Eileen of Avoca’s refit

Yarmouth Marine Services on the Isle of Wight

Yarmouth Marine Services is currently working on making Eileen of Avoca ready for her Atlantic crossing. The to-do list is ambitious, but I’ve the know-how of the people who originally built Eileen on hand, so I am confident the work will be of the highest standard. I guess I’m betting my life on it… hmmm… looking it it that way, I vow to haunt anyone responsible for cutting corners or shoddy workmanship if it leads to my untimely demise… ;)

How’s that for an incentive?

The job list goes something like this:

  • Fit new 13.5HP Beta engine and ancillary equipment.
  • New rigging
  • Deck and mast fittings acid dipped and re-galvanised
  • Stanchions removed and re-mounted to prevent leaks
  • Mast and teak areas varnished / painted to handle tropical heat
  • Inner linings waterproofed
  • Companionway washboards strengthened
  • Hatch locking mechanism reworked
  • Companionway step reinforced
  • Pushpit lockers waterproofed
  • Fiberglass stress points reinforced
  • Seacocks and cockpit drainage pipes replaced where necessary
  • Second (internal) bilge pump fitted
  • Second VHF aerial added
  • VHF radio tested and repaired
  • Solar panel mounted
  • AIS receiver fitted
  • Life raft serviced
  • Tillerpilot to vane gear fitting in addition to the existing mount.
  • Anodes replaced
  • 3 coats of antifoul
  • Dodgers made
  • Foresails serviced
  • Non slip decking material re-painted
  • Jackstays replaced
  • and more…

If I have any money left over I’ll buy a new EPRIB and some extra anchor rode / chain… ha! big if…
This list will be updated as it changes, and as soon as I get back to the boat I’ll take photos to show everyone how the work is progressing.

YOGAFF

Yarmouth 23s at YOGAFF

For two fabulous days Eileen of Avoca rafted up with three other Yarmouth23s and a couple of ring-ins to enjoy YOGAFF. (The annual Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival). Despite looking a little weather beaten, dressed in her flags, Eileen still made a pretty picture especially with her smartly dressed siblings tied nearby.

My swimming instructor :P

Helen and Miranda were closest on Hecate, which became the de-facto gathering place (despite the characteristic Y23 push-pit flooding) for evening drinks. Then there was Geoff and Jaye on Tarka, and finally Peter on Jabiru at the opposite end of our six boat raft.

I was delighted to be offered a tour of Eileen’s sisters and was truly fascinated by the many small differences that (besides colour) made each Yarmouth23 unique.

All bronze fittings (Eileen uses galvanised steel) and bilge keels on Jabiru, mast hoops (vs. laced sails) or angled winches on Tarka, and additional reefing lines led through jammers (for easy reefing) on Hecate.

I didn’t get to do any real sailing (too busy window shopping about town), but I did meet with Graham from Yarmouth Marine Services to discuss Eileen’s impending refit over a deliciously cool beer at the yacht club.

Old Gaffers racing in Yarmouth for the festival

Winning the great race was left up to Peter, who BTW was nowhere to be found when I motored out to take photos of the competition. I’m still curious as to how he fared and regret not having taken part.

If looks could kill...

All too soon it was time to return to Belgium and leave Eileen of Avoca behind. Any last minute excuses to stay longer were mercilessly countered by my diminutive but highly temperamental guest and I’d already seen that insisting on having things my way invariably lead to unfortunate accidents, such as a fully clothed swim in the harbor.

So, for health an safety reasons, expressions of dissent on my part were strictly limited to sub-vocal grumblings and growls.

Mind you, if looks could kill, there might have been a massacre at this years YOGAFF. :)

Eileen of Avoca returns to Yarmouth

Ramblin' Rose greets Eileen of Avoca

With the high pressure system responsible for England’s mini ‘heat-wave’ weakening, and only 80 miles remaining to reach Yarmouth, my eagerness for an extended stay in Dartmouth was understandably muted, besides, I’d promised friends I’d do my best to reach the Isle of Wight in time for the annual Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival (YOGAFF).

A settling sea (my favourite kind), greeted Eileen of Avoca as she embarked (mid-afternoon) on her decisive leg. With mainsail aloft, and time aplenty, we…

(no, I’m not using Pluralis Maiestatis, it’s just that after all this time sailing, I can’t help anthropomorphising a little with Eileen, especially when I know that she’s the one doing all the hard work…),

anyway… we chugged across Lyme Bay at half speed and on into another fine night…

Ensuring that our ;) course provided a minimum 6 mile offing from Portland Bill (well clear of the race), I set the solo sailors bane (the mechanical egg timer) to annoy me at 30 minute intervals.

By sunrise it had certainly done its job!

Satisfactorily peeved by egg timer induced nap disruption, I turned Eileen toward the ‘Needles Channel’ on a course of approximately 20º arriving at the fairway buoy just as the tide turned. Unfortunately, the turn was for the worse (an ebb tide), but a quick delve through my tidal atlas revealed a counter-current close to shore! Ah, “Hope springs eternal…”, and the increasing number of small craft escaping the Solent were spared any impending howls of frustration.

Upon reaching the west cardinal buoy marking ‘The Bridge’, I hurried shoreward and within minutes of passing ‘The Needles’ I found my elusive counter current.

It is at this point that I noticed Eileen was being closely pursued by a boatload of tourists. How surreal, but what a pleasant surprise when it turned out to be David Lemonius on Ramblin’ Rose coming to welcome Eileen home. One of his prodigal daughters returns… and who could have asked for a finer welcome!

After a brief exchange of greetings and many a click of the tourist camera as David’s passengers made the most of their unscheduled stop, I said an embarrassing “hello everyone” to his captive audience before turning to fight the remaining tide into Yarmouth.

After three years of wandering abroad, Eileen of Avoca was back at last.

Wandering aimlessly in Dartmouth

Entrance to the River Dart, Dartmouth (kind of obvious?)

Despite arriving at a truly uncivilized hour of the morning, I managed to remain awake long enough to moor safely on the Kingswear side of the River Dart (at the end of the Darthaven Marina visitors pontoon).

A real English pub... Cheers!

That makes two crossings of ‘The English Channel’ for Eileen of Avoca! Hip hip hurray! Now before I get too carried away with partying, it’s off to bed…

At a far more reasonable hour to be conscious (after midday), I formally celebrated my safe arrival in England with a cool lager and traditional pasty in Darmouth proper.

How nice to be back in small boat territory, and what a fabulous holiday atmosphere!

No Children!

Every man, woman, child and four legged friend was out enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. The latter having an especially good time as evidenced by some of the following photos:

Apparently children are best left at home in this town…

Sea dog and child

…or in the tender where the dogs can keep an eye on them.

Dog in a pram!

But never fear, you can still make good use of their perambulator… :)

My only criticism of Darmouth is that there really isn’t much to do at night other than dine out or drink (neither of which I enjoy doing alone). Restaurant or pub, take your pick because the streets are completely deserted once the sun goes down (fear of the Banshee perhaps?).

Never mind, after my winter stay in southern Spain, I’m becoming rather acclimatised to wandering about veritable ghost towns.

At least people here were making good use of their boats during daylight hours!

In fact, I was so enthused by all the boating activity, I couldn’t resist visiting all my new sailing neighbors to swap stories.

Tupny, a Colvic Watson

I may have traveled a few thousand miles in Eileen of Avoca but that often pales in significance compared with the adventures older sailors recount.

I tip my virtual hat in respect to the crew of Tupny and wish them well. What a pleasure it was to listening to their tales. If anyone else happens to come across Tupny, be sure to ask about their boats history, the sea anchor mishap and of the penguins of fortune…