I finally managed to travel to Saoirse. It only took a 3,500 km drive to actually get there. In each direction. Not really an ordeal though after having been more or less prevented from leaving the Stockholm area during months of pandemic travel restrictions. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed the sense of freedom that travelling at your own pace without a real timetable offers. I would obviously have preferred to be at sea but a European road trip felt as close to that as I could get at the time. Particularly as the roads were much less congested than they usually are in July and the hotels were more or less empty and therefore also dirt cheap.
The trip also gave me the opportunity to spend some time in Rome, on the Amalfi Coast and on Sicily together with Morgan, his girlfriend Karen and his friend and flat mate Vincent. We also managed to meet up with Vincent’s dad (Ettore) and his girlfriend (Rosie) that were settling in to their new home in Trapani on the West Coast of Sicily. Ettore is roughly the same age as me and we have both had enough of corporate life and both decided to adopt a more bohemian lifestyle. We agreed that while we may not be perfect role models for the youngsters around us at this point in time, there is a whole world around them that can inform them of what society expects from them as young adults. Also, our window of opportunity as parents to influence them and prepare them for adult responsibilities is long gone by now and any corrective measures at this point in time is only doomed to backfire.
The main reason for the trip was of course to install the new stainless-steel arch together with Florian from Edelstahl Hease and to deliver the electrical equipment from Victron to the electrician, Fabrizio, so that he could start his installations. This included six 100 W solar panels, three 200 Ah lithium batteries, a 3000 W Inverter/Charger, various protective and monitoring devices as well as antennae for GPS, AIS and the Iridium Go satellite communication router. I will post some more on this once the installation is completed. In the meantime, I can only say that the arch looks great and will make life onboard so much easier and if the electrical installations live up to my expectations I will be more or less totally independent as long as the days are relatively sunny. And where I intend to go, there should be lots of sun.
I also got the opportunity to look at the beautiful new teak deck that had been laid on Saoirse and agree on what additional jobs that I would ask the people of Cantiere di Tropea to do. These jobs included cleaning of the diesel tank as the fuel filter showed a massive amount of ‘diesel bug’ sludge. This is not going to be a fun job as it will be very hard to reach all parts of the tank and as the 150 litres left in it will have to be filtered and cleaned. It will be impossible to say how much growth that will remain in the tank but I am hoping to prevent incidents like the one we experienced outside Dubrovnik in 2016 when the engine stopped due to the fuel line clogging before the filter. Diesel bug is essentially the result of microbes such as fungi and bacteria and is a problem that has gotten a lot worse following the introduction of biodiesel.
They will also change the sail drive seal. This will involve dismantling the engine from its brackets and from the sail drive and move it a few inches forward to provide access. A big job that apparently is recommended by Volvo Penta and indeed insurers every seven years. It sounds seriously excessive but when the consequence of a failed sail drive seal could be sinking it may be worth it to listen to the ‘experts’.
After three weeks or so I left Tropea to race home. The plan is to be back in a few weeks to put Saoirse back in the water and find a place for her to spend the winter as I have given up on the idea of crossing the Atlantic this year.