Squeeks and Leaks

Actually the word “squeek”  does not do justice to the sound – it was  more like metal being torn apart by some huge force – magnified 100 fold and resonating through the cabin every time we pitched and rolled in the swell. The sail to Villamoura should have been magnificent – but I spent it finally tracing the fresh water leak ( more on this later) and going over every part of the mast and rigging to see where this terrible sound was coming from .

On our previous passage we had come to the conclusion that the hot dry weather had dried up all the  metal joints so we had taken the boom and vang off and greased all the joints meticulously as well as packing them with extra washers to lesson the movement. And now it was even worse!

The news on the leak front was bad. Having worked through every other joint I finally discovered a hairline crack in the tank at the site of a professional repair some 5 years ago. Only when heeled with a full tank was it obvious where the problem lay.

Then there was Villamoura. We were moored next to a Karioke bar wherein were packed half the football hooligans of  Great Britain and I got a severe bout of touristitis – the main symptom of which is a complete loss of sense of humour bordering on paranoia.

I am glad to say that the next day brought a return of sanity. We took out the extra washers – hosed everything with fresh water and crossed our fingers that  the fact that a meticulous examination of the mast revealed no problems probably meant that it was just dry joints resonating through the sounding box of the mast column. I did a Sikkaflex repair of the leak  which held under moderate pressure , and started negotiations to get a new tank made and shipped out. I would be perfectly happy to continue coastal cruising with this repair – but a 20 day crossing of the Atlantic requires a totally reliable water supply. So first we have to get hold of a similar tank to copy , then decide where we are going to be when its done and arrange shipping – hmm , complex – but do-able – and we have time to spare.

Then there was Villamoura. I gradually became aclimatised  . There was a charming group of Brit boaters  who had made it their home , the louts of our first night were replaced by an altogether nicer crowd , it was spotlessly clean ,the buildings were not unnatractive and the staff were pleasant and helpful. It cost £35 a night , but in October this drops to £14 and by the time we left I was sanguine enough to realise that with its do it yourself workshops and airport nearby , it had a lot going for it as a place to carry out our tank replacement. We will see.

Overall it brought home the fact that if we manage to complete the trip , it is not the sailing that will be the major challenge , it will be keeping the ship in good working order that will stretch us.

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