Read the latest diary entry from Mini-Transat campaigner Pip Hare
I was all set to launch my boat, it was a perfect day to calibrate my new pilots, sunshine, flat water; I had a rib lined up to tow me around, the slings on the boat, and then I looked down.
The fibre glass sheath over the bulb on my keel was cracked in several places and peeling away from the bulb.
Disappointment did not set in; I was looking forward to sailing so much that the logical part of my brain turned off and I was fully prepared to put the boat in the water, go sailing and deal with it later.
Several people passed, and of course passed comment. Eventually I had Franck come and look at the problem and tell me in no uncertain terms that it was not an option to sail; I must fix the problem and do it properly; no quick bodge- then it was time to sulk.
I have found with boats and single handed sailing there can be a lot to sulk about. Plans seldom turn out the way you had planned and problems arise when you do not expect them. Sulking though indulging the inner child, does not really move you any further down the line, and in warmer climates can lead to extreme sunburn on your lower lip. So after a quick pout and stomp around I set to preparing the keel for a repair.
It appeared that the lead of the bulb had not been properly prepared and primed when the boat was first made and so the fibre glass jacket to make the bulb fare had not stuck in several places.
With the cold weather over Christmas and possible temperature differences between the lead and the fibreglass the sheath had cracked and I had a problem.
The first thing to do was to remove all of the fibreglass that was not well stuck to the bulb. First I tapped all around the bulb with a hammer, listening to the metal clunk where it was stuck and a hollow crack where it was not.
Then out with the angle grinder; removal of the old sheath and a gentle chamfering of the edges to allow the repair to bond to the remaining sheath around the sides.
An angle grinder in the hands of anyone can be a dangerous weapon but particularly so with an impatient blonde trying to go sailing. I had to take great care to concentrate so as not to dig big holes out of my keel or out of my legs.
Following this the very messy job of priming then laminating over the bare patch with bi-axial fibre and epoxy. I have nothing but respect for boat builders who manage to do this and keep themselves and their environment clean and unsticky.
I have a knack for spreading epoxy everywhere, in my hair, on my van, over my trailer and some on the repair. I have condemned yet another pair of trousers to the ‘work clothes’ drawer.
Meanwhile the boatyard suffered as the music wars developed between me and Giacomo Sabbitini, another mini sailor who was working behind me and trying to drown out my little stereo with his Italian rock which he was singing along to at the top of his voice. I am afraid to say he was a clear winner and Europop is alive and kicking the backside of ‘The Kings of Leon’ in a boatyard in France.
Now I am waiting. I have a heater on the repair, it is 3.30 in the afternoon and I have a long and exciting night of sanding and filling and sanding and filling and sanding and filling………………………..