Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Yellow Peril.

You know that yellow box that sat immediately after our lovely teak Wheelhouse and was affectionately known as our ‘aft cabin’ despite the fact that it didn’t sit anywhere near aft at all, just aft of the bridge? Well…
Far from being an original feature of ms Ann’s superstructure, this part has changed radically several times during the course of her history and the cabin that we inherited was constructed probably about ten years ago by her previous owner. Ever since we bought Wendy Ann 2, we’ve known we’d eventually rid ourselves of the current structure and replace it with something more to our satisfaction. Why? Simply put- it’s construction. It was built of 2x4” pine beams clad with regular construction ply (not the waterproof stuff either), with a cobbled together lineout and NO insulation, but it’s most idiosyncratic feature was probably it’s portholes. They were actually washing machine doors. It’s true.
B and I agreed that it should go, but we differed strongly on the when bit. My attitude was to save it until we floated again, as removal seemed to me to invite even more work on ourselves besides which it’d leave a bloody great hole in the shape of our vessel. Becky however, was more of the ‘lets get it over with, I hate the thing’ school of thought- but for many months this difference of opinion had sat, quite amicably, at stalemate. Until that is, two weekends ago.
You’ll note I’m writing about this big yellow box in the past tense and therefore what follows is sort of inevitable.
Toward the end of a working Sunday (is there another kind? I forget), in order to have a little stretch, I stood with one foot upon the starboard bridge step, the other upon the bulwark and leant casually upon the aforementioned cabin with my outstretched right hand. There was a dull crump as the cabin gave way and my hand went right through it, and although unhurt- I was, not to put it mildly, rather surprised. So, after gathering my wits I cast around for the nearest available pointy object and happened upon my trusty Stanley knife. Thus armed I set about prodding around the hole that my hand had created and within minutes discovered that the entire starboard side of the cabin was extremely rotten. The only thing giving any strength and holding the appearance together was a thick layer of paint, beneath which the ply and timbers had become so insubstantial they readily crumbled to dust and yielded the strong aroma of forest floor.
Later that evening I called up miss B to declare that the stalemate had tipped in her favour, a titbit of news to which she responded with obvious glee, and hardly gloated at all. I then opened a cold beer and successfully demolished a good chunk of the cabin with my bare hands. Oooh, it made me feel such a man I can tell you.
So last weekend Becky got her wish and came with me to the boat, I swear she just likes smashing stuff up. Removing the aft cabin turned out to be fairly simple, but it was a long day of no small effort. Basically I spent the morning rearranging the supports of wendy’s tent as scarily one had up until now sat directly on top of the rotten cabin. B carefully removed the after bridge windows and I ran a coarse bladed jigsaw up either side of the cabin to physically separate it from the wheelhouse. At this point we got a bit stuck as for how best to continue, with the inevitable result that I became waxy and took a wrecking bar to the cabin’s lining in order to illuminate how best we should complete the destruction.
I may possibly have mentioned before that Wendy’s previous owner was evidently extremely fond of the use of mastic sealant in his construction methods. Lineout removed we could see that what we had was crappy timbers assembled with a hotchpotch of second hand screws and clout nails and almost every single ill fitting joint secured with a ton of BLOODY sealant! Again! After fighting this stuff as it thwarted our efforts by clagging saw blades and jamming attempts with crowbars for the last fucking time I resolved there and then to seek him out, tie him down and force bloody mastic into every single orifice I could find to see how he likes it. I mean, I wouldn’t mind so much if the stuff he’d bonded together with it had any lasting substance of it’s own. Anyway, I’ve since calmed down a little bit, and Becky has made me solemnly promise not to become a very singularly minded psychopath, but she’s keeping me away from skeleton guns, just in case.

After a bit of frustrated head scratching we realised that the weak point was where the walls met the roof, which turned out to be hardly secured at all, and the rot wasn’t helping much either. I finally developed a plan of attack, B took a break for the loo but not before beseeching me to wait for her. I couldn’t, so while she was gone I quickly cut the bolts which secured the timber uprights to the coamings, got my shoulder under the roof and allowed the rotten starboard side to fall in. I then administered the coup de grace simply by letting go of the roof whereupon the entire cabin collapsed sideways with a satisfying crash. It took us until 7.30pm to smash the resulting mess into manageable chunks, heave the whole lot over the side and completely fill one of Saxon Wharfs large skip sized bins with the remains of our now ex-cabin.
It was a knackering but surprisingly cathartic experience, and we congratulated ourselves as we stood back to admire Wendy Ann’s new and quite odd appearance. The gaping hole where the yellow peril used to be still gives me a fright every time I ascend the ladder against the boats port side, but at least with the abomination finally out of the way we can now attend properly to the steel coamings on which it sat. Some are surprisingly scaly and rusted, a discovery which makes this rather brutal demolition job all worth it I reckon. So it’s all good, just whatever you do don’t ask when we’re going to build the replacement cabin, instead rest assured that when we do, it’ll be properly designed, made of decent hardwood, have real portholes and be glued and screwed together sensibly.


Blogger bowiechick said...

Washing machine doors you say? Well I am NOT going to mention that to Greig as sure as God-made-little-fishes, he'll do just that until he can come up with the "real" thing.

11:08 pm  
Anonymous Ma in France said...

Oh my!!! Oh my, oh my!
I remember having seen this once cosy and comfy cabin where they used to stow away for the night and at that time I admired in awe the lack of sanity and courageousness of starting on a course which would no doubt cause fathoms of emotion let alone graft and funding. Now it has changed! Well done you both.
I can't WAIT to SEE the progress when I get to England in November -an exact year since my last visit!

12:48 pm  
Blogger Jamie said...

OOooooh! Such possibilities lay ahead ~ can't wait to see the finished product! J

4:31 am  
Blogger IsmilebecauseIhavenoideawhatsgoingon said...

Thanks jamie, believe me, nor can I!

11:39 am  
Blogger Jonathan Knight said...

The Yellow Peril- good riddance to bad rubbish! Wendy Ann is a boat, not a washing machine. Love to you both. XX

10:49 am  
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