Sara and I headed over to Barca with our friend Eilidh on Friday for a quick weeks break, but we had a weather forecast indicating rain for the first couple of days – and boy they were accurate and did it rain!
However Sunday arrived with clear skies and sunshine and suddenly the world looked a brighter happier place and we spent the day on the tour buses having a whistle stop tour of the main attractions around the city (never seen the city so busy – it was manic) with Eilidh taking lots of photos.
One of the trips we went on was at night, and with everything lit up it was an unusual and interesting touristy thing to do. We also met up with Nico + his Mum who was over visiting from Buenos Aires plus Marcus & Katherine + bump “Greta” . It was particularly good to share some time with Mrs Benedit and its quite clear who Nico gets his charm from 🙂
On Monday we were setting off for Sitges; Now where we are berthed is in front of the crane where boats are lifted in and out and naturally there are times when boats are tied up waiting to get lifted out thus reducing our space to exit. This is compounded by the the fact that the stern walks to starboard when reversing out, but ideally we want the stern to go to port. Anyhow this has never been an issue as the bowthruster allows us to manoeuvre easily enough.
Today it was a bit breezy and a couple of boats were tied up waiting to get lifted out by the crane; and out I went in reverse – went to use the bowthruster but it only provided limited power -I could have blown harder!! Well some sticky palm agility with engine and rudder enabled us to get out of a tricky situation. Nico noticed what was happening and jumped onto the boat next door to help swing the front of the boat around and that was a big help, as we had a 35 ft boat in a 34.5ft space.
I was puzzled as to how the bowthruster wasn’t working but did recall the last time we used the boat I thought it wasn’t up to scratch, but I subsequently put it to the back of my mind as it wasn’t a big issue. Thankfully Sara had noticed that when activating the bowthruster switch the chartplotter was switching off indicating a drop in power. I asked the chap in this photo for some advice but he obviously didn’t want to get involved….and he just looked to the sky and whistled.
I felt it would probably be battery related, and decided to use the engine for a while to see if the alternator could pull the battery back up – but after an hour or so the problem remained. As I was uncertain as to what was actually causing the problem I thought it prudent to go back into our berth, which is another story in itself – but we made it in.
I decided to leave the battery charger on all through the rest of the day & night, and in the morning it seemed we were in business as the bowthruster was a bit stronger, and as there were no boats at the back of us out we went with no drama. Sadly we had no real breeze today which meant we had to motorsail to Sitges with Eilidh at the helm dodging lobster pots along the coast and all under a really warm blue sky – lovely.
We radioed Aiguadolc Marina (Sitges) and they told us they had a berth available and a mariniero would be on hand to show us to our berth upon arrival. Before going into the berth I tried the bowthruster (not that I needed it) and blow me the problem was back again. O’ deep joy I heard myself say!! Anyhow no point in phasing myself out over it so we headed into town and had a lovely day and night in and around this beautiful town and marina.
On Wednesday morning I decided to head up the coast to Port Ginesta where we could kill two birds with the one stone. In the evening we could meet up with our friends Pete and Debbie who are back after a big motorbike trip around Europe. Also with Port Ginesta having lots of boat type services/chandleries I should be able to identify and fix the problem. It was quite funny/deja vu, as Port Ginesata allocated us the exact same berth that we had been in the last time. After the boat was tied up Sara and Eilidh headed off to the beach while I got the floorboards up to check things out.
Now the old adage of “think cheap” in other words check the simplest things first had me checking the wiring, and I found in the engine compartment that I had, (presumably when I was working on the engine) inadvertantly tripped the isolated switch for the engine battery, which is the same battery used by the bowthruster & I thought, there we go easy fix………………o’ no it wasn’t.
I checked the battery and it was only reading 10v indicating a cell was away (dead) in the battery. I decided we needed a new starter battery but it had to be one to fit exactly into the wooden box where it is stored. From previous experience I was not terribly optimistic of finding my exact requirements but I took note of the dimensions etc and was astonished that one of the shops Marina Boats had the exact size of battery I needed with the bonus of providing higher amperage. Now the funny thing is that whilst I could not speak Spanish, and the chap in the shop couldn’t speak English, I still managed to come away with a 20% discount – result. Back to the boat I went, fitted the battery put it on charge – squared the boat back up, and had everything spick and span before the girls got back from the beach…….see there is a God !
We had a lovely night with Pete and Debbie and as ever their company generated lots of laughter with Pete regaling Eilidh about life in South Africa, Motorbikes, Chilli Oil on Pizzas, the Meaning of Life, merits of Malboro Lights etc with Debbie keeping him in line……………….great time had by all and wonderful to be warm enough to be eating outside.
Thursday morning we were heading back to Barcelona and again it was a mixed day of sailing/motorsailing with a number of cruise liners and commercial ships going in and out of Barcelona, and once again I was impressed by AIS as it amongst other information it provides is the ships destination. One knows clearly that they are coming down the coast and will be turning into the approaches to Barca. AIS certainly does gives another level of comfort to aid decision making – brilliant piece of kit IMHO.
Going back in to our berth the bowthruster was a bit better but nowhere near its proper performance level – so once again the girls headed off the boat and away to the shops…..
Meanwhile I got back to (hopefully) finally tracking down the remaining fault. I will now cut this story short as you are bound to be bored. I found, believe it or not three loose connections on the circuitry all on back of the 1-both-2 switch! Also why is that you need to be made of flexible rubber to get into most things on a boat??
I was actually delighted to find these loose connections and once tightened up properly the bowthruster is back to full power – what a pallaver – you couldn’t make it up!!
I felt bad that so much of my time had to be spent working on the boat – but heigh ho – at least it gave Sara and Eilidh plenty of “Girl Time”