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  • Writer's pictureHeath Tredell

011 – New Boat Owners get making a good boat great!

Sincere apologies for a lack of blog posts, it seems that this part of the website has been neglected whilst I wrote the blog entries for Pookie’s MasterChef UK experience. However, now I’m back to bore you like never before with some more episodes of our life on a boat experiences.


You may recall on the 15th September 2021 we actually bought the boat in Cartagena in Spain. The previous owners had offered to sell us some of their items to make the transition and moving in smoother. However, when we realised that they wanted 100 euros for their used bath towels and an extra 100 euros for a broom mop and bucket we decided against it and immediately after signing for the boat Pookie and I went shopping.

Despite having completed the deal and having handed over the full money, we let them stay on the boat for a few days to arrange a moving van whilst we bought everything, from pots, pans and cutlery to bedding, pillows and those jars you put your sugar coffee and tea into. We FILLED our hire car to the ceiling and I then immediately took Pookie to the airport to catch her flight back to the UK.

I helped the owners move their items from the boat to a large van they’d hired and they kindly handed the keys over. I took a few photo’s and decided to move our things in which by this time had exploded to more than one car full.

The next morning my sister’s ex husband and his girlfriend came to visit and I also got a call from the local boat repair yard. They wanted to get the boat back on the “hard” (ie out of the water) so that they could undertake the copper coating that needed doing.

My first problem was that although I’d learnt where most of the light switches were, I had no clue how to start the engines! I tried to call and ask the ex-owners but he replied that he wanted nothing more to do with us nor the boat and would only help if we apologised to all concerned and handed back the 4,000 euros he thought we shouldn’t have.

Many people passing the boat congratulated me on the purchase including a couple from Belgium who had lived on their boat for 19 years. I explained that I knew nothing about the boat and despite his 82 years, he kindly offered to look to see how to start the engines. It turns out that Sawasdeekat not only had keys (apparently some modern catamarans do not) but also it has at least three kill switches in two more locations that need to be turned on to get the engines started and propellors turning. We eventually managed to find them and hey presto the engines were operational! I told him the ex Dutch owner refused to tell me where the kill switch was, or remind me about a switch needed to flush the water maker. (Apparently it would need flushing 3 times a week or it would break and be an expensive repair. I was low on fresh water but he’d taken the key needed to unlock the filler cap so I couldn’t top up with a hose). Anyway, the man said Belgians have a saying that in business Dutch people con you or they have forgotten to... (I hadn’t even told him about the outrageous amounts of money the sellers wanted for their second-hand items) so I think the saying probably has some merit with this couple.

Shortly after the helpful Belgian left, the director of the repair dock asked me to move the boat to the yard quickly as some bad weather was coming in, and they couldn’t lift the boat if it was windy. The plan was to apply the new copper coat treatment specified in the survey.


Your First Move Sir!

So here I was, I hadn’t sailed since a week four years ago and my last lesson was in 2019 on a cat 3 metres shorter and 1.5m narrower. Now I was in a tight marina spot opposite an £8m yacht and as yet still uninsured!!!

So, my next issue was moving a 48 foot long 26 foot wide catamaran over to the boat yard on my own. Until this point I had only “parked” catamarans under the expert watch of a instructor, so I explained this to the manager and he promptly offered to send some helpers; who, without speaking a word of English, were actually very helpful. I was super nervous driving the boat for the first time as the wind was blowing me along the quayside and all I seemed to be doing was heading into the multi million pound motor-yacht opposite. I managed to miss this and also managed (with a lot of help from dockyard staff) to steer my brand new to me and yet to be insured 8m wide boat (plus fenders) into the 9m wide concrete jetty. However we were successful and the boat was out of the water. I even had a beautiful view out to see from my location in the yard... everything was rosey!!

The manager was not exaggerating when he said a storm was coming in. The winds were so strong I actually wondered whether it would stay on the little wooden blocks. The first night didn’t go so good though, the wind the yard Director had mentioned arrived with vengeance and a torrential rainfall pounded the boat and shook her on the wooden blocks. A loud alarm woke me at around 3am and meant that I had to find the light switches in the dark and find out what was going on. The alarm was very loud and finally I worked out that it was underneath me. I lifted one of the floor covers and saw the bilges filling up with water. How the heck could this happen that my bilges were filling up with water.. on land! I lifted out the alarm to look at it and it stopped. It has two connectors on the back that set the alarm off when wet (who knew?). I lifted all the other covers and finally realised that an 8” porthole window was ajar. The rain from the storm had pounded the boat so much as to let in a lot of water and filled up the bilges. With the storm still raging I closed the window and decided to return to bed.


In the morning my recently bought flip flops and doormat together with a 20ft tall ladder that had been at the back of the boat had all gone over the edge of the yard and into the sea. Many trees in the town had been uprooted and thankfully I wasn’t left near the dock edge very long, this turned out to be a real blessing as a river inlet meant there were also lots of mosquito’s here. I was then moved to the back of the yard where work started on the copper coat. It’d only be a week they said…. I got the insurance as quick as I could!!


Better Boat Bits I Bought......

Whilst I was waiting for the coppercoating to be done I went Shopping!! Being a land lubber, one of the first items to get was a new TV. Here you can see the old one on the wall to the right. It was square (not rectqangle like modern ones) and was only about 15"

So that had to go and was replaced with a sparkly new 32"

Also what had to go was the old oven. The picture below shows the old one of the left that seemingly had one heat and a very questionable timer. The new one on the right was an LG 4 in 1.

So I replaced the old oven with not one but two new ovens. An LG 4 in 1 and a Sage 3 in 1. Between the two Pookie could now Roast, Slow Cook,. Microwave, Air Fry, Grill, Steam, Convection and something I'd never heard of called "inverter!" You can see here the old oven on the left was quite tall though and the new LG was slimmer so the carpenter had to add a fake grill above to make it look nice in the space.


I bought a whole heap of flags of just about every country in the Medditerranean knowing I’d need most of them at some point and also asked the yard to do a whole list of improvements whilst Pookie was away:

I asked them to complete the much needed Coppercoat Hull and install an extra 1kw of solar panels to the roof by way of a stainless frame.


I installed some Flexiteek - which by the way made the boat look fantastic! and a WIFI point for that much needed TV.


I asked them to fit a CCTV Camera system to inside and out so that I could capture any funny or dramatic footage for whatever advantures awaited us. New Bathroom Taps make the ensuites look modern and we replaced all the bedroom lighting so that people could read in bed AND charge up their phone at the same time.


They fitted a sound bar for the TV for that extra bass and installed new full size toilets in each of the 4 ensuites. These allowed me to buy Bidet toilet seats that provided a heated seat, washed and dried your bum!! The idea behind this was to get rid of toilet paper that blocks WC systems..... and so we went from this ............. to this


I got them to add new outdoor speakers, a new Stereo system and a New Safety Line rescue system and a Grab Bag.


Some extra fenders and attachment points for the rear of the boat made adding rear fenders a doddle and protected the boat whilst in the Medditteranean marinas and finally a new forward Tent to give much needed shade on those hot summer days...


Other stuff included A new First Aid kit & spare handheld VHF radio, New Bimini covers around the rear cockpit, New sail covers with Lazy Jacks, A New Dinghy cover as the old one was pretty much past it, New LED ceiling lights throughout the boat and of course A New Name badge (Sawasdeekat) and decals. We thought it looked brilliant.


Some Boat Buys were not Brilliant ones

Now, Sawasdeekat had a 3kw generator attached to the Starbord Engine and now 2.2kw of Solar,. However, knowing that Pookie's cooking can be pretty harsh on the electric AND loved her Air Conditioning, I decided I didn’t want to run out so I also invested in a Fischer Panda 5000i neo generator. This last purchase was the worst one I could have made though. I say this because I had asked the yard to work out what size generator I needed and they assured me that the 5000i giving out 5kw would be fine. The 8kw would be better they said but that was an extra 4,000 euros! Having asked what the downside was they explained that the 5kw version did not charge its own starter battery!!


WHAT!?


You mean a generator that generates electricity can’t recharge the very battery that makes it start in the first place? This, I felt was a major oversight on the part of Fischer Panda, but at 4,000 euros less than the next model up, I decided to go for it. Instead, I opted to buy a car battery charger and fit it permanently to the battery. Then whenever the 220v electricity was running, it would then run the charger to recharge the generator battery. A clever fix I thought! ..

It turned out that after it was installed the air conditioning units would 50% of the time blow the generator fuses. The reason was that upon starting, the air conditioning units would “spike” a higher rate that the normal running rate. Over the next 6 months I would try and find ANYTHING that would resolve this. Eventually, after another 2,000 euros were spent, I had also installed two air-conditioning “soft starters” which would resolve the issue. Had I known all this I would have obviously bitten the bullet and opted for the larger 8kw generator.


Life in A Boat Yard

Now the downsides of never having learned a language is that sometimes it would be really handy; like for example when you are living on a boat in a yard full of non-English speaking boat workers. I genuinely started to talk to the Buddha here on the left.... didn't get many answers though.

So I would live in the boat on my own for the next 3 weeks, during which time I decided to go for daily runs and walks up the hills around the area. Here you can see the views from the hills were quite spectacular. Now if you're a Where's Wally fan you'll love this because in the picture below I've drawn a circle around Sawasdeekat... if you can't see it the answer is at the bottom of the page :-)

Luckily as well, Cartagena puts on many super festivals, street shows and displays. It does this so often that, as you can see from the photo above, it is actually quite a hot spot for cruise ships. It turned out that Mid September is Festival Time in Cartagena. For 10 days during the 2nd fortnight of September, Cartagena hosts the annual Carthaginians and Romans Festival. A huge festival site is transformed into an ancient city where both locals and tourists take part in the re-enactment of historical events which took place in the city during the Second Punic War. This huge camp, located next to the Estadio Cartagonova, is home to many temporary bars, food stalls and craft markets where participants, dressed in elaborate costumes, come to enjoy the festivities. Firework shows light up the sky every night and the sound of drums pound the air.


Were this the only thing going on that would be fine, but it hosts car shows, fun runs, open air pop concerts and even horse and cart events. Now I feel that Pookie and I are quite sociable animals, so it was a delight to meet Krissy & Paul at the Horse and Cart Show. They are fellow Brits hoping to sail to New Zealand. They thankfully introduced me to a whole group of English speaking sailors from all walks of life and most of which we are still in touch with some years later.


Back in the Marina and Back Home

And so, before I knew it, it was nearly Christmas. The boat, joyful in its resplendent clean and polished look was finally placed back into the water. Upon reversing out of the jetty it was immediately apparent one engine wasn’t working. I radio’d quickly back to the yard and hobbled back into the tight jetty only with one engine. In my naivety it turned out that I’d pressed the “neutral” button on the controller so it was driver error. Thankfully though by now I had plenty of friends willing to help me back into the marina!

My curious daughter Paris would come out and keep me company and also see the boat so that was a lovely family time to complete the year. I would leave Sawasdeekat in the marina over winter and return back to the UK for Christmas.  Pookie by now had finished her MasterChef experience and had to wait until it was televised. We used this time to good effect and had some lovely meals out at not one, not two but THREE Michelin starred restaurants. Pookie had worked with Gordon Ramsay in his restaurant in the middle of London and we booked a table so that we both could taste some of the fantastic foods that Pookie had cooked there as part of her experience on the show.


We also visited Heston Blumenthals Fat Duck restaurant to repeat an experience we had enjoyed before Covid lockdowns were imposed.


Finally we enjoyed a visit to the Hand & Flowers in Marlow as we were literally passing it on the way home. As ever the food there was fantasic and Pookie even made a short video about it. As you can imagine with all the excitement of MasterChef, food was very much the vogue of the time. January was filled with home improvements as my daughter Paris wanted a place of her own. So we applied to the council and they agreed we could convert our garage into living accommodation. This was a huge project and turned this empty space into a lovely place for her to enjoy.... anyway bye for now!!


You thought I'd forgotten didn't you!!


Well Where's Wally Fans here's the answer.... and That really was it for 2021, I will hopefully be able to write more often and bring you right back up to speed and date… Subscribe so you don’t miss any!


 

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