Our aft cabin has always been a tip – it’s where the wee bucket hides, where empty bottles gather fruitflies as they wait to be recycled, where tools and timber and dirty things go to get lost. It’s also where my mirror lives, which, due to the filthy nature of the place, means that I generally go to work with only a vague notion of whether I am presentable. In the last month this area has become the focus for new activity as it sits right beneath the pilot house we’ve decided to kill.
The current set-up brings you through our main entry hatch, down a steep ladder, into the right side of the room where coats, chargers (in order to leave mobile phones signalled) and assorted cables reside. The rest of the room sits around a wooden box where the engine will go, and stretches all the way aft to some shelvey things which used to be a bed. We’ve trashed various bits of the room as we go along, and it shows.
The new pilot house means we can not only transform the contents of this room as long plotted (a toilet and shower! Oh, the goddam luxury) but also the shape and the entrance too. To celebrate, Rich went at the old one with many a lound noise and got it loosened from the boat to sit back on it. We planned and he built the new one, mostly while I was away at weddings and work, and this week he and his friends set about hoiking out its predecessor, grinding out the structures that held it and building new carlins and side decks for its replacement. It should go in as soon as we have the engine done.
I know little of boat aesthetics but the news of our new addition has been greeted with approval by the bearded and bejumpered wise men we encounter in pubs. It’s shorter, thinner (giving us more walking space around the edge) and will be a darker colour with its varnished larch sides meaning it won’t stick out like the sore thumb we had on there before. The entrance is now in the centre, so our planned chart table and spare berth should be easier to access.
We were lucky enough to sail on Andy’s boat, Agea, a few weeks back. It’s another concrete gaff rigger, and was my first ever sail a boat which is similar in size and operation to Gwen. Andy is the perfect teacher – relaxed, clear, going in to great detail about what things are called and why they are there. I spent the start of the journey sheeting the staysail and jib with him and later took the helm. As I basked in the leisurely ease with which we moved, the slow simplicity of each manouvre and the beauty of the passing countryside, Andy suggested we put on some music. The last thing I would have thought of to accompany such a serene passage was banging drum and bass, but it was perfect. We were missing Notting Hill Carnival, after all.
I’ve become something of a small-space interior designer these last few months, and Agea gave me some ideas about our saloon, most notably making the sofa deeper to increase comfort. I also have a daring but hopefully workable plan for a fold-out shower room for the base of the aft entrance, but we’ll have to see how that goes. Brainfarts like this aside, my only contribution to the boat this last few weeks has been the completion of the sodding cupboard doors. But I’m still cooking a cracking dinner, so I don’t think I’ll be thrown overboard just yet.