Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stolen from Mother.

Anyway, I finally got the bosun’s store bilges as clean as I possibly could before giving up, and throwing my toys out of the pram with a small whimper of exhaustion. So now this compartment too is ready for replating, or at least as ready as it’ll ever be, dammit. There’s no more scale, or bitumen, or for that matter any other foreign garbage clinging to those frames, which is a blessed relief. To illustrate this small victory I’m including some pictures taken by my mum during her recent visit, which may help to explain why this sort of work has begun to make me utter some very naughty curse words, the kind one never really should in the presence of one’s own mother.
So, this weekend B will be joining me for the Saturday (I can swear all I like in front of her), and we’re going to do something a bit different, I’m feeling better already. B hasn’t seen our little vessel since we were scrabbling to get her ready for paint (the boat, not Becky), and so should at least be in for a nice surprise. This is the main thing I’m excited about, seeing her reaction. Sometimes it gets a bit lonely bashing away on my own, so it’ll be nice to share the continuing delirium for a change, and share we shall- I’ve got the pleasure of B’s company for a whole month of Saturdays, AND at least one Sunday too, all the way through February- yessss!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Pox on all Bilges.

Yeah, I know. Also, A Pox on driving backwards and forwards to Southampton all the pigging time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back to Black.

Just before we got started on this I did get a bit silly about the new paint, even spending my first day there after SBS had finished the job tiptoeing around in my socks, because the finish was just so pristine. What a sight I must’ve looked, as I minced around gawping at the sheer silver wonder of it, scared to even touch lest I defile the virgin surface. What a bloody idiot. I’m relieved to report though that I got over it, and this state of play didn’t last long at all.

After all the excitement- and aforementioned (probably inevitable) reverie, brought on by all that lovely painting, we’ve finally found ourselves able to move our steelworking attentions on to the final third of the vessel. This comprises of a compartment known as the ‘bosun’s store’ and the actual stern itself, which was once used as a trim tank, filled with raw seawater to adjust Wendy’s attitude whilst towing. The raw seawater bit is a good indicator of just how buggered the stern really is, but we’re used to replacing perforated, wafer thin steel by now, so I’m undaunted.
It does however feel for all concerned, a bit like ‘once more into the breach dear friends’ but in a couple of weeks we’ve not made too bad a start I reckon. As you can see from the pictures, Robin has already made all the cuts necessary in the hull itself, including removing a large area which had a doubler plate (big steel sticking plaster- for the uninitiated) on the starboard side. The gap between the doubler plate and original hull was still full of rusty water, which made it seriously worth removing, and also made me swear never to recommend doubling, or overplating as it’s sometimes known- to anyone. Anyway, the upshot of all this cutting action is that our bosun’s store now sports a dramatically large hole in the bottom, big enough on one side to easily walk through, but I’m still undaunted. In fact, today the first new plate actually went back IN on the port side, which can’t be bad progress considering it’s still just about January. Robin has been attacking the rivets and platelines on the port side, and in spite of the fact that he’s now swearing about them (I hardly dare suggest to him that he’s nearly there), he’s already done more than a quarter of the remaining rivets on the entire hull…

Meanwhile, with the bottom off the boat again, I’ve seized the opportunity to do what I’ve learned-the hard way- to do best. Yep, I’m fully reacquainted with the airhammer and wirebrush, and I’m clambering around in the bilges (again) trying my damnedest to get all the otherwise inaccessible frames and corners properly clean. This process is taking some time. I spent the first weekend of my exertions being rained upon by great clods of grease, bitumen, rust, flakes of paint, chips of concrete, you name it, the bosun’s store bilge has the lot, and I confess I started with that familiar doomed feeling of ‘bloody hell, I’ll never get it done’ at which point I had to take myself outside and give myself a good talking to. But after a couple of days effort I’m finding my stride and the rate of finishing areas is gathering pace.

On a postscript for this entry, I believe that my dear (and only slightly eccentric) mother deserves a special mention, winning as she does my ‘first parent to don overalls for the greater good’ award. She invited herself along to help out on Sunday, all the way from France, where she now lives, and she very kindly shovelled many buckets of the crap I’d been knocking out of the bilges all weekend into the bin, as well as having a go at tidying the chaos that is the forward accommodation. Thank you Mum. Note the incongruously glamorous choice of scarf and headgear she wore in the photograph I took of her, that’s my mum all over really.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hey Presto.

I couldn't resist this.

It only took two and a half years to get this far.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Becky’s Back for More.

I have been aware for sometime that my promise to air my views on the undertaking that is Wendy Ann 2 has, for many become a long forgotten memory. In fact, I made that promise way back in April ’06 (even I had to look it up!) I think now that too much has happened to dredge the details back up and what would be the point? Don’t look back they say, don’t regret. Well I don’t, but there are a few things I would have done differently that’s for sure, hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it? Reading back over the archives I was surprised to find I am already able to see the funny side of some really trying times, maybe it’s just Seb’s writing. I was also made acutely aware of just how much we have changed both in terms of what we do but also how we work together. Looking back on the entries from the start I can still remember the first time I spotted Wendy Ann- on an idle internet search and not believing what I was seeing. She seemed too good to be true, Oh how I wish this pessimism had lasted! Because as you know if you have read this blog from the outset, she was. I remember driving down to Plymouth in the snow on pitch-black roads to stay in a deserted Travelodge, where we sat in the bath together dreaming of what we would find the next day when we were due to view the boat. We were so full of optimism and excitement.

I still love the boat as much if not more than that first day we saw her and she feels more like home every time I visit. I certainly have dispelled the weird feeling I experienced after the sale was completed- we were sat in the bridge drinking cheap Cava and I thought ‘I will never get to know all of this boat, she is someone else’s, she’s too big’. Strangely the idea that she was too big never reached into my rational mind and certainly never evolved as far as comprehending what we had taken on.

New Year 2006 saw us sober, skint and very nervous of the coming year, but we were filled with a blind faith, a prevailing sense that has kept us going even through the darkest hours. We met a couple before we bought Wendy Ann that had done a similar scale project and I felt envious of the journey they had taken in converting their home, despite their assurance that they had dark times. I know now how they must of felt but I am still glad to be doing it. It continues to push me, my personal levels of endurance, tolerance and perseverance but also has demonstrated to me a depth and strength of relationship that I always hoped I had with Seb, but now I know for sure that it is all that and more. I have along the way had cause to reflect on just how lucky I am with my friends. Not only have some gone out of their way to actively help us on the boat, often dragging our morale (and at times us) up from the floor but also those who are just there for me, that understand the lack of decent contact and instead listen to the tales of woe and celebrate the triumphs. I cannot thank you guys enough, from the bottom of my heart.

Somewhere around July ’06 the bubble burst and the reality of the situation hit me, hard. Anxiety fuelled sleep deprivation, sums with zeroes that I had never dreamt of now filled my nightmares and a growing sense of OH SHIT! If someone had told me when we first started looking to buy a boat that in a few years time I would have undertaken a complete career change from fashion PR to working with horses and would spend every weekend covered in filth and wielding and angle grinder I would have laughed them out of the office (shortly after asking what an angle grinder was!) but here I was Sept ’06 and an old hand at being filthy and handling numerous power tools.

Then, just when I thought life couldn’t get any harder the money ran out, as in no options, no bank would touch us, the credit cards were all maxed and we owed money- a lot of money. The bottom fell out of my world, I couldn’t believe that after giving my all to this venture over the last 18 months or so that it seemed doomed to fail, or more to the point I was. My dreams were shattered, I was broken and felt defeated; I had worked so hard, sacrificed so much and it still wasn’t enough. I am naturally an optimistic person but we had just spent the last 2 months living on risotto (made with the stock from free chicken bones from a local butcher) we were both working 3 jobs, were mentally and physically exhausted, broke and simply didn’t have the strength left to fight anymore. We resigned ourselves to the fact that it was over. But just like our friends had stepped in when we needed a hand in the past, the family stepped in and scraped us out of the bilges, scrubbed us down and gave us a financial shove forward. Thank you! Thank fuck! Thank everyone! Not all families would do that, especially considering the insanity that had evidently overcome us and possessed us with the notion of buying a floating wreck, but there we go! So we started the new year of ’07 in much better style than ’06 and despite the all consuming nature of the boat we did manage a bit of time for ‘getting out more’ (on the advice of many) and last April saw the first coat of paint. That galley was nearly our nemesis but there it was- finished, gleaming and beautiful. Relief, satisfaction and elation brought fresh tears, hope and a will, no, blood stubbornness to see this through. We had to.

The installation of the temporary floor in the galley really showed the boat as it would be, you didn’t even have to squint that hard! However by July new challenges were battering us. With our respective jobs, my teaching and trying to fit time in to work on the boat we saw less and less of each other. A situation that had never entered my head when we set out to do this project; it was something for our future, our first home. The idea that in order to move it forward and make a dream a reality that we would have to play to our strengths and make the most of opportunities as they presented themselves, even if that meant separation from each other was a bitter pill to swallow.

That is really the point I wanted to reach with this blog entry. We have started this year with another huge leap forward in the form of another session of painting, this time the engine room and superstructure. Now it seems like the end really is within our grasp. Sometimes two people have to divide forces in order that they can be most effective; one doing the physical work and the other use their opportunities to help finances (loans do the rest) both partners are equally important and prepared to exchange places should the need or opportunity arise. Neither could make it work without the other. The dynamics of everyone’s relationships are different and far be it for other people to analyse, least of all judge them. Not everything has to be written and broadcast to be known and understood between those to whom it matters.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

As good as it gets.

Um… we’ve just received the best Christmas present we could possibly wish for. On returning from the annual tour de families on Thursday 27th, we found ourselves (unused as we are to having leisure time) at a loose end as to what we’d do next. Then I switched my phone back on. Contained in my inbox was a little gem of a message from Jon at SBS, he said that they’d had a reshuffle of their diary, and that therefore our little project could now be fitted in, starting on the 2nd January (Holy shit!). Therefore we cancelled, or at least seriously postponed our new year celebrations, dropped everything else and have spent the last five days driving ourselves down to Wendy Ann and pushing like mad to make her ready to accept her new paint. We’re absolutely knackered, quite apart from the large holes in our deck that Robin allowed himself to be persuaded into coming in to weld up, and the anode studs he and Becky welded on at 9pm the same day, it has taken an incredible amount of time and effort to get all that bare steel really clean and dust free. This really shouldn’t come as any surprise by now. So instead of seeing in the new year at some wild party, we made ourselves a cup of cocoa and went to bed early.
Even our Jan de man got involved with knocking the ginger rust in the engine room back, he did this by calling me up to convey festive merriment, got sidetracked and ended up inviting himself round to put his overalls on for a day. Couldn’t have done it without you mate.
So today the boys from SBS have begun, and since I was present I did my best to help out, mainly by joining in with solvent ragging the steel prior to painting, and holding worklights so Dan could see into each bilge compartment as he sprayed. So... without further ado here follows some pictures of how far the first three drums of intershield got us today. Please excuse the fact that there’s loads of them, I think I was a bit overexcited.

Happy New Year everyone.