As mentioned in the last post, we launched with charging issues. The engine start battery was dead so we replaced it on launch day when the engine didn’t start! The new Rutland 1200 hybrid controller was faulty and there had been no charging of the deep cycle batteries either in the 3 months out of the water. I decided last weekend to turn on the Dolphin marine charging system to slowly recharge the service batteries and leave them to trickle. The next day in the afternoon our daughter went to visit Silhouette to see the new sprayhood and phoned me to say there was a horrible rotten egg smell in the cockpit. She immediately pulled the shore power plug as it was pretty obvious a battery was “cooking”.

3 hours later I went on board to find one of the 180ah batteries still so hot I couldn’t touch it….. this was the closest we had come to a fire in all our years. It turns out the battery had a dead cell and wouldn’t show a voltage of above 12.1 so we’re guessing the charger just kept throwing full charge at it, but will now have to check that for a fault too.

We now have 3 new service batteries, 1 new engine battery and a repaired mppt controller, so hopefully the charging issues are sorted…. hmmm !

Big launch…ish

 You can’t knock the staff at Cobbs Quay, when they said lift at 9am they meant it! Hearing the lifting strops creak as they take the weight is a sound I don’t like. Cobbs have a new 40 ton travel hoist coming this year so it will open a lot wider too ……. phew.

Looking stunning as she took to the water, I boarded to check for water tightness and to start the engine. No  leaks AND no engine start, the engine start battery died so rather than motor out of the crane bay we had to be walked to the fuel berth. Not a great start but the staff had a jump pack available which saved any more embarrassment. So we motored off to our berth just as the wind started to build, and build and build, blowing 30 knots with one sustained gust of 43 knots which made backing in a bit lively in the cross wind, but done safely.

Our new Rutland 1200 doesn’t work as the mppt controller isn’t charging the batteries. Marlec want the unit back to test so hopefully it’ll be up and running next weekend and to make it worse i’ve noticed the smart charger connected to the main engine alternator isn’t charging the start battery but is the service batteries. So we’ve launched with a few charging issues to look at.

After nearly 4 months of trying to get hold of the specific petrol generator which has been out of stock everywhere, we finally managed to find it. We now have on board the Hyundai 3000sei 2.8Kw which punches a lot more power than any other same sized unit. It fits easily in the cockpit locker and we now have an excellent backup power supply.

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.