Thursday, 31 July 2014

Restored Westerly Nomad Launch and Maiden Voyage

After almost two years of work - This old Westerly Nomad is now back on the water - not looking spanking new but more like a well looked after classic vintage yacht - a 'Grand Dame' of a certain age. So here is a visual record of the event.

Pictures and production by Susan Greenwood

Music - traditional folk blues song performed by me

Thanks --- to everyone who had a hand in helping bring the project to this stage


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Launching an Old Westerly Nomad

So, we launched Susan of the Seas at about 10 am on Wednesday. Rather than immerse the boat trailer the yard decided to use the boat lift to carry her onto the shore on a rising tide. I had no tender so I climbed aboard at the outset and rode the trailer down to the beach. Once there she was plonked on the mud and we waited apprehensively, for the tide. Steve a good sold practical friend came with me and he was an ideal choice of companion. Whereas I am always pleasantly surprised when any practical task works out well, Steve has confidence in his practical skills. He expects his actions to have positive outcomes.

As the tide rose we set about connecting fuel lines, coiling ropes, making sure the boathook was to hand and generally making her fit for sea. Once the prop was immersed Steve set about trying to get the engine started – a 6hp four stroke Mariner outboard. As with all outboards they are easier to start when you know their preferences for throttle, and choke settings. We didn’t get her going at the first attempt and in truth initially she showed no signs of life at all. After a rest and more throttle/choke adjustments (she likes half throttle and full choke even on a hot day) she burst surprisingly into life. A few minutes later the boat lifted off the mud and we were free, inching our way down the narrow channel towards deeper water. I checked the bilges, they were dry and that is how they stayed.

The five mile trip up the estuary to out home port was completed within an hour under engine and a pretty limp headsail which contributed little to speed given the lightness of the breeze.

Susan was waiting at the port to direct us to the pontoon allocated to us and once moored, we hoisted the Breton courtesy flag, dressed the ship, and christened her with a glass of champagne making sure there was a drop for Neptune but not so much to upset Bacchus.

The day was hot and sultry – too hot to sit in the cockpit and so we strolled along to La Cale restaurant close by and had Moules Frites washed down with ice cold Rose wine, a pleasant and pretty uneventful way to end the two year story of bringing this old boat back to life.

Of course the job isn’t completed and may never be. Maybe that is the way with old boats. At the moment however, she is a floating slum – the cabin is filthy, covered in powdered GRP, woodshavings, and spider webs. It is full of empty beer bottles, tins of paint, used sandpaper, fenders and old rope. So there is the next project – to turn her into a boat I would like to live on.

With regard to this blog, well there is still plenty to do and therefore plenty to write about. Hopefully though, I’ll be able to record a few adventures in between more stories of sanding, painting and general DIY.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Last Minute Nerves

Feeling distinctly nervous at the moment. The boat is almost ready to launch but the weather and tides are
against me this week. I should feel frustrated but no, I was happy to put off the launch date – I’m a bit nervous. I bought this old boat in an appalling state, from a farm just about as far away from the sea as you can get both vertically and horizontally. I have never seen her on the water and although I have had the engine serviced I have never seen it running.

Launching onto the estuary should be easy, she is on a road trailer and the guys at the yard are proposing that we drag the boat down at low water and let her float off on a rising tide. All should be well, providing the engine starts – and keeps running for the five or so miles between the launching site and the marina which will become her home – problem is I won’t know until I try and there is nowhere at the boatyard to tie her to if I can’t get the engine going and the prop turning. I could drop anchor of course but without a dinghy I’d have to stay with the boat until the tide puts her back on the ground.

I have back up of course, in the form of sails, but I don’t think I’ll be able to sail her onto her pontoon. If I have to pick up a mooring buoy outside, that’s where I’ll have to stay into rescued. So while various friends are loading their boats to sail to the south of France, Portugal and Spain for the summer holidays, I’m fretting about a launch and five mile voyage on gentle waters. Am I a wimp? Probably.

Meanwhile the days are filled with thousands of little jobs that simply have to be done. This week I have antifouled tuned the rigging, rove new halyards, and fitted a new lock on the main hatch and given her a new name – Yes I know, it might bring bad luck but I hope Neptune appreciates why I have named her as I have and that a placatory glass of Champagne will make him disposed to favour my actions.  In the next few days I have to fit an engine guard to protect the well, fuel up, fit an anode to the outboard, set up the boom and bend on the sails, empty the cabin of rubbish and make sure the jib roller reefing works – and then I’m out of excuses – wish me luck!