and the essential 2 first reef lines running back that side and the port lazy-jack which i had already set up that side. That means that i can now pull down and release the first reef all from the cockpit.   I haven’t done anything about 2nd reef lines yet as i suspect at this stage that they need to come back to stbd. To be honest getting the 1st reef in and out is the critical one.

I may need more purchase in the main halyard , it was ‘plain’ when i got the boat with a rather useless tack tackle as a tensioner, i replaced that with the winch from the centreboard which certainly gave me the power but was the ‘winch from hell’ to use…especially when trying to hand the sail solo.  The winch from hell has now been consigned to the deep !.   I might play with a 2:1 main halyard with low stretch dyneema as i should now be heaving in a much better ergonomic position, to get the luff tension. I have added simple cleats to that edge of the coachroof….if that doesn’t work i might add a ‘posh’ jammer or a small simple winch.  The reef lines do have to run externally on the boom and i need to find some way of holding them up so that they don’t catch on everything when i am hoisting sail….minor details though but.

I then spent a lot of time making all the lines run cleanly, that meant adding a couple of U-bolts and padeyes , i still need to add some lead blocks further aft to keep the lines all to one side where i am less likely to trip over them.  At this stage everything is just temporarily laced and lashed , if it all works i will renew all the lashings with some better cordage and some nice blocks.  Luckily at this sort of size blocks aren’t staggeringly expensive as i can use dinghy blocks for my turning and leading blocks.



Aft, the mizzen and it’s stackpack bag are off, the stackpack needs a couple of repairs but might not be going back on.  I don’t find the stackpack concept at all useful and the lazy jacks especially aft just get in the way.  I am looking to get the mizzen boom off completely and either using a wishbone or sprit-spar such that the tack of either won’t be completely in the way all the time as the mizzen boom is now.  I might even be going to move the mizzen mast itself but will talk that one through later.

Lovely during the day.


And then the sun went down !


On the second night the sun went down over a clear horizon and the temperature, predictably, dropped like a stone.  At the end of the days work i did an achingly cold wash-down of where i had been working and then dived inside to warm up under my sleeping bag.     Only a couple of hours later, maybe around 2100 the water that had puddled in the cockpit and the side-decks had already frozen hard.  Lots of hot drinks, then hot soup, then food, then a night under sleeping bag and quilt……this morning the normal condensation on the hatch and window frames was ice.


Weekend slideshow.

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