23 November 2017 St Lucia, South Africa
We had a bit of a lie-in, only having to get up at 06:45 to go horse riding. Craig and Kristen have only done a couple of horse rides, but they had a great time. There were seven of us in the group all of varying experience levels, so when we went for a canter, the less experienced went on a slightly different route, meeting up a few minutes later.
The ride went out into the St Lucia Nature Reserve and we rode very close to Zebra, Wildebeest, Warthogs and Impala. The horses are grazed in the area, so the wild animals are used to the horses - we are just seen as strange lumps on the horses’ backs. It’s quite amazing to be a few feet from Zebra who are unconcerned. The horses were very steady and we had some nice loping canters, so Glenys is keen to go again.
After a shower, we went for lunch at the St Lucia Ski-boat Club, which was nice & relaxed away from the tourist restaurants on the high street - be warned, they do massive meals.
In the afternoon, we went for a drive around the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. It was surprisingly good. The main road to Cape Vidal is long and a little boring, but there are some nice gravel road loops, where more wildlife can be seen. We saw plenty of animals including Hippopotamus, Crocodile, Nyala and Kudu.
24 November 2017 Richards Bay, South Africa
After another large breakfast, we drove to Durban airport and said goodbye to Craig and Kristen. We’ve had a lovely six days with them, but they move onto Cape Town for their second week in South Africa.
We drove back to Richards Bay and checked that all was okay on the boat. The only job that the boat yard had to do was to make the bush for the rudder shoe, but they’ve not finished it. It’s like any boat yard - if you’re not around to keep hassling then the job doesn’t get done.
We checked into Tree Tops and had a quiet time for the rest of the afternoon. I made a start at sorting through the 1,000 photos that I’ve taken over the past week - editing the better ones and deleting the rest.
25 November 2017 Richards Bay, South Africa
I had a very lazy day, pottering about in the apartment doing some admin and editing photos - I can’t motivate myself to do any jobs on the boat - seems too much like going back to work after a holiday. Glenys is starting to investigate Namibia and our route across the South Atlantic Ocean - we should be back in the water in six days’ time and will be starting to head west in the first week of December.
In the afternoon, we popped to the boat to pick up some odds and ends. Our friends Karen and Graham have moved “Red Herring” into the marina, so we stopped by and had a chat to them. They’re going off travelling for a couple of weeks, so we might be gone by the time they get back.
26 November 2017 Richards Bay, South Africa
After yesterday’s rest, I was up at six o’clock planning out the work to do on the boat. My first job was to look at the engine alignment because the propeller shaft was “wobbling” at the outside end. I removed the coupling between the propeller shaft & the gear box and cleaned the two mating surfaces. After bolting it all back together the propeller shaft was running much more central, so there must have been a burr or dirt on the flanges.
Glenys started to scrape off the silicone sealant in the front heads - I re-caulked all the corners a couple of years ago and despite using a good quality anti-mildew product, it’s all turned black. It’s a tedious job and I’ll make sure that I use a marine quality silicone sealant this time.
Jannie, who runs the boat yard, was at work this morning and turned the bush for the rudder shoe, so there’s some progress there. He now needs to saw the bush in half and fit some screws to hold it in place when the rudder shoe is split in half. Hopefully, it will be ready to fit onto the boat tomorrow afternoon.
I attempted to fit the cutlass bearing housing, which screws onto the end of the stern tube. It wouldn’t go on and when I looked at the threads, they were damaged when Arno removed and replaced the cutlass bearing. I took it to Jannie who gave it to Arno who used a thread file to clean the threads up.
Arno gave it back to me an hour later, but when I got around to trying it again, the housing would only go on for the first ¼” and then locks up. Unfortunately everyone had gone home by the time I discovered that it still doesn’t fit, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I despair...
The propeller has been “singing” (resonating) when we run the engine at 1700 rpm. The manufacturer told me to file “Anti-singing” edges onto the trailing edge of the propeller. It was quite scary doing the job and hard work using a hand file for an hour or so. I think that I’ve done it properly. I ought to get the prop balanced now, but there’s no-one in Richards Bay who does it.
27 November 2017 Richards Bay, South Africa
I had an unsettled night worrying about the cutlass bearing. If they’ve damaged the threads beyond repair then the job will turn into a long nightmare. I was up at 05:00 because I couldn’t sleep and spent two hours editing my photographs to take my mind off the damn cutlass bearing.
When we arrived at the boat yard, Jannie gave the cutlass bearing housing back to Arno, who spent all morning hand-filing the thread. He kept walking over to the boat to try it and then, shaking his head, he’d walk back to the workshop to do some more tedious filing.
I occupied myself by dropping the anchor chain to the floor, inspecting it and flipping it end to end to even out the wear. One end is still heavily galvanised whereas the working end was starting to get patches of rust. I reattached the anchor and pulled it back into the chain locker. Glenys finished off removing the silicone sealant from the front heads and has started to mask it off ready to re-apply new.
Just after lunch, Arno finally managed to get the cutlass bearing to screw onto the stern tube, so I whacked on some sealant and we screwed it in place - thank God it was sorted out. I then replaced the propeller and the Rope Stripper, so all my “below water” jobs are done. We now just need Jannie to complete the bearing for the rudder shoe, but he didn’t have time today.
The yard labourers applied the first coat of anti-foul paint, so if Jannie gets his job done, we should be on target for a launch on Friday 1st December.
28 November 2017 Richards Bay, South Africa
It’s quite nice being in the Treetops apartment, but there’s a lot of wildlife around. I think that there are some Hadeda Ibis roosting in the trees at night because at dawn, I was woken by their loud raucous calls (like a loud crow). We also had a troop of Vervet Monkeys bounding about on the corrugated roof making a right old din.
At the boat yard, I asked Jannie about the rudder shoe, but he’s not managed to make any progress - he promised me the job will be done by 14:00 and that we can fit the shoe in place this afternoon. We had some errands to run, so I dropped Glenys off at the Boardwalk Shopping Mall and then drove around to various suppliers.
I bought a new set of bearings and seals for the engine sea water pump - I need to service it, so I’ve bought another spare kit. The Volvo dealer in Cape Town has quoted me 4,600 Rands (£230) for a “pump repair kit”, whereas I actually paid 180 Rands (£9) for the two bearings and a seal - Volvo is such a rip-off.
I took my empty cooking gas tank to Builders Warehouse, but was unable to get them to fill-it. They freaked out that it wasn’t a South African tank and didn’t have a fitting for the valve. I found a place just across the road behind the BP garage called Sha’s Hardware & Aluminium, who filled it in 30 minutes.
Back at the boat, I started to fit the new valve to the toilet holding tank - nasty sweaty job, working in a confined space, covered in slime from the toilet hoses. I’ve put thread sealant on the valve assembly and fitted it in place. When the sealant has hardened tomorrow, I’ll fit the pipework.
I spent the rest of the afternoon changing the low pressure pump on the water maker. The water maker fuse switch has been tripping out for months and I thought that the pump was at fault, so I bought a New Pump from the manufacturer, Echotec in Trinidad. As I was removing the wiring, I found a very Dodgy Connector in the 220V wire, which has probably been the cause of all my trouble. I think that the old pump is okay - bummer! Ah well, the old pump is very, very rusty and is probably on its last legs - it needed to be changed.
The seemingly simple job of swapping the pump has turned into an epic - I need to change some of the water pipes because the new pump has slightly different size connectors. Also while I’ve got the pump out, I’m going to clean up the various fittings and filters in the cupboard, which where the two water maker pumps are located. I’ll have to finish the job tomorrow.
At 14:00 the rudder shoe wasn’t done. At 16:00, the bush has been split in two, but there’s a couple of hours work still to do - Jannie has promised me that it will be done by 11:00 tomorrow. I’m hopping mad. I gave them the job on the 9th November they said that they would have it done in a week - it’s now been 2½ weeks. It’s typical boat yard crisis management - Jannie is trying to manage the boat yard and do some precision machining - he should have sub- contracted my job.
I quit at 17:00 and went back to the apartment to drink a few cans of beer to calm me down.
29 November 2017 Richards Bay, South Africa
We’re supposed to launch on the 1st December and by 11:00, they still hadn’t finished the rudder shoe. I hassled them every 30 minutes until finally at 12:30, Dave came to dry fit it on the boat. I’d already removed the steering cables from the quadrant, so that there was no friction in the steering system and I could move the rudder with my little finger.
After the assembly was fitted, the rudder was significantly harder to turn, so something was binding. At first, Dave said that it just needed grease, then Jannie appeared and said that he’d be happy with the movement. I dug my heels in and loosened off the screws, so that the bearing wasn’t binding on the shaft and showed them how easy it should be to move the rudder.
Dave then spent the next four hours, scraping the bore, refitting it and repeating until finally at 16:00, both he and I were happy with the fit. It was too late to complete the rest job, so we’ll finish it tomorrow - we should still be good to launch at 14:00, the day after tomorrow.
I spent the whole day on the water-maker. I first cleaned up the inside of the cupboard and wire-brushed rust from various filters, the high pressure pump and mounting screws. I then re-plumbed the pipework from the seacock to the low pressure pump and changed the electrical wiring. After fitting the low pressure pump in place, I then changed all of the soundproofing material inside the cupboard walls because the old stuff was crumbling away. I was just about finished at 16:00.
Whenever, I wasn’t in the front heads doing the water-maker, Glenys masked off the front heads ready to apply new silicone sealant. She also spent hours polishing the stainless steel on the deck, which was starting to look pretty bad. The inside of the boat still looks like a bomb has hit it, but it won’t take long to tidy up once we have launched.
30 November 2017 Richards Bay, South Africa
At 08:00, I greeted the Zulu yard workers with “Sau-bona”, which they tell me is “Good Day” in Zulu - they always smile broadly and repeat it back when I say it, so I’m mildly suspicious that they’ve taught me a swear word or it means “Big Arse”. I’m going to confirm the word before I say it to the ladies in the supermarket…
By 08:15, the yard was at work on our rudder shoe. The major job today is to pour polyester resin into the inside of the rudder shoe, which moulds it to the skeg. I first asked Khumalo to remove the screws and smear with releasing wax, so that the screws will not bind on the polyester resin - this will make it easier to remove the next time. The ends of the bolts were ground flush and a centre punch used to bind the end of the bolts.
Pouring the polyester is a messy job and the viscosity of the resin is critical - thin enough to flow, but thick enough to have strength. Initially, Khumalo had it too thick, but after adding more resin, we used a piece of cardboard to direct the mixture into the narrow ½” gap at the top of the shoe - most of it seemed to go in, so I think that it’s a good job.
Khumalo then put epoxy filler in the 1” gap at the top of the rudder shoe - hopefully, the epoxy filler will be a little more flexible than the Polyester filler that I used last time, which cracked because it was brittle and didn’t flex. The final job was to put some sealant on the bolt heads and pump grease into the new bearing. We will wait until tomorrow to paint on a couple of coats of anti-foul paint before we launch at 14:00.
In between supervising the rudder shoe, I re-fitted the new valve and pipework for the front toilet. After an epic struggle, I discovered that one of the joints on the valve is moving - the two year old thread sealant that I’ve used must have gone off. I nipped into town to buy some new sealant and then with a heavy heart, pulled the pipework apart, cleaned the threads on the valve and reassembled everything. By 16:30, I’d got it all back together - hopefully the new sealant will work.
There are more photos in our Photo Album section.
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