Our lives are changing pretty quickly now, I’m writing this from Florence who is now afloat and moored in Portsmouth Harbour.
Launch day went surprisingly well. We were quick to jump on board and check the bilges for water as soon as she was in as we have had every through hull fitting apart for servicing, replaced the stern gland (it was leaking slightly before) and drilled a 38mm hole in the hull to fit the keel cooler for the new fridge since she was last in the water.
Ah yes the fridge. We had been a bit concerned about it when we delivered the boat from Ipswich, it would work for a while (up to 2 days) and then stop and refuse to work for a day. We had a refrigeration engineer come out and have a look at it, he fiddled with it and stated it was old, obsolete and there were no spare parts available but it seemed to work ok for him. At that point we thought all was well with it. However, 5 days before we were due to lift in, the fridge started playing up again, of course the engineer was now on holiday. A new modern fridge would be much more efficient but required a hole to be cut in the bottom of the hull for a heat exchanger, so we had to make the decision quickly if we were to drill the hole before we were lifted in. We made the decision to go for it on Thursday evening, then on Friday we bought the parts (oh yes its not like a shore fridge, it comes in lots of separate bits) and drilled a 38mm hole in the bottom of Florence! That was scary but we just had to get on with it. Thankfully we got it all fitted before the end of Monday for lift in and it is now working well (powered by our new solar panels). Currently we are making use of it to cool one of the bottles of champagne that we were given by our friends as ‘bon voyage’ gifts.
The other major event recently was the delivery of ‘The Machine’, our sailing tender which Amy’s Dad John built for us. The tender is beautiful and a real testament to John’s skill with wood. Whats more John delivered it down from Yorkshire and spent a few days working hard to help make sure we could mount it securely on the foredeck of Florence. The dinghy is so beautiful that we are reluctant to go through with our previous plan of naming her ‘The Machine’ (if you don’t understand the link between Florence and The Machine, ask your kids). She is a nesting tender, 9ft when assembled and sails really well carbon spars (made from old broken masts by our good friend Ron) and a shiny new sail. John’s face was a picture when I merrily pulled the sail up and took her for her maiden sail in 25knots. But all was well and I had a huge grin on my face.
It seems actually posting the above slipped below the cut line on the to do list, so since writing that we have now launched and left!
We left Portsmouth on a beautiful sunny day with family waving us off from the round tower. Sunny but no wind meant a gentle drift with the tide from Gilkicker until the western solent where we found a good sea breeze to take us to Lymington. We stopped in Lyminton to meet up for dinner with one of the people who is responsible for persuading us to take on this adventure. We both spent the day feeling like we are going on Holiday, sailing in the sun is so much more fun than preparing a yacht for a round the world voyage. The next stage may bring us down with a bump though, as it will be a very early start.