Tuesday, December 18, 2007


That Bloody boat. It’s driving me completely mad. Words probably cannot express the depths of my frustration- but I’m about to have a damn good go anyway. It goes like this, work tits off for entire year, set deadlines for vessel to be ready for next phase of priming, fail to be ready, move deadline back by month, convince self that we can get it done by X date, sail past deadline, continue to work tits off, move deadline back another month, and so on. Now it’s practically pigging Christmas and our vessel is still sat there, naked, devoid of those magic first coats of paint. Why the agonizing drawn out crawl this time? I was hoping to return from our holiday and work with Robin to get the last few tasks finished, then call the painters in. Have we managed it? Have we fuck as like. No, Robin has come down with mega-flu and sounds dreadful, like he’s got a bucket stuck firmly over his head and two corks rammed up either nostril, so obviously the last thing he needs is to be dragged out to a freezing cold shipyard and put to work, this hasn’t stopped me wishing pointlessly that he’d hurry up and get better though.
Instead I’ve been squeezing in the odd days to go down to Wendy Ann to see what I can achieve, this seems to comprise mostly of me just banging my own stupid head against the problem. The best achievement lately is persuading Steve and Jon at SBS (the guys who painted inside the forward third so brilliantly earlier this year) that what they really want to do is squeeze us into their monumentally hectic schedule early in the new year, just the same time that everyone else seems to be putting off their paint jobs ‘til, and then work themselves silly and make hardly any money from us. They must be mad but thank Christ they’ve agreed, though despite my earnest pleas, the closest thing to a promise that I can extract from either of them is “don’t worry, I’m sure we can fit you in, you’ll just have to be flexible that’s all”. Grrr, but I know this is as good as it gets when, frankly, they’ll be doing us a huge favour. I so, so wish they’d actually write us into their new year schedule, even in blunt pencil would do- just so I had a firmer date to aim at but no, instead I’m going to have to accept that Wendy Ann will be jostling for their attentions with other, much larger (and clearly therefore more lucrative) contracts, like the M.O.D.-oh poo.
But I need SBS, I know they’ll only apply the first two coats of a much thicker finished paint job, but it’s how they’ll apply them that’s the important bit. Other much less frustrated boat owners might go ahead and just start rollering on the primer, and there’s not much wrong with that really, but after all the blood, sweat and money we’ve spent I want to make the best use of the fancy intershield 300 primer’s potential, and the airless spray used by professionals fires the paint into the steel so hard that the end result is the best bond possible. It goes without saying that this is desirable in an anti corrosive paint.
So instead I’m waiting, which is only just about acceptable right now because Robin is temporarily dying of some horrid viral lurgy, but I have become so righteously sick of the sight of bare steel that I’m beginning to think I might pop if I have to look at it much longer, which is why there are no photographs to accompany this post.
Ok, ok… there’s still stuff to finish off anyway, which means that at least my welding ineptitude is being forced to grow up a little bit. It’s not called an ability until you can actually be relied upon to do it well more than 80% of the time I reckon. In my frustration I’ve taken on a few of the silly smaller tasks that I’m beginning to feel embarrassed at waiting to ask Robin to do, at least half of these turned out reasonably well first time and didn’t require grinding back and starting again. One of the successes was overhead (for all of about 50mm). Because it’s quite hard to do competently, this achievement represents a seriously big deal to me, as usually my welding skills vary wildly according to the state of my reserves of patience, and as you can probably tell, the tanks are running a little close to empty at the moment. But ho hum, practice makes perpetrator and all that, and I’m slowly starting to understand some of the principles that Robin’s patiently explained over the months.
But Bollocks, Everybody else’s boat looks great, ours still looks, well, steely. I’ve all these best laid plans about rollering on top coats and painting ballast and fitting portholes and putting the wheelhouse back together (not to mention that dratted spiral staircase), and there’s no frigging point in even thinking about all that because it’s freezing cold, saxon wharf just love taking our money every month, and now I’m having to grind off the odd bit of ginger rust because the tent has a few leaks and all the while Wendy is still sat there laughing at me. Bloody boat.

Absolutely nothing to do with boats, pt 2.

One more and then I promise we can get back to the dreary and slow moving story of the interminable restoration of Wendy Ann 2.

I’d like to introduce you to these guys, who are the winners of my new Favourite Band in the Universe Ever Award.

Yes folks, it’s the utterly brilliant Gogol Bordello.
If you’ve never heard of them then you’ve absolutely no idea what a great thing you are missing, an oversight which I believe you should rectify immediately. I urge, no beseech you to go out, buy one of their albums (gypsy punks-underdog world strike is my current favourite), pour yourself a drink or four and then turn your sound system up to eleven so you can educate your neighbours of their brilliance too.
Pure joyful chaos, utter mayhem and the most infectious noise I’ve ever heard in my entire life. So much so that I took B and Jan to see them play Hammersmith Apollo last weekend, and behold, they rocked.

Right, now some more boring stuff about people wearing overalls.

Absolutely nothing to do with boats, pt 1.

We’ve been on holiday! I know, I nearly fainted with surprise myself. For one reason or another (mostly boat), B and I haven’t taken a holiday at all, let alone together for over five years, so yes, it was a welcome change to routine indeed. And we only went on this one because our employer insisted so forcefully that she paid for it and everything. Couldn’t pass up an offer like that now could we? ‘Oh dear, sorry boss you’ve twisted my arm, no stop, stop it really hurts’. I immediately leapt to the conclusion that we must’ve been doing something right over the last few years, although I’m blowed if I can work out what, no other employer has ever indulged us with such a grand gesture…
So we flew to Marrakech, and stayed for just under a week, where we chased donkeys and men on mopeds, ran away from snake charmers and maniac henna tattooists, and B discovered she was quite good at overrunning food stalls, strong arming the chef into letting her cook and then bellowing at all the bemused tourists to ‘Come try my stuff!!’ Oh dear, seems I still can’t take her anywhere- but this sort of unruly behaviour only gains my deepest admiration anyway so maybe we’re as bad as each other. I contented myself with eating a ton of grilled meats, haggling like hell for trophies destined (eventually) to grace the interior of Wendy Ann 2, and then eating some more. So we’ve found the worlds weirdest bathroom taps, a drop dead lantern with which to crown that spiral staircase of ours (I know, I know, it’s still in pieces on a pallet) and a token piece of wrought iron work which we dunno where will end up. And I never want to see barbequed lamb again. All of which was a mighty fine distraction from our future homes current dusty unfinished state. We also managed to cram in a blessedly large amount of sleep in a four poster bed at the excellent riad townhouse where we stayed.
It was a nice holiday, a fun city destination with no boats and an experience we both found surprisingly relaxing, the luxury hammam steam bath massage thing probably helped- we both felt a bit vague and fuzzily laid back for about four hours after that particular treat.
Almost seemed a shame we’d only booked a week there really, as predictably enough, we both felt refreshingly back to our old selves by the time we boarded the flight home. Thanks Claire!