3 months before I set sail and what was just a pipe dream has now become a reality. My appointment with my surgeon on the 9th Feb together with the recent PSA blood test result of >0.1 means, I hope, I'm in the clear. Preparation for the challenge can now begin in earnest!
My life raft has just returned from an overhaul. Comforting to have it, but hope I never need to use it. I feel a bit like a pilot carrying a parachute - having to resort to it is an admission of failure!
Roger Upham, a marine electrician is scheduled to undertake a full check of all the on board electronics. He hoped it would be mid March when he and I can hook up on Equinox and go through my check list. GPS, Plotter, Depth, Wind, Speed and VHF DSC Radio, all need the once over. In addition, he'll be supplying and coaching me on using an Epirb (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) a Navtex for weather, marine and safety updates. He is also installing a stereo with MP3 and iPod interfaces. This, I am sure will provide enormous comfort on the long and lonely voyage legs.
I dropped off two dodgers, Tonneau and sail cover with C&J Marine Ltd (Chichester) for refurbishment and strengthening. They should be back in mid March.
Using wood, I've constructed and varnished two strong Fender Boards of 1.2m each; an absolute 'must have' according to other circumnavigators; to protect my hull when mooring against quays, docksides and mooring piles.
Checked all the cordage, the jib and staysail sheets, furling lines and mainsheet needed replacing, as they were looking tired. The rest seem in sound shape.
I've ordered from an online stockist a recommended set of engine spares - belts, impellers, oil and fuel filters. I need to put a date in the diary to fully service the GM20 Yanmar diesel engine sometime in the week leading up to my departure. Doing so will give me enormous peace of mind.
The dinghy sits in my office fully inflated - checking for slow leaks. A replacement Lodestar repair kit was ordered over the phone together with a spare inflation pump. On checking, I found the repair patch adhesive had set solid in the tube, although it has never been opened. A new, longer and much stronger painter has been attached securely to the dingy and a small folding anchor purchased - for shore excursions - being a sensitive soul, I hate dragging dinghies up beaches and ramps, if it can be avoided.
I've spent the day stripping down, cleaning and servicing my 47 year old Seagull outboard engine and packed up a selection of spares for the voyage.
Updated both my Ofcom VHF licence and the Coastguard's database with Equinox's details online. The Coastguard now have a picture of Equinox under full sail (Thanks to Peter Moore, for taking it.)
I'll need to register, with Roger Upham's help, my new handheld EPIRB, once the details are known.
An email arrived from the Prostate Cancer Charity saying they are organising hull stickers using a wonderful and very helpful firm called SAC Graphics Ltd. The charity are also sending an X large T-shirt for me to wear for media events too! The Daily Mail are due to be in touch soon too! I've taken on board another circumnavigator's tip and produced and printed little 'boat cards' with mine and the boat's details on them.
I've also printed out safety and personal data sheets and laminated them against the all pervasive damp found afloat!.
More good news, James Moody at Premier Marinas have confirmed they are linking my blog to the Group's website.
The list of things to do seems to grow each day. It is proving fatal reading other voyager's tales! Their recommendations and suggestions, as to what kit to take, makes such sound sense, I feel obliged to include it. Poor old Equinox will need a periscope if the list of stores grows any further!