Down the Rabbit Hole in the Boat Yard

Early morning start for the haul out on 19 Oct. Only slightly nervous to see Drakkar flying through the air. Mollified by the obvious professionalism of the yard guys. She is in good hands here at Islaverde Yard.

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Rig off for full rebuild.

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What to do with the kids while we live in a commercial boat yard renovating Drakkar? A spot of lizard hunting for today next to our mast. Ideal for lizards, not so ideal for working conditions being a sand pit and the other end of the yard from where the boat is but ah well.

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And after lizard hunting we have lizard hair day.

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A little light cabinetry work. Never liked those in the way bulky not accessible cabinets. Good excuse to get rid of them so we can reinforce the jib tracks.

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Pretty sure water is supposed to be on the outside?

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Some more angle grinding later and it looks like we need a full rebuild on the swimstep. Hmmm, add it to the list.

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Shannon is now proficient with Mr Angle Grinder after removing 10 obsolete through hulls.


What shall we do today? What about some more angle grinding? Oh yes please. Inspection of the swim steps showed the butt joint to the hull had lasted well from when it was installed, but really needed improvement. So we added 3 layers of fibreglass tape as a lap joint. Sounds easy when said that quickly. More grinding, glassing, fairing, grinding, fairing, painting, sanding, painting and painting.

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The yard is in the commercial port area of Algeciras so any shopping is a good hike away. Here we are on another shopping mission. Martin the other live aboard in the yard and all round good guy kindly gave us his unused fold up bike after I scrounged it a few times making missions a little easier. But adding to the stress of watching over two speedie wheeled kids in a busy strange town.

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Happy results after finding the toy shop in downtown. Green wooden boat behind us has nice lines so it is a shame the planks have dried out so much you can stick your finger in the gaps. Wonder how long she has been sitting there and what will become of her?

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Ah, the joys of angle grinding in confined spaces… First you have to clear them and then clean them afterwards.

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The come and go ferry is having another go at launching. It makes a good wind break sitting there so we were happy to see it back again. Yard workers not so happy.

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Celebrated my birthday at the local port working man’s club. Getting pretty tired now so it was good to pause working for a bit. The waiter was very helpful and happy to see the kids. Not much shared language so deciphering the hand written set menu was interesting. Turned out to be a great meal and 6 unexpectedly fantastic deserts to share. Good fun.


Another typical day in the boat yard. Note the 3m ladder we have to climb every time we forgot a tool or needed something from the boat.

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Beautiful sunrise over the neighbouring water treatment plant. Oh Boy, if the wind is coming from the east the aroma can be overpowering.

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A horrible job, upside down blind fibre glassing. First half went well. Second half not so much. Managed to get the 4 layers of glass on, just finished and they all fell off. @*%#. Try again. Again 4 difficult layers just on and they all fell off again and could not be persuaded to stick back on! ^(&^$&$*%##^&*!!! Very difficult to throw tools around when they are stuck to your hands with resin. Finally got a different mix of cloth and 3 layers to stick on the third go.

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Good man Eric of Gateway Nautica who did our rigging and helped a lot with the refit. Cheers Mate! Here we are trial fitting the new and improved chain plate backing plates. Bit of overkill once we saw them in real life, but better safe than sorry.

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Hey, let’s do some more angle grinding. Time to cut open and rebuild the port swimstep.

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Here is the kid’s babysitter. It was pretty tough living on board in the yard and not something we are in a hurry to repeat. Imagine living in a small tree house that you have to climb a 3m ladder to get into while renovating it, living with kids who are not allowed to play on the ground during the week due to the hazards around, using an industrial worksite toilet (need I say more…) at the bottom of the yard, organizing parts and work in a different language and country, watching the time slip by and weather windows closing, being challenged with 5 minute jobs turning into all day sagas and getting pretty tired working every day. Certainly tough times. Thankfully the family came through the test hanging together well.

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Channelling the ET space man scene in just another fun job. Annoying when the preparation and clean up took way longer than the actual work. Not a big fan of fibreglass sanding dust in our living space.

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And for today’s entertainment, upside down one handed confined space race against setting resin challenge.

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We completely stripped the mast down and rebuilt it happy to find it in good condition. Good to have confidence in the stick staying up when taking the family across the Atlantic. Minor details and all that. Note scooter to get to the other end of the yard where the boat is each time I need a new tool and shopping trolley for all the gear.

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Time Out! Lego building night with a little relaxing.


Daddy puzzle time. Need to rebuild the headsail furling gear. How the heck do we get it apart? A few hours and new tools later. What do you mean the bearing shells are no longer available? Glad they were in reasonable condition. Getting it back together took several more hours and consumed a fair amount of my available patience. Then I had to do the bottom drum as well… No pressure but we can’t stand the rig until I get it sorted.

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Excellent new tools and many consumable and even new boat batteries were from this most excellent gentleman Pablo from Casa Pastel the industrial supply shop. Thank you Pablo!


A moment of triumphant progress! Making tape coming off the new antifouling. Yay! Amidst the hard work and some dark days it was god to have these markers of progress towards launch day.

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Homemade fireworks working into dusk.

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Adding more to the list and bill. Lifting the boat again to get the rudder out. Sounded so simple to drop the rudder. Hmmmm, this is a boat and the heavy burrs on the top of the rudder shaft were the first clue this would not be easy and much persuasion and fettling and more hours than expected were required.

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Insert anatomical joke here as Eric and I install in the new rudder bearing. Piece of mind is important when sailing family across the Atlantic so glad we got in there and sorted it out.

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What Do You Mean they are already moving Drakkar?!?!!?? Oh %&^@. Organizing launch for tomorrow we found out the wind is forecast to blow for a week and it will not be possible to stand the rig for a week unless we do it NOW. Full action stations as we finish the details on the mast that I thought I had another day to do… Here the crane already has the lifting strop on and we have not finished the diamond stays.

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PHEW, got it all done and sorted 5min after the 6pm knock off hooter had gone. What a rush while being super careful not to miss any details.

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There she sits at 0230 in the morning almost ready to go. What a mission, we are shattered now. Yes the wind did come in at 8pm slatting the rigging we have not had up in a month. One of the many challenges we faced was coming back from the showers at 9pm and a cascade of small items falling greeted us. Thinking not too bad, sounded like a box of screws fell over. No, the wind and slatting ropes had dislodged the slides for our main and showered the deck in 200 little ball bearings worth EUR 1.00ea. Que more swearing and work trying to round up as many as we could find. Not really what we needed this late in the game and so tired already.

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Long list of little details sorted early in the morning and launched at last. Missing 14mm rigging turnbuckle replacement made and installed just in time for the rig to be tensioned before Eric flew out on a weeks holiday, etc etc etc. Finally back in the water and slowly recovering from the shock of 28 days in the boat yard and the associated bills we sat on their dock for a couple of days. Found I had accidentally moved the pitch on the port prop so swimming we go rather than pay to haul out again. Mostly blocked from my memory is the most disgusting water thanks to the poo plant, I mean water treatment plant next door and enclosed marina. Let’s just say it was a long hot shower after a rather trying job.

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Escaped at Last on 17 Nov! The boat moving around to the waves felt somewhat odd as it had been so long. Here we are headed back across the bay to La Linea and Gibraltar with our friend Martin. Hope you made it back in the water by now mate.


Just for fun I need to bathe in the chilly water, again, to fine turn the pitch on the port prop. At least the water is much cleaner here.

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Yay, back in our happy place! Heart of gold Eva and Harley we far too generous looking after us. Missing you guys.

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