Winter maintenance – getting mastless

Maintenance on Challenge Wales is an ongoing process, we aim to keep the vessel as ship shape as possible so we undertake maintenance on a regular basis as part of our planned maintenance programme.

When the boat isn’t sailing, Wednesday’s become ‘Ship Shape Days’, where volunteers come onboard and help; from maintaining winches, cleaning bilges, looking at any IT issues, servicing the engine and more. Keeping on top of things is key.

Every couple of years there is some major work to be undertaken, last year the boat was lifted out of the water and the keel anitfouled. Volunteers sailed Challenge Wales from Cardiff to Lymington, did the work themselves and then sailed the boat back – some volunteers stayed with the boat all the time, while others helped for a few days. Due to the size of Challenge Wales she can only be lifted out of the water on the south coast as no hoists are big enough in Wales to accommodate her beam and/or weight.

Challenge Wales volunteers help with maintenance

Challenge Wales volunteers help with maintenance

Last month, our mast came out so that the rigging could be replaced. The rigging had been on the boat for quite a few years, having sailed around the world in the last round-the-world yacht race and clocking up just under 40,000 miles of usage, and then had five years of Challenge Wales under the belt too. This was our major maintenance job of 2014.

We planned the lift out of the mast to coincide with our return visit, back to Cardiff, from London, following the Tall Ships Regatta.  Plymouth was where we headed and where the mast would be lifted out (not many places can accommodate the size of our mast!).  We headed into some pretty breezy weather on our way to Plymouth and were glad when we arrived. We were in Plymouth ready to have the mast lifted out on the Tuesday morning, once the right sized crane turned up the mast was removed…by which time it was now gone 6.00pm.  We were on a tight schedule (although we do put some leeway into our sailing schedule) and keen to get back up to Cardiff.

95 foot of Challenge Wales mast

95 foot of Challenge Wales mast

It was a bit strange seeing Challenge Wales without her mast in but a few days later she was re-rigged and back in action.

Challenge Wales without her mast

Challenge Wales without her mast

It was then a gentle, non-stop, sail back to Cardiff Bay, although the wind started off in the right direction and a nice strength, like many of our voyages this year it dropped and we ended up motor sailing.  It was also good to have light winds to ease our new rigging in!

Now that we are back in Penarth Marina, our other little maintenance jobs are starting, finishing and continuing.

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with getting mastless, and sailing the boat to and from Plymouth. Challenge Wales relies on the goodwill of its volunteers and companies who help us with running the boat. Ship Shape Days also give volunteers a chance to learn more about Challenge Wales and to meet each other. If you are interested in volunteering or supporting Challenge Wales, then get in touch.


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