We temporarily lost the dog after my home display of pyrotechnics for our employers on Friday night. Whoops, I’d accidentally left the side gate unlocked so when the bangs started up Basil had immediately legged it for the safety to be found under our neighbour’s hedge. It took ages to persuade him out, the poor thing.
Wisely having decided to leave for Southampton early on Saturday morning in order to allow us to have a civilised Friday night (see above) I drove Becky, Jan and myself down there at a nervous sixty six miles an hour with my still fairly new driving license, and arrived to find Robin perched upon the scaffold welding his way round the starboard rivet heads, seeing him again was lovely, even though we knew he’d be there it was great to have the chance to catch up with each other again.
Inside the wendy house the air was frosty cold and damp, after the official starting work cuppa (two sugars please) I breathed huffy air that smelt of steel and we all donned overalls ready to work for the day.
This was to be B’s first working trip to the boat since the end of July, as she’s been doing loads of paying weekend instructing work all summer. She’s also currently suffering through a nasty bout of back pain, she was thrown off a horse two months ago and is still waiting for a proper scan to identify what has gone horribly wrong. So I felt it important that we got this weekend right for all sorts of reasons. Hence we’d devised a plan. The wheelhouse would be the focus of engagements and we’d throw everything we could at getting just one small area done and painted, officially the first bit of proper paint on the boat…
We had an early speed wobble when I realised first; that we’d left our supper of homemade beef chilli in the fridge, then not only that but also, the horror- I’d also left my brand new palm sander- bought special, at home. Grrr. Never mind, it turned out there was enough to do (if not eat) so whilst B attacked the skanky dusty living accommodation, Jan took the last windows and the doors off the wheelhouse before taking a sander to the rest. And lucky little me got an angle grinder out to clean up the steel of the bridge itself, more crappy paint and heavy rust had to go, so the chipping hammer got a good airing too. But the D shaped deck is brand new, and Robin just had to finish welding the seams underneath for it to be done. Yep, you can see from the picture that we’ve no ships wheel or instruments- long gone before we bought her I’m afraid.
Things got crowded later in the day when Robin joined in on the bridge to close up a useless square hole cut into the coaming, so for a while the work became positively gregarious, now that’s what I call a refreshing change.
By the end of Saturday there was quite a lot to feel good about. A tiny area of steel was as ready as it’d ever be for paint, welded, cleaned and prepared. And we were covered in teak dust instead of nameless black filth, hooray. I took B and Jan for good Chinese food at Panda restaurant, where we ate as if we hadn’t seen sustenance for a week. You know you’re really hungry when the waiter passes wry comment on the speed with which you’ve just demolished the starters.
Sunday morning, after bacon and eggs I held belt sander races on one of the doors, bringing up the beautiful grain and colour. Jan decided to have a bash at getting this old transformer-welding machine to work, work it did, and Lo he did start filling pits and holes. Even shorn of its cover the contraption got hot very quickly with inevitable results, so B went to get some more fuses. We had to stop him before he used too many of Robin’s sticks, and before he blew half the fuses in Southampton. Not before I had a quick go on some scrap though, mostly I just welded the stick to the work piece and swore- so I’ll be needing some practice then.
Then the moment of reckoning had finally arrived. We wiped down the one door we’d got done enough and applied teak oil, the effect of which was like a ray of golden sunshine in the murk. I made brace for the paint. Cor but that marine epoxy though, strong stuff isn’t it? We decided to use a bit of Intershield 300, two-pack stuff. I had the chosen area all ready and at 3 on Sunday afternoon wiped the steel down thoroughly with standard thinners- which loosened the bolts on my forebrain right off, then dried everything out, mixed up and slapped on the old paint. Sticky paint. Mmm. The fact that I’d chosen the bridge as ground zero didn’t help matters vaporous, even with the windows and doors off. The lack of air movement inside the tent ensured we all gained a good few lungfuls, consequently even packing up to leave immediately afterwards was a laugh and driving home (tar baby) was a hoot, in spite of ten minutes taking the airs (aka checking the oil in the car). I don’t think we’ve all laughed so hard for a long time now, at just everything and anything, suddenly the entire world was funny. B was still having fits of the profound giggles when we unloaded the car at home. Maybe it really was only the paint melting our brain cells, but I’d prefer to think that it just helped a pervasive sense of relief to be expressed. Anyways we all awaited the splitting headaches, which never arrived. Yahoo!
Next week I really must sort out some ventilation, I’m sure that stuff’s not good for you…
That moment of first paint was hugely significant, it is brilliant to be able to say we’ve finally begun to give ms Ann some new coatings- and although it’s only a beginning, B and I both feel as if we’ve broken through a huge barrier and that we can now begin to guess at the shape of work to come over the next weeks and months, certainly it looks like there’ll be plenty more variety than all the endless grinding that we’ve been doing.
And it’s probably going to take the entire week to wash all the dirty overalls, musty duvets and dusty sleeping bags, the washing machine seems to be running constantly and there’s still a mountain of dirty gear to sort out, but at least the living accommodation will be a little less pikey for a short while. All ready for the winter.