The last time Spellbinder was lifted out of the water was in 2017 – 5 years ago. Since then, I have regularly dried her out between tides to clean her hull with a pressure washer, to change the prop anodes and service the prop – all that has been required, given I have Coppercoat long-lasting epoxy anti foul applied. There have been a number of small jobs accumulating though, and I took the opportunity in July – when boatyards are usually at their quietest – to get them done. I did this at Hornet Services Sailing Club, using the services of the excellent shipwright Barry. This is a bit of a yacht owner’s post, and less about my travels, but please forgive the indulgence!
The first job was to change the anchor chain. Over time, it loses its galvanised surface and as it lies in an invariably wet and salty locker can begin to corrode. Mine was original (2006) and had seen a lot of action, and it was probably ok, but the part which spends most of its life at the bottom of the locker was getting distinctly rusty. I spend a lot of time at anchor and so didn’t want to trust my and Spellbinder’s existence to it, so after some research I found a 75m lot of new 8mm chain which I used to replace the old, with new shackles duly moused on (this means securing the shackle pin with wire to stop it unscrewing), and the chain marked at 10m intervals with luminous para cord.
Next Barry started to repair some minor scratches and dents in the gel coat, which had accumulated over the years and which needed attention. First the bow, where occasionaly the anchor had swung down and nicked the hull. Once the gel coat was repaired, 5 new layers of Coppercoat were applied – it starts its life copper brown, but in contact with seawater gradually turns green.
Next was the keel. Crew members Alan and Neil will remember a sandbank in Martinique which Spellbinder settled on for a while, owing to her skipper’s momentary navigational ineptitude. While it was not a serious grounding, we did scrape off some of the Coppercoat while getting off the sandbank, and there has as a consequence always been a bit more fouling there. Barry fared off the bottom of the keel, made repairs and reapplied the anti foul.
Next was the rudder. Crew David, Johnny and Lucy may recall a wall in Nelson’s dockyard Antigua, to which we were moored stern to in 2018. There was a lip which crunched a small bit of the rudder – nothing serious, but a small repair was needed.
The next job for Barry was a bit of the toe rail, which I managed to bash in windy conditions at the sea lock at IJmuiden earlier this summer. It was a bit unsightly but this was small task for the traditional shipwright, gluing in a small teak off cut and faring it to blend in with the remaining toe rail. He did a beautiful job.
The final one for Barry was to replace the stern seal. This is a rubber flange which prevents water ingress where the prop shaft leaves the hull. Mine was several years old, and in theory – particularly if your engine prop is slightly misaligned – they can wear and need replacement. I did have a spare on board from the previous owner’s time, but we discovered it was the wrong size and so a new one was bought and installed.
Once done. it was time for the lift back, and Spellbinder’s onward travels.
While this work was going on, I had set in place two new items for replacement. Firstly, Kemps sailmakers have made me a replacement cruising chute to replace my old one. Using the old furler, they made it in bright orange, which is great for other vessels to see from far off, and also gives the teak a pleasing glow in sunlight, which I had not expected. We trialed it crossing the Channel this week, and it is excellent. Slightly higher cut than its predecessor, it handles easily and is a joy to sail with.
I have also treated myself to new cockpit cushions. The old ones rubbed against the wheel, and were grubby and losing their springiness. Comfort Afloat in Gosport made me new ones, with cut outs for the wheel and piped in grey against dark blue. I’m pleased with them. I have also purchased two seats, inspired by my ocean-crossing mentees Charles and Caroline, who have them in their yacht Caris. My crew should be more comfortable henceforth. Eagle-eyed regular crew will also spot that I have finally solved my mug-holding dilemma, and have found just the thing on Amazon for the compass pedestal.
Spellbinder is now on Phase 2 of her summer travels, heading to Southern Brittany and a leisurely cruise down to La Rochelle, Bordeaux and the Spanish coast.