Friday, June 26, 2009

Big Springs.

My dear friend and co-conspirator, boatbuilder in arms Mark is leaving me. Together we were the evil geniuses behind building that cabin, and he’s taught me literally everything I know about working with fine hardwoods, which is not a lot at all really. We’re a bit like a real life version of Pinky and the Brain in some respects- the lab rats you know, ‘What're we going to do tonight Brain? Same thing we do every night Pinky, make big bits of hardwood smaller’. He doesn’t want a divorce or anything, it’s just that he’s finally plumped on a long held idea of his and has decided to give it a whirl. So at the end of July after twelve years in the big smoke he’s off back to his native Scotland, which will leave me bludgeoning bits of wood with badly sharpened tools on my own.
This week saw us in the rare and surprising situation of both being off work simultaneously- with the predictable result that we both decided to get together and go down to Wendy with the express intention of working on the few remaining really nastily complex bits of exterior woodwork together, while we still could. Looming large in Marks mind was a repair to the main engine room skylight, which he started like, ten months ago. Me? Well, I’m just worried about everything as usual, and having a friend with me to fend off the awful feelings of regret at having parked Wendy in such an unsuitable mooring, with difficulty of access and no power blah blah blah (you’ve heard this before) was pretty much exactly what I needed.
There was a pressing need to finish off these woodwork bits and bobs so that our boat can finally be considered weathertight without the assistance of tarpaulins or stapled on bits of plastic. In three days you’d think we could do that wouldn’t you? Well, maybe you would, except for Marks multiple sets of head bending compound angles, my decision to make the two remaining sill pieces by laminating up three blocks of teak for each, the complexities of getting clean wood stock out of screwy and holey old reclaimed stuff (I reckon a good 60% wastage at least), the joys of window glazing, and so on, but by Wednesday a good deal of progress had been made, even if we were forced to cover the engine room skylight with tarp one more time before we left.

None of the preceding text goes any way whatsoever toward explaining this photograph:

Apart from providing a good illustration of why spirit levels aren't much use on boats, this week saw the arrival of big spring tides, which gave us the opportunity to float for more than about half an hour each tide. Over the months since we arrived at Littlehampton Wendy Ann had slowly worked her way closer and closer to the old wharf which we were tied up to, and recently she’d started to get too close, and was in danger of climbing and eating the rotten old timbers which comprise this wall. I decided to do something about it, and having got muddy setting the ropes on the starboard side at low tide we waited for that lovely big water to come in. At high water she pulled away from the wharfside no problems and sat proudly in the middle of the berth. We tied up the ropes tight and waited for the water to go away again, whereupon this photograph happened. Over the months our boat had carved out a Wendy Ann shaped hollow in the mud, tied up in her new position Wendy Ann decided she’d much rather go back into that hollow thankyou very much. So as the tide receded the starboard side ropes went tight and she took on this alarming looking list, which prompted a group of passing schoolchildren to call out “did you crash?” which I guess it looks like we did, I certainly feel that way sometimes. The boat is currently sitting on a hump of mud that she’d pushed out of her way in her previous position. Because of the recent equinox, the big tides are sustained for the rest of the week and I’m desperately hoping that a lot of the list will naturally disappear as she moves up and down in her new spot and hopefully pushes some of that mud out of her way and makes herself a new hollow. If not, I’ll have to think again, which will probably involve using a high volume water pump or worse, digging. Right now though I’m back at work, so have been unable to remain with my vessel to ensure success. Predictably enough I’ve not slept that well the last couple of nights, my dreams being filled with crazily leaning boats and snapped ropes, but Becky and I are to journey down there tonight to see just how much of that list still remains and if there’s anything more we can do about it, hopefully we’ll not end up sleeping on the walls.