Sun, rot and sanding

Much has happened since I last wrote here. In June Rich mostly concentrated on the engine and the spars, getting the mast, gaff, boom and bowsprit shaped up and making all sorts of decisions about the engine to which I paid almost full attention but which I couldn’t repeat for the life of me. I finished the TESOL course and had a minor breakdown after that stress combined with running into a cohort of my scary ex. I got over all that and then endured the most painful medical procedure of my life, the installation of a coil which has not stopped hurting since. Rich struggles to cope when I’m struggling to cope, but by early July this period of pain was sliding nicely into its place in forgettable history, and the sun came out.

Chairdeck. Cupboard doors painted and ready to sand.

Chairdeck. Cupboard doors painted and ready to sand.

Around this time we experienced a bit of a setback as Rich discovered that the mast had too much grot to be safely usable. After all the time he’d spent shaping and sanding the thing, which we had had lying around since we first got Gwen and which had laid around in octagonal form for some time before that, it would have been easy to get upset. It means we won’t sail this year as we’ll have to get a tree down over winter to try again, and that tree will take some time to find as it’s got to be straight and grown in a plantation so it doesn’t have too many knots for at least 50ft of usable length. But it is virtually impossible to bring us down right now, so the plan’s just changed. We’ll sail next year. All hail sunshine, the prozac of the sky.



Because I wasn’t able to help much on the boat for the last couple of months, and because the sunshine has made the deck of our boat an even more inviting space than before, I have had a surge of boat enthusiasm. While Rich smashed out the cockpit on the aft deck, I sunbathed up forward and painted the cupboard doors for our bedroom wardrobes – an entirely cosmetic and non-urgent job that nonetheless put me in a good position to help with my usual ‘holding a screwdriver here’, ‘sanding a bit of wood there’ duties.

One day I got home from work and where there used to be a cockpit there was now a hole with a man down it.

One day I got home from work and where there used to be a cockpit there was now a hole with a man down it.

An evening painting with Frank Sobotka.

An evening painting with Frank Sobotka.

We then set about stripping and sanding down the coach roof. This job took a couple of daytime attempts and a whole evening, one of us either side of the thing, heatgun and blowtorch and chisels in hand. The next day we sanded the roof of it and Rich started to remake the couple of corners which had rotted a little and lo… more rot. Not so as you would notice immediately, but a dampness that was present too far through the layers of marine plywood. Once again, plan A was abandoned and recently completed hard work became void. Once again, we didn’t give a shit, this time because plan B is far more exciting – we’ll rebuild the damn coach roof. Rich always hated it anyway. He always hated the cockpit too. I’m seeing a pattern here.

Ex-coach roof after an evening stripping on deck. a) Not as exotic as it sounds. b) Pointless.

Ex-coach roof after an evening stripping on deck. a) Not as exotic as it sounds. b) Pointless.

At the end of last week I saw on the weather that we’d have rain and a possible thunderstorm early this week, so Rich and I spent yesterday filling in the massive hole. Now that the coach roof’s scheduled for demolition we don’t need to worry about keeping that space openable for the engine to go in, so we filled it with the big ply/glass arch that Rich had already made to cover it and shaped up a couple of pieces of ply to fill the area where the lockers had been.

I was hungover, but I liked it because I got to play with the belt sander. Rich was hungover, but he liked it because he got to play with his angle grinder. Later, when we’d covered over all the smaller holes I’d filled earlier in the week and he’d made a terrifying patch of scrunched up glass and microfibres in another hole, he painted the whole thing with epoxy and got me to help him lay out the huge sheet of glass we’d cut to cover it. As I tried to get my end in to position he looked up at me and said “you haven’t got a fucking clue what you’re doing have you?”. I looked back at him, quizzically. “Oh, god, sorry, I didn’t mean it like that…” he began “it’s just, I forget you haven’t done this before and…”. I just laughed. It was okay. I didn’t have a fucking clue what I was doing.


Sanding ready for the glass.

Later I helped him squish down the glass with more expoxy and we went to bed, utterly exhausted. Now we have a big, flattish, shiny space where there used to be a grubby dip we never used. And there’s one more place to put the deckchairs. And the rain’s coming.


One thought on “Sun, rot and sanding

  1. capnrehab says:

    Too bad about the mast, but looks like a good bit of progress you’re making.
    P.S. I often haven’t got a clue when I start something, but if you Google enough it’s OK. Clues are easy to come by.

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