Final days in Donegal

Killybegs, Donegal, Ireland

Last week we had the luck of a weather window and a high spring tide, a good combination of conditions to relaunch Aleria.  She had spent the winter in Killybegs at the Mooney yard.

Alex had spent many days servicing and replacing through hull fittings all winter. He found several worrying decay elements -- not surprising given her advancing age. Aleria is 40 years old this year. Although her hull was created in 1994, she wasn't finished and launched until 1996. The machine shop at the yard proved immensely helpful, building several new components, testing metals, advising on replacements and building special tools. Alex couldn't have done it without them.

We painted the bottom with blue paint infused with copper dust and cleaned the decks with oxalic acid. After several trips up with car full of supplies, and a provisioning at the local Centra, she was ready to go.

Getting ready to launch.

As we launched we prepared to test every through hull and watch for leaks before we were released from the Travelift.

One fitting leaked. Alex's heart sank. It was a minor leak but it meant she would be constantly pumping out. Should we let it go or should we haul her back out. No amount of tightening worked. Finally, as the tide was heading out, we made the call. Haul her back out.

Alex started looking at bus schedules intent on going back home in despair. I said no way were we giving up just yet. There was another high tide the next day, and the yard was willing to drop her in Saturday morning or evening - whatever it took.

The tide is out. 
Lee Mooney got in on the task. They kept tightening and tightening but it kept leaking. Alex took apart the hose fitting and inspected it carefully. The metal had wear on one side and the hose wasn't fitting properly. He shoved the hose farther up and tightened some more. We thought that might have worked.  I came up with the idea to test the fitting for leaks by pouring water into the cockpit as this was the cockpit drain. The tightening of the connection had worked but there was still water flowing down the outside of the pipe. It was leaking farther up. Alex suspected a T-junction that was behind the cabinetry.

Drowning sorrows and
feeding courage.
We decided we'd have to open up the cabinetry to see about the other end of the hose. We'd have to wait for the shop to open in the morning to get a new hose and work it up higher on the fitting to get a better seal.

So after a dinner with many drinks, we retired to our room at the Tara hotel, ready to start again in the morning. We rushed over to the yard in the morning after a massive breakfast. One of the carpenters came over to advise on the best way to remove the wall and soon we were in business. The top fitting at the T-junction was the culprit.

We were in luck. The shop had a replacement hose that would work. Alex would have to soften it in hot water to get it to slide snugly over the fitting. After much effort, both ends of the hose were connected and clamped. We filled the cockpit again and waited. No leak. But we had missed the morning tide.

We made arrangements to drop back in on the evening tide at 6 pm. We held our breath and crossed our fingers, then checked and double checked to make sure there were no leaks. Success!  We were afloat and leak free.

Thanks to the Commodore of the Killybegs Sailing Club, who invited us to pick up one of their visitor moorings (three yellow moorings near the fish processing plant), we were able to tie up easily overnight to recuperate. But not yet. We still had to hank on the sails. But the dodger was first priority as rain was on the way.

Luckily, there was little wind and we were pointing nicely into it. Job done! Cocktails all around. Tomorrow we'd be underway. Today, we had the big boys for company.

Our neighborhood for the night
on the Killybegs Sailing Club visitor moorings.


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