Date: May 9th to 15th 2005
Distance : 0 miles
Weather : Glorious Sailing Weather (apart from the Ferry)
I dont know what it is about Scandinavian Ferry captains, but they all seem to come with the full facial kit - grizzled gray beard and whiskers. Its noticeable that the Chief Engineer is allowed a moustache but the 1st officer is clean shaven. The question is - which comes first? Are you never promoted from 1st Officer to Captain unless you pass the beard test, or is growing one forbidden until you rise to Captain?
If I had been up to it, I would have asked, but the ferry journey from Newcastle was rough enough to destroy my sense of well being, and the Blue Riband restaurant didn't help. The following week was full of these little trials.
We left the Skipper in charge of the car for the Ferry crossing as (dont say it too loud) he doesnt have a passport. The car was right up in the front bouncy part of the ferry. I dont what had transpired in the night, but he was hoarse the following day.
We arrived in Gothenburg at the height of the rush hour, enough for a wonderful hours drive (well, crawl) from the ferry terminal on one side of the river to the hotel on the other. We could easily have walked the distance in 10 minutes.
That evening, we decided that we would have a decent meal in a reasonable restaurant (after all, it would be our last for a while - see below).
I'll not name the restaurant, but suffice to say we've been there before. This time it was full of Brits on expense accounts (the Swedes are too sensible to bother). It wasn't the meal, (which was OK), nor the disappointing£45 bottle of wine, it was the £4 they charged us to hang our jackets in a cupboard that somehow spoiled it for me...
Then came the saga of the antifoul paint....
The special antifoul that you buy in the UK is banned in Sweden for being too unkind to animals. Instead they have their own version, (with the same trade names). In fact there are two types, one for the West Coast, and an even wimpier version for the East Coast. This is based on the amount of poison in the paint and you are only supposed to apply the one for your area. Of course what happens if people travel between areas isn't clear. To add to the fun, the colours are all different. To cut a long story short, we bought some paint in a big discount chandlery near Gothenburg and set off for the drive to Loftahammar.
Now Loftahammar is a holiday area, and to say its quiet out of season (i.e. before July) is something of an understatement. The only restaurant (a Pizzeria, obviously) only opens Thursday to Sunday (yes, we arrived late on a Tuesday..). So the first night was a frozen pie and oven chips. We saved the Pizza for a 'treat' on Thursday night.
The following day, with Kissen still in the shed, the first job was to construct the ladder. As the boat is quite high on the trailer, we needed one that was long enough to reach the deck, but still folded up small enough to get in the car, so I'd agonised for weeks before I bought an Axminster special. It took two of us a hour to put it together from its flat-pack form, and when finished, it took two of us to lift it. Stood upright, we now can clean the shed roof.
Then we set about the antifoul. Rubbing down the old paint dry is not recommended, but being in the shed we couldn't hose the boat down (and we didn't bring masks). Applying the paint then generated all those nice carcinogenic fumes that the paint tin warns you about (but it was in Swedish). At this point, the penny dropped. We'd only bought one tin of paint, and to paint the boat takes a tin and a half. The nearest matching paint was 300 miles away, and the boat was being launched in the morning. Technically, you're supposed to apply two coats, but we ended up with one, very thin, coat that looked a bit odd, as last years (Danish, and a different co lour) coat showed through in a nice mottled pattern. We'll let you know how it gets on.
Moving on, our propeller takes a special waterproof grease, and this time I not only brought the grease (hurrah!) but also a nice new grease gun with which to apply it. This lasted exactly one squirt, whereupon it expired and refused to cooperate (something to do with the fluidity of the grease). Fortunately the yard had a decent gun otherwise we wouldn't have a working propeller.
Once afloat, we discovered the battery charger had blown up. A soon as you lifted the bunk the smell of fried electronics hit you. According to the marina, there had been a mains spike recently which had blown up the chargers in a number of boats. Ironically, if I'd left the thing unplugged when I visited two weeks earlier, we'd be alright. Ours is (was) a posh computer based thing, that is now suitable only as a boat anchor. £300 later, we now have a new one - which of course predictably doesn't fit in the hole left by the old one, so another day was spent improvising a new mounting place.
Then we discovered the water leak. One of the tribulations with boats is the raft of small jobs you have to deal with after you've not used them for a while, and a fresh water hose had been disturbed and leaked once brought up to pressure. Having filled the boat with tons of water, the system has to be drained to fix the hose...
Meanwhile of course, the weather was glorious. Brilliant sunshine, nice breeze. Excellent for sailing..