Licences & Navigation zones

At the end of July 2016, it was confirmed that I passed my “Patron de Yate” (PY) exam and after doing my practicals between Cádiz, Gibralter & Ceuta on the north of Africa, I received my PY Licence in August. I can now legally sail 150 nautical miles, some 278 km, from a coast.

The catch with the navigation limits on my licence? Pandora is registered to Zone 4 which is 12 nautical miles (some 22km) from the coast.

It turns out that, despite my Oceanis 350 having a design category A, Oceanic, I need to get a CE certificate which would cost me some four or five thousand Euros – without guarantees she would be upgraded in Navigational Zone by the Spanish Authorities (DGMM).  This despite other boats of the same make & model being in superior categories to mine on the Spanish Registry. To this, I’d need to have an official inspection done (ITB) with it’s cost, purchase a new life raft (current one isn’t approved by DGMM), get an approved EPIRB, upgrade my first aid kit and medicines, get a second approved compass, and a long etc. More or less, some €11000 or more.

I’d rather spend the money on bringing the boat up to speed and making her more seaworthy, safe and reliable, which is what, in theory, the inspection is all about, right?

After a lot of frustration, I’ve decided to follow the growing trend of registering my boat on the Belgium registry. This is legal for residence of Spain as long as you pay your taxes, which I’ve already done when I purchased the boat. The Belgium registry will cost me some €57 every five years or so for being a vessel older than 10 years old and for the Belgium registry, you can manage my MMSI directly with the International Beacon Registration Database (IBRD) which manage the information for COSPAS& SARSAT. I’ll also have to reprogram electronics with the new MMSI when I do this.

I plan to commence this change in December 2016. Using an agency, it should cost me some €350. It’s going to be a sad day when I remove the Spanish flag but it’s going to be a lot cheaper and more hassle free.

With this now decided on, it’s time to enjoy the summer with friends and family aboard Pandora then get into the rebuild & paperwork in the low season.

But more about that shortly.


Pandora´s first visit for some love & care

After receiving the quote and agreeing what was needed, Ricardo & I returned to Pandora to spend a couple days working from the boat before heading back to our regular routine. We arrived on a Sunday and worked from on board after taking advantage of the shower facilities at the port. W2016-07-14-12-51-32hile showering on board is fine, using the port means you don’t have to clean up and dry off the bathroom on board. And while Ricardo is like a brother to me, I don’t fancy seeing him naked as he walks to his cabin to get dressed from the shower.

We didn’t sail Monday. Work drained us both a bit and Monday’s are always the hardest day of the week I feel.

We worked Tuesday the 12th of July until lunch time, and after checks,
we motored over to Yatesport at Punta Lagoa where we agreed to have lunch before delivering the boat for the wor
ks. To our surprise, they now tell us they couldn’t start work on the boat until the following week. This frustrated me as we had agreed start and end dates and I had my holidays with my kids planned to start in a few weeks. I wanted the boat reviewed before then.

We agreed to deliver the boat Friday and enjoyed the rest of the week working during the day from the boat, and going sailing and fishing in the afternoons. Night falls way past 10pm this time of year in Vigo, so we could make the most of it.


Fishing was without any luck but we did do some great cross wind and downwind sailing around the Atlantic and Islas Cíes. Ricardo was starting to get the hang of sailing and started to truly enjoy it, despite him doing most of the work on the ropes

For me the fishing part is not so much about trying to catch fish, but more about being with friends, enjoying a cold beer on a
hot summer afternoon, and conversing about all kinds and weird and wonderful 2016-07-13-22-07-44things.

We ended up sailing back to Punta Lagoa on Thursday afternoon to be able to work from that port on Friday without interruption and speak with the guys to ensure the work would get done in time.

Pandora was pulled out and she was to receive a “check up”, repair of the navigation lights (which didn’t work), polishing of the hull, a coat of anti-foul, new anodes, service of the engine, servicing of the auxiliary boat outboard, check the pulleys and rigging, and an inspection to be able to quote new keel bolts and through hulls with taps.

I was to return in a few weeks.


Working aboard & mechanical incidents

One of the reasons that I opted for a boat like the Oceanis 350 was the habitability she offers. She’s like a second home but on the water; albeit just with less room than my land home. She has a full kitchen, bathroom with shower, two cabins, dining area with sea bunks and a chart double which can double as an office.

It was Mid-June and I needed to have get quotes for some repairs I needed done on the boat. Some locals indicated that a company at Punto Lagoa in the Ría de Vigo work well so I called them up and organized to leave them the boat on a weekend. I left home on a Thursday night after work, picked up my friend visiting from Australia, Ricardo from his place in León and we drove to the boat.

After a few beers and a meal, we went to sleep aboard Pandora. Friday I woke up early to work while my mate Ricardo slept in. The Wi-Fi at ports is generally bad so you need to use your mobile for data. It’s good enough for mail and skype but chews up your data plan in a few days. Ricardo worked on his business plan for his establishment in Sydney.

That afternoon after work, I learnt a lot about Pandora as we decided to set sail. Check the oil, started the engine, disconnected shore power, release the moorings and push off. As the breeze started pushing us across, I applied engine power/throttle and she didn’t respond. The dock was too far away to reach as we were being pushed by the current and wind towards another boat. A neighbor saw our struggle and rapidly ran to the end of the finger and grabbed onto Pandora.

We made it back to our mooring after recovering our breath and thanking José Lorenzo for intervening and saving us from an embarrassing incident with other vessels in the port. It was time to investigate what happened.

Not being familiar with the engine back then, I started looking for reasons the throttle wouldn’t respond and concluded that the throttle or throttle cable mas have an issue. I pulled apart lots of bits but at the end found that the cable was disconnected from the engine because of a screw which must have fallen off with the vibrations. I was only able to confirm this because I found a spring on the floor in front of the engine but not the screw. Using a screw in the box of “spares” on board, I could “patch” it up and make it work again.

Fingers crossed, we set sail for the 30 minute passage to Punta Lagoa to meet up with the guys at Yate Sport. We let them see the boat, discussed what was needed and decided to spend the rest of the afternoon out fishing. This time, with a bigger fright.

After testing the throttle while still tied to the dock, we decided she was working properly and decided to cast off. We cast off the stern lines, the forward sprint and with the bow line only still on, I started to reverse the engine to compensate the current and wind as we had rocks on the other side this time. She must have come loose again and we were swinging around with the wind and current but at least this time still connected to the mooring.  Knowing where the issue was, Ricardo and I solved it reasonably quickly and we enjoyed the afternoon on the water (without and fishing catches).

The rest of the weekend evolved without further incidents but with a list of repairs which seemed to grow and grow.

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