which would usually be about the worst thing you could tell me, unless it heralded a new season of Game of Thrones. Winter brings with it those grimbles that had been pushed to the back of sun-boiled minds – condensation dripping from unlined bolts in the ceiling and the hatch above my bed, newly found leaks and newly made draughts, getting wetter on the walk to the shower than in it, seeking hidden kindling long enough to start eyeing up the wooden spoons. The boat is a floating sauna, except for the early mornings when the fire’s gone out and the idea of putting your feet down on the cold wooden floor burrows you harder into the bed until it’s unavoidable.
There is a great deal to look forward to this winter, but I can’t get too excited yet. Before I can get my shower and start sanding the kitchen cleaner, before we can line and paint and decorate (and yes, my heart feels a little lighter just thinking about this) we must get the new cabin top on.
Rich has made great progress with this, mostly by spending hours doing something (only he knows what) with the engine and eventually getting it painted a mother’s day card pastel shade of grey. He and his mate Scott removed the old cabin top and put in new carlins and side decks, then Rich fitted the new cabin before swapping back and taking it away again to be varnished, which we started today. The plan has changed slightly in that the engine isn’t going to get fitted now until we get Gwen out of the water (due to all manner of concretey shite being wedged in its eventual home), but the new cabin top will get rested on before that even though it won’t be fully bolted down. Oh yes it will. And then we can work on the aft cabin. Winter is coming. And so is my shower.
Right now, as I write, Rich is boring me aptly shitless discussing possible future toilet arrangements. Most evenings contain some of this hypothetical “when we’re out at sea” conversation, although when I start them they’re usually a little more dramatic – “what would happen if lightening struck our mast?” “what shall we put in the grab bag?” “are the pirates in the Caribbean the kidnappy kind or the rapey kind?”. Rich’s concerns are more practical in nature, but there is every chance that he will one day be as grateful for the copper wire emergency lightening kit we have discussed as he will be for a functioning loo.
I’ve been quite chipper of late despite ongoing health problems, but Rich’s mood is in descent. The lack of apparent progress on Gwen (he’s done a lot, but nothing that’s finished), and his current work situation are taking their toll. On weeknights he is sullen or crabby and at weekends he is still exhausted, so excursions become few and far between and nights out are especially precious and usually quite drunken when they do happen. He’s worried that he’s being boring. I’m worried that he’s unhappy. We’re as tight as ever, and I’m helping on the boat more now that the heavy/engine stuff’s mostly done, but it grates that there is nothing more that I can do. He took this job and until it’s done he has to live with how poorly paid and isolated he is, and all I can do is sympathise and cook dinner.
There are shiny specks lighting the way to the horizon. A couple of months ago I saw a groupon offer for a spa break, and got Rich to book it with me. It’s now only a fortnight away – there’s a swimming pool, a sauna, and heaven itself, an en-suite shower. Neither of us has to cook or empty a bucket or wield a power tool for the whole weekend, and I think it’s sorely needed and hope Rich can just take a step out of Gwendom and enjoy it.