On Thursday 24th April, Elizmor went on her first little trip in over 13 YEARS!!!
My dad was up for the week helping out again, as he has been doing a lot of lately – I am very grateful for the considerable amount of time and effort he is spending aboard Elizmor. It’s also nice for us to be able to spend some time together (although it’s pretty expensive keeping him in a constant flow of Earl Grey tea). His latest project has been sorting out the wiring for all of the navigation equipment, so I will have to dedicate another blog post to that, as Dad has done a fantastic job.
My ex-boyfriend James also came up to stay on Elizmor for two days – he previously visited back in December, when Elizmor was still on the hard in the yard. It was a bit different coming back to her afloat this time! James and I lived together for two years on our 37ft sailing boat in Gosport (which I continued to live on in Brighton after we broke up, and need to sell now I have bought Elizmor), so he enjoys taking the mickey out of me for having a washing machine and a microwave. Apparently I have gone to the dark side. Well, if this is what the dark side looks like, I’m definitely a devil at heart!
So with my two excellent crew on hand, I planned a ‘day out’ on Elizmor. It was more of a ‘day in’, as we caught Thursday morning’s tide to go through the lock into the big inner Albert Edward Dock in Preston. The lock operates from HW -1 to HW +2 so instead of having to get up really early and then come back to our berth three hours later, I decided that we should stay in the dock overnight and catch Friday morning’s tide back out again. It turned out to be a perfect plan and an awesome first run-around on Elizmor.
We spent the whole day going around the dock getting used to Elizmor, giving the engine & steering a good test, and making sure she was happy. I think she was pretty happy alright – she must feel great about getting her propeller turning in some water (albeit horrible thick green algae water!) after 13 years of being ashore. It certainly made me happy!
We had a good continuous run of nearly six hours in the morning. Elizmor manoeuvred surprisingly well, and we quickly found out about her vivacious kick to port, which made coming alongside port-side-to pretty easy and allowed for some nice pivoting on the spot. We took full advantage of the miles of empty quayside to practice berthing alongside, and I felt quite comfortable with it after a few attempts. On James’ first practice run, the steering got a bit jammed just as he was coming alongside – luckily he had performed a perfect manoeuvre and we quickly stepped ashore with some lines so we could tie up and investigate the steering. We solved the problem so it shouldn’t happen again, but there are some other bits on the steering system that we noticed need attention before setting off on a longer passage.
We stopped for some lunch at that point, as we were already tied up… a quick step ashore and stroll down to the Green Frog burger van was a hit all round! The weather was absolutely amazing – I had chosen Thursday as the weather forecast looked particularly good with very light winds (except for the obligatory squall that came through later just as we were mooring up for the evening), and we ended up relaxing (sunbathing?!) on the roof for an hour or so after lunch. The next day it was absolutely chucking it down with rain and drizzle the whole day, and we just couldn’t believe we had been sat out on the roof in our t’shirts the previous day – so perfect.
That afternoon, we continued with our trials – not before making the most of a photo opportunity! After lunch James and I took Elizmor back out into the basin, leaving Dad on the quayside with his trusty camera gear, so he could take some photos of us underway:
After we got our chief engineer back onboard, we continued with our trials, which included running down into the engine room every ten minutes or so to turn the smoke alarm off! When we gave her some hard revs, she suddenly started burning off a lot of oil, which seems to have come from the saturated lagging on the engine exhaust. We’re hoping it will just burn off with continued use, but because it made the boat pretty uninhabitable by filling the cabins up with oily smoke, we’re going to change the lagging anyway as it definitely needs to be eliminated before a passage.
Dad also spent a considerable amount of time covered in thick grease, as the stern gland seemed to be a little hot to touch. It shouldn’t be hot as if it gets too warm it could seize the bearing. Dad & James had a thorough look at it, so I had to cruise around in neutral for a while whilst they tried backing it off a bit and pushing more grease through it. It seemed to do the trick, but we’ll keep an eye on it again.
Later that evening, we could see some rain clouds building up, but the wind seemed to be going away from us. Nevertheless we had had a good day of running and decided to head in to the public jetty which would be our berth for the evening. Of course, just as we were coming alongside, the wind changed and big old squall hit us! Lovely. We were blown off the pontoon on our first attempt just as it hit, so decided to hang back and wait for it to clear a little – James was great at helping out with the boat handling in tight quarters. I need to remember not to be afraid to use the power when I need it – boy does she have power, and boy does that straight-through dry Gardner exhaust sound good! Our second attempt was much tidier, and we came alongside nicely.
Back in the winter I met a couple who live on their wooden fishing boat, built by Nobles, and not too dissimilar from Elizmor (before she was converted). They had obviously seen us playing out in the basin and came to greet us as we came alongside, so we had a lovely chat and then joined them in the pub later for a couple of pints. Literally just a couple of pints though – that went straight to our heads, and by then it was 10pm and time to go back to the boat and cook some fajitas. Elizmor’s domestic batteries are knackered, there was no electricity on the public jetty, and it was a bit late to fire up the genny, so cooking by candlelight it was!
On Friday morning it was time to catch the tide back through the basin. The good old Gardner started fine again, and we set up our lines to spring the bow out through the wind. I was at the helm, with James nearby to help out, but the whole manoeuvre went very well. I kicked her into astern and her lovely port prop walk swung the bow out to starboard, until I could take back the revs and let the wind do the rest as we slipped our spring. We were all tied back up alongside her usual quayside berth in the outer basin by 9.30am.
James departed back for the south coast to begin his last term back at naval college (he is an engineering cadet officer with Maersk and qualifies this year, with a job already lined up for September). Dad sat down and wrote another list of things we need to fix after this little sea trial… and I went back to bed! I was exhausted.
Elizmor was wonderful. It’s given us a few more things to do before setting off on our voyage down south, but as the old boatyard saying goes, we’re “getting there!”