I'm sitting indoors looking out at the relentless rain, feeling the entrenched chill of a long grey winter, wondering just what the summer will bring us (sun, warmth and steady breezes, I hope) and reflecting on the tough winter working on Offbeat's keel and rudder ready for our big adventure.
I had Offbeat out of the water last summer to examine a slight but persistant leak from the rudder post. By the end of the summer I'd uncovered a bodge that the boatyard had made of the metal shoe that holds the rudder in place and a crack in the rudder post inside the boat that showed up a design weakness (made worse by the boatyard being over-assertive with a wrecking bar trying to remove the rudder). I also discovered what 40 years of running aground does to glassfibre on the keel - it wears it away!
|The bodged up rudder shoe|
|The weak rudder post|
|The bashed up keel. It doesnt look too bad here but, a bit like a bone sticking out of a leg injury, it's a shocking sight to see the insides of your boat from the outside.|
But I've beefed up the rudder shoe enormously (thanks to East Coast Stainless
), strengthened the rudder post tremendously (thanks to Terry Clarke, shipwright) and added half an inch onto Offbeat's draught (the depth below the waterline for non-yachties) by reinforcing the keel with 12 layers of glassfibre (thanks again to Terry). Offbeat always was a tough boat; thats why I chose her. But she's even tougher now, more ready than ever for some offshore adventures (and running aground, bashing into things and whatever other rough treatment Teresa and I inflict on her.
|The beefed up rudder shoe|
|The strengthened rudder post|
|The reinforced keel. The repair is coloured red then painted over so if I'm swimming around the boat and see red, i know its time to get fixing again!|
And why does this stuff matter? Because keeping water out of Offbeat and making sure she can steer in the direction we want her to go in are two of the most fundamental things to get right before going off on our adventures. Now, back to that packet of chocolate digestives and daydreaming about summer. Umm, I mean replumbing the fresh water system😶