Tuesday, January 30, 2007

David and…

The twenty first century is just brilliant. We received a great e-mail from Jon at Griffin towage the other day. He’s the guy who bravely towed us and our wreck of a boat round from Plymouth just over 18 months (or a lifetime) ago. A full report is in the early archives of this here blog. Jon already owns three hardworking tugs, but recently couldn’t help expanding his fleet when the reasonably famous and certainly capable tug Goliath came up for sale. We should probably start calling him Commander soon. He’s very kindly sent us two pictures, one of his new and very big baby, and one of our own considerably smaller vessel. Look at that!! That’s our Wendy Ann doing her thing under Harry Rose’s livery, and the photo is evidently taken quite soon after he took her on- as she is steaming along under the name Wendy Ann 3. This is one of those long stories, which I’m not going to explain now. The two pictures together represent little and large in action, and there’s something about this that tickles me so I thought I’d share it.
Can’t wait to get to Poole and see Goliath for real. I know I’ll be overawed and a bit jealous when I do, because that wheelhouse alone is probably nearly half the size of our whole boat. I dread to think what the engine room looks (and sounds) like.
Nice one Jon, may she bring years of good service much profit unto you. It’ll undoubtedly take us a similar number of years to get Wendy to look close to how she does in that picture, but I'm looking forward to them.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Much More Better.

We can finally visualise the new arrangement of stairs, steps and other nice split level effects regarding the bridge and wheelhouse cabin. Why? Because we spent last Sunday indulging in the long awaited unification of those two spaces. We’d been putting off this event (i.e. looking forward to it) for ages mostly because it necessitates the rendering of our only cabin, yes, the one we’ve been sleeping in for the last eighteen months of weekends- completely useless for it’s purpose. It’s now full of holes. This means we’ll not sleep over at Wendy for flipping ages. Really we had planned to do what we’ve just done when downstairs was all painted and floored to move in- but in the end, fuck it, we both had hangovers and itchy crowbars (I’d taken B out for too many drinks Saturday, ha.) Also our increasingly thorough steel replacement program requires seeing the state of the steel behind a lot of the old lining around the site of the spiral stair.
Let’s face it the fit out that we threw over the side was complete garbage. Looking back, I do wish that I’d taken pictures of the pile before it filled up Saxon’s skip because it really, really, was rubbish. I clearly cannot stress this enough. I shall give two examples.
First, part of the dividing wall between the two cabins was made of an old spot board- a piece of construction ply that has enjoyed a previous life as a surface on which to knock up concrete. So in the cabin we had a nice painted wall, on the back of which was a stunning rendition of the surface of the moon. There was zero insulation. This lunar landscape was nailed (!) to its beams with clouts (!!) That’s not bloody marine construction, heave it over the side right now. As if the first example weren’t bad enough, the next concerns a small bit of internal steel coaming which we’d decide to trim up by gas cutting. We removed its old lining (under the foot of our old and trusty bed platform dad). In doing this we bemusedly discovered a panel that was faced with crappy eighth inch ply, it was glued into place with nothing more than about two inches of squirty foam, badly.
Hey, say what you like about previous owners (ours was at least trying to be creative with very little), this pile of horrors was at best an utter doddle for us to take out.
Anyways, the results of which are now illustrated here with pictures that’ll probably make no sense unless you’ve actually visited Ms Ann. And being taken on a phone-camera have no way to capture such a wide angle as is needed to cram in what to us nevertheless feels like a very large space. Instead just take my word for the fact that standing in the bridge is now an experience that holds marvellous vistas of what’s to become a very useful space indeed in our future.
In other news this week, My dear, dear boys at the construction firm where I work have accidentally overordered on steel angle. Oh dear. Over thirty metres of very heavy, 120mm rolled angle is now all mine for free. All I have to do is get Simon to gas cut it all to my list and get the resulting pieces to Southampton and we’ll soon have (ha) a ton of extra floor bearers for Wendy Ann. These are destined for areas that need them anyway, and will be very very cool. And also moderately heavy. Hooray.
In Even More other news this week, we’re somehow finding the energy in the evenings to redecorate the flat that we live in. Looks good so far. It goes without saying that I’m consuming rather a lot of coffee at the moment, I also more or less live in my overalls, everybody say Eh-oh.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Heavy Metal.

The race to get the rest of the welding work in the forward compartment finished is on, and I’d try to write something poetic but for the fact that I’m exhausted and sore. All I’ve done is a day and a half at the yard, but I’m knackered. So instead here are some pictures of the various areas that are currently receiving attention. Our new chain locker is coming on nicely, and I feel for Robin- who spent some time inside the thing welding up underneath our first piece of replacement deck. That’s his feet in the rather cryptic picture. I can empathise because I’ll never forget spending what felt like an eternity, but was probably more like half an hour in there grinding all the crappy old paint off last August. The aforementioned deck work doesn’t look like much, but it’s quite a masterpiece really because under the old deck was a vertical sandwich of frame and front of chain locker. The meat in said sandwich was loads and loads of heavy scale, so much that it’d started to severely bow the frame under the increasing pressure. You’ve really got to love these old steel boats. All this stuff was only made accessible by the fact that Robin had the presence of mind to remove the anchor winch, he’d cut its mooring bolts off and dragged the thing out of the way. It is not a light object, and Robin is quite small.
Yes, there’s definitely a huge hole in the bridge coaming on the starboard side, but not for long. Robin cut a bit out and then we all knew the rest was buggered too so it’s all gone and new 8mm plates are being cut to replace the lot. Once it’s in we’ll repeat the process on the port side. This will come with the added bonus that we’ll be able to bolt our wheelhouse back on and won’t have to worry about the nightmare scenario of it all blowing away in a winter gale anymore. Hooray!
What else? The bulkhead doorway has a fetching new curve to its top, neatly giving us a precious 100mm extra headroom, and everything is all ground nice and smooth. That was me. The Grinder monkey. Ook ook. Next weekend, more of the same sort of stuff (although hopefully Robin won’t have to spend an hour in a very small box with lots of heat and fumes- but you never know.)
In other news this week my plan for the spiral staircase looks a lot like it’ll work, that’s potentially a bloody relief. Also I’ve started a welding class in evening school. There’s no way I’ll get to be as good as Robin, but at least I might learn to do some of the simpler stuff eventually, and anyway- it’s an interesting way to spend my Thursday nights for the next ten weeks.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I’ve had a heavy cold, or as Becky kindly puts it ‘man flu’. I spent the weekend feeling like poo. Slept all the way to Southampton and all the way back. For a couple of hours in between I gawped inaccurately at bits of the boat, then I spent a lot of Sunday and Monday sleeping too.
Now I feel much better but have done two days off work to get here, so yesterday I called in, slept for another hour, got up and made this- a scale model of that staircase. This has been properly bugging me all Christmas, I keep getting a nagging feeling that it’s too big for the damn boat and I can’t see how it’s going to fit so thought I’d try out the confusing maths; then I gave up and made the model. My conclusion? Yes, it’s too big, but I Think I can make it work if the planned site of the bathroom moves. This is a Really BIG DEAL. Up till now we’d always planned to have the forward compartment containing both galley and bathroom, and suddenly in the blink of an eye the realisation has dawned that maybe it’d be better off aft of the bulkhead. Botheration. For ages I’ve harboured the fantasy of a huge empty engine room as living room but am reluctantly forced to accept that I’m being completely impractical. There are other layout factors that help this decision along, like headroom, which is good enough for a decent hardcore shower on the engine room side. Also, annoyingly, I can see this new plan quite clearly in the old minds eye. Damn. I suppose I should reserve the final judgement until Saturday when I’m with the real Wendy again before drawing some more plans.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sacrifice a chicken at the shrine to Janus.

Five days into this shiny New Year already and here we are looking both ways down the road we’re travelling. Our blessed change in recent fortunes dictates that we are eagerly looking forward to the coming months, and anticipating grand boatily progress. Already 2006 is tinged with the warm afterglow of nostalgia and we bathe in its strange fuzzy radiance and we are so, so proud of how far we’ve come. Or alternatively Yuk, scratch that, pull the other one and change the bleedin’ record- it’s taken effing ages of banging our bloody heads against the hull to persuade the Wendy project into anything resembling a glacial sodding crawl. That’s better.

This time a year ago, or at least last New Years Eve things went with a distinct phut rather than a bang, we scared ourselves sober at Victoria’s house in Nottingham by attempting our accounts in the early evening, thus discovering just in time that we were about to scrape along the bottom into January- never mind the other eleven months… By the time B’s sister finished her shift and finally joined us for one of those silly arbitrary new year drinks at 2am we were either too whack tired or just plain weirded out to indulge at all. Cor, we must’ve been fabulous fun to be with.
Whilst on it’s way to the recycling the old calendar tells me that we didn’t take many weekends at all off last year considering the need to find time to (amongst other things) attend to the following:
a) Being Really Knackered,
b) A Family Wedding and Birthday,
c) good old Back Injury,
d) Two Days on the Isle of Wight,
e) Going Mad,
f) Cheering up,
g) passing a Driving Test,
h) Nearly Killing Each Other, and
i) Getting back Together Again
Christ, now that I look at it it’s a wonder we got anything done at all.
I do feel quite painfully conscious of the knowledge that we basically spent all of last year removing paint and rust by one means or another (by either rubbing vigorously, or with lots of bashing). Looking at the photo album I’m starting to see a common theme running through recent pages, one of various people dressed like a bizarre hybrid of tellytubbies and stormtroopers, all toting various unpleasant powertools. That’s it, children’s TV will just never be the same for me again.
At this point it might be fun to consider the odd notion that maybe up till now we’ve sort of had it easy and that, in order to be successful, the coming year must present more challenges, intrigues and financial implications far above and beyond anything we’ve so far encountered.
What ho, we’re really looking forward to it anyway and have duly raised our glasses of very cheapest cava, for unlike last year, there now for the first time ever, lurks in the shadows S and B’s Big Plan (see also Good Grief, or Project Management) and the way we’ve laid it out before long it’ll most likely be growling and snapping at our heels. For we are nothing if not Ambitious, and a year of Weekends is not a very long time at all.