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Sunday, 8th February 2015 – Disaster Averted!

This weekend was our “mid-winter inspection”. That time of the year when we go over to Holland on the pretext of checking the boat over and then go to stay in a nice warm hotel and just enjoy a weekend away. Early/mid February also happens to be close to our wedding anniversary (12th) and Valentine's Day (14th).

We were booked out on the 8.50am shuttle as there was no point in charging off at the crack of dawn. There was however a twenty minute delay and so we arrived at the marina at about 12.30pm. The weather was pretty cold and drizzly but we were determined to have lunch on board, so collected our sandwiches and coffee stuff from the boot of the car and climbed on board. The temperature inside the boat was 0 degrees C.

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but the trusty old 1960's fan-heater was fired up

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and we soon warmed up (a bit!).

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When we arrived at the boat Kim pulled her back towards the jetty to make it less of a leap for Wendy and noticed that the marina staff had used one of our spare mooring lines to double up the aft port line. It was not until we were leaving that we spotted the reason why -

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In all the high winds that we have had of late, the fixed mooring line had frayed where it passes through the fairlead. In fact, you can see that it had almost gone completely through. It's nice to know that the staff are always keeping an eye on the boat. It was a bit disconcerting that a rope less than a year old had fared so badly. The starboard one had a slight bit of fraying, but nothing compared to the port one. We should point out that the badly led mooring line (round the wrong side of the stanchion) was down to Kim, after he re-tied it, not the marina staff.

Last spring when we moved Emjaytoo round to the main marina Kim had bought some cheap rope on the internet to make up “lazy-lines”. These are only used to assist in getting the boat in and out of her berth. Once she is in, they play no part in tying her up, so cheap rope is okay. However, as there was quite a lot of rope left over after making the lazy lines, Kim used it to make up the fixed stern lines. Suffice it to say that the moral is don't use cheap rope to tie the boat up with!

Kim was going to take the frayed line home and make up new ones with some decent rope ready for when we next come over (March sometime). However, when we called into the shop to see Jackie and have a cup of coffee, Wendy suggested buying the rope there and then in the shop. Jackie offered to splice the lines onto the karabiners and whilst initially Kim hesitated, as he likes splicing ropes himself and is pretty good at it, we decided that it might be a good idea for Jackie to do it. We could then pop back Sunday morning and put them on the boat. So we then left Jackie splicing up the new 16mm ropes. 16mm is thicker than we have used before and the marina shop only sells quality rope, so these should last a while. In our old berth we never frayed through a mooring line but the whole system was different (alongside instead of a box) so the stresses and strains were different.

We then drove over to Wissenkerke to De Kroon (The Crown) where we have previously stayed, enjoying a really nice meal in their restaurant. On one occasion in the past, our weekend coincided with a billiard competition and it was very busy, but reasonably okay. On this occasion we got the billiard competition weekend again. Only this time it was a big final, the pub was heaving and the restaurant was closed other than for feeding the players and fans. The proprietor said they could feed us if we ate before the main meal or could probably squeeze us in somewhere during the evening’s festivities. We then went up to the room to ponder our options but were both decided that staying in De Kroon was not an appealing prospect, so we made our apologies and left. The chap was very good about it saying he perfectly understood and wished us good luck.

So we drove back to Kortgene so we could park outside the marina to use their free wi-fi in order to find an alternative place to stay. We didn’t like the look of the Koerenbours in Kortgene (under new ownership and rather trendy these days) and it didn’t get very good write ups on Trip Advisor, Veere didn’t yield much either and we were seriously thinking of giving up and driving back to Calais. By now it was quarter to five local time and Kim suggested going back to the shop to see if Jackie had finished the splices so that we could put lines on the boat and go home. Jackie had finished them and in the conversation that ensued, suggested we try a big Hotel in Goes. So after re-securing the boat with the new lines off we headed to Goes. The Hotel was indeed big, in fact it was huge and Trip Advisor’s online booking feature suggested it was full. When we saw half a dozen coaches disgorging guests we started to anticipate the answer. Yep, no vacancies. In fact Wendy commented that it was every bit as packed as De Kroon but on a much larger scale!

We then went back to Trip Advisor and found a hotel right by the station in Goes – The Terminus. They had vacancies and the evening was starting to look up. But then we were dashed when they said their restaurant was shut on Saturdays. Kim said, no problem we’ll walk in to the town centre, there is bound to be loads of restaurants. By now it was cold and drizzling and our first attempt at finding a restaurant was met with a “Nee”!

On into the town square where we found the Jersey. Well what a result! A really warm and comfortable restaurant, a fantastic meal and friendly service.

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The evening was saved. The weekend was saved! The hotel room was very comfortable and amazingly quiet given it was right by the railway station. The room had a kettle, unusual in a continental hotel and the real clincher for Kim was bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast in addition to the usual cold meats and cheese.

We left Goes feeling we had had a really successful weekend. We stopped off in the town of Oudernaade, which had it not been a grey and miserable day might have been spectacular. It did have a magnificent Town Hall (don’t all Belgian/Dutch squares?) which looked especially good as the brief spell of sun glinted on the golden roof

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We then went back towards Calais, stopping at a Buffalo Grill near Dunkerque for an excellent lunch. We had just enough time at the Shuttle to get some beer and wine, before catching the 15.50 Shuttle home. We were indoors by quarter to five.

What could so easily have been a disaster, turned out to be a great weekend. In fact it was so good that we’re already saying that we might stay in Goes next February when we go over.

Wednesday, 18th February 2015 – Fuel Filter & Other Things

Back at the end of last season, when the boat was being serviced, the marina brought to our attention that the fuel filters (which get changed every service) were particularly clogged with sludge, suggesting a problem with sludge in the bottom of the fuel tank. They suggested that we had the tank cleaned, but when it came to doing the job they found that the tank was virtually inaccessible and getting it out to clean would involve a lot of “surgery”! (One of the downsides of a mass produced production line boat, is that they are designed to minimise production costs, not maintenance costs. So, no stainless steel tank with inspection hatches that can easily be removed, but a one piece plastic moulded tank built into the boat as production proceeds.)

Anyway, their suggestion was to fit a fancy centrifugal filter which totally removes all impurities before they get to the standard fuel filters. So, this week, Kim has given the okay to have the filter system fitted. It has a drain off point so one can periodically remove the sludge, safe in the knowledge that it won’t clog the normal filters and certainly can’t get in to the injectors. The centrifugal filter is about 100 times more effective than normal paper fuel filters. The cost is probably a lot cheaper than having half the cockpit locker ripped out and we can even keep the 90 litres of fuel we bought at the end of last season.

These days, diesel has increasing amounts of bio-diesel in it, which is susceptible to water absorption, which in turn encourages the growth of “diesel-bug”, the main cause of the sludge in the bottom of the tank. This must surely shorten the “tank life” of the fuel. In a road vehicle the fuel gets used quite quickly, but in our boat it sits around for months! This must question the previously accepted practice of filling your fuel tank at the end of the season. The logic has always been that by filling the tank, you reduce the air space above the fuel and so reduce the amount of condensation, thereby reducing the amount of water that can get in to the fuel. Maybe it’s a case of “one or the other”. Hopefully the centrifugal filter will alleviate any potential problems.

We were looking forward to recommissioning Emjaytoo towards the end of March – 21st/22nd. However, we have now booked a shuttle return for the 7th/8th March, which is only two weeks away! The layup is over! Of course, whilst we might start getting gear back on board Emjaytoo in March, we will probably not start sailing her until after Easter, so well into April, but you never know! Before hand she will need her top sides cleaned and her spray hood & sails put back on, not to mention the ton of gear we removed from her at the end of last season.

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