Thursday, June 01, 2006

Destroy everything.

I'm going to tell you about two important people now.
Becky Hewlett, aka B, B-b or occasionally just plain Missus. Is obviously My Missus. It's fair to say that all this would have remained a big fat fantasy made of nothing, if not for her skills, hidden talents and sheer bloodymindedness. It was mostly her idea to buy a boat instead of a house so technically it's all her fault and I officially blame her for the whole joyous adventure.
Jan calls Becky "Tigger". Says a lot really.
Jan Cicmanec is an old friend of ours and the first of a whole bunch of amazing mates who've permitted themselves to be pressganged into helping out on board. He's a Slovakian who now works as a tailor for Hardy Amies, Saville Row no less, but was once a contract mining engineer. It stands to reason that anyone capable of such a dramatic U-turn in their career is likely to be able to turn their hand to anything- and Jan can. In fact it's sometimes difficult to make him stop and there's always a risk of the golem effect, like casting a spell and commanding 'dig me a ditch' and returning some time later to discover a chasm forty feet deep and three hundred miles long. You've got to watch out- but he's a very handy helper indeed, and he looks quite heroic in that picture.
Our mission? to remove as much crap as possible so we could begin to see what we'd actually got that was of any value, and therefore work out what to do with it.
I lost count of the number of times we'd drive late on a friday night from London to Plymouth and pitch a tent at a site near to the boat, wake up after nowhere near enough sleep to bolt breakfast before scrambling to get on board and use as many short hours as possible wrecking stuff.
The first tools we bought included a kettle, some crowbars and a lumphammer. This was not going to be pretty. The fact that our boat still sat out from the wharf side presented a problem actually getting junk off the deck so we crafted a very crude ship to shore pulley system in order to solve it. The effects of tides were a bit tricky though and the line had to be adjusted A Lot, as the boat rose off her muddy resting place and then settled back down twice a day, and then listed hard to starboard as the tide went out. Made life inside the hull interesting, and wonky.
All that old paint was a bit of fun too and I remember the bottom falling out of a lot of the cans as we lifted them, things got a bit wierd after that particular afternoon and I think I scared a few innocent bystanders in the local supermarket. The fumes must've got to me.
One trip was really just Not Funny. I'd properly injured my back at work but saw no alternative but to continue with the Wendy plan and some good strong painkillers, then it rained. Hard. All day. By mid afternoon I couldn't climb the engine room ladder; let alone swing the damn hammer about. I drank myself into a torpor that evening but I cried into my beer so much that it was probably considerably weaker by the time I tipped each miserable sup down my throat. Mind you mixing it with painkillers compensated neatly.
This kind of maniac behaviour went on for around three months until we realized there wasn't a lot else that we could lift, hell- we'd even rowed the bathtub ashore and we had still found no treasure hiding in the bilges. In between our demolition runs we'd slowly formulated a plan to deal with the actual boat itself. And driven by our increasing frustration at spending anything up to seven hours driving each way we quickly began to look at bringing the boat to us rather than the other way around. This was going to be expensive. But it was to develop into one of the most perfectly brilliant things I've ever taken part in in my life...

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Don't know why the pictures didn't come up on this entry.. I blame my own computer illiteracy.

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