14 March 2008

Fitting out

Some of you may want to skip this as "boring" but I have happy childhood memories of "helping" Dad fit out Chanty, our clinker built 18 ft Essex One Design, in Johnson and Jago boat yard at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

I reckon Little Dragon was an excellent purchase, although 22 years old she had been freshly painted, her hull, spars, sails, outboard and marine battery were all in good order. However she hadn't been sailed much for many years and some work was in order.

First I had to locate boatyards, chandlers, shipwrights, riggers, canvas bimini repairers, marine auto electricians, trailer repair yard and outboard motor workshop - I think that's all. Byron Bay is a surfing centre not a sailing centre so none of these exist locally. However networking with local trailer sailor owners paid off and I have found them all.

The trailer has now got a new winch and jockey legs, the outboard has been serviced, the auto electrician has rewired the radio and navigation lights, a rigger has swaged new shrouds and given some very helpful advice on how to get the mast up.

Then it was time to visit Whitworths the chandlers in Southport. They have provided me with 5 star service. Nothing has been too much trouble for them (of course nothing is cheap!). I needed various new fittings to attach to the mast and boom to get the vang, outhall, downhall and reefing all shipshape as well as shackles, mooring lines, flares, V sheet, winch so it goes on.

Another great find has been Michael Cocks the shipwright at Boatworz in Ballina, he sails an 18 ft trailer sailer himself and is enthusiastic to get Little Dragon properly rigged and trimmed.

I don't want to give the impression that all I have done is trail Little Dragon from one workshop to another (although there has been a bit of that). I have done as much as I can myself. Sanding and repainting the cabin doors, siliconing minor leaks, fitting reefing lines to the mainsail for starters.

Finally I must thank all my supporters, mainly swimmers, who have popped round after our post swim coffee and helped me get Little Dragon in and out of the garage and the mast on and off, advised on how to flush out the outboard, undone recaltricant screws etc etc. I have been on a huge learning curve and welcomed advice about many technical issues such as the best battery charger for my purposes etc etc.

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