Water Maker Woes

We've spent the last week in Falmouth, waiting for people to be able to do some work for us. Some new lines from the riggers, to replace worn and broken lines (including our running backstays). And waiting for the water-maker specialist to visit.

On the advice from a friend, we took a water sample to the specialists, to be checked. May as well take advantage of good technicians when they're available, and Julian the water-maker specialist here came well recommended. Bad news, we found the total dissolved solids reading was way higher than we expected. We have a TDS meter on board, which read in the 400s (under 500 is considered safe, by WHO). But the reading they gave us was north of 1500, not safe to drink. So, bought some bottled water, and waited for Julian to be able to visit us.

He came out on Friday. Good news: Things are generally in good shape. And if we run both pumps of the water-maker, not just 1 as we had been, it produces almost-drinkable water. The membrane needs to be replaced, but it's not horrifically expensive. They've just run out of stock, but we'll get one next week.

And our tester needs new batteries and a re-calibration. Not sure if it matters, but the chemistry of the batteries that were in it (1.5V alkaline) don't match the specifications (1.4V zinc-air). No luck finding either type, yet... Probably have to go to St. Johns.

Night Sail

The final training session in our set with Alexis. The plan was for some more man-overboard practice, and to have a night sail. Probably some night man-overboard too.

So, we went out at about 2pm, straight out to sea, towards Montserrat. Once we were a couple of miles offshore, we started man overboard practice, under sail (main on reef 1, and staysail).

My first attempt went very well, picking up the fender on the first try. We were reaching when the "man" went overboard. I gybed downwind, took in the staysail, and tacked back up to it. Slightly misjudged my first tack, but got it on the second. The whole thing felt a lot easier than doing it under power.

Johno struggled a little more with it, and went around a few times, before picking it up.

Then we tried taking in a reef, and doing it again. This time, tacking was almost impossible, the boat just couldn't keep up enough speed to go around. So, it took several gybes, and several attempts to pick up the fender. Light was failing, and so everyone was trying to keep eyes on it.

Johno had one more go, in the fading light, and got it fairly quickly, on engine.

Fender lost at sea, at sunsetRetrieved!

We stayed out at sea, as a dark night fell, having some pre-prepared dinner in the last right. It was just a few days full moon, meaning a few hours of pitch dark, before moonrise.

Sailing at night really is different, everything seems more intense. We came navigated into Falmouth Harbour on bearings and charts, alone, covering up the instruments. There are big flashing leading lights, to guide you in. And then lighted buoys marking the channels. Judging distances to them is tricky, though.

Finally anchored, almost on top of a reef, in the far corner of the bay, just before 10pm. Slept like babies, exhausted.

Time on the water: 7:46
Distance covered: 30.2nm
Avg speed: 3.9kts
Max speed: 9.2kts

Navionics Track

Back to Falmouth

The next morning, we took advantage of being on the dock, to get several people on board looking at things. A surveyor to do a tonnage survey, a sailmaker to look at our ripped genoa UV covers, and a rigger to look at the lines that need replacing.

While this was all going on, the wind picked up, the anchor started to drag, pushing us onto the dock. Taking down the genoa didn't help, as it caught a lot of wind. Had to get the engine running to push us off the dock. It was still pretty hairy and we rubbed a bit.

But as soon as we could get our night's mooring paid for, we were off the dock and out of there.

Anchored in the crowded Freeman's bay, to wash off the decks (again), tidy things up, and have some lunch.

Then had a leisurely sail back to Falmouth, on just the stay-sail. Trying a different anchorage, off St. Anne's Point, at the entrance to Falmouth harbour. The water is crystal clear here, on the rising tide, and the beach just a few mins swim away.

Time on the water: 00:54
Distance covered: 1.2nm
Avg speed: 1.3kts
Max speed: 4.9kts

Navionics Track

Stern-to docking

Planning a tonnage survey (required for registration) for tomorrow morning, in English Harbour. So we set out, with Alexis, for a sail to English Harbour, to practice Mediterranean stern-to docking on Nelson's Dockyard.

There was a nice sea offshore, so practised some more man overboard manoeuvres, single-handed. I was first to practice, dropping the sails, immediately, and going after the fender under engine power. Maybe a little too hasty, didn't realise that I hadn't completely released the main-sheet when I went up to drop the main.

It took a couple of attempts to get close enough to the fender to pick it up, the auto-pilot can't hold the course that tightly at slow speed in a big sea, so when I left the wheel I'd drift off target. The trick is to pick up the fender right next to the wheel, and forget about the auto-pilot.

Johno managed a pick-up on his first try. Although had some flapping sails, trying to get them down. Tightening up the preventers first could have helped.

After that, we tried our hands at stern-to docking, 2-handed. Nelson's Dockyard is full of thick heavy mud (centuries of waste, and rotting ships, I'd imagine), and our anchor didn't hold very well.

Stern-to docking requires putting down an anchor (or picking up pre-placed mooring ball) off the dock, and then reversing into it and attaching stern-lines to the dock. Then tightening up the lines and anchor, to get the boat in the desired position (maybe 50cm away from the dock during the day, and a metre or two at night).

One of us would be on the wheel, and the other would first drop the anchor, and then run back to throw the lines, and tension them on the winches. We have anchor winch controls at the helm, so the helmsman could take over adjusting the anchor chain (without being able to see it). The mud was so loose that on one attempt the anchor was fully pulled up onto deck, without the helmsman realising.

After several attempts, and getting our anchor caught in at least 3 lines running through the muddy bay, we got stably moored for the night. The fore-deck was covered in mud, that came up on the anchor chain, so there was a good half-hour of hosing down and scrubbing the decks.

Time on the water: 6:29
Distance covered: 7.8nm
Avg speed: 1.2kts
Max speed: 20.5kts ?? (that looks suspect)

Navionics Track

Out on our own

Today we planned to meet some friends in Carlisle Bay, which we visited yesterday. Our old neighbour from Jolly Harbour, Rick, was bringing his yacht Elethea around for a last swim, before heading back to the UK.

Sailed out on roughly the same route as yesterday, put up sails coming out of the bay much sooner this time, rather than out at sea. Then straight out into the ocean, on a port broad reach, with a tack down on another broad reach into Carlisle Bay. We'd screwed up that gybe yesterday, so to take things easy we'd do a big tack instead.

Chatted to family on a zoom call on the way out, but then things went wrong on the tack. That distraction probably didn't help, we maybe could have planned things more carefully.

We'd remembered the running back-stays (the damage last time), but left the preventer in the clutch. Realised this as we were coming up into the wind, and the boom wasn't coming over. There was a lot of load on the preventer, so tried to let it out, carefully with the closest winch. But the angle between the clutch and winch was too tight, and the line cover sheared off, jamming the preventer in the clutch.


So, main sail down, and sailed into Carlisle bay on the staysail only. Went fruit shopping on shore, had our swim, and then motored back to Falmouth, just before sun down.


Was getting a little dark when we got back. And there was another yacht in our anchoring spot, so we ended up anchoring a little too close to a reef, for comfort. We'll find a better spot tomorrow.

Time on the water: 3:51
Distance covered: 10.9nm
Avg speed: 2.8kts
Max speed: 8.7kts

Navionics Track

Carlisle Bay

Stronger winds (17kts), today, so we headed out for some man overboard practice in big seas, and to practice some reverse manoeuvring in a protected bay. Turned out to be quite an eventful day, in terms of breaking things, at least...

Pulled up anchor and put our genoa in the anchorage, sailing out the bay, through the channels, without needing the engine. Put up the main out at sea, although we could have done it in the protection of the bay, if we'd moved a little faster.

There was a reasonable swell offshore, and enough to make man overboard practice fun. Planned to do a controlled gybe in the strong wind, so pulled in the genoa, before-hand. But a little too fast, and got it fouled on the furler, although we had no idea about this at the time. I just thought I'd done a poor job of controlling releasing it while Johno was furling.

Before the gybe, we forgot to completely release both running back-stays, we only released the active tensioned one, not the lazy one that was sitting on the winch, with the slack taken out of it. It got caught on the boom, ripping its cover. First breakage of the day.

For the man-overboard practice, I was at the wheel, and Johno was "overboard", in the guise of a fender that Alexis threw overboard for me. I had to single-hand the rescue.

Marked the position on the chart-plotter, released the main, started the engine, and came around for the fender. Didn't get close enough on the first attempt (although, if a fender could swim, it could have rescued itself, at that point). Johno and Alexis started fiddling with the genoa, I figured it was something to do with the poor job furling it, but they seemed to be dealing with it, so I kept trying to pick up the fender. Soon, they realised that they couldn't get it under control in the wind, and started to get sails down to make things more manageable. Man overboard practice was over, the fender would have to swim for a bit.

The badly-furled genoa had been furled at the bottom, but some bits were hanging out up top, catching some wind and rubbing on things. The sheets were caught up in the sail, on the furler. We got it under as much control as we could, rescued the fender, and headed into Carlisle Bay, to get out of the wind and fix the genoa properly.

On anchor in the bay, we were able to unfurl it, and re-furl it correctly, after undoing the sheets, and attaching a temporary control line. The sail-cover got rather torn in the process, and the leech hem had come un-stitched, looking frayed. Second damage of the day.

While trying to get the sheets undone, above the anchor chain locker, the lid fell on Alexis' toe. Third damage of the day.

Put it on ice, had some lunch, and then sailed back, with calmer winds, doing one one man-overboard practice along the way. This was Johno, and he dropped the mainsail, to motor back to the fender, on just the staysail, successfully!

We'd been fiddling with the jammers, to get them to release from the preventer lines (that are a little too big for them), during the day. They have a wide-open mode that did the job. But at the end of the day, we found that this had released the springs in the jammers. Looks like we'll have to disassemble them to get the springs tensioned and sprung. So, forth thing we broke.

Need to go and talk to riggers and sailmakers, in the next few days...

Time on the water: 7:57
Distance covered: 17nm
Avg speed: 2.1kts
Max speed: 9.9kts

Navionics Track

Docking Practice

Docking practice with Alexis

Docked up into the wind, on the Antigua Yacht Club Marina pier. Usually this is crowded with super-yachts packed in like sardines, but we had an entire pier to ourselves for practice, into the wind.

Just a single super-yacht on the other side of the dock, whose captain was admiring our boat as much as we were gawping at his 200ft schooner

Communication is key, and tricky across a 60ft deck. But once we'd figured out the critical signals, we got it down pat.

The yacht does catch the wind a bit, so as soon as the bow line has been thrown, we needed to get the engine in reverse to try to pull the stern in. Quick bowlines help :)

After some practice, motored around the point to English harbour, to visit their fuel dock, and practice some manoeuvring in their tight anchorage. Bought 25gallons of diesel, filling it through the Baja filter, but it's a slow process. Fuelling an empty 650l tank would take hours...

Sailed back on the genoa, which gave us 5+kts, for a lot less hassle than the main. Experimented with pointing on only the genoa, and could get to about 40° of apparent wind, not bad. Not needing to pull down a massive main, we could sail all the way into the anchorage.

Time on the water: 7:50
Distance covered: 7.4nm
Avg speed: 0.9kts
Max speed: 12.9kts

Navionics Track

Green Island

Alexis joined us for a day sail up to Green Island, from Falmouth, and back.


Took a big tack down South out of Falmouth, and then up the coast to Green Island.

We tensioned up the rig, and immediately broke the kicker strap. This was expected, it had failed on the rig inspection, when we bought the yacht, but hadn't got around to replacing it, yet.

Entered Nonsuch bay through the Rickett Bay channel, above York Island. Took down the sails behind Middle reef, and practised picking up up a mooring buoy off West Beach. Anchored there for lunch.

Had some trouble manoeuvring forward after reversing, so we dived to check on the folding prop. It seemed to be behaving correctly. Handling this big yacht in tight marinas may be tricky...


Figured out the traveller, over lunch. We needed it without the kicker, to get some more power out of the mainsail.

Left the bay through Spithead channel. This is a very tight channel through reefs. The charts warn you not to trust them for navigation through the channel, it's so tight. So, we motor-sailed up for safety, and I stood on the roof of the pilot house to direct. The mainsail blocked my view to port, so we did get a little close at one point, to 2.4m under the keel.


Alexis told us stories of entering the channel from the sea from the north, through breakers, without an engine. Crazy!


Broad reached back down south, and ran a little wing-on-wing past Willoughby bay. Took down the sails and anchored, with as little input from Alexis as possible.

Time on the water: 8:46 (with an hour for lunch)
Distance covered: 30.1nm
Avg speed: 3.4kts
Max speed: 9.1kts

Navionics Track

To Falmouth

Richard (the previous owner) came out in the morning to have a look at our back-stay and suggest options. Cleaned up some of the threads with a file, and got it back under as much tension as we could.

Second day out with Alexis. Transiting to Falmouth, which is more convenient for him.

Took a tack far South, half-way to Montserrat, and then back in to Falmouth. Got into some nice Atlantic swell, out there (maybe 6ft). A little queasy from that, but not too bad.

Did a man overboard drill with a fender. Didn't quite manage it the first time around on sail, had to use the engine, but fender rescued.

Tried the staysail, works well. Better than a double-reefed Genoa.


No damage to the yacht today :)

Time on the water: 8:06
Distance covered: 23nm
Avg speed: 2.8kts
Max speed: 9.8kts

Navionics Track

First Day Out

First day out with Alexis, the skipper we hired to do some training with us.

Big tidy-up to get the boat ship-shape for sailing.

Went out from Jolly Harbour, and up north past Sandy Island, to the NW of Antigua. Got used to the setup of the boat. Practised going about, and jibe drills. Controlled the jibes using the preventers wrapped over an already occupied winch. Turns out it needs two wraps if you want to avoid rope burn :P


Experimented with heaving to. The boat doesn't come to a stop easily, keeps a couple of knots under way when hove to. But, it is stable.

Put in a second reef, while offshore, heaved to a little easier.


We played with sail trim. Tried tightening the back-stays, and in the process stripped out the threads on the port back-stay hydraulic tensioner, by not properly releasing the threaded half-nuts before releasing tension.

Came back into Jolly Harbour in the afternoon, and accidentally left the drive-shaft brake on, while motoring to anchor, wearing down the brake pads.