I think that our last blog entry was back in the shortening days of last September. January has now rolled around and passed. And we are now sat in front of a coal fire in London contemplating what the next few months are going to involve.

As we set the blog up to chart our sailing progress, I am not going to dwell too much on the interim months since our last entry. Suffice to say that we went to the sun in the Southern Hemisphere for a couple of months.

So where are we now? Well we are off to Spain tomorrow to see Seville and all it holds. We keep telling each other that there is no point in doing work on the boat when it’s this cold. And it does need work! Good friends of ours kept an eye on Ruby while we were away. However, we have returned to find a lovely patina of verdigris covering her decks, lines and woodwork. Through necessity,we have acquired a bountiful collection of heaters to keep warm on these long winter nights . Our eberspacher heating does no quite cut the mustard when it drops below zero, so electric radiators, fan heaters and electric blankets keep the boat at about 24 degrees. However when it snows or falls far below zero, we cut and run back to my parents, which is where I am sat now. An open fire and enough tea and biscuits to sink the Lusitania are constantly on offer. It makes for a very pleasant alternative to life aboard in winter. So as we prepare to leave for warmer climes, our attention is being drawn to the ever increasing list of chores we need to complete before the big push. First on the list is the fitting of our self steering gear. The unit is called a hydrovane and is essentially a set of very , very expensive tubes and cogs which steer the boat mechanically . The fitting manual seems complicated, and I can envisage many a day covered in Conyer mud screaming at it, while I drill holes in the back of a perfectly nice yacht. After that comes the update of our communications kit. Santa was kind enough to bring me a specialised marine router and a wifi booster which picks up wifi signals from about a mile away at present. It is jury rigged at the moment, so running the wired inside the boat still needs to be done. This again is going to involve a lot of swearing and grazed knuckles. We need to get our satellite phone up and running and connect all the relevant bits together to allow us e mail and weather forecasts while at sea. We also splashed out on a very good quality sprung mattress for the boat which we have been promised before the end of March. Then we have (hopefully) minor chores: polishing the hull, rė-repairing the scratch in the hull as my ocd is not quite happy with the colour match, buying charts and memory cards for our route, lifting and antifouling the boat, updating bank accounts….. And so the list drags on. We hope to leave at the end of April or the beginning of May. We have a lot to do and it’s not helped by our regular disappearing acts to find sunshine. However, we hope to leave for Cornwall then pick up crew and jump from falmouth to Gibraltar. A week offshore. Eek!   Hydrovane positioning   Hydrovane bracket