Antipole in the Baltic

2020 season ashore

Antipole has remained ashore at Wareham throughout the 2020 season.

We had originally anticipated doing re-fit work and then sailing locally on the UK south coast before getting Antipole out of the UK if it looked like the UK will leave the EU Customs Union on December 31st. The Covid-19 pandemic has done for that. The first lockdown put paid to work in the spring and we chose not to launch later in case of a second lockdown which might prevent us tending to Antipole at the end of the season. This turned out to be the right decision.

Brexit

So if the UK does leave the EU Customs Union, Antipole will lose her EU Goods status and we will only be able to visit the EU for up to eighteen months at a time. We will not be able to over-winter there as we did during our Baltic cruise. Further, when the time comes for Antipole to be sold, it will not be possible to sell her to an EU purchaser without them paying VAT all over again.

Up until now HM Customs & Excise have turned a blind eye to UK yachts returning home after extended cruising. Strictly speaking, they can only be out of the UK for three years before the Returned Goods Exemption expires. HMRC had clearly stated that yachts that had already paid UK VAT would retain that status at the end of the transition process. In October, they changed their mind and announced that any boat returning to the UK after an absence of more than three years will have to pay VAT again immediately at the point of entry. Maybe this is seen as a source of revenue to help meet the costs of the pandemic. Given the problem of getting boats back to the UK within the remaining ten-week autumn gales window and during Covid-19 restrictions, they have granted a 12-month extension to yachts that have previously paid UK VAT.

This is causing consternation in the yachting world. It stymies leisurely world cruises. Also, it is estimated that there are between 20,000 – 30,000 British-registered yachts in the EU (many in the Mediterranean) and they will no longer be able to return to the UK without paying VAT again. It is not just just a problem for their owners – the UK marine industry will lose out on their custom.

Refit

The extended time laid up has enabled Tony to undertake refit work. Here’s a summary of some of the major items.

The new staysail project
New staysail at the sail makers

I have previously written of how we proposed to replace the heavy-weather staysail with a soft furling one that could be rigged on demand. The riggers had done their work last season.

This year Ullman Sails came to measure up using the new staysail rigging and fabricated the sail. They visited to fit it and demonstrate how to rig it. So we are looking forward to trying it out. It is frustrating that this will not be this year.

We should be able to adapt to the weather much more easily and safely.

Anchor refurbishment

The galvanised anchor chain has been showing its age and we decided to have it hot-dip re-galvanised. This is not straight forward as the links tend to weld together as the chain cools as it is removed from the bath. The only company Tony could find that was still willing to do this was in Elgin in the north of Scotland.

Sixty metres of chain is very heavy, cannot be moved by hand and exceeds the limit for most carriers. Even when warned, carriers were inclined to send a man with a van and expected us to lift it in for them. Eventually, it was loaded onto a lorry for the journey north and, in due course, I arranged for it to be collected and returned.

I took the opportunity to renovate the anchor, make up a Dyneema rope shackle to eliminate side-way pulls on the swivel and to improve the arrangement for the Anchor Rescue system.

Stern locker

The locker on the stern deck is covered with wood slats. These have not faired well and have warped and detached. Re-fixing them only seemed to last a short while.

Tony removed the entire locker lid and brought it back to his workshop for restoration. It now looks spiffing and a new cover will protect it over winter.

Steering system

The work on the steering system turned out be major.

The very rusted steering stop-ring was pickled and re-galvanised together with the anchor chain. I then coated it with several coats of epoxy paint before finishing with Hammerite. Hopefully it will last well now.

Getting the failed ball-joint out from under the cockpit floor was a major challenge but eventually achieved with a ball-joint breaker and many blows with a heavy hammer. A new and much better rose joint is now fitted to the steering link – this one can be greased and should last well.

Replacement hydraulic hoses were made up for the auto-pilot ram but the bleed nipples were seized into the ram and one broke off during attempts to remove it. Eventually, a local marine engineers managed to drill them out and replacement larger bleed nipples fitted.

While all this gear was removed from the cockpit, I took the opportunity to re-paint the area.

Finally, it was all re-assembled and the auto-pilot tested. All went well for about two minutes before the auto-pilot went berserk, slammed the rudder hard to port and refused to move it from there. It turned out that the Rudder Reference Unit that feeds back the position of the rudder to the auto-pilot had water in it. Another refurbishment – it is now packed with silicone grease and working again.

Dinghy refurbishment

Our rigid dinghy has been sitting out in the open during our years away in the Baltic and the weather had taken its toll. Repairs were beyond what could be done at Ridge Wharf. In my father’s day, he had made a frame for the then type of roof rack. I managed to adapt this for the rails on our car and bring the dingy back to my workshop for restoration of the rotted woodwork, replacement of the runners on the bottom with acetyl ones and a new mounting for the trolley wheel, which had broken off.

The dinghy is now returned to Ridge Wharf and should fair much better.


Finally, the day before the autumn lockdown came into force, Antipole was tucked up for the winter. Let’s hope she will be in the water next season.

Love to all and keep safe!

Tony & Ynskje xx

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