Wendy has left the building.
So guess where we put her… Go on, guess. She’s not gone far, yet.
Yep. She’s temporarily rafted in the middle of the river Itchen next to a distinguished host, and one you’ll likely recognise if you read the other boat blogs- Lady Jane. My employer Jan’s crane barge ‘Norse II’ is currently enjoying the welding attentions of the gifted Mr Camilleri, so Jan kindly agreed to allow Wendy to occupy the barges usual spot for a week, arrangements were made with Associated British Ports and Southampton Vessel Traffic Service, and the next thing I knew I was ringing Timzim on Friday to beg a lift across the water in his Rib to the two fine old ladies, who’d clearly got together to have a party without us.
I had things to do, and I guess I got some of them done, but for a large proportion of the time I stood still and marvelled at Wendy being afloat. Being able to see Lady Jane for real (my last visit was AGES ago) and clearly being able to compare the two vessels side by side was inspirational to say the least. Tim and I ballasted ourselves with a few glasses of good stuff during the evenings and he and his boat introduced me to the possibilities (and potential limitations) of a life afloat. It was just what I needed. The last week or so I’ve been boggling at the utter change of rules that Wendy Ann becoming a real boat has imposed. Away from her awesome presence in the tent and all that convenient (but cold) workshop space the inside of the vessel is cluttered with hastily packed tools, ballast and materials, shore power is obviously no longer available, and bugger me but she’s alive again, she gently moves around in response to tides and other boats, I’m still trying to get used to this seismic shift in my world, and it’s a profoundly pleasant sensation.
The Harbour masters paid us a visit on Saturday morning and were hugely complimentary, I was only slightly unhinged by the fact that Jon (who occasionally skippers Lady Jane) seemed to know far more about me and Wendy than was strictly necessary for a first meeting, it turns out he reads this blog, he was full of encouragement and gave me a tour of the Harbourmasters launch ‘Portunus’ just for the hell of it. This was an absolute blast. We backed up from Wendy Ann and Nigel showed me around Tims other neighbour ‘Laligina’, a wooden vessel which needs someone to show her a lot of love, throw their life savings at her and/or a bleeding miracle, as she is going rotten bigtime but is nevertheless pretty incredible inside.
Leaving the two grand old girls was very hard indeed this afternoon, but Storebror was tied up maybe a quarter mile away and in direct line of sight, and I needed to get back on board, start the main engine pre-heater and fill the air start tanks ready for a short trip up to berth 202 with the silt barge. After doing the other checks I finally opened the air start valve at 3pm and fired 825 horsepower into life, and off we went again.
What a world I’ve chosen to live in, its hard, often dirty, and absolute magic.