Moving on and moving up

Well,my boat time at the weekend didn’t materialise unfortunately.vagabond is on the back burner for a couple more weeks while i make another major change to my life.
Since late January home has been a static holiday caravan. It served a purpose but for long term life it wasn’t ideal. Cold,draughty,noisy and not especially cheap. And i could only stay until late July.
I’ve been sort of looking for somewhere more suitable and long term but nothing suitable cropped. All too dear,or requiring huge deposits or too run down. I’m not overly fussy but top of my wish list was self contained. I had no desire to be sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities with a random assortment of strangers. I would apply for Big Brother if that was so!
Anyway,my eldest daughter spotted a place on Facebook that ticked all the boxes and i move in on Monday.
So,at the moment new home is taking temporary priority over new boat,and that includes finances. I’m still busy making lists and plans for the boat and squirrelling away bits and pieces,so she’s not being totally neglected. And a birthday gift from my daughter was a new set of name vinyls and they look amazing before they’re even fitted.
It looks like vagabonds maiden voyage home will now be late June/early July. Just in time hopefully for the best of the summer weather and plenty of sailing time. Still got quite a bit of holiday entitlement left……..
My new home is a 2nd floor loft conversion. Plenty of room for one( or even 2 if i get lucky!!) and 2 minutes walk from the sea( big bonus). I may even have a sea view,if i climb on a stool and stick my head out of one of the ‘velux’ windows!!
What i particularly like though is the rent. One amount every week that covers all bills. Gas,electricity,water rates,council tax,TV licence and internet. Much easier to work out boat budget with no variables to worry about!
Once i do get some boat time i think progress could be fairly rapid,I’ve already bought and paid for most of what I’ll initially need and a good weekends work will see her in good sailing shape,albeit slightly cosmetically challenged.
Be ready for lots of updates and pictures once i eventually get started!

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Auction fever

The list of items needed for. ‘Vagabond’ grows daily it seems, although I’m doing my best to minimise it.
I’ve prioritised it as best i can into items i need to get ‘vagabond’ safely home and secure,and then things that will be nice to have,some of which are really necessities but i can manage without in the short term.
And,as ever,I’m very budget conscious and trying to get the best value for every £ spent.
As you can imagine I’ve been spending a lot of time browsing eBay!
Never fails to amaze me how auction fever grabs hold of some people.
Personally,if I’m looking at used items,i always check out new prices if at all possible and base any bids on potential savings balanced against the security of buying new.
Recently,i was after a hand held vhf at the budget end of the market (of course!).
A brand spanking new, in the box,with a guarantee Cobra hh125 could be picked up for £53 delivered.
A second hand,2 years old but apparently never used, identical model recently sold for £42+ a fiver postage. Wow,a saving of £6.really?
Think a years guarantee is worth £6,don’t you?
I ended up buying from a Facebook selling page.Midland pacific,in new,never been out of the box condition. £50 delivered. EBay price £85-£110.
That’s the sort of saving i like.
Didn’t get down to vagabond this weekend,spent rather too much on bits for her and storage charges this week. Weather permitting,I’ll get a couple of days down there next weekend.
I’ve now got most of the absolutely essential kit sorted,at least until i think of something else i REALLY must have.
Got a great deal through speedyhen UK on eBay for a set of 10 imray charts covering essex/suffolk  coast and rivers.
New edition(2015) £29.30 posted. Ordered Friday,received Saturday via yodel. Excellent value(£10 more everywhere else) and rapid delivery. Brilliant.
At least now I’ll know where i am when i run aground!

Boxing clever?

I had provisionally pencilled in another trip to the boat Saturday. Was up bright and early hoping to catch the train at 7,but one look out of the window put paid to that idea. Windy,very overcast and cold. I hung around for a couple of hours hoping it might improve but no chance.
Alternative plans were hastily made and i went shopping instead.
On the walk home later in the day,popped into a second hand bookshop for a browse and came away with 10 sailing/boat books for the not unreasonable sum of £3! Oh,i do like a bargain.
A couple of them were copies of books that i already own but which are in the protective custody of my wife. So they’re probably in landfill by now!
Although i didn’t get to the boat,work is still being done.
The excessively corroded battery box lid has been rewired and modified. The only original components left are the plastic carcass and the main terminal posts. We have fitted a main isolator switch,a flick of the switch cuts all 12v circuits,handy in an emergency.
One of the 2 12v sockets has been wired permanently live though(to power an automatic bilge pump when i’m absent)
This doesn’t show in the photos,i only thought of it afterwards. You can work out yourself which is the before/after pic!

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I had also brought the boom cover back with me last time. It looked to be sound but filthy,covered in green growth and the odd seagull deposit.
Half hour with the industrial pressure washer at work and its highly presentable. Slightly faded in places and a few frayed stitches but with years of life left. Another success but no pix at the moment.

Other valiant 18s

Despite 600+ valiant 18s being built,there seems to be a scarcity of information about them. Not even an owners association that i know of.
Unless you know better!
Currently i only know of 3 other valiant 18s.
There’s one on eBay at the moment in the Hartlepool area,latest bid is £100.
Mark( the skint sailor) has a sailing buddy Jim who has one.
And then is davesailor.blogspot up in the highlands and his boat(in his words ‘luxury yacht’) shafa.
I would be very interested to hear of any others anywhere and would welcome an exchange of information/experiences with other owners,past or present.

Day one.

‘Vagabond’ is currently on hard standing in a marina 40+ road miles away so i can’t get to her as often as i would like.
Being at the mercy of public transport makes every visit an adventure and eats a lot of time.
I will be sailing her to a berth nearer home once I’ve done any necessary preparation,bought a few bits of essential kit and saved up for the cranage fees!
Probably late may/early June if things work out.
In the meantime the train is taking the strain,or causing it,depending on your viewpoint.
For me it’s at least 2 hours each way so i’ll have to get as much done as i can each visit.
I can only really afford to do the trip once a week or less,so getting her moved is a priority!
Went down Saturday for the first proper days work,had intended getting an early train to make the most of it,but another side effect of my meds is tiredness so i overslept. Bugger.
After the 2 hour journey and a mile and a half walk to the marina it was gone 11.30,so a big chunk of the day was lost.
But i managed to achieve everything i had intended to. First job was to empty all the lockers and assess what was worth keeping and what was in most urgent need of replacing.
There’s the usual compliment of various odd bits of rope,2 spare fuel cans,6 fenders, a plunger-type portable bilge pump and a Bruce anchor with a metre(yes,a whole metre!) of chain and 30/40 metres of warp. Not a lot else other than rubbish.
2 notable absentees are the roller boom furling handle and the mainsheet and blocks. Both essential and at the top of the shopping list.
Inside the cabin is a porta Potti.
When we viewed the boat last weekend my daughter took one look at it and declared ‘ugh,you WILL be getting a new one i hope!’ It looked absolutely vile.
I spent half an hour cleaning it and it now looks like new again. The waste holding tank was full,but only of water! No smell or unpleasantness at all. Very strange. The dirt on the outside was just an accumulation of a few years dust and grime. I really don’t think its ever been used.

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After cleaning it. Wouldn’t want to spoil your appetite by putting a ‘before’picture up!

Also inside was a battery box. Full of battery(knackered) and water. All the wiring,terminals and 12v sockets are badly corroded but i think i can probably save it.
I’ve a slight suspicion that she may have been partially flooded at some point. But the water i found in the loo appeared to be fresh(i wasn’t going to taste it!!!) so possibly the rain had got in at some point. Puzzling.
I also untangled all the running rigging,re-attached the topping lift and hoisted the sails for the first time. Hadn’t really had time to do so the previous weekend.
Jib is grubby/faded but appears sound and the roller reefing works well. The main is a lot cleaner with a nice crispness to it still. Until i buy/make a furling handle i can’t check the roller furling but it would be no surprise to find it seized.
I gave the cockpit lockers a good scrub out before replacing the contents.
The rest of the day was spent assessing the work to be done and making lists and plans.
All in all,I’m very happy with her. I will be concentrating on getting all the necessary kit together and making sure she’s safe for the 25 mile sail/motor to home waters. The cosmetics and prettying her up can wait for now. Once she’s nearer home i can sail her(tides and weather permitting) whenever i fancy and worry about her appearance as the fancy takes me.
The list of people who want to come out sailing is growing! Grandchildren are top of the list(with their parents!). They were quite excited about grandads boat ! Not as much as grandad though!!
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A boat owner again

I was very pleasantly surprised when i first saw ‘vagabond’,the new boat. Better than i expected her to be!
There’s not a huge amount of information about them online. They were built for 6 or 7 years in the 1970’s,mine apparently is a 1976 model. About 600 were built, ‘vagabond’ has the sail number 266 which puts her towards the middle of the production run.
She seems to be quite a solidly built little boat,not as heavily laid up as the kingfisher,but easily on a par with the L17.
She ticks most of the boxes for me and my demands. Bilge keel,roller reefing jib,reasonable cabin space(albeit with limited headroom) and a lot of the expensive bits look good.
Mainsail seems very good,jib is sound but grubby,nice stainless pulpit,pushpit ,stanchions and guard wires.skeg mounted rudder with a stainless steel tiller.
The hull is in good condition,the paint on it is more than acceptable for now. All exterior woodwork is sound but in need of varnish. The deck,cockpit has been painted previously and is flaking in places so that’s one job on the list. But it will be a lot easier going than the k20.
The cockpit locker lids need replacing as do all the locks.
The standing rigging is less than 10 years old and looks good but needs tensioning. Running rigging looks sound but grubby.
Not much equipment on board,a Bruce anchor and warp,lifejackets,fenders and an untested NASA target 2 depth sounder.
The creme due la creme though is the outboard. We bought it home with us last weekend to try it out and to minimise the risk of it ‘vanishing’.
2006 Honda 5hp 4 stroke in very good condition but otherwise an unknown quantity.
Took it into work,dunked it in a water butt and gave it a pull. Started after about 6 pulls! Smokes for 20 seconds,that cleared and it runs perfectly. Quiet,smooth,good oil pressure and a nice healthy water output. In and out of gear smoothly.perfect,a right result!
And it’s got a charging coil. Didn’t even need to buy fuel for it,the separate tank it came with had a gallon in it.
The worst bit of ‘vagabond’ is without doubt the cabin and even that’s not too bad.
The hull sides have been carpeted upto deck level quite nicely but its quite grubby. Hopefully it will clean up. The cabin ceiling and sides are painted,grubby but sound so a scrub down and a fresh coat of paint will suffice for now.
Unfortunately there are no berth cushions so these will have to made/replaced somehow. The quarter berths are quite a good size so i will only do those and leave the v berth as storage space.
The worst part of the cabin is a bit of bodgery someone has done to the under berth storage areas. These are quite small and someone has attempted to enlarge them by cutting away the forward partitions between then and the buoyancy area that occupies the space under the v berth. A right mess,and totally impractical so they will have to be reinstated.
Something similar has been done at the bottom of the companionway steps,a bit of the cabin sole support has been removed for some reason, so now the rearmost edge flexes when walked on. Another job to do!
All in all though,i think I’ve done alright. The engine alone is worth as much or more than i paid for the whole package!
A couple of pictures below of how she looked not long ago,courtesy of Essex boat shed.
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