The winter programme of jobs is well under way with Hejira ashore for a 6 week period.

I am always reluctant to lift ashore for the coldest months (this is only really possible in a marina situation) as the sea, perversely, is something of a ‘warm’ radiator and affords protection against freezing which is not the case when ashore and, in a really cold spell, tanks and engine appendages are vulnerable to freezing. Some late season sailing was however thwarted by lock closures which is, I guess, one of the downsides of the secure, locked in predicament but I was at least able to ‘re-task’ the frustrated crew to helping remove the sails for the precautionary clean and service. In the event, a cold snap at the end of February defied my philosophy with sustained sub-zero temperatures. Thermostatically controlled tubular heaters positioned under the engine and the tanks helped to save the day without full winterisation and we have a projected launch later in March.

I have a story of my quest for an eighth matching diesel tank (made in the USA and 7 bought in the BVI) for my aft deck. I have seven high quality and structurally very substantial diesel tanks which I intend to almost permanently stow (empty until long windless passages demand the capacity) within my grab bars on the aft deck. These will not impede any yachting activity and will, with a suitable padded covering (currently on order) provide additional deck seating – a win, win ! The eighth matching can has been elusive and my quest has thrown up two which didn’t quite match and I am grateful to both Alan Hannah who sailed the Atlantic in his Southerly 135 ‘Watergaw’ and Rob Withers who responded to my appeal on the ‘Cockpit Locker’ forum of the World Cruising/Noonsite website, both of whom would not take payment for their cans which, unfortunately proved to be non- matching. My mission was finally satisfied by another respondent to the Cockpit Locker, Peter Jennett who bought cans in the USA. As it turns out, we did a section of the ARC from BVI to Bermuda together, Exody en-route to the USA and Hejira bound for the Azores. Peter was on his last leg of the ‘World ARC’ and together with several other yachts, took the northern route back to the UK from the Eastern seaboard via Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland (over the top!) and the Faroes. This is a helluva passage and this is the link to a short video of his adventure which is fascinating:- https://drive.google.com/file/d/1loi6ursFhCWCG5jDpCShJEx_GLG8pKxh/vie

Unfortunately in the ‘lift out’ exercise, the Port Solent staff managed to position a pad on the travel trailer directly under the refrigeration plate, damaging it so that the yard had to commission a replacement. This is not a straightforward exercise and involves internal pipework and re-gassing. I should record that Port Solent accepted their liability without argument  and the (not insignificant) cost of the repairs which they expedited directly and efficiently.