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Category: Boat things

Getting Home

Getting Home

It wasn’t far along the coast to get back to Dartmouth from Falmouth. In order to arrive before lunch on the 28th (our plan), we wanted to get along the coast as much as possible, so headed on to Salcombe.

The weather wasn’t as clear as for our arrival in the UK, so all of our pictures ended up being a little washed out.

Nevertheless, the sail was lovely, we followed a pretty straight line, avoiding a lighthouse, a bouy and a navy ship.

Our night in Salcombe was peaceful, and the harbour master recognized Hannah from before her paint job, so before we set off.

We didn’t have much wind leading Salcombe to Dartmouth, so had to motor most of the way.

We had prepared a flag chain to hoist for our final journey, which looked rather epic when we arrived in the Marina to a welcome from our families.

We unloaded most of the boat in a few hours, then headed out for lunch with the families. Heading back to Hannah the following day for a quick clean, and move back across the river dart to her trot mooring.

The boatyard that we leave the dinghy at when leaving the trot is up a side creek of the river and dries out totally at low tide.

We cut the timing of the tide far too tight (not used to all this tidal stuff after our year in the Caribbean), and Kathryn had to wade through the mud in the final meters so that we could pull the dinghy to the dock.

Perfect way to spend Kathryn’s birthday day 🤣

Pre-crossing boat jobs, again

Pre-crossing boat jobs, again

We wrote up a bunch of boat jobs pre-crossing to the Caribbean from Cape Verde back in December. Similarly, we have collected a mixture of jobs for our last weeks waiting to cross back.

You can already read about our new Iridium and the new flow switch for the UV light in our freshwater system, but here is a summary of the other goings on…

Fix the Danbouy light

A Danbuoy is a floating marker that is deployed from a boat to indicate a person’s location in the water in a MOB (Man Over Board) situation. It typically consists of a long telescopic pole with a buoyant float in the middle, a flag or other high-visibility marker attached to the top of the pole, and a weight at the bottom to keep it upright. In an emergency, such as a man overboard situation, the Danbuoy can be quickly thrown into the water to mark the spot where the person went overboard, it’s designed to float in the wind and current at the same rate a person would in the water. Even in big waves and at night, it should be very visible as the light sits about 2.5m above sea level, allowing the boat to circle back and retrieve them without losing the person’s position.

We have an extendable Danbouy onboard Hannah near our port solar panel. It has a bright LED light made by ACR attached to the top of it, but recently the plastic tube connecting the light to the Danbouy broke when accidentally leaned on.

This would have been fixable, and we were in the process of fixing it to find that the AA batteries inside had also recently exploded, and when trying to clean the mess from the internals, the spring for the battery connection also seemed to have corroded and disintegrated, so it would no longer be possible to power.

We needed to source a new light! Lucky for us one of the chandleries that we had recently been to had the exact same light, so we headed to buy it, but unfortunately it had already been sold since we saw it.

So, instead, we bought a different LED light that is generally used for life buoys, and worked out a secure way to attach it and also have it automatically set off if the danbuoy is deployed.

We started by super gluing a bolt to the bottom of the light, which we then also secured with some twisted wire to the bottom of the light. This was then entirely covered in epoxy putty. The bolt could then be attached to the top of the Danbouy, also using lock-tight to keep everything secure, and the entire contraption was then wrapped in tape. The new light already had a cord to pull to turn the light on, so we attached this to the previous string attached to the boat, so when extending the Danbouy, the light should come on.

Oiling the cockpit floor

Back in Saint Martin, we bought some Teak Oil.

Applying teak oil to teak floors on a boat is a popular practice to help maintain their appearance and protect them from the elements. Teak oil penetrates deep into the wood, providing a protective layer that helps to prevent moisture from penetrating the surface and causing damage. It also restores the natural beauty of the wood, enhancing the grain and bringing out its rich color. Additionally, teak oil helps to protect the wood from UV rays and other environmental factors that can cause it to deteriorate, making it a smart choice for anyone looking to keep their teak floors in top condition.

We used the oil on various parts of the internals of Hannah, but you really can see the biggest difference with this halfway progress shot of the cockpit floor.

Reattaching gas locker

Hannah has 2 gas lockers on the aft deck, each of which holds a single gas bottle.

From lots of sailing and the boat moving around some of the screws into the fiberglass that they are attached to had become loose and the threads didn’t really hold anymore.

So to get a handle on the situation, first, off came the locker.

This is the first time in more than 2 years the lockers came off, so everything was in need of a clean underneath.

You can also clearly see the attachments to both the back of the cabin, as well as into the deck.

Kathryn re-threaded the holes to a larger size, used some new stainless bolts, and then fitted everything back together.

Mast step string

Half way through our East to West Atlantic crossing we put a small tear in our Ghoster sail (now fixed) when it got backwinded and became stuck on one of the upper mast steps on the main mast.

We have had a plan to stop this from happening again since December, but are only just putting it into action.

So, time to go up the mast!

The plan is to tie strings from the steps to the nearest stay so that nothing (including halyards) can get caught on them. And the challenge is to do this in an aesthetically pleasing way.

We went for a zig zag pattern to minimize the number of individual bits of string we would need.

Not long till the crossing now.

At the time of writing this its 6th of May 2023, and we plan on setting off on the 8th May.

An Iridium Go for West to East

An Iridium Go for West to East

On our crossing from East to West, we had a Garmin InReach for both tracking, weather routing (use Fast Seas), and satellite communication with the outside world.

For the crossing East to West this was a great solution for us. Nice and cheap (comparatively), and provided us with enough information for what should always be a rather uneventful crossing due to the trade winds present in the area.

For the crossing West to East, you are much more likely to be affected by low-pressure systems flicking off Norther America, progressing across the Atlantic past Bermuda toward the Azores, before then heading a bit further north over the UK and Europe.

We purchased the Iridium secondhand from Vela who recently sold their boat in the BVIs before flying home, and it now lives “permanently” on the back wall of our Navigation table.

The setup came with an external antenna which is also “permanently” mounted outside near our port solar panel, with the cable routed into the boat using the same route as the solar panel.

The key difference between the Garmin Inreach and Iridium Go for us is the amount of “data” that you can receive and transmit and also the format.

The Garmin Inreach only allows you to send and receive short SMS-like messages (though you can email from the InReach, they are still SMS lengthed).

This means weather retrieval and weather routing can be a bit more of a pain, sending text instructions and receiving multiple test messages back telling you where you should maybe go and what the weather may be if you are there at the right time. It’s very hard to get a big picture from this though.

With Iridium it allows us to download Grib files for detailed weather information across a whole area, but also we can choose to pay for and use Predict Wind, which we will be doing for this crossing.

In comparison to the messages above from Fast Seas, the Predict Wind app can work directly with the Iridium Go, providing all of the routings and weather information in an easy to read display on your phone.

It’s all certainly more $$$, but should make the crossing a little easier to plan and we go.

Let’s see what we think about it all when we reach the other side!

Freshwater UV light Flow Switch

Freshwater UV light Flow Switch

We have had a UV light fitted to Hannah now for 2 years. You can read more about our water filtering setup in a previous post.

UV light kills harmful microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites that may be present in the water, making it safe to drink and reducing the risk of waterborne illnesses. Unlike chemical treatment methods such as chlorine, UV water treatment does not leave any residual taste or odor in the water, and it is environmentally friendly. A UV water treatment system is generally low-maintenance and easy to install.

You can see our UV light below on the back wall.

The UV light of this setup draws roughly 1.2 amps, and out of the box, it is on all of the time. So to save power for the last 2 years we have actually been flicking the “water pump” switch on and off whenever not using the water taps for longer periods of time.

This is a lot of effort for some taps on the boat, as the switch is centrally in the main switchboard, so if you are brushing your teeth in the heads, you need to venture into the corner of the saloon, flick the switch and go back to the heads if you want fresh water.

Since leaving the UK we have had all of the components to fix this problem for us thanks to Matt, a colleague of Kathryn, but we didn’t bring it all together until April 2023…

The solution is made up of a flow switch which will be put after our water pump and accumulation tank that will detect the flow of water through pipes. This will be used to turn the UV light on and off whenever water is flowing. In order to make sure the water does get to see the UV light, and also to avoid the light flicking on and off too often we also then have this switch going through a 555 timer chip circuit to delay the turn off once water flow has stopped.

We were following the following circuit diagram also provided by Matt.

We have multiple soldering irons onboard, but not of the highest quality (on a boat you normally need them for simple jobs), so soldering a circuit board together on a slightly moving boat was a bit more of a challenge than normal. (So let’s ignore the small mess in the top right of the backside of the board 😜)

This circuit board has 5 cables leaving it that need to be connected: +/- 12v power for the board, 2x cables connecting to the flow switch, 1x + for the UV light itself.

This circuit board was then enclosed in a little waterproof case with external LED and mounted near most of our other electrical water components (such as the 12v regulator and UV ballast)

Finding the correct adapters to get the flow switch from a 3/8ths of an inch pipe thread all the way up to 19mm hose proved to be a bit of a problem, but once we had visited all the nearby chandleries we finally had a setup that should work.

We cut the pipe after the accumulator, added the flow switch, fitted everything back together, wired it in, and it all looked fairly nice. The water filter area also has these 2 nice metal bars which are perfectly placed to protect the flow switch from our pots and pans!

Now we can leave the water pump and UV light on all-day knowing that the 1.2 amps will only be drawn when water is actually flowing. The UV light then stays on for a few seconds before switching off.

The switch is nice and sensitive, so even if you just trickle water out of the tap the UV light will be switched on!

Perfect, and thanks Matt!

An engine service

An engine service

Our last engine service was just before crossing the Atlantic east to west in Cape Verde. Part of any long crossing is making sure everything on board is in tip-top condition so you don’t get any surprises in the middle of an ocean, so, for us, it was time for another engine service.

For us, this meant doing the following on our Volvo Penta D2-40:

  • Changing the raw water impeller & filter
  • Changing the fuel pre-filter & filter
  • Changing the oil & oil filter
  • Changing the coolant (but we will leave that for another day)

The engine in Hannah is beneath the cockpit floor, which in some cases is quite convenient, but reaching some engine areas it can be a bit of a challenge, but most boats will have this for some part of their engine…

Although we picked up a new fuel pre-filter in Gibraltar, we didn’t fit in on our last service, so time to change the fuel pre-filter for the first time!

The fuel pre-filter is made up of multiple parts:

  • A metal mounting plate, which includes the connections for fuel in and out
  • A cartridge that contains the filter medium itself
  • A collection housing for various bits and water that are filtered out of the fuel
  • A metal base and bolt that holds all of these components together and also includes a small screw release valve to drain water from the bottom

First, we unscrewed the drain plug to drain the excess fuel from the filter into a little container.

Then we unscrewed the top bolt that held all of the components together, and they all came apart in a little tower.

The fuel that we drained from the collection housing was already quite full of bits. And the filter itself was also clogged up with all kinds of gross stuff.

The raw water intake can get all kinds of stuff coming in from the sea. On Hannah the through whole is not covered by any sort of mesh or filter, instead, the filter lives inside the engine bay. But this makes it very easy to regularly clean.

The filter had all kinds of bits of seaweed and plant life in it, probably not enough to impair water flow. The impeller also looked like it could do with a bit of a rest/replacement.

The oil change also went smoothly after heating the engine up and making use of our 12v oil pump.

Both the main fuel filter and oil filter were replaced, the air was removed from the fuel system using the small manual priming pump on the side of the engine, we started her up, and everything sounded great!

We will get back to sailing in the next post 😉

Island water world, West to East Seminar

Island water world, West to East Seminar

Right after dropping off our quad bike, we headed across the lagoon by dinghy to Island water world (a chandlery) which was putting on a free seminar about a west-to-east Atlantic crossing, including free drinks and snacks, so naturally we had to attend.

We didn’t see Blue Note or Extress there, but did once again meet up with Saga who were anchored outside the lagoon on the Fench side.

The seminar was run by 2 people, one of which has done one of two crossings, but the other who has done 19 since 2003.

There were various approaches discussed by the 2 hosts and also the audience, but the one we are likely to follow (roughly already the plan) is to stick close to the Azores high so you have enough wind to sail, but you can always head further into the high to avoid any approaching low pressures.

One person in the audience promoted their option of motoring all the way through the high, this way you get lovely flat seas, but light winds and you’re going to be burning lots of fuel!! To motor 2400 miles on Hannah, we would estimate some fuel usage at around 1440 litres. This would mean something like 60 jerry cans on deck to be sure.

There were some useful sites discussed.

You can find all of the notes from the session on the Our Life At Sea website.

After the seminar, someone from Island Water World did their seemingly yearly liferaft demonstration where they set off some old and new liferafts to let people see what happens.

They lead with an old liferaft first, which experienced a similar set of malfunctions to the old liferaft that used to be aboard Hannah before we replaced it. These include tearing of the floor, tearing of some tubes, and lack of full inflation.

They also inflated a coastal liferaft. The most noticeable visible difference being the lack of an inflated roof/spray hood.

And last but not least an off-shore liferaft complete with a roof. (Obviously, there are other differences., but that’s for the technical specs of life raft manufacturers to tell you.

We had a quick beer with Saga after being in the sunshine for far too long, cruised back to the boats and started to think more about our upcoming crossing.

Remember, you can subscribe to this blog to get updates by email!

The lagoon of Saint Martin

The lagoon of Saint Martin

Saint Martin is a beautiful island in the Caribbean that has gained notoriety as the filming location for the TV show Below Deck. The show has showcased the island’s stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and luxurious lifestyle, making it a popular destination for fans of the show.

We set off from St Kitts as the sun was setting, ready for a night sail to Saint Martin.

This was the first passage that we tried 6 hour watches for. We knew that we would only need 1 night sail, so being able to get a full 6 hours sleep each sounded quite nice. Adam stayed up until about 2am, with Kathryn keeping watch from 2am until 8am (ish). The passage was smooth sailing most of the way, but with a fair few gybes in the first hours.

We decided to stay on the French side as clearing into and out of the country here would be easy (a similar experience to other french islands with a computer and little paperwork), so on arrival we anchored on the outside of the french bridge into the lagoon, as we would need to wait until the evening or following day to enter through the bridge.

This is not the only bridge option… The first bridge is located in Marigot on the French side (our choice). The second bridge is a swing bridge that connects the Dutch side of the island to the French side. The third bridge is located near the airport on the Dutch side.

We dinghied to shore to check in, and have a little look aroud, and found outselves at a delicious pizza place! No bridge activity for us until the morning (this one only opens twice a day).

We made it through the bridge just fine, though it was very tight for a catamaran infront of us…

While contemplating where to anchor, the monohull 1 boat ahead of us decided to go north and imediatly grounded on the bottom. So rather than follow them into what seemed like shallower waters, we headed south.

The Navionics chart with sonar chart overlay is pretty good for the channel that should be dredged. On top of this, we added some fresh depth soundings to te Navionics “active captain” community overlay.

We anchored close to a small bit of land for a little bit of shelter in around 2-3m of water, so not much space under Hannah keel, but also we were back in a flat anchorage! (with the exception of the odd incosiderate motorboat that would drive through the lagoon too fast).

Next it was time for a long awaited boat job. Parts of the cabin top had some old holes form old rigging hardware etc that needed re filling. They were filled in the past but in the UV sun light whatever was in them had started degrading. We have had some fresh filler onboard for some time now to use, and this was the perfect oppourtunity.

We don’t have a comparible before pictures, but here you can seen the holes nicely filled with a gelcoat filler.

We havn’t seen Blue Note in quite some time (except for a brief chat in Antigua), but we once again found ourselves anchored next to them as they came through to the French side of the lagoon from the Dutch side.

We made a pasta bake, had some beers and a catchup as the sunset.

The following day we were also once again joined by Extress, all anchored in a little triangle.

More catching up, eating, drinking and chatting.

But the rest of Saint Martin will come in future posts!

Remember, you can subscribe to these posts by email! It’s not long until we start sailing in the Atlantic again heading back to Europe, and this time we will be trying to blog along the way!

St Nevis, the interesting weather

St Nevis, the interesting weather

St Nevis was rather sunny on our arrival, just with a few very short passing bits of rain.

We moved up to Pinneys Beach where once again we took a mooring ball, though others were anchored around. As far as we could tell we had paid some sort of tax for the usage of the mooring bouys during our stay, so figured we may as well take advantage of that.

We had bought food ready for a BBQ in the evening, which we were planning on having on board, off th back of Hannha as we normally do. However, we looked at the weather, and it didn’t look good for dinner time, so we had the slightly mental idea of having the BBQ in the cockpit.

Now, ignore the smoke, it went rather well, and we are glad to have started it indoors as it poured down throughout the evening.

We moved the BBQ around a few times and eventually found the best space was on the starboard bench, where we could have enough wind catch the smoke and mostly blow it out of the cockpit.

Though throughly smoked, the BBQ was a delicious success.

The next day the rain continued. Infact, it almost rained all day, and was certainly cloudy all day.

But fresh water is valuable! so Kathryn got out and gave the deck a good scrub, one of the first time its been cleaned of salt water since St Lucia.

We spent the whole day on board, writing this a month later it’s hard to remember exactly what we did, but it probably involved food, films and relaxation… (and maybe some blog post writing)

We headed to bed, but at around midnight something didn’t feel right. It turned out that some localized weather was passing overhead, and this had actually turned out that our easterly wind (from the east) had changed into a strong westerly wind (from the west). This had meant that our totally protected anchorage where the beach and island was to the east of us, was now totally unprotected. And what had infact woken us up was the boat starting to go over ~1m waves that had built up out to sea as the wind had picked up to 30+ knots.

It was pitch black, so we have no good video of this, however to build up a picture, we were tied to a mooring bouy with the beach 50m behind us, crashing through 1m waves along with 10 other boats in the middle of the dark night in winds of 30+ knots. Water was spraying off each side of the bow, and the boat was properly moving up and down.

We were slightly worried that the mooring bouy might give way, and we could see people on other boats checking or adding lines, and this was the momment we would have much rather been at anchor rather than on a bouy!

After about an hour and a half the weather passed and the wind returned to light winds from the east. All a very odd occourance.

Our wind instruments actually gave up and just started reading 99, so we have no idea what the winds really got up to.

On the whole, odd, and not the sunny carribean we have gotten used to.

So lets end this rather grey and pictureless blog post here, and save more sunny weather for the next one!

Guadeloupe, Haul in

Guadeloupe, Haul in

Today’s the day! Haul in day. (Or rather March 7th was the day)

We were a little nervous because only a few days earlier another boat had been dropped out of the slings onto the concrete floor as they were hauling in, but we placed the slings exactly where I wanted them and not long later Hannah Penn was being lifted and driven to the launch spot.

We had fenders at the ready but it all went smoothly, we weren’t quite ready to leave yet so after we were in the water we rafted up next to SV Danae who were due to be hauled out in a couple of days.

The main thing we wanted to do was tidy the boat which still had tools everywhere! And make sure the rudder stuffing was no longer leaking.. it wasn’t! Yay

After a night there we were set and headed off to the mooring buoys across the estuary from the marina, but on the way out I went to put the autopilot on and it didn’t work..

A quick skip back to right before getting hauled out.. we were sailing toward the marina and the autopilot made the wheel jolt quickly, sitting in the cockpit I didn’t think much of it immediately as it seemed like we were maintaining a straight course and the wheel was turning only very slightly from side to side as normal, but after a few minutes when I clicked a button to alter course, nothing happened.

The autopilot was still making a noise but wasn’t engaged with the wheel. After turning it all off an on again and it still not engaging there wasn’t much to do as we were being hauled out that day anyway. I decided to lock the wheel off and continue sailing, at that point Hannah Penn was lovely and balanced so we didn’t veer off course, we were about an hour out from dropping sails anyway.

Skip forwards and we were hauled out, and checked the autopilot which started working perfectly again, we thought ok, we’ll keep playing with it on land and if it stops working we will look into it further and if it keeps working we’ll leave it. Well, it kept working so didn’t give it another thought.

Back to the present and the autopilot failing. It was time to do some serious troubleshooting.
Hannah Penn has an Autohelm Type 1 chain drive motor which is a heavy-duty motor that connects to a large cog ⚙️ on one of the rods which runs back to the rudder. It has two pairs of cables running to it, two of which are for power, and the other two went to the brains of the autopilot and told the motor to engage/ disengage the clutch inside.

The port cockpit locker had to be emptied and the inside locker walls half dismantled along with the prop shaft lubricant applicator removed before being able to access the motor.

Finally, we were in and some greasy awkward positions later the chain was removed from the drive cog, motor, and wiring removed and the whole thing was out in the cockpit.

We soon found the problem, an easily fixable corroded connection which tells the motor to engage and disengage the clutch. Thankfully it was not too serious but we were very glad we fixed it on a nice stable mooring and not under sail halfway across an ocean!

So with it all back together, we could enjoy the rest of our time in Guadeloupe.

We had such lovely conditions sailing to our next anchorage on the island of Marie-Galante that Adam got in the dinghy and took some pics whilst I tacked back and forth in front of him.

Haul out, The other stuff

Haul out, The other stuff

We have already covered our actual haul out, rudder stuffing replacement, and the repainting of our anti-foul, but we got up to a few other things on land too.

The boat jobs we won’t bother diving into any detail for include:

  • Permenantly fitting our saloon fan
  • Fixing 1 piece of wood in the dinghy floor & painting the wood
  • Applying new mast boot tape
  • Resealing the shower sump pump
  • Removing twists from the anchor chain
  • Replacing the Mizzen boom topping lift
  • Painting the inside of the cockpit roof
  • Fixing a hinge on the aft cabin doors
  • Replacing the hinges for the cockpit seat lockers
  • Removing a worn piece of rope from a reefing line
  • Cleaning behind the stove
  • Adjusted stove locks to make them lock the oven off better

And now for a couple of boat jobs that have some nice pictures 😃

Chain Paint

Back in June 2022 our anchor chain had some lovely paint marking every 10m of chain.

As the boat was on the hard we spent a bit of money on some cold galvanizing spray and also red spray paint and gave the anchor chain a bit of love and care.

We never had much luck with the paint hanging around for that long, so we also tied small pieces of string every 10m. One at 10m, two at 20m, and so on.


The dinghy has been having quite a start to 2023, getting punctured in the Grenadines, starting to leak water in, and also at some point being flipped over with the engine on.

We were hauled out for a number of days so this allowed us to properly patch all the holes we could find to stop the various leaks.

After a few days of applying Sikaflex, waiting for it to dry, and again filling the dinghy with water to see where the water leaked out, we had a totally sealed dinghy once again. Yay, now we won’t have to pump it up and bail it out every time we use it!

Relaxing on land

While hauled out we spent our evenings in 2 different Airbnbs. We had some pool time, lots of space in the kitchen to cook, a microwave, etc 🤯. One of the features of both of our Airbnbs was the fact they lacked glass in the windows into the kitchens, so you frequently got birds coming to say hello nibbling on your bread or bananas. After we found that this was pretty normal for them to be in the house we started leaving bread outside on the balcony for them.

We had a few meals out, including some birthday celebrations too, including a creole massage at a spa. 💆‍♂️

One of the features of our 30min morning and evening walk to the boatyard while staying at the first Airbnb were 2 dogs that seemed to live in a pile of rubbish at the side of the road.

It was very sad to see, but we think someone was feeding them and we gave them water, they were super friendly and came to say hello.

The boat dropping

Don’t worry, Hannah didn’t get dropped!

While we were hauled out in the boat yard though, there was an almighty bang followed by a bunch of shouting.

One of the boats that was about the be hauled back into the water had slipped out of the slings holding it and landed on the floor.

Not a great day for the owners here.

The keel was dented and paint had come off around the weld for the keel attaching to the main body.

They were still hauled out after we had finished painting and were back in the water, we assume waiting for a survey and for insurance companies to decide what to do.

Next up, back in the water for us!