Inside Gwen, August 2012

I didn’t take any photos until we’d moved Gwen from her old home at Daz’s Mill to where she now sits with Richard aboard. He’s probably getting some much needed sleep while I foolishly sit around watching Game of Thrones and reminiscing. Moving her was a thrill in itself, even if it was under the power of another boat. Watching the trees and cars and houses go slowly by as she passed down to the marina was still as close as we’ve come to a trip on the old girl.

My first proper job was measuring the sails. Rich managed to get the telegraph pole that is to be the mast and the wood he needs for the other spars, and I laid the sails out one by one beside them in some rare summer sunshine while he was at work. I put drawings and measurements of them in my “Book of Things”, a sketchbook I’m keeping full of information I come across that might be useful. Here’s the page where Rich taught me some knots…

Book of Things, page 2

I’m still fricking hopeless when it comes to most things boat, but I’m learning different rigs and parts and stuff and when I have a bit of spare time I’m going to put them all in there. The gaff rig is already down, with all the sails, ropes, spars etc. labelled for an idiot like me.

We got a few jobs done, but it became clear that more drastic work was required, and we had to abandon the idea of working small piece by piece. We’d moved a bunch of stuff on her, most of which we rehomed into my place and Richard’s old home of the camper. Rich ripped out one of the berths and one of the bulkheads and found all manner of other jobs to do. I carefully took down a load of headlining. Rich later decided that all that wood was crap so it turns out I could have just bashed it out, ladyhulk style. Pah.

Headlining down, new bulkhead up.

Originally Rich and I started on the leaks together, but as he’s often aboard and I’m still in my shed, and as I’ve had to work weekends of late, he’s been doing most of this on his own. I hope to rejoin him in it this weekend. However grotty (dripping brown water and dead spiders ahoy), I love the feeling of doing something that will move her closer to being ready.

Rich stays on the boat two or three nights a week so he’s put in a logburner, but it’s not habitable for us both. When we first got her my favourite place in the world was curled up on the double bed under where the mast will come in, leaping up now and then to stick a head out of a hatch. Now he sleeps in his single sleeping bag on the one remaining single sofa cushion surrounded by messy wires and re-usable wood. Everything else has been ripped out, and the boatpikey chic of the overcrowded deck (at one point there were three bikes, two paddleboards and two massive toolboxes on there as well as the boat shit) is now reflected inside.

Recently there have been crazy tides and the other night I went to visit him and had to wade back through the knee-deep water over where the pontoon met the submerged land in darkness. I yelled a lot. Rich managed not to laugh too loudly.

Money’s a problem. We’re both broke. We could do with a lot of it to get her working, but it’s all a slow process so there’s plenty to be getting on with with what we have.

I’m a boat dunce, but Rich never treats me like one. I think he likes explaining stuff, and I always have questions, even when we’re just looking at boats from a morning coffee on the beach. But we talk before every change that goes on in the boat, and make decisions together, from planning out the layout to what to fix next to what kind of cooker to use. Having said that, the heavy duty shit and the engine shit is all up to him, as will be the mast/sail shit. I’m clueless on all that, for now at least. I’ll come in to my own when we get decorating.

I really can’t wait until I have some time to get in there again. It’s work, but it’s for something brilliant.

I think you’re up to speed now, anyroad.


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