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part 2 - Winter Works

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the covershot from Virgo brochure

Pamela Jane is the most complicated boat I've actually owned; a proper loo, unheard of since my little red Pandora; an inboard diesel engine, I've never had an inboard before; and electronic gadgetry - all right, I've had echo-sounders but never a speedlog . . . it's easy to do five knots when you haven't got a speedo to deny it.

And I can actually stand up in the cabin - now, that really is a first. The pure pleasure of not having to crawl around the place down below, and not worry about bashing your head or other parts of the anatomy, its all just wonderful. Or at least, it would be, if not for my deck leak . . .

Pamela Jane's last owners warned me that they had an occasional leak - and when I took a look under the cabin sole I saw what they meant. It had to be rainwater, happily, as she is high and dry on the hardstanding at Levington Marina, but tracking the source down is certainly proving to be painful.

My first major though was that it was the cockpit sole, which lifts up to give access to the engine and propshaft. It certainly does drip a bit. So I tightened the screws down hard - no effect. Then I put a cover over the cockpit and after portion, from the mast back. No effect, again. I replaced the sealing rubber on the foredeck hatch, only to break one of the catch-wedges. No effect. It must be from somewhere else, and now I've covered the foredeck, somewhat approximately, with an old cover. It still meanders in.

Over the Christmas break, I'll buy some sealant and go round every foredeck fitting - that'll keep me out of trouble, won't it ? The hull will probably get a good polish and wax over this holiday, too, if it isn't permanently raining - I plan to leave most of the woodwork preparation and varnishing until spring, when I can get it done properly, in suitably warm or at least dry weather. That is one of the best things about planning to sail away, the knowledge that if things go according to plan I'll soon have the chance to sit and fiddle about in warm sunshine, with no time pressures at my back.

I've also had the chance for a chat with the guys at the marina, and they'll be very happy to put Pamela Jane in the water towards the end of March. They have plenty of time then, and can easily find me a berth for two, three or four weeks. That works well with my plan to quit work at the end of that month, and to give up my flat in mid-April.

One of the interesting things about this little period in life is the difficulty of actually keeping the job going whilst knowing you are leaving. I've been planning to leave since last July (99), and that means that sometimes I find it very hard to resist the temptation to tell them where to put the job! Both of my employing company's directors tend to be on the miserable/grizzly side, and everything sales gurus tell you about behaviour and mental attitude being contagious is true - or at least truish - but I know I'm going, so I won't let them bring me down to their level . . .

Finally, to end this missive on a brighter note, one of the most interesting things I've bought lately is a little £5 map, covering all of France. When planning stops and overnights on the way downchannel, it really is very useful in combination with the pilot books - and above all, it covers the whole trip to the Spanish border in a single document, which is ideal for showing to interested, non-sailing, people.

Around Christmas

Well, here we are in the year 2000 . . . . it may not be that exciting really, but at least I now know that I only have three more months to labour, if I can keep my equilibrium with the boss, and if they can manage to keep paying me!
One sidelight on the way our world is going is the increase in rules and regulations. When I started sailing around 30 years ago, the Yachtmaster certification scheme was just coming into prominence. With a number of friends, we joined the first class in Ipswich, taught by Alan Swann, an ex-Naval officer who was an excellent teacher, as well as being a nice bloke.
We all passed the theory bit, and carried on sailing. No-one bothered with doing the practical then, but the Yachtmaster Offshore Cert meant that you felt you knew what you were doing, and lots of yacht owners were pleased to take you on board as a navigator.
In contrast, I've now booked to do a VHF day-course for my licence, and I have to book a half-day test on Pamela Jane - once she's afloat - for an ICC (International Certificate of Competance) plus a written test on Euro-regs so that I can use the French Canals. In addition, I think that it is sensible to get the yacht registered in the Small Ship's Registry to make the paperwork easier abroad.
The only major thing that I've done over the holiday is to finally replace that seal on the foredeck hatch - of course, I managed to break one of the nylon wedges which take the catches, and spent several happy hours trying to sort out a replacement - getting hold of a piece of nylon proved easier than I thought, but cutting the right profile wasn't too easy. Never mind - it is done now.
My old buddy Kevin is going to visit soon to go over the diesel with me, and I must chat up Mick to check the seacocks. Better safe than sorry.

Next page: [It's Getting Closer!]

© Christopher E. Gosling, January 2000

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