AT LAST it’s time to begin lining the hull compartments. When we bought the vessel all those years ago we naively thought we’d be embarking on a houseboat conversion straight away. To say that we were wrong about this possibly qualifies as understatement of the century. We clearly didn’t realise that we’d have to attend to the whole time consuming saving-a-piece-of-british-maritime-history boat rebuilding palaver before we could actually get on with any of the house/home bit at all.
When the foam went into the hull in September it marked a massive demarcation line in the whole project so far and now, after a good rest from the summers big effort I feel I have finally begun.
Starting in the bosun’s store/main bedroom seems right, if only because it’s a small space and I’m righteously bored of putting an airbed away up forward in order to clear space to work every morning. I also really, really want somewhere to sleep that doesn’t involve waking up nose to nose with a chopsaw as the rather alarming novelty of this sort of behaviour has definitely worn off. And anyway, sharp objects don’t go happily with airbeds and the sinking feeling of a leaking mattress just before falling asleep is one that is now depressingly familiar to me. I hasten to add that I’ve never knowingly punctured my bed with the use of power tools but you get the picture, a forgotten screw on the floor does just as well.
My chosen starting point is also the only compartment where we don’t have anything even vaguely approaching headroom, as evidenced by this picture of me taken by Ranka:
…and since we’ve owned the boat we’ve never used it for anything at all, so it seems nice to put it to use and gain a bit of extra space to lie down in straight away.
So far I’ve managed the bulkheads and the floor sections either side of the bed ‘platform’ in a couple of weekends, and the results are well, quite pant-wettingly exciting. The bulkhead that separates this compartment from the generator room at the stern has a secondary structure and layer of acoustic insulation installed behind the plywood for obvious reasons. And the floor has a layer of celotex underneath it, let’s have warm feet too, why not. I’m pleased with the floor, it’s 2” thick pine that originally came out of the rather hotchpotch forward accommodation floor some time ago, after some attention in the workshop it went back down in its new home like a dream. Next up, my apologies, will be the deckhead (ceiling) for which I have another nice bit of reclaim timber prepared and sanded ready to go.
It’s conceivable that I may just get this done before Christmas and this is why I need some unsullied underwear, it’s just so quick. All I need is materials and tools, a little time and half a brain, which even I ought to be able to manage; and an appreciably domestic looking space is already starting to take shape. If it doesn’t look homely enough to you yet then squint a little bit harder, but I can see it just fine, isn’t optimism great?
By the way, last Friday night was my first real opportunity to test out the effectiveness of all that foam. As it got dark outside and the temperature fell healthily below zero I’m pleased to report that one crappy little fan heater kept the forward accommodation and the wheelhouse above it tolerably warm and the sheer weight of foam in the bedroom coupled with my efforts at fitting square bits of wood into triangular holes enabled me to work in just a t-shirt, ok, and trousers too, don’t want to give the wrong sort of impression. Anyone who has had the misfortune to visit us on board over the last few winters will understand what a revelation this is, not least the bit about wearing trousers. I’m sure readers will be relieved to know that thankfully there’ll be no more sartorially misguided attempts to survive winters on board like wearing Becky’s tights underneath long johns (due to a critical sizing error I found I couldn’t lift a leg, or stop fondling my own thighs either), or double sets of overalls with layers of newspaper stuffed between the two (which was too crispy for comfort, also big fire hazard) for me. Nope, t-shirts on November nights will do nicely and I think we can definitely say that the insulation works.