New season- new problems

This year I arrived back to the boat in Kilada over a month later than usual. My brother in law Uffe came with me to help get Aquarella ship shape and ready for launching. He could only be here for three days so it was a matter of working effectively all the daylight hours. The day before launching I tried to raise the anchor chain that had been lying under the boat on a pallet all winter. The remote control to the windlass responded when I pressed “down” but not “Up”. I tried my usual solution with contact spray, cleaning the plug and using fine sand paper to remove any corrosion. Nothing helped.
In the end Uffe pulled the 80 meters of chain and the anchor up by hand while I continued the work of painting the antifoul on the hull.
When Aquarella was launched we could tie up to a mooring buoy in the middle of the bay so fortunately there was no need to anchor.
However I had to find a solution to the windlass problem. Uffe had gone home and I was now alone on board. If I needed to anchor anywhere I could easily drop the anchor but there was no way I could pull up to 80 meters of chain and a heavy anchor up by hand.
I rang my ground crew/backup/support/ dearest friend, alias Rolf in Sweden.
He suggested he took me, step by step, through the procedure of rewiring the plug under deck instead of the vulnerable position it was in on the foredeck.
I had never undertaken a project like this before so it was outside my comfort zone. Rolf told me which tools I would need: contact spray, a pair of pliers, a wire cutter, a multimeter, a stripper, ( I thought they only had those in night clubs) a small screw driver, electric tape and cable ties.
He told me to find the place from below where the wires went up through the deck. That was the first problem as they were completely hidden and baked in the head lining.
I eventually found a place where they were exposed but I could only get to them by lying on one elbow under a shelf over the V berth. Add to this the fact that it was dark and the boat was heeling over and bouncing up and down in the strong wind and waves, it was not going to be easy. I was then told to carefully and precisely cut the red wire without touching any other metal bits, then the same with the blue and brown wires. I could only use one hand as I was leaning on the other elbow. As the sweat was running down my face in the afternoon heat I thought the situation reminded me of the classic cliff hanger in an old action movie where the hero has to choose the right wire to cut off and neutralise a dangerous time-bomb while the seconds ticked away! Rolf told me to turn the switch of the multimeter to Ohm. Wheres ohm? I asked, feeling stupid. The greek omega sign he said. Ah, that one.
After checking that the different wires were not broken and connecting the multimeter pins to the metal plates on the windlass’s control box I could actually get the chain to go up or down, fantastic!
Now it was a matter of making the new connections hold under strain.
Following Rolfs precise and patient instructions I connected the three wires to the remote again in a connection box and screwed them tightly in place. Up on deck I checked that everything worked and triumphantly announced that the mission had succeeded!
However when I had pulled the coiled wire of the remote as far as it could go towards the anchor well, it was dead again! I had to undo the electric tape, cut off the cable ties and start screwing again, this time I used all the strength of my fingers, hand and wrist. But this time it worked!
I could then embark on the seasons first voyage knowing that I could anchor up should it be necessary  along the way.
I did have another problem though.
The outboard engine for my dinghy didn't work. Black oil was pouring out of the cooling water intake. I rowed ashore and asked at the boatyard if they could fix the problem. Expensive they said. After receiving a second and third opinion I decided it wasn't worth repairing. The engine had worked well for 22 years in 9 different countries so it had had a good innings. After the 9 hour sail to Poros I arrived to the mooring buoy I usually use there. The owner of the buoy had told me I was too late this year and he'd let someone else have it. But on arrival he undid the ropes of the other boat and towed it away so I could have my buoy back, great service for a regular customer.

This was fortunate as its the only buoy near enough to be able to row ashore. So this is what I will do until I get a new engine.

rowing ashore in the dark with my headlight on
  photographed by Sarah Bridges

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