Stayin’ Alive in Whitehaven

“Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother/ You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive/ Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’/ And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive/ Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive/ Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive”


Tucked up in Blue Heeler drinking my morning mug of hot coffee I’m evaluating the ceaseless but nonetheless important news coverage of the latest global disasters: Stock market crashes; global coronavirus pandemic; locust plagues in Africa; panic-buying of dunny rolls; all this fast on the heels of last year’s disasters. What a crazy time. The fact that Donald Trump is ‘Leader of the Free World’ and that the UK has BREXITed seems bizarrely normal now.

As COVID-19 sweeps across the world causing chaos and confusion, some are confused by the chaos caused by others. I check the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Situation Dashboard to get the facts rather than the opinions of so-called experts.

While any premature death of the vulnerable and aged is of course very sad (and I hope anyone reading this has not and will not experience this), on the flip side, a little levity and a positive attitude may cheer up those who are anxious about impending doom. For example, some are sharing the best tunes to wash your hands to such as two verses of ‘Happy Birthday’, or the Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’. Those who want to be really careful go with the lengthy ‘Stairway to Heaven’ while those preoccupied with mortality may choose ‘Death is Not the End’ by Bob Dylan.  Advice from Boris ‘BoJo’ Johnson is to wash your hands to ‘God Save the Queen’. God help us!

After nine years travelling around the world crossing international borders along the way, we’ve never experienced anything quite like the current situation. Our upcoming plan for the next few months was to sail south to France, Portugal and Spain. We still may do that, but at present news is trickling in about possible restrictions in place for vessels entering ports.  On that basis, we’re not sure where we’ll travel in the coming months during the swell of the pandemic.

For now, I’ll leave the dismal news where it is and shift my focus back to relative normality.

All is fine at Whitehaven Harbour

I’m happy to report that although the temperature remains cool in Whitehaven, we now have twelve hours of daylight and daylight savings returns at the end of March. Getting out for a walk is quite pleasant, although I was doused in a brief snow shower the other day when I walked up on the hill overlooking the town.

Some boats don’t receive any love…

Yachts that have been sitting idle for months at the marina are finally getting attention by their owners in anticipation of the sailing season. We are happy to potter around the boat for now.

In my last post I shared some of the improvements we’ve made to Blue Heeler over winter, and since that time we’ve continued busying ourselves with a variety of jobs.

Our Lewmar genoa cars and mainsheet car were all taken apart for inspection and refurbishment. These outdated cars needed a few parts to bring them back to life. Rubbers for the track ends, Torlon balls and other replacement parts were sourced from a variety of places including an Ebay store and another chandlery that had a few new but obsolete parts for sale. The curse of dissimilar metals is a constant problem on a boat and the cam plates on our mainsheet traveler has to be fully replaced. These were hard to source and we are still waiting for the backorder to arrive to complete the job.

Current project – the “Waynemaker Watermaker”

One large project Wayne has thrown himself into is to build a ‘bespoke’ watermaker. Dubbed the ‘Waynemaker Watermaker’, a project such as this may be a little ambitious for most people, but Wayne is in his element, quietly researching to make sure he has the correct pump, motor, parts, fittings, etc. The boat is littered with all sorts of elbows, tee connections, tubes and hoses but the watermaker is almost complete. The watermaker will produce around 80 litres per hour and costs around half the price of a branded watermaker. Having a watermaker is not really needed in this part of the globe, but in remote locations it certainly is a luxury. If you want to know more about how he built it, contact us or check out our future posts.

With the end of winter, our boat is ready to go sailing, almost. We hired a van from Enterprise car hire in Whitehaven to pick up our stuff from storage and used the vehicle for dropping off our old gas bottle at the Workington tip, plus had our new Safefill composite bottles filled.

Our sails were hoisted on a fine day and the other items we had stored were stowed in their respective lockers. Condensation is still a problem but the lockers are clean and I monitor them from time to time.

With all the improvements we’ve made over the past couple of years, we’ll leave the UK with a sound vessel so we can enjoy more time sailing and have to do less major projects over the next ten years. The UK has everything we need to do the work, or we can easily source parts from the EU and shipped to us here in Cumbria. Most of the old unwanted parts were sold on Ebay (our old Webasto heater went to a guy in Bulgaria) and I’ve tidied all the lockers and documented the location of everything so we can find it in future. We’re really happy having Blue Heeler in top condition as we formulate plans to eventually return to Australia.

So until such time as we leave Whitehaven, we will continue to keep abreast of any news impacting cruising yachts and alter our plans as we see fit. We may decide to head north again – Norway or Iceland, who knows. In the meantime, here’s a link with some tune suggestions for washing your hands for 20 seconds – perhaps ‘Stayin’ Alive’ for those Bee Gees fans.

Stay safe everyone.





About blueheelerhr39

Sailing the world aboard Blue Heeler
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