We start this year still in Tier 4 with yacht maintenance just in our heads at home since the Coronavirus severely limits all nonessential travel dreaming of the day we can actually visit ADAT. Of course not so for our Shore Skipper who still has the paperwork (yacht insurance, bills to pay, launching delays, liaison with the Yard Office, etc.) to contend with. With the spread of this virus escalating almost out of control the laws pertaining the restrictions are now being severely policed with fines up to £10,000 and up to 10 years in jail. At the beginning of the year the earliest date for the easing of these restrictions is estimated at February to March. On the “up” side we now have a national plan for vaccinations in the form of 2 vaccinations, 3 to 12 weeks apart. The first will give some 70% of protection and with the second some 95% (with the possibility of an annual top-up) but of course injecting over 70 million people twice will take time. By the end of January my partners and I had had our first vaccine but of course we were still not allowed to visit ADAT due to the remaining travel restrictions. Well, we can still dream!
End of February and we can make some plans albeit in pencil. During the middle of March, two of our Partners undertook sufficient maintenance to allow a safe launch (installation of our main propellor, installation of the bow thruster propellor, realignment of rope cutter fitting checking the speed log through hull fitting, etc.). Then a further visit at end of March (dismantle our Cockpit tent, attach warps & fenders, antifouling, etc.). This turned out to be a very long day but all was completed leaving ADAT ready for launch. We also held a full Partners Zoom meeting mainly to update all on progress made so far, plans for continued maintenance (bending on sails, tidying on board and making her ready for sea, etc.) once launched and to formalise our forthcoming Sailing Calendar. This was planned when Covid restrictions would be lifted sufficient to allow more than 2 persons on board. She was actually launched on 29th March as we requested which with all the delays due to Covid was remarkable and a week after with the more open restrictions, several partners boarded and made her “ready for sea”. Well, ready for sea of sorts. It took a couple of more visits to actually clean all the new vinyl, polish, tidy and ensure all electrical and mechanical items are working as expected. Mid to end of April and we are just finishing off the last of the tasks, two of these being with me in attendance (which was long overdue). During May several of us continued with maintenance of the internal and external timbers (teak oiling, timber renovating, etc.). This of course would not interfere with any planned sailing which at the time was nil. I have to say it felt like old times and gave me the exercise I really missed. Middle of May and we have been charged (an oversight by ourselves) for storing our Dinghy in the Toast rack so we opted for a “wide” slot to cater for our keel. Then another option especially as our tarpaulin was not standing up to the wear (tearing) was to use a full size locker and stow the dinghy in the lower half. This was accomplished with an overall increase of just a few pounds and the dinghy will be safe from damage, weather and still be available when required.
Several years ago the Customers Lockers storage area was moved to a purpose built building and the locker sizes were reduced. This of course posed a problem and we were forced to cut down on what was stored but we adjusted and worked with it. Now with Shore access mooring we are to be charged an additional fee for Dinghy storage whereas it was included before. This posed financial (an additional fee), logical (we required access for use of the Dinghy on site) and wear & tear (the dinghy was getting damaged through UV from the sun and general weather) problems. There were just 2 larger lockers still available which we thought would store the deflated dinghy, oars, seats & pump plus our usual items and after further investigation (measuring the dinghy and the other item sizes) we opted to forgo the Toast Rack dinghy storage for a larger locker. The dinghy would now be safe from damage both physical and through the elements and best of all, would still be readily available. Another advantage was that the new locker would have 3 additional shelves and was more than adequately illuminated.
It came. My first sail for so many months. Our YOSC event in Shepards Wharf, Cowes for some 7 boats with another joining us for our Pontoon Party. Boarding on the Friday evening in June after a magnificent freshly stone baked Pizza in Wicormarine’s Salt Cafe overlooking the harbour washed down in the glorious warm sun with a beer. Saturday after a leisurely breakfast we slipped in a good wind to the harbour entrance for it to die as we progressed. Passing Osbourne Bay which even at that time had over 60 anchored boats. Engine on to Cowes where the wind picked up but by then it was too late. We reversed into Shepards Wharf Marina around 1330 to make slipping easier alongside a pontoon mainly as we were the Host boat for our Pontoon party coming later in the day. After a light lunch and a walk to town we erected our Bimini to cool the Saloon & Cockpit and invited the Fleet to join us for Drinks & Nibbles on board (better than standing on a pontoon). With both hot & cold vittles and an assortment of drinks this party of over 20 persons turned out to be one of the best yet. After and onwards to the Anchor Inn in the high street for our evening meal for us all. This again was very well served on four reserved tables by some 5 frequent staff ensuring excellent service complementing the food. Back to ADAT in the setting sun for a night-cap being amazed by the expanse of the amount of red sky on the horizon promising a very good, dry & hot Sunday. The following day and another leisurely breakfast slipping around 1030 unfortunately motoring due to almost zero wind all the way back to our mooring where we took advantage of the number of crew available and replaced all the damaged (due wear & tear) Antivibration Mounts on our Wind Generator Mast. Lunch using almost all of the remainder of our vittles and home in the still hot sun.