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Back to the water
-- April 1st to 17th, 2011 --
April 1st 2011 - Saltimbanque floats !
(Apologies to our faithful readers who have already followed the details of our adventurous return to the water directly on the SaltimBlog. You will recognize the beginning of this page and find new events a bit lower. For the others, this is a good occasion to keep up to speed!)

After long months of hibernation, hull and keel outside, Saltimbanque finally got back to his natural environment after an eventful day...
It all started serenely: less than two hours before the official back-to-water time, we still have a gaping hole (missing a valve) and our propeller is fixed to ...nothing... The harbourmaster ensures nonetheless that everything will be fine. Indeed, with one little hour of delay, Saltimbanque is flying away on the travlift and elegantly landing in the water.

First checks: no water coming in, the boat is still as waterproof as the tin can it imitates :-D Even more reassuring, the engine starts off very quickly! Try forwards, try backwards, and here we go, freed from the straps and sailing to our place.

The moment of Truth...
Putputputputputput (that’s the engine)

Putput...put...putput...puuut...put...........put....................no more put….

Starting off again ?

No put....

No put at all...

Kaput the engine...

Well, plan B : we take the oars out. In that case, the steering oar is very well ( !!) secured at the front of the boat. We sort of tie the oar to the boat with a piece of string (the real hook is lost in the chaos inside)... despite Camille’s dexterity, the good southern wind is inexorably blowing us out of the harbour...

Damned! A plan C anyone? (the sails are neatly folded away for the winter at the bottom of the bunk, they won’t help out this time...)

The harbour’s men, having laughed enough about us already, finally got their little dinghy out and towed us to our place.

The rest of the weekend we spent refitting the boat: changing the oil, cleaning the deck, folding and setting the sails, checking the mast...

Conclusion : do not ever trust a joker of an engine – especially if you need it on a 1st of April!

The steering oar : « Well, I’m very glad I took part ... I’ll try and do better next time ! »
April 2nd-3rd 2011 – The work goes on...
After our adventure with the engine the harbour’s mechanic (who had just set the engine back onboard himself that being said...) came back to see what was going on. We purge the air from the fuel circuit and it starts off again, as if nothing ever happened. The mechanic does not trust our settling filter so much – which is, indeed, a bit rusty on the top...
During the rest of the weekend the engine starts and runs without an issue and we decide that the matter is closed. Perhaps was there some air left in the circuit after working on it this winter. We will take a spare filter nonetheless – just in case...

Besides this everything looks great: the new seawater valve seems waterproof, the propeller joint finetuned and the The brand new silent-blocks in aluminium should solve the tendency to corrosion spotted on the engine beamset.

Our engine with its new silent-blocks
We also take advantage of having at least access of water to keep working and cleaning here and there.
It's also the pleasant time to re-rig the boat! The boom is back in place, then the genoa on its furler, the main sail is also installed... We get familiar again with the favorite gestures of sailors, doing knots! Eventually on a boat everything holds together with little ropes tied to each other !

Saltimbanque is all clean!

Sails look so nice to him...
April 8th 2011 – An unwelcomed present...
The day of my 29th birthday begins with getting the life raft back. Our last chance in case of emergency has been serviced by the competent Dutch authorities, and its given back to us certified until 2014. In addition we get a nice picture of it while inflated: good to know it is suppose to capsize back upright by itself!
Once this big pack being stuffed in the car coffer, let's drive to the port. As usual just a routine check of everything inside the boat. Hmm, what are these little drops of water in the engine room ? Boaf, not much... I open then the water valve to have access to water onboard.

Indeed, water has access onboard, but not only to the sink! Directly through the valve, spurting on my hand !! Looking a bit closer, the valve plastic is split on about 2 cm long vertically, fortunately above the tap itself. The boat is thus waterproof when the tap is off.

A bit nervous and worried that a brand new valve just suddenly breaks without warning, I hurry back to the harbour master to see how we can manage the situation. They feel a bit guilty I think and promise me to crane the boat again the week after to install a bigger valve.

Nice valve, but short life time...
Thus we can't sail during the week-end, but I take time to clean everything in the boat: holds, small hidden corners, floor etc. The boat is nice and cozy again !
April 9th 2011 - Spring tyding up!
On this Saturday we have a great mission to achieve: clean up the guest room from everything we stored there during the winter, to free room for 2 friends who come to visit the week after! We stuff the Clio car with everything we need to carry onboard: 3 oilies, a pilor, a bimini (clean... washed 3 times at 90°!), a bag of fishing stuff, 2 boxes with spare parts (shackles, electric wires, oil etc.), 3 gaz bottles, 3 jerrycans, a mail sail and the life raft still in the coffer!

"Well, we also need to fit in ourselves you know...
- Ah yes that's not false, let's arrange everything a bit differently then!"

And it's been a looooong tyding up day, not the funniest thing to do when it's 20°, nice and sunny and perfect wind conditions... After a few hours the boat is ready and we also installed the new pilot!

And this stuff needs to be stored in that narrow space right ?

Installing the brand new pilot, the other one died last summer.

The spare main sail
We close the day preparing the big spinnaker into its sock, hoping to test this funny thing at first opportunity. We also haul our spare main sail up, a former main sail from a First 30 that we bought on e-bay, and asked the sail maker to make it fit for Saltimbanque. It looks a bit less efficient than our mail sail with its long slats, but it's good enough for a spare sail. We hope we can also try it soon...
April 10th 2011 - We want to be on a boat this week-end !!!!
It's nice and warm, it's too frustrating, we want to be on a boat...
We find the solution and rent 2 kayaks in the Biesbosch natural reserve and go for a superb trip in the Dutch swamps surronded by birds :o)
It floats, it's wet, it slides silently on the water, yes, we are definitively on a boat !
April 17th 2011- Getting prepared in altitude
Still desperately waiting for the new valve, we forget the sea for 2 days and go for the fresh air of the famous Dutch montains... well at least from the highest point of the Netherlands, 323m !

Can we see the sea from up here ?...
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