Back up the river


The end of our time in the yard was overwhelmed with battery problems.  Being short on cash, we had ordered some Trojan batteries off a guy on eBay that were second hand but described as in new condition and having been stringently tested.  Being deep cycle batteries this all would be fine, last us a few years and save us more than a few hundred quid.  However, long story short they were anything but.  We complained and he did actually send out two more (at cost to us) but these were just as bad!  Ben spent the majority of his time charging to full capacity, testing, waiting for replacements, re testing, exploring whether the fluctuating yard power supply was messing up our battery charger, tracing old wiring to see if there was an unexplained draw on them…basically trying everything he could think of.  As they had been delivered to us in the UK over a month before testing them wasn’t straight forward because being 6v batteries its difficult to load test them individually.  All in all a hell of a lot of time wasted and many hours spent in the locker. img_20170113_224950.jpg

He’d also had to redesign the construction of the box they sit in as these new ones were much taller than our old ones, and with each weighing 52 kilos getting them 12 ft up onto the boat was a challenge in itself.  So, when we left the yard we had the embarrassing situation of leaving behind all six batteries for scrap and being over £600 worse off (batteries plus shipping costs).


The offending batteries


A hard pill to swallow.  To add insult to injury we had hired a car to pick them up from the freight company and Goldcar had charged us the (huge) deposit in pounds rather than euro’s, meaning when your bank converts it back at the point of refund you are ripped off with an unfavourable exchange rate.  In our case we were down £140.  Absolutely criminal as after reading up they are legally obliged to offer you the choice of which currency to pay in.  Coupled with a big fat tax bill the bank account was in a sorry state.  The week after we went back in the water was spent on the phone to Ebookers/Goldcar complaints department, and we also emailed Paypal about the battery guy but we weren’t holding out too much hope for any money back.

Anyway, there were also many positives to our time on the hard.  The prop shaft and propeller repairs were much cheaper than anticipated, Ben replaced the stern gland, we got varnishing and antifouling done, I finished recovering all the saloon seats, we replaced some of the guardwire and resealed the stantion posts…along with many other boring but necessary jobs.

Every day we lived in chaos as the jobs took over our living space.

The hoist back in went smoothly and the new stern gland didn’t let in any water which had been a bit of a worry!

Lots of people we’d made friends with in the yard came to see us off which was really lovely and it felt great being back out on the water.


We had a fab little sail down the lagoon channel and anchored back off Culatra island for the night.


Culatra from above

Next day there was good wind and we wanted to go out for a bit of a shake down sail to check everything was ship shape before our friends arrived at the end of the week.  So we pull up the anchor, only to find…no anchor.  The swivel pin had broken leaving our best anchor nicely buried in the sand somewhere.  Ben had checked it over too before we left the yard but with stainless steel the corrosion is internal and there must’ve been a microscopic fracture.


Nevertheless we went out and had a fantastic sail for a couple of hours and anchored using a spare on our return.  That night the generator conked out, hooray!  What next we thought.  We had old batteries that wouldn’t hold charge and now  no generator to charge them.  Thank god the sun was out and our solar panels were keeping up the pace.  Ben discovered that seawater had been somehow getting in and seized the exhaust valve solid, which then bent a push rod.

We trawled the sea bed for the anchor for about 7 hours the next day with one of Bens homemade contraptions, but as it had no chain attached it was like finding a needle in a haystack and we had to accept defeat.

Now we will have to decide on whether to upgrade to a Rocna (£££) which would mean much less worry about dragging anchor in strong winds or go for a more affordable model that wouldn’t be much better than the spare CQR we’re on now.  My instinct says spend the extra and be safe not sorry after our latest experiences.

We sucked it up as our friends were arriving from the UK so time to put it aside and enjoy their company.

We had lunch out in Faro old town for Kat’s birthday and the next day we had a good 8 hour sail up to the Spanish border, a fairly sizeable swell, which meant Kj was seasick the whole way (he denies the previous nights red wine played a part!).  We were a bit early for the tide as with over a 2 metre swell meant we had to heave to a little outside the entrance to the Rio Guadiana until the channel depths increased.  Everyone was a bit knackered from the days sail so it wasn’t a late night.  The next day being Bens birthday we managed to use the northerly wind to sail back downriver as we had to be near a train station for our guests trip home the next day.  This meant staying overnight on the Spanish side in Ayamonte marina and a 6am run across the river to the Portuguese side, as the marina here has a bad rep for being tight on space and dodgy cross currents.

sailing before sunrise!


Since they’ve left we’ve made our way back up the river and are awaiting the arrival of our NEW batteries via Algarve Freight to Ayamonte marina.  We had to bite the bullet this time and fork out a horrific amount of money for 4 x T105 deep cycle Trojan batteries.  However we had the unexpected good news from Paypal that they had recovered our £500 from Mr Ebay Trickster yipeeeee!!  We are over the moon…and to top it off the next day Ebookers refunded us £100 of the missing car deposit.  YES!!  Phew, not so bleak after all.  The chandlery back down in Ayamonte has anchors in stock so when the batteries arrive we’ll buy a new one too.  Since we’ve been back up here we had a big tree wash down and our chain wrapped around it nicely, and when we re anchored it took five attempts to dig in.  Not what you want when its peeing down with rain and nearly dark.

We’ve been keeping busy doing lots of cycling to get things like gas and fuel for the outboard (all up massive hills but we really need the exercise!) so it’s great to have two folding bikes now. img_20170207_120849.jpg

Ben has been generally making a mess of the boat..only joking, he’s been resealing all the rig fittings and stantions that are fixed down to the deck, so they don’t leak anymore, which means all the headlinings are down in the aft cabin.  On valentines we took a picnic and found new walking routes on the Spanish side.

We’ve also enjoyed meeting some more boat friends; Martina and Julian are from Carina of Devon but are house sitting on the river near us and we had a curry night with them, along with Paul and Emma from Spirit on Wednesday night, who we’re also going up to visit on the other side at the weekend as they’ve bought a plot of land.


Once the batteries arrive we’re thinking of making our way down to Cadiz and then towards Gibraltar.  I’m excited to see some new places finally as we’ve been up and down this stretch of coast for a long time now.  Until then we’ll be enjoying the sun which has made an appearance and is surprisingly warm for February!


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