The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2021.12.19 - First Visit

Since there were a fair number of things left undone on Naiad when she was launched a few days ago I decided to visit her and to finish some of these tasks starting with the most important ones, the mooring ropes.

However, before I did that I had to devise a way to lift the dinghy into and out of the minibus single-handed. Since the dinghy is constructed from 9mm plywood and is 8' long and 4' wide, this is not a simple matter as she is quite heavy.

FirstlIy had to make a launching trolley which was not a difficult job since most of the parts for one came with Naiad when I bought her, I've just never needed it before now so it has remained in pieces.

The trolley was quickly put together and since it is not going to be used a great deal it did not have to be very strong, just strong enough.

After the trolley was completed I had to find a method to load and unload the dinghy. Once the bows of the dinghy are put into the minibus, the rest of the dinghy is easily pushed in to place simply by lifting up the stern and pushing. The difficulty is getting the bows in first.

In the end I achieved this by turning the dinghy over so that it was upside down, placing a small platform on castors under the transom and then manoeuvring the dinghy into place by lifting the bows and dragging the rest of the dinghy on the wheeled platform. This proved to be surprisingly easy so with that done I set off from home at 06:15 heading for West Mersea.

It was foggy with only about 100m of visibility in the Fens so it was slow driving for the first hour. By the time I reached the A12 the fog had thinned considerably and I could drive at a normal pace, slowing when the fog thickened.

High Water was scheduled to be at 12:12 so I would be arriving about 2 hours after low water. I parked the minibus, unloaded the dinghy, put everything in so that I didn't need to carry anything else, changed into my wellies and wheeled the dinghy down to the waters edge. It's quite a long way as the shore does not slope much so at low water the trip can be around 100m from the slipway.

With the dinghy in the water on a rising tide I didn't have to worry about the dinghy floating away since the tide would push it up the beach as it came in. There was a little wind but not enough to blow the dinghy away. The trolley was returned to the minibus and I went back to the dinghy, climbed in and rowed out to Naiad.

The first thing to do on arrival, apart from transferring everything from the dinghy to the boat and folding up the cockpit cover, was to get the heater going. Out there on the mooring it was damp and the wind, slight as it was, made it very cold.

Once the heater was going I made a start on my to do list. The anchor chain was fed into the chain locker, the mooring ropes cut to length, a bowline tied in the ends and the loops put over the sampson post. A short length of chain was used to chain the mooring line springs to the buoy but not tight as this is a failsafe in the unlikely event of the knots on the buoy coming loose. Finally a pickup buoy was attached to the mooring ropes.

By this time my hands were numb and I was beginning to make mistakes so I retired to the warm cabin and made a cup of tea. I also logged onto the parking app and paid for a day's parking. Well, once my fingers had warmed up, that is.

I found a packed of instant rice in the provisions, so I had that for lunch and it was about that time that I noticed that the ship's clock was still showing time in BST. I leant over and corrected it as as I did so a drop of water fell off the panel to which the clock and the barometer were fixed and onto one of the cushions below. The cushion was soaked indicating that this leak had been dripping for some time. I took a closer look and found that the water was first dripping off one of the bolts holding the tabernacle to the deck and onto the barometer. The drip then ran down behind the barometer, along the wooden panel to the lower edge where it then dropped off and onto the cushion.

I suspect that the 3 hours of jolting when trailing the boat from Home to West Mersea last Thursday cracked the watertight seal. The mast and deck have been wet from mist and fog since Naiad was launched and the water running down the mast and onto the deck has leaked through the bolt hole somewhere and into the cabin. 

When I left to return home I lifted up all the cushions to allow them to air and moved them out of the way of the drip. The heater was still going at this point with a fair bit of charcoal still left in the fire chamber, so there would be several hours of warmth in the cabin which should dry out the damp material. 

I will have to fix this leak but that is going to be a little more complicated than it sounds. You see, the water has already started to soak into the plywood deck so the sealing of the leak needs to wait until the wood has dried and it will not do that until the late Spring or Summer. On the other hand, it needs to be sealed up as soon as possible to stop more water getting in and more soaking of the plywood. 

I did some research when I got home and found that there are a number of sealants available that will work with damp wood and one that can even be used underwater. I will buy a tube of this and during my next visit I will remove the dripping bolt, apply the sealant, replace and tighten the bolt. That should stop the leak for the time being. Then, in the Summer when it is warm and dry I will remove the bolt and drill out the sealant and leave the hole open for a few days to allow the plywood to dry out. Then the hole will be resealed and the bolt put back and tightened.