Jess back on her berth after maintenance.

It’s not been that warm in Largs for the past few days, but it hasn’t rained and the sun has made an occasional appearance, which has been ideal for getting stuck into annual maintenance. Although there are no major jobs to be done on Jess this season, I’ve still managed to spend a close to £1k this year on, what seems, not a lot. Just like everything else, maintenance materials, spare parts and yard fees have all gone up by at least 10% with things like polish and wax going up by two or three of pounds per bottle. However, a necessary expense and an awful lot cheaper when you do it yourself!

Although I could travel back and forth between home and Largs, I usually book accomodation in Largs for four or five days. I know it’s an extra expense but it does mean that should the weather change then I’m not forced to sit in the car and wait for it to clear or drive home to return the next day so I booked a self-catering just up the road from Nardini’s. As I arrived, Hazel the owner appeared and I chatted to her about what I was up to and that my friend Alan would be arriving later. She immediately offered me another property in the building (she has 17 in total in Largs) which had two bedrooms (Alan was looking forward to the prospect of sleeping on a blow up mattress), at no extra cost. I will be keeping her contact details for next year.

Before Alan arrived I pressure washed the deck and canvas work and re-proofed the spray-hood and sail bag, I knew I would probably have to wash the deck again once Jess was back on the water but she was absolutely clarty!  Downstairs I wanted to fit a folding shelf next to the sink to give a little more space to put things in the galley. It fitted nicely and as it was plain plywood I had bought a tin of “Gloss Teak” varnish stain. Sadly on application, it was nothing like teak! It says “Gloss Teak” on the tin and the colour swatch on the tin looks the same as the rest of the wood on Jess but the end result looks more like “Trump orange”! However, it will serve its purpose nicely.

The headsail needed to be taken down before Jess was lifted out and we were very lucky to have a nice window in the weather when it became quite calm and we got it down and folded away. Jess was lifted out the next morning and placed on a cradle where I could start work.

The weather was very kind to us and we managed to get the topsides cleaned and oxidisation removed before applying two coats of wax and the following day, two coats of anti fouling to the hull. The topsides came up beautifully and I think this year’s shine is better than last year.  The hull  is looking a bit roughin places with layers of anti-fouling and I think next year I will be forced to strip it back to the gel coat. I had to do a wee bit of rubbing down and rust curing on the keel.

Final jobs to do were to replace the hull and shaft anodes, check the anchor, laying out the chain and checking it, buffing up the propellor, replacing the cotter pin on the propellor and a final tidying up. I was hoping that Jess could be launched on Thursday morning when there was a chance we could get the head sail back on as we had decided we were taking Thursday afternoon off and spending the day in downtown Largs :-).Unfortunately the yard was very busy and we had to wait until Friday morning and it was blowing a bit of a hoolie so there was no chance of us getting the sail back on and no chance of us going for a shakedown to Tarbert or Portavadie. 

Well, that’s Jess just about ready for the season. I have a problem with the diesel heater, it needs looked at, but hopefully the weather will be warming up and we won’t need it! I’ll see if I can arrange to have it looked at in the next couple of weeks. Our first trip of the season is across to Tarbert for the night, taking Alan’s brother-in-law for his maiden voyage. 

In the middle of May, Alan and I are off on our annual trip to Northern Ireland stopping at Lamlash, Ballycastle, Glenarm, Bangor and Campbeltown. We need to check the tides but we hope to get from Lamlash to Ballycastle for the weekend. Leaving on Friday. Sunday to Glenarm and then south to Bangor. The tides on the Antrim Coast can run at up to six knots so it all depends on the tide times. They are neeps so not running quite as fast as they do at springs. I managed to visit three times last season, and I hope to get back for second time later this year. We’ll stop off at Campeltown and a visit to the Glen Scotia and Springbank distilleries for some Campbeltown Funk! 

When I get back from Northern Ireland I have a week or so to get ready before I head off on a trip to France at the beginning of June. Then it’s off to the Arran Whisky Festival is on the weekend of 25th of June with my nephew, Gordon. We had a great trip to Campbeltown last year and picked up some fine whisky in Campbeltown. Looking for the same on Arran. 

At the beginning of July Alan and I are off on an extended passage through the Crinan Canal and then heading north.

It’s been a number of years since we have gone round The Point of Arnamurchan toward Mallaig. We are hoping to get to Plockton and if time and weather allows on to Skye and Portree. On the return to the Crinan Canal stopping off at the Small Isles and a trip up Loch Sunart to Salen Jetty. There are a few distilleries that we can visit, Oban, Tobermory, Torabhaig, Raasay and Arnamurchan. I’m not sure how many, if any, we’ll get to but Oban and Tobermory will be the easiest as they are next to marinas!

We are coming back through the Crinan Canal towards the end of July and for the rest of that month, all of August and the beginning of September I’ll be spending my time exploring The Clyde, Loch Fyne and Arran. 

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