Happy new year

The new year begins and for us only 15 months until the “off”. Silhouette is now ready for relaunch on 13th January and looks beautiful.

All the jobs we wanted to do have been done and in addition we’ve added a microwave oven in the galley. Daewoo make the smallest model which just fits inside the middle locker in the galley whilst still allowing the door to close hiding it away when not needed. Although it means losing a locker for storage, Caroline found a great space saving saucepan set by Tefal with removable handles so they stack inside each other.

The new sprayhood ordered with Kemp sails hopefully will be with us shortly and our mainsail has been checked over and stitched up anywhere that looked weak. At the same time Kemps have taken detailed measurements of the mainsail and are keeping it on file in case we need to order one in the future.

We are now at the stage of Silhouette being ready to take us away. We feel a boat is never 100% ready, if you waited until it was you’d never leave the mooring, what we do have is a great yacht well prepared ……. the rest is just maintenance as and when.

My “phase out” from work begins in April when I reduce down to a 3 day week to ensure a smooth transition for the business, but the biggest news is that our daughter Charlotte has received 2 job offers as a sailing instructor starting in April, one in Greece and the other in France …….. all she has to do is make a decision !!!

The arch is up!

A few weeks late but our arch has finally been fitted. Through discussion and some artistic licence given to the fabricator there are some nice additions, the davits are swing out and lock into place giving the strength as if it was one solid piece which easily will hold our dinghy and outboard. Small tubes have been added all around the rear sections to make cable runs easy and if the arch has to be removed for any work 8 bolts is all it takes without effecting the plates which are bonded onto the hull. The final part of fitting is to integrate the bimini hoop and pushpit to firm it all up.

Although we have a Rutland 913 wind generator we were aware it was getting old and not as efficient as newer models. Nick & Carol on “Annie” have just bought the new Rutland 1200 which boasts very impressive amps so we decided to buy one to run alongside the 75w solar panel. We will monitor everything next year and if necessary we’ll fit 250w solar panels on the arch as there’s space for them in the design.


Our liferaft has been serviced, repacked into a canister and the cradle mounted above the stupid locker. We’ve positioned it high enough that we can still open the locker as our outboard fuel tank just fits in it………. it’s useless for anything else!

One unexpected job was to take a look at the holding tank to see why it was draining slowly. Probably best not to go into too much detail save to say if your boat is 11 years old and it’s got the original pipes and hasn’t been cleaned “internally” do it now before it becomes a real problem.

The new pipes are Vetus sanitary which are non permeable meaning no smells can escape, what I should’ve realised was the pipe was not as flexible as the old one and “forcing” it onto the toilet was always going to lead to something going to crack. Well crack it did so there’s a nice new loo in the heads too now !!!

We’re now back on track with the hull to clean and polish along with replacing the gold stripe followed by antifouling between christmas and new year.


The lower rudder bearing needed replacing which was one job we weren’t looking forward to as we didn’t really know what we were letting ourselves into. First of all the steering cables, autopilot ram and quadrant had to be removed before pulling the retaining pin. As the rudder was lowered the bronze/copper sleeve came down with it, this was supposed to be glued into place which would explain why there was movement. I’d researched the best adhesive sealant to use and had also emailed Rob & Rhian on Beyzano. In the end we bought 3M 5200 which once set is like solid rubber and very supportive, “just make sure it goes in first time” as trying to get the sleeve out later would be a huge task. A new sleeve was ordered from Ancasta Parts in the Hamble and their service was 1st class, delivery within 48 hours door to door from France. We found a download from a forum which gave instructions & diagrams which we followed and was very helpful. We probably used too much glue on the sleeve but felt it would also fill any gaps created by the loose old sleeve in the housing which worked really well. If anyone with the same boat and issue reads this don’t worry, if I can do it anyone can!

The rubber cutless bearing came free quite easily which was a relief, luckily it slid straight off the shaft via the removed prop but putting the maxprop back on was quite the opposite. The 3 blades are numbered to make sure they go back in the right way to match the numbers on the hub….. so why did I struggle to put it back together, grease it then realise I’d put blades 1 & 3 in the wrong place DOH !!!

If you look at the picture, you will just make out the blade with a “1” not next to the “1” on the hub. I’m still trying to think of a believable explanation for not checking everything was correct, but nobody would believe me !

Winter work


 Most of September and October has been spent waiting for services to actually do jobs as agreed meaning we had to leave Silhouette on her berth “on the off chance someone might turn up”! The standing rigging has now been finished, so one of the last big jobs ticked off. The bespoke arch however hasn’t been finished despite giving the fabricator 7 weeks…… not impressed at all, and a promise of completion next weekend.

As we approached the travel hoist we were waved straight into the slings which although very efficient, Silhouette did take the foreman by surprise as she was one of the beamiest yacht they’d lifted and only had another 6 inches available on the hoist.

Once in the cradle we took a look at the cutless bearing and noticed a little bit of play so will replace it, and there’s movement in the bottom bearing on the rudder which is fairly common with 473’s. Generally the bearing itself is fine but the copper sleeve around it needs replacing. We hope to be able to do this without dropping the rudder out completely as we’d need to be relifted….. at a cost! Our cannister liferaft needs mounting on the transom, polish and antifoul to complete too.

We have 10 weeks to get everything done as we must relaunch on the 13th January to avoid extra charges and an upset yard foreman. Sounds like more than enough time but it’ll go by in a flash.

To keep us focused, when we relaunch it’ll be 14 months until we’re off !!!

Can you tell what it is yet

Whilst we’re still on target with our preparations, we are finding it a bit frustrating getting jobs done when you have to rely on services. We had decided not to fit an arch, relying on the snap davits we were very kindly given by Steve & Helen from Allegrini. However, when we realised the placement would be positioned exactly where our toes would be when boarding, we changed our minds and sent off enquiries to fabricators both locally and in the midlands….. all specialising in this type of work. The prices (when they could be bothered) were wildly different and most too busy to even look. We know what we want and even have drawings to help, hazard tape over snap davits  perhaps 😦

An unexpected purchase has been a new genoa to replace our existing 150% which we thought was fit for purpose. Unfortunately after having our arses kicked by friends on a Westerly Corsair and being told our sail was “baggy” which meant it had stretched and won’t set properly, we looked into a new one to stop the embarrassment and ribbing. Stainless steel fabricators really need to talk to sailmakers about service…. We finally decided on Kemp Sails in Wareham who have made a 130% performance genoa with a number of extras making it more suitable for our needs including the new weathermax UV strip which apparently out performs in durability anything else. We were going to buy a cruising chute too but have a Quantum AP spinnaker and can’t quite figure out what it is. Flying it last weekend with friends Nick & Carol on board to help, Nick said he wasn’t too sure either. The general feeling is it’s a bit of a hybrid so I will need to email Quantum sails in South Africa to find out. So far it looks promising and we may well not need to buy one now…. fingers crossed.

We received a call from the riggers letting us know that the boatyard that was due to unstep the mast has decided they no longer want to do it, “the mast is too big, the boat is too big, the draft is too deep, not enough room in the yard & we’re a member of staff down”.  Oddly its the same boat with the same mast etc etc etc when they agreed to do it a couple of months ago! Ultimately the Beneteau 473 does have a big mast and not all yards can facilitate this kind of work which is something to bear in mind for the future, so in conjunction with the riggers the decision has been made to re rig Silhouette with the mast in situ. It will take a little longer to do but without the cost of mast removal, so in effect little difference financially,

 In spite of this we really are getting there, we want as much done before the season starts again in 2017 so we can iron out any issues without worrying about it as we approach 2018 and the off.

The teak decking in front of the anchor well was starting to wear away as the chain was bouncing up & down when being deployed, so we have fitted a stainless plate which folds down into the well to take the wear. It looks great and fits really well which will last for years.

The 2016 Southampton Boat Show is upon us and this year we will go with a plan to visit specific stands. Sailfish Marine have just taken on distribution of an Australian watermaker called “Rainman” which is portable, simple and apparently able to produce up to 120 litres an hour!

Satellite phones and email systems suppliers along with Ocean Safety will be visited too, so a busy day ahead.

What’s that RiB doing?

Having just rounded Old Harry Rocks and heading into the Swash channel we noticed a RiB darting around in front of us taking quite an interest. As we got closer we could see the occupant taking photos of us and after mentioning it to a friend the next day we realised it was a professional photographer called David Harding of http://www.sailingscenes.co.uk

The result was we bought the photos as they are the best action shots we have of Silhouette.

New friends

Time seems to be racing by this season and summer has been somewhat elusive too making time on board special. Our daughter Charlotte has been in France working with Rockley watersports since the 9th June and apparently the weather’s been great too……. thanks for that !

A couple of weeks ago I spent an hour under water cleaning off what can only be described at a coral reef from the bottom of the keel. At low water springs the keel sits about 30-40 cm in the soft mud on our berth and the growth of sealife was quite surprising. Studland bay is the perfect location to do this as the water is a clear enough and calm, until the jet skis and water skiers turn up !

We finally decided on which company would change the standing rigging, and on Monday 19th September Silhouette’s mast comes down and “Quay Rigging” start work. Although the job will only take a week we can’t re-step for 2 weeks as we have to wait for the next full spring tide. When it’s done we’ll post before during and after photos and details including costings.

As mentioned before, we had made contact with Steve & Helen who own “Allegrini” another 473 and arranged to meet up during the summer. Last weekend we finally managed it in Yarmouth. Our trip up on Saturday morning was in poor visibility with sea mist and fog all the way but the sun finally made an appearance as we reached Hurst castle.

A first for us, and quite exciting to be meeting fellow cruisers who would be leaving the UK when we do and following similar routes as far as Gibraltar at least. What a great couple they are, good company, funny and knowledgeable. I mentioned I couldn’t get the AIS to show up on the cockpit repeater so Steve said “I can fix that”……. after many visits to both stations i swear if I’d offered him a hammer he would’ve used it. Suddenly it started working, well done Steve. On the sail back to Poole both e80 and e120 showed the AIS to be off again but on checking marine traffic our entire track was there !?! The last software update for these units was July 2012 which we have so I shall do the same thing Steve did next weekend….. I’ll keep the hammer handy!

We had spoken about having a completely independent chartplotter in case anything happened to the Raymarine units i.e. lightening strike or power failure,  Steve said “you need a bad elf”…..

Sounded like a dodgy character in a pantomime to me but sure enough it does exist.

Designed for Apple Ipads etc it’s a gps system which simply plugs into the lightening connector and once it’s configured to the Ipad, and you download your choice of chartplotter software, job done. We ordered one this week and as we already have Raymarine we added the navionics app and I must say it works all for £110.00

Thankyou Steve that’s yet another pint we owe you