David Rainsbury

Words and Pictures


Past entries in Kateís Log

As spring creeps nearer plans are shaping up. The days are getting longer and the jobs list is getting shorter.

It feels like tempting fate but the route as it is planned so far looks like this:

Depart Caernarfon on June 1st towards Cork.

Across Biscay, hopefully, making a landfall south of Finisterre before continuing south to Leixos, Oporto.

Turn north again to the Spanish Rias, then La Coruna and continue eastwards as far as Gijon to cut the corner towards La Rochelle.

Round the Brittany coast then cross the Channel to the West Country before rounding Landís End and heading home.

Total distance around 2500 nautical miles.

Most of the way I will be sailing single-handed but my partner Kathy will be flying out to Oporto to join me in an exploration of the Spanish Rias.

As part of my trip preparation I am learning Spanish ďHola!Ē so at least I will be able to greet the people I meet and order a beer. The Biscay crossing will be the perfect opportunity for some final study.

Meantime I have a wind vane self steering unit to fit, new and additional batteries to install and Kate still has a leak from one of the stanchion bases but I need the decks dry to fix that. She needs the woodwork on deck smartening up but already the work Iíve done has made a difference.

Kateís new HOOD sails are ready to hank on.† The cream Vectron will look great with her hull colour. The new cooker is a great improvement both in looks and performance. I just need a ship nearby now to check that the AIS is working. Polish topsides, antifoul bottomÖ SPLASH

I canít wait!

23rd January 2008

Less than 7 weeks to launch.

Schwing when youíre winning! Kateís wind vane self steering unit, made by Schwing in Germany, has now been fitted. The second hand unit came off a Vancouver and it was a simple job to attach the clamps to her pushpit.

After weeks of torrential rain, during which Kateís winter cover became a reservoir for gallons of water, we now have light winds and cold bright days. The frost made the deck a skating rink and I did more than one impersonation of Torville and Dean (either or both of them) before the sun melted it off. Even colder nights are made comfortable down below by a fan heater and two sleeping bags (both for me).

Three batteries are now installed and I can monitor and switch them manually rather than rely on a blocking diode. I have to finish modifications to the battery box to make them knockdown proof. I donít want the batteries flying about if it gets really rough.

After an hour lying on the engine with my head under the fuel tank the rubber hose joining the stern gland to the stern tube has been removed and I am looking for a replacement. It looks as if Iím going to have to buy a metre to get 15 cm. I bet there are several Vancouver owners with 85cm of spare rubber hose, inside diameter 45mm, but I donít know any.

I have polished the topsides and given the gelcoat a waxing. It looks really good but shows up one or two blemishes that are going to need further buffing. I had bought a cheap polisher thinking it would save some effort but it expired after about 15 minutes and I finished the job by hand. I felt like the Karate Kid in training with the wax on, wax off, and afterwards I could hardly raise my tea to my lips. Iíll hire a professional polisher to finish the job.

At home Kathy is working on new curtains in a shade of claret to match the gunwale stripe.

17th February 2008

Kateís in the water

Launch day arrived in a rush of last minute jobs and panics. I was at the boatyard from Tuesday morning, sealing those deck leaks and hanking on the sails, splicing eyes in new halyards and cleaning and polishing below deck. The mainsail halyard and topping lift were re-organised giving me better control when reefing and reducing the amount of legwork fore and aft. Most of one day was spent scrubbing and sanding the woodwork on the deck and toe rail. Green mossy gunge had almost taken over some corners during the winter. With all this cleaned off the topsides just needed a wipe down with a damp cloth and thanks to the protective wax† the gloss was soon restored.


By Friday morning we were as ready as we could be and Graham had the hoist in place bright and early. This is the scariest part of the season and my heart was in my mouth as the slings eased Kate away from the cradle that had supported her all winter. Up in the air the worst was to come as we trundled around the road to the slip. Slowly and carefully Graham eased her into position and once she was almost afloat gave me the signal to start the engine. Thankfully, it roared into life and water gushed from the exhaust. We eased clear of the hoist then dropped the engine into gear and turned Kateís stern to the yard.


We motored around to a quiet bay where we picked up a mooring and checked that all was well. I opened the engine cover to inspect the stern gland. There was a steady dripping of water, fast enough to cause problems over a day or so. This was soon sorted out by the tightening of a couple of nuts. The other problem was in the alternator charging. Electricity is not my forte. You canít hit it with a hammer or twist it with a spanner. The priority was to ensure that the charge from the alternator was going into a battery so that it wouldnít blow the regulator. I reorganised the wiring and kept my fingers crossed. A mistake would be expensive. With the engine restarted the system voltage jumped to 14 volts and priority in the charge is given to the engine battery. Priority in the solar panel charge is on the domestic supply. I shall have to write some instructions out so that everybody on board, usually only me anyway, knows how the system operates.


With these things and lunch out of the way Kathy and I made use of a fine afternoon to try out the new sails. The wind was a little fresh but with one reef in the main, staysíl and Yankee Kate made short work of beating back to the mooring after a gentle run up towards the Britannia Bridge. My work at the sheets was a lot more organised than last yearís first efforts, missing the tack only once when a staysíl sheet jammed under the winch drum.


The evening shipping forecast brought the threat of a Northerly gale soon and we decided to go up through the Swellies before it arrived and have dinner on the other side. Sunset was about 1945 so we banked on still having enough light to pass the Britannia Bridge at about 2000, about an hour and a half before slack. It was a swift and exciting passage and we were very soon on a mooring in Menai Bridge where we spent a peaceful but cold night as the clouds raced above. Fresh snow had fallen on the hills overnight but the morning was bright and clear. We decided to see what the lunchtime forecast would bring. It brought more gales and snow. A shuffle of the cars and a visit to the chandlery where we bought half price deck shoes was followed by a pub lunch and then a reluctant (for me) retreat to home and central heating.

I couldnít stay away. Wednesday I was on my way back down to the Menai Strait and took Kate out for a sail. There was a gentle breeze but the air was icy. Snow on the mountains made a dramatic backdrop and I got a friend, Ray, to drift around in the dinghy to take some pictures.

10th April 2008