2023.10.15 - Setting up Naiad for the Winter

I've decided that it is very unlikely that I'll be spending overnight time onboard, not because I don't want to but because the daylight hours are so short that there's not going to be enough time in the day to sail and go somewhere for the night. Most days that are suitable for sailing in the Winter only really allow for about 6 hours sailing at the most and then only if the wind and tide allow.

So, one of the tasks I want to do on Naiad is to pack up up all the bedding and return it all home to be washed and put away for next season. If the chance to overnight does come up over the Winter then I'll just take a sleeping bag for the night.

The list of tasks I want to do during my visit is quite long:

  • Construct a cardboard locker prototype
  • Mark anchor chain
  • Measure for sail cover
  • Pack & return bedding
  • Replace bullseyes & standoffs
  • Return cockpit bottom boards for repair
  • Return green hand lead line
  • Return sounding cane
  • Test tiller guide
  • Return the tiller so that a proper guide may be fabricated

To be fair five of those are just putting things into the dinghy to be returned home but even so, there are enough jobs to warrant a few hours onboard and that is always a good thing as far as I am concerned.

Marking the anchor chain is one thing that I should have done a long time ago since without it you are only guessing how much chain you have let out. To avoid not having enough out I've erred on the side of extreme caution and let out far too much which then has to be hauled back in again later on.

The rule for chains is that you should let out not less than three times the maximum depth of water you expect to be in. So, if you anchor in 2m of water and there is going to be a rise of another 2m of tide before you pull the anchor back in again, then you'd let out 3 * (2 + 2) or 12m. Without the anchor marks you have guess where 12m is on the chain.

I bought a set of anchor markers a few months ago and not put them in. These consist of plastic shapes that squeeze between the links of chain and come in five colours, red yellow, blue, white and green and the slightly naughty rhyme that goes with the colours so that you remember the order is: Rub Your Balls With Grease.

Normally you'd put one marker for each metre of chain up to 5m and then two markers from 6 to 10 then, three from 11 to 15 and so on, but this does take up a lot of markers. I have 30m of chain on Naiad so the maximum depth in which I can anchor is 10m so I decided that I should mark every 3m instead. I'll also mark my hand lead line with the same colours but at every metre. Now I can measure the depth of water with the lead line. In the above example 2m would be a single yellow, add another 2m for the expected rise and 4m colour would be a single white. Now I can simply let out the chain until the single white marker is just touching the water and I'll be correctly anchored.

Let's take another example. I anchor at High Water and the first mark on the lead line above the water is two yellows. I can let out the anchor chain to the 2 yellow mark and I'm done. Two yellows by the way would be a depth of 7m in case you were wondering.

As I was packing up Naiad during my last visit I removed the two new bullseye standoffs and brought them home to be painted as they were still untreated plywood. This has been done now so they need to be taken back and fixed in place properly. Right now the exposed screw holes have been taped over with Duck Tape to prevent rain water from getting in. The tape will be removed and the standoffs bedded in place with some butyl tape.

The cockpit bottom board have never been particularly well fitting and after a few visits they split so I'm returning them home so that they can be cut in two where the split normally occurs, shaped and varnished. Hopefully that will stop the splitting happening in the future. If the smaller boards split further then I'll have to make some curved boards that are fully supported along both long edges so that splitting cannot occur.

The cardboard locker prototype is going to be interesting. The space under the starboard side of the bridgedeck is an awkward shape and the only way to make a locker that fits into this space is to make a full-sized prototype from thick cardboard and more Duck Tape.

One of the things I've been trying to change on Naiad is the use of alcohol to light the heater, not because it isn't any good as it does the job really well, but it is an inflammable liquid that it too easy to spill when lighting the heater. There are many DIY firelighter videos on Youtube so I thought I'd give one of them a try. This involved melting candle wax or similar and soaking cotton pads in the liquid and letting it fry. These are neat, easy to make and very easy to light but they don't burn long enough in the heater to get the charcoal lit. I tried some during my last visit, one for heating the flue and one to light the charcoal.

Here are three of the cotton pad firelighters and you can see that they are very small and neat. Their major advantage is when you use them you tear one partially in half and this exposes fine hairs of wax impregnated cotton that are incredibly easy to light, you can do it with just a flint and steel type igniter. But, I don't have a problem getting these lit as I have matches, what I need is a longer burning flame to get the charcoal going.

So, attempt two.

This version is wood shavings impregnated with melted was and allowed to cool. Yes that is a frying pan which which I cook and yes, I will be using to to cook in future. What? Don't you clean your pans after using them? Besides, the wax I'm using is soy wax and not paraffin.

I took a small plastic coffee cup and filled it loosely with some of the mixture and compressed it into a small cylinder. This was placed into the pan I use for melting lead (no I don't use that for cooking), taken outside and lit to see how long it burnt.

This was after about 7 minutes and still going strong. It's a bit smokey like this as the airflow to the burning wax isn't good. In the heater, air will be pulled into the fire tray by the hot air rising up the flue and it should burn with little or no black smoke.

The flame went out finally at over 15 minutes, so I think that will probably suffice.

Moving on to another task, the self-steering tiller guide. Now that I know that I can get Naiad to self-steer I need a more elegant way to attach the lines to the tiller.

This is what I've come up with. This is version 2.

Mark 1 of the guide, seen here on the bench with the red and black plastic things on the top, didn't work. Well, it did but only on one tack. If the boat needed to so the other way it was useless.

This version has very small jamming cleats lined up fore and aft so that it doesn't matter which way round the guide is placed on the tiller, nor in which direction the boat is sailing. The guide sits on the end of the tiller.

The control lines will wrap around the guide, either from the bottom as shown or from the top, it doesn't matter, then round the pin and through the cleat. If this works then I'll make a proper version that isn't so rough.

I set off at a reasonable time, 06:45, and since it was a Sunday I didn't expect much in the way of traffic. I could have gone earlier but probably would have needed to wait at West Mersea for the tide to rise high enough to get the dinghy onto the water without wading around in the mud.

Following my usual one-day visit practise I parked the car in the club car park and locked it whilst I unlocked the dingy from the toast rack, put it onto its trailer and wheeled it over to the car in order to transfer the various items from the car to the dinghy. Only the key fob didn't work. I presumed that the battery was flat so I just used the key in the door which promptly set off the anti-theft alarm.

Since I didn't know how to turn that off I just put the bits and bobs into the dinghy, closed and locked the car and the alarm stopped. I'll deal with that later.

The row out to the mooring was slow as there was a bit of a chop and rowing fast just makes it splash all over the dinghy so slow was the pace and dry was the dinghy.

When I got into Naiad I noticed that there was a little water in the footwell. I mopped that out and checked on the inside to find that none of the water had seeped through the bulkhead/hull epoxy join since I repaired it so that was good.

The next job was to get the heater going as it was very cold this morning, just 3º Celsius and I'd need the warmth in the cabin when I got too cold outside. I used the half a cotton pad fire lighter to heat the flue, it was probably too much and I'll try a quarter next time, and the new firestarter to light the charcoal. This all worked well so I think I have the non-alcohol based firestarter cracked.

I quickly screwed the bullseye standoffs in places each with a bead of butyl tape around the screw holes to prevent water ingress.

This is the one for the topping lift.

Here is the one for the headsail furling lines.

Now none of these lines touch the solar panel and won't wear it away.

I ducked into the cabin for a while to warm up and thins I was there I packed the bedding into a dry sack and put that into the dinghy out of the way. Once warmed up again I went onto the foredeck and set about marking the anchor chain.

I bought a box of these plastic markers thinking that they would be good enough for the job but once I had put the markers in I found that they were very difficult to see.

Then I came across this photo of how the navy mark their anchor chains. Initially I thought that the white links simply drew the eye to the lnk in the middle which was the depth marker proper but then I found the code for the marking.

As you can see, the red link is a join between two lengths of chain and the number of white links determine the chain length apart from the penultimate and ultimate lengths which are specially coloured.

However, I think painting a couple of the links each side of the plastic marker will show me where the marker is and then I can look at the colour for the depth. So I need to buy some white paint that will stick to galvanised steel.

I was cold again by this point so I went back into the warmth and continued packing up in there. Whilst checking the starboard locker under the berth I noticed that it had water in it and it looked like it had come from the front on the boat since aft of this was dry. 

This was a bit of a mystery since I'd checked the bilge earlier and it was dry throughout.

I started mopping that up and then decided to taste the water to see it if was fresh or salt. It was fresh which made it even more curious since it wasn't raining. I checked the port side and that too had water but this time extending aft as well. I look aft and saw that my water filter had fallen over and the litre or so of water had drained out into the port bilge. My being on the foredeck and making the boat rock around had allow the water to travel forward in the bilge and over to the starboard side where it started flowing aft as I moved back to the cockpit.

Mystery solved !

I did a few other things and then decided to check the battery in the key fob. It's a CR1616 which is a bit odd. Not something that Tescos would sell so I'd either have to find out how to turn the alarm off just using the key, find somewhere that sells that battery or drive all the way home with the alarm blaring and turn it off with the spare fob.

To cut a long story short, Halfords in Colchester sold the battery, I checked online before going there, and I soon had a working fob and a quiet alarm !

Quite an eventful day.

Oh, and the tiller guide mk2 didn't work either, but more on that in another post.

Time for a cup of tea.