The fate of birds

I was given a little book by my daughter recently written by Ben Crawshaw entitled ‘Catalan Castaway’. It’s about a guy (Ben) who builds a small open boat and sails/rows it around the coast a few miles south of Barcelona in Spain. This is not about building a boat but using it and it makes good reading. He got me thinking about the stories I am telling about Anne Marie so I thought I’d do what my daughter told me to do sometime ago which is “to make the blog more interesting” (whatever that means) – well actually it means I have to make the blog more interesting – hence the title.

So today is February 17, 2019 and it is a lovely calm sunny morning with high tide about 0900 at Rye on the south coast of England. I shall go down shortly (10.30) and start Anne Marie‘s engine and see what happens.

I have been pottering away in the garage recently dealing with the engine control panel. I am adding an electronic push button solenoid to switch the engine off as at the moment we pull a piece of string. Over the past couple of weeks I have been manufacturing some brackets to support the engine control lines (Ultraflex gear change and the accelerator) and now I can start the engine, change gear and accelerate from the cockpit and all the instruments are there.

bracket for accelerator cable
accelerator bracket top view
gear change bracket side view
gear change bracket top view

I got a ‘stop solenoid’ (E-bay, China) about four weeks ago .
A WHAT I hear you ask? “A ‘stop-solenoid’.” I respond. “It’s used to switch the engine off by pushing a button in the cockpit. When you press the button it activates a motor which pulls a wire about 40mm (1 1/2 inches) and this stops the engine. When you release the button the wire relaxes and the engine can be restarted. At the moment I pull a piece of string.

The Stop Solenoid with easy to understand instructions

Anyway, I need a ‘pull wire when activated’ solenoid but unfortunately I was sent was the wrong one. This one pulls when switched off which means the engine would be ‘unstartable’. I am currently awaiting a replacement but it is being shipped by sea from China so I’m not holding my breath. The people selling it were very kind and very nice and did not quibble so I do have a spare solenoid if anybody needs one.

Having said that I have found a way (I think) of making this work but it means the solenoid will be powered up all the time and so if it fails I will not be able to run the engine – so on second thoughts I need the other one.

Apart from it being winter, the reason nothing much is happening on Anne Marie at the moment is because we are refurbishing an office for our business and I’m spending most of the week there. It is colder inside the office than it is outside so I’m not quite sure of the benefits. It is however putting Anne Marie on the back boiler for a few months.

So what have I been doing ….?

– I have been painting the steering pedestal which is getting better but still only has undercoat on it.
– My friend Alan is rebuilding all the cockpit seating, turning two planks of Iroko into slats and making a wonderful job of it. I have just received another batch of black Sika Flex 291i which Alan is going to use to create the black stripes beloved by boat owners. She will look lovely when done.

Iroko planks waiting for ripping into slats for the cockpit seats

– The most recent thing I have been doing of note is salvaging some iron ingots. Because we have changed the layout of Anne Marie and put the galley on the port side we have a slight, very slight, list to port due to the extra weight and the boat is not quite in balance. We have removed an old goods lift from the office (it used to be a bank) and I have salvaged three very heavy cast-iron counter-weights from it. I shall place these in Anne Marie on the starboard side to counter the list. It certainly can’t do any harm. I am encasing them in resin to protect them against the vagaries of seawater. I will then place them in the boat and if it works I will resin them in place so they can’t move about when we are bobbing about on the waves.
– Lastly you may have read about my slight error with the engine sea-cock recently. This has resulted in a dirty old bilge and I have a job to do to clean it up. I have started but it will take a deal of time as it is very awkward working upside down in a tight spot. Fortunately the boat is not moving about much. I have got a job to do to prevent siphoning of raw water into the engine and this will require some thought and research on the Vetus web-site.

Anyway the little birds are tweeting and the sky is blue. The wind is calm and all seems good with the world apart from The B word which seems to be dominating every waking thought (or not depending on whose side you are on).

One last thought in the last couple of weeks we have seen a marked decline in our wild bird population. We normally have a large contingent of blue tits, great tits, coal tits, sparrows, dunnocks, robins, blackbirds, chaffinches and goldfinches. However yesterday I saw a pair of sparrowhawks so I suspect they’ve been helping themselves. We also have about 15 magpies zooming around so they are probably helping themselves as well. Not a good time to be a little bird I suspect.

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Anne Marie (aka Mike Stephens)

I am a well traveled, globe-trotting vessel with great lines. I am told I give a comfortable ride for my years. Although a little worn out I am looking forward to getting back onto the water after a full service.

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