Saturday, October 18, 2008


I have been meaning to post an entry myself for ages. I thought of so many great, funny and sharp things to say that would blow Seb's writing right out of the water, but I have been so tied up with other shit that I have forgotten most of it so you are stuck with this; a thoughtful piece according to me, B:

Funny isn’t it that whilst the world is full of people suffering hunger and war that our own problems seem bigger than any of these and we just can’t seem to overcome them. Striving for a dream and an unusual lifestyle is hard graft. I don’t mean just tough going I mean soul destroying, exhausting and bank breaking graft. Funny how a project that starts as a dream together can pull you apart and together at the same time and so often that you feel like a pushme-pullyou. How do you balance working to earn money, finding time to work on the thing that is costing the money and working on the career you hope to have established by the time the thing is finished?
Well it is October again, I say that with feeling as if you look back in the archives you will see that it was around this time of year when everything went tits up last time and so here it is again- no money, no time, too much work on and now an impeding forced period of rest due to surgery (I’m due to have horrid bone crunching on dodgy feet, nothing life threatening). All I can say is… oh fuck. Whilst I am struggling to reconcile the need to work on the horses that were due to be sold (and therefore lessen the workload) with trying to work on the boat all before the impeding hospital date, Seb is going mad. I don’t mean in the need to be committed sense but in the same way as an amplifier…Seb goes all the way up to 12 but his fuses blow at 11. He is struggling to stop panicking, worry keeps him awake- where to moor her, what about the timber, what about the paint etc etc. So worried about the bigger picture that he just can’t get on with the job in hand or should I say thing things we can get on with. It is so hard for both of us to be living through the weeks that we should have been preparing to launch but not being able to and at the same time staring down the barrel of another freezing winter….
I was looking at the (gorgeous) aft cabin timber structure the other day and thinking that it pretty much summed up my life at the moment- a giant game of Jenga. One false move or one crucial piece pulled out and..JENGA! All I can say is thank fuck for the clamps of friends and family that are holding our fragile structure together.
If anyone reads this and is thinking of undertaking anything similar, be it a house, a boat or simply relocating to a new place be prepared for it to take 5 times longer than you think and to consider carefully, not in the brave ‘we can do it’ sense but really be critical- can I do this, can we and will we survive?
War leaves scars and so does being hungry, whether that’s for food, for love or for a life you dream of. Make damn sure you can survive but also that you can heal.
The most valuable lesson I have learned so far is that it takes more strength to admit defeat when you are broken, to cry, to stay positive when bitter cynicism stands in the way and do all of this together without blame or criticism. That is harder than anything an angle grinder or a cold winter can throw.

Monday, October 13, 2008

We’ve got a can of Intertuf.

And we’re not afraid to use it.

This weekend Becky continued to attack the huge list of so called ‘small’ jobs. All of which sorely need doing, and together add up to a huge difference in the overall state of our vessel. The latest in pictures:

The Mast, after its first top coats of white.

A water header tank, and its inspection hatch, the old flaky paint came off in seconds and underneath it turned out to be galvanised on the outside.. luckily the inside is in surprisingly good nick too so its going to be useful.

Two blanking plates which I made for the starboard fuel filler hole and forward flue opening, neither of which had anything sensible ready to put in them.

The mast foot… Which prior to cleaning and painting had to be burned off the scrappy piece of wood that it’d been screwed, bolted and mastic’d to. God bless oxy-propane.

A finished blanking plate installed over an opening at the back of the (dusty again) engine room superstructure.

And inevitably, some more ballast because we mixed up too much paint as usual. Acquisition of ballast kindly arranged by Mr Twine.

Becky often feels like a bit player in the background of this blog, because despite my best efforts I seem too often able only to write things from my own point of view, which gives the impression that there’s less going on than there actually is. I’d like to take the opportunity to make it absolutely clear that it takes two to tango. B may not have the inclination to throw power tools around for days and weeks on end, and she is painfully aware of her need to request some skilled things to be done for her. But it’s clear to me that it’s often her tenacity and vision that forces the whole thing forward. She is a determined woman alright. I tried to explain to her last night that, had I been left to my own devices, the new cabin would have been made of steel. Sure it would likely be finished by now, but it would also probably be an ugly thing possessing none of the sympathy our cabin structure has with the original wheelhouse and none of the grand aesthetic that the resulting edifice is developing. This is only as a direct result of Becky’s input to the design process, a fact she needs reminding of.

There’s also a bit of upset kicking about due to the fact that I reduced the significant, and long awaited installation of our spiral staircase to a few glib lines at the end of my last entry. My apologies, sometimes my twisted and inappropriate sense of humour runs away with me. But the pole dancing really WAS fun, did you really need to read about every nut tightened?

Sometimes we fight because we’re both quite headstrong and wilful people. Hey. Couples probably should have a good fight now and then, I’m always a bit suspicious when I hear someone claim they and theirs never do it. We just get scared when we argue a lot without seeming to resolve stuff. But it is a strange thing indeed to subject a relationship to the prolonged pressure testing that rebuilding such an old wreck of a vessel dictates. I remind myself that no reasonable couple would’ve voluntarily walked into the situation we find ourselves in, so somehow we should expect things to occasionally become distinctly unreasonable.

I tend to get shirty as well, all by myself, with no help from anyone at all. Basically the whole thing has become an immense source of personal frustration, our boat is a dream that's become a prolonged nightmare from which there seems no waking up. I just want to get the sodding thing on the water and begin a life of sorts, the limbo of our current arrangements has gone on far, far too long (trust me- I'm talking about more than just the boat here) and it just drives me a bit bonkers, the waiting, the working, the constant obsession. Not to mention the frankly scary amounts of cash that fly around (usually it migrates south). On the other hand, like Becky, I want to everything done double properly as well. It’s a case of one or the other, and usually the latter wins simply because I seem to have ridiculous issues around perfectionism, and because we still have a dream which we just refuse to give up on. Dammit. I gave up an old imperfect life on two wheels for this and it's been a long old journey. Things should be perfect, and they will be. One day. One day soon.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ha ha!

Guess what?
We’ve officially delayed the launch. Again.
So Bzzrrrrp.

I feel much, much saner now that I’ve fallen off that particular fence.
For a start, I’ve decided to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks- boat not ready equals so bloody what? I’ve never done this before, and am therefore entitled to be completely wrong. Sorry if I you got all excited and that by my naïve hopes but.., Three years (scratch that, nearly four years) have elapsed and we’ve sacrificed too much cash and sweat that I’m damned if we’ll throw the baby out with the bathwater now. The vessel is safer (albeit drier- not necessarily a bad thing) with the devil we know for the winter, and we want to finish this properly. That means completing things, not fudging them for the sake of desperation. So. Me finish woodwork. Me put roof on cabin. Me weld up hook and sort out mast. Me do much more other stuff. Me have time occasionally for long lie down with feet up and bubbles coming out of my ears going ‘burbleburbleburble’. Yarp. Here comes winter.

Never mind; as a consolation prize, Here’s some pictures of the most recent dog-tired drives to get things done. My thanks to B, Jan, Mark and my father for helping me to see sense.

Whilst installing the spiral staircase last weekend we found ourselves unable to resist the temptation to indulge in a little light pole-dancing. It started out well, but then went rapidly downhill.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Or- Getting the job done right, on time.

I’m starting to become incredibly nervous that we won’t be ready in time for the launch. We’re working so hard that we experience moments of zombie like tiredness, you know, blundering about bumping into stuff whilst unable to put one thought in front of the other. But we’ve regular day jobs to look after as well so almost every waking moment is occupied more than ever by work or by boat. God, how has my life become so much fun? In this headlong dash I’m finding it all too easy to concentrate on the details which are in front of me but lose sight of the bigger picture, i.e. what’s going to happen on the 27th of THIS BLOODY MONTH! Also, when I’m not actually at the boat I’m completely preoccupied with what I’ll do next time I get the opportunity so I’m dazed, exhausted and bumping into things at work too. I should be used to it by now, but I swear it’s getting worse. Every night sleep folds her arms around me and I fall in to them gratefully, only to be tormented with nightlong dream visions of the whole thing going horribly wrong in some new and ridiculous way. So I wake up almost as knackered as I was the night before but with my tired state now seasoned with a liberal sprinkling of grumpy and bad attitude that all the good coffee in the world will not shift.
Technically we’re pretty sure the boat will float, and now most of the holes in the superstructure are sealed up. But it’s October already. The cabin construction, whilst it’s progressing really well is become the latest new eater of time- we’ve worked out that in total it’s so far consumed 34 days. That’s at least 408 hours of work. I should’ve built a sodding shed to live in. Although the window frames are now starting to take shape we reckon there’s still another 6 days before all the pieces are made and fitted and it’s all ready to be glued together*. I may well end up undertaking these days alone. So far I’ve been incredibly privileged that an old friend has been on hand to teach me the required skills and to share the workload, but it’s looking likely I’ll have to take these new skills and push them as hard as I can because the dear Mark is off on holiday to America soon. Therefore I’m feeling lightly terrified about getting it all done in time. It almost goes without saying that I’d like my man to be present and part of the dismantling, gluing and reassembling process, but time is running through my fingers like dry sand, and launch dates now absolutely cannot be moved for all sorts of reasons…

I’m not even going to mention all the myriad other tasks that need our attention because if I do, my head will explode.

* It’s going to be a massive assembly job, and will take a whole day. As a bit of gentle homework I’m doing some research in an attempt to find a SLOW setting waterproof wood glue. So far I’ve identified two possibilities. Either the Expensive West System epoxy using their slow hardener, or a cheaper powdered product which used to be known as Cascamite ( I think it’s a urea formaldehyde based resin which is water activated) but now seems available under various different names. My chosen adhesive must remain workable for as long as possible, ideally six hours or more in order to allow jigging of the structure, and it must set properly weatherproof. Talk about gonzo boatbuilding, this is it. If you have any ideas or suggestions for a suitable solution at all then I’d really really like to hear them.