2023 !

We’ve a fixed departure date to restart our adventures!!

When we originally left the UK in 2018 we certainly never thought we’d be leaving the UK “again” 5 years later!! Sailing certainly is writing plans in the sand at low water. This time though we have the restrictions due to the UK leaving the European Union. This means we’re restricted to 90 days within the “Schengen” zone then must leave for 90 days. Not at all helpful when a large part of the Mediterranean is part of the Schengen zone. There are always options though, so we won’t be put off by this and the Mediterranean sea is our next adventure. We will leave Poole around the 20th May and spend a few weeks in the West country waiting for early/mid July when we’ll cross Biscay and sign into Europe. Cruising down the coast of Spain and Portugal like we did in 2018 & probably relax in the Algarve until early October when we will arrive in Gibraltar for the winter. As Gibraltar is still part of the UK (phew) we can actually stay there all winter, so have booked a berth at Ocean Village in Marina bay. It’s also the gateway to the Med with warm temperatures throughout the winter and a great place to start heading east from next year.

We’re back to being excited again!

Last summer seems a long time ago now & having returned to Poole from a thoroughly enjoyable 4 months in the west country, here the winter has felt pretty long and chilly. Silhouette our home, has kept us warm with the Eberspacher Hydronic system providing the heating well. We have noticed the hot air hasn’t been as hot as the old airtronic D5 but this is no doubt due to the way the heating system works. The marina electricity price has increased 450% from last year due to the world energy problems which means its cheaper to use diesel to heat the boat. One bonus is we haven’t used electricity to heat the water since installation last summer as the Hydronic does it automatically.

When Beneteau designed the 423, 473 & 523 range the panoramic window across the roof of the saloon were made out of a single piece of acrylic which was bonded to the coachroof. This is a slightly curved profile which over a number of years puts stress on the ends making them lift slightly (or a lot) causing leaks. Silhouette suffered from this too and I had cleaned out the old sealant and resealed which worked for a couple of years. Eventually the decision was made to replace the window completely which I thought was going to be a very difficult job. There is a forum on facebook for fellow 473 owners and one owners, “Craig” did the job by making 3 panels instead of 1 which meant there was almost no curve in the acrylic at the ends. He listed all the parts used which made ordering much easier. So thanks to Craig we bought everything in and found a 2 day period in November to break out the old window trying to salvage as much as possible to use as a template for the new pieces, clean, prepare & fit the new ones. The end result is amazing and we’re so pleased plus no more leaks !

Panoramic window

Solar upgrade

Our Solar array on the arch consisted of 2 x 150 watt panels which together with the wind generator provided us with sufficient charging capability to replenish the battery bank during the day. We want to be as green as possible relying on the sun and wind. Up to now when we use the water maker we need to run the petrol generator which works well but adds to costs. The Victron Quattro inverter fitted last year means we can run the water maker through the inverter although it uses a lot of battery power. Having done some calculations, we have now changed the old panels and fitted 2 x 340 watt hi tech models which can generate 60-70 amps in the mid day sun (not in the UK though). This means if we run the water maker for 30 minutes we can make 70 litres of water and about 90 minutes of sun will replenish the battery usage. Very green indeed! Having completed this job we now have to service the main engine, come out of the water in early May for a week to antifoul and will then be ready.

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