Gradually, Fandancer was transformed…..
One of the first main jobs was to renovate the aft cabin where we would sleep. The whole area was stripped back to the fibreglass as some leaking bolts on the deck above had caused interior water damage. It took a whole day to remove six obstinate bolts! We installed new lighting, 12v sockets, and a Wallas paraffin heater. The new memory-foam mattresses made the cabin very comfortable, so at least we had a retreat, and a television, somewhere to go to escape from the disaster zone in the rest of the boat. Looking back, I can’t believe that we lived like that for fifteen months!
Tim worked so hard to renovate her and he renewed the majority of boat equipment. To start with I mostly gave moral support, made the coffee, and passed the correct spanner when required. But I gradually got to know the difference between a nut and a bolt, what the different grades of wet and dry paper were used for, and could identify any power tool at thirty paces.
It was also my job to sell old boat parts on Internet auction sites, with great success. Tim installed a new engine, (what an exciting day it was when that was craned aboard), along with a new propeller and shaft. We had new water and waste tanks custom built and installed along with a complete new water system, loos and showers. A new electrical system was installed throughout, including LED lighting. A new anchor and chain, an electric windlass replaced the ancient manual one. We ordered a new foresail and mizzen, new rigging, new upholstery.
One other necessary addition if we were to take Fandancer to a warmer climate was the new swim platform which Tim designed and had made, as well as buying solar panels and installing a new opening transom window.
One of the last jobs was the hull treatment.
We spent about three weeks scraping off by hand many layers of old anti-fouling, the blue paint flakes getting everywhere. Despite a headscarf, goggles, gloves and a protective suit, at the end of every day I resembled one of the blue skinned extras from ‘Avatar’.
After three coats of primer and two of new black anti-fouling, Fandancer was ready to be launched. I shed a tear or two when the huge crane gently lowered her from her home in the yard into the water. Now our adventures would really begin…..
After 17 months of very hard work, Fandancer was ready to leave her mooring and we could start the journey we had planned for several years. We were going to cross the Channel to Le Havre, arriving early morning just as the tide turned, then sail up the Seine to Rouen to arrive before dark. We would then take the masts down before continuing up the Seine to Paris.
We would then be in the french canals for some time, before joining the Mediterranean the following Spring and heading Greek-wards!
So at 3pm on 4 October 2011 we passed the famous Round Tower at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, and began my first Channel crossing ….. next stop France!