0034 - Dale to Milford Haven

Dale got a little too choppy in the morning and by lunchtime, it became mildly unpleasant, and a little too rough to even roll out the genoa to have a look at it properly without the wind possibly tearing it more.

Either way, the genoa is out of service, I have a few sails on board and I think, at this point, that I have a spare one that will fit...I think...


Leaving this pontoon is an easy decision.

With a few things needing to be looked at/or fixed we decided to take a few days in a marina. Need to check out the top of the mast, change or fix the sail, repair a leak in a window and get the AIS Transponder working again...if possible.


...the problems are small now, but big problems have small beginnings...Milford Marina is the closest marina and only about 40 mins away...so we're gonna go there...

Milford Haven sounds like a lagoon with quaint anchorages, it is, in fact, a haven for huge cargo ships and tankers, the landscape is littered with a mix of modern industrial structures and very old ones...and it didn't even take 30 minutes to get all the way to the entrance of the marina...

Milford Marina has a sea-lock that you have to go through in order to enter the marina, so I know the water in here will be flat and calm, with no waves to deal with.

Nice calm water, perfect for going up the mast for an inspection - going up a mast in any kind of swell or anything like that - is an experience best to be avoided, I feel...

Getting into this marina mid-afternoon and wanting to get to work right away, I hauled out the pressure washer and gave the boat a good wash, it's amazing how much dirt you collect on your boat while on the water. Not to mention all the crystallized salt all over every surface that slowly clouds all the windows onboard.

Pressure washing anything is a satisfying job, but blasting all the algae, salt and scrubbing all the stains off the decks that have accumulated over months of constant use was nice - you always seem to forget the way things are supposed to look...as this day ended, tomorrow I'll oil the teak and repairs can get underway...

And finally sitting down, Chloe decided it was time 'lap time'.

The next day was nice and sunny and dried out all the teak on deck after yesterday's power washing...and with it being a dry day with light winds - today will be ideal for taking down the sail and having a proper look at the damage to the sail...

And while I tended to the teak, the crew took care of security and some other cat business - like sunbathing and relaxing while I do everything...

Changing the sail was a disaster, getting it down was easy, sure - but I discovered the spare sail I had was not the one I thought it was, but then I remembered I had given my spare genoa to a yachtsman that needed one for his boat many months ago.


I totally forgot about that...tbh, the old sail I had was much heavier and needed a few repairs to make it good again but enough for the chap I helped - oh well - I had a small jib but that was just far too small, but I do have an old mainsail that I can try out.

Managing to actually get the old mainsail onto the furling gear was a task, but I got it on and it was kinda like a gennaker, not quite a jib, not quite a genoa...but I wasn't happy about the shape of the sail, and it didn't furl too well - no good - I need to get the genoa repaired, and that means money.


A quick google search revealed one Sailmaker close by. I hesitated to call them as I knew what was coming, a big bill. I eventually just called them to ask a rough price to repair as the sail needs a new UV strip to reinforce the sail properly...

The company I called was called Ratsey's (link above) - and I spoke to a chap called Denzel, a very nice and pleasant dude to deal with, and he gave me a rough price to replace the UV strip - and not that his price was high - it was just outside our budget - as I suspected.


I explained the issue regarding the tear, and he suggested there might be another way to make it usable again but would need to see the sail to make an accurate assessment but might be able to make a repair for a lot less money - I liked the sound of that plus he suggested a free pontoon that we could use nearby while the sail was being looked at...this all sounded like progress...

As I was getting ready to leave the marina to make my further inland to where the Sailmaker (Ratseys) is located...I got talking to the fella that owns the small yacht docked to mine, Lee, and he offered to give me a lift in his car over to Ratseys - perfect....better progress.


Once to Ratseys the sail was rolled out and inspected, as luck would have it - a repair could be made that was much more palatable for my bank to digest. A couple of thousand stitches to fix all the loose panels, a patch, and some sailmaker magic and it would be good for a while longer - or until I get some cash to make a proper repair.....they also offered to drop it off at the marina later on - the same day.

If you happen to need a sail repaired - I can personally recommend this company, they really helped me out a lot, were easy to deal with - and went above and beyond - my kind of people...I was super happy with both their service and the work they did to my sail - and that the biggest problem was now taken care of. Progress.


As minor repairs carried on into the evening, Chloe kept a close watch for strangers...

Next was the mast. In speaking with Lee I learned that he was going up his own mast the next day with some help from another dude, Captain Mike - the vessel just next to his...so I simply asked if they would mind winching me up my mast, and 'no problem' was the answer I got- putting my life in the hands of strangers is a bit unusual for me - but I had to get up there to check things out.

The next morning they were going up Lees mast and as they did so, I took down the makeshift sail and put the newly repaired one back on.


Before too long I was being hauled up my own mast, 53ft in the air from the top of the mast, at the hands of strangers...

Inspection over, and I am pleased to announce there were no problems to report, just one pulley that had got turned around somehow and that's what didn't look right from the deck - an easy fix, but all the ariels, weather gear, and wiring, all fine, I even had a look at radar fittings on the way down - no problems there either...


So that means whatever is preventing the AIS from transmitting is down below, I suspected that we had lost an ariel, or expected to find a badly corroded or damaged one - but all was well.

Not long after coming down from the mast, I spied a cat on the pontoon...I, naturally, went to get a look at this cat - not sure if it had wandered onto the pontoon by mistake or if it was a boat cat...

Barry is just a young cat but has already mastered getting on and off yachts, I saw this cheeky little chap all over the marina - on different boats, sneaking in under the spray hoods, you would just see a tail disappearing on some anonymous yacht...


This was his marina - he was having a whale of a time - I saw him at night too - out prowling about - just going about his cat-business. He also lives with a dog, and I'm not sure the dog has even noticed that he lives with a cat - all that dog could see was the ball - so focused on that ball.

It was nice to see another boat cat - the first we've seen so far! I know there are more out there, we just never see them...but Barry and his bold self was just a little too hard not to notice...


My own crew kept watch while I was away from the boat visiting Barry...

Later that night, in a tangle of wires, I located the error with the AIS, a partially corroded connection, or that's what I think the issue was anyway - and after putting it all back together, and doing a master reset on the AIS unit - it began to transmit - sorted, for now at least...


And also, getting Lee to help with the holding of allen key on the outside of the leaking window, allowed me to re-caulk the fitting and seal the leak. It's an odd job to do as I can't be on both sides of the window at once, but that's that done

With all jobs, plus some others, done, we can now leave here the next afternoon, time for a hot shower a big dinner and a good sleep as our next trip is the longest one yet...


The next morning, as we were preparing to go, I saw another cat! Out, taking his owner for a walk...

This cat is also called Barry. What are the odds? the first two cats we meet, and they are both called Barry...he lives on a yacht with another cat in the far end of the marina, it was just a nice special surprise to find yet another boat cat in the same marina...

I would have loved to chat to his owner a bit more, but we were just getting ready to leave, so we had to say goodbye rather abruptly - but I enjoyed meeting this little cat, even if just for a quick minute...


We would soon be on our way to Lands End...

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