On The Wonk

On Friday morning, two hours after rolling aboard Gwen from a house party in Cawsand and brimming with several vodka, wine and cider (together) based cocktails, I sort of stirred at the feeling that Gwen may be moving. Then I fell back to sleep. Don’t judge, it was a very rough week. Rich lost his job, I had a painful procedure (yes, the horrible thing is finally out of my body), we had a barney, that sort of rough. I’m allowed to go out and get drunk sort of rough. A couple of hours later I woke again, and Rich confirmed that we had in fact once again made the journey across from our pontoon to the marina wall, and I had once again slept through it. However, due to building work last Autumn this trip no longer sees us plonked in the wallside mud but hoisted (with the assistance of some sort of yard machinery yanking the metal gubbins on Gwen’s behind) on to the new slip that slopes from gravel to mud. It wasn’t until I bravely and oh so gently made to descend from the safety of our berth that the major effect of this positioning became clear. We are very much on the wonk.*

At night, with the lights on, it looks as though Gwen is a ghost ship attempting to rise from its watery grave.

At night, with the lights on, it looks as though Gwen is a ghost ship attempting to rise from its watery grave.

Gwen not only faces dramatically down, she also tips in towards the wall. Her forward end floats for a couple of hours around high tide, but the aft is only submerged slightly in the half hour around it. This large amount of time out of the water is perfect for getting all manner of jobs done, and Rich set to work straight away with two days’ measuring and removing the prop, prop shaft, stern tube and cutlass bearing. Fear not, he bolted the hole up with perspex and puraflex before we went out last night, and so far we’ve had nothing come in.

The business end. (Rudder, prop etc. still on Gwen in this pic, now on the wall)

The business end. (Rudder, prop etc. still on Gwen in this pic, now on the wall)

These tilts make the boat a strange old place. You have to climb up from the saloon to the galley and properly push yourself up out into the aft cabin and hatch, and prop yourself against a step or cupboard to stay upright for long. The floor, so beautiful and smooth since Rich finished it, is slippery enough that even barefoot you slide down towards our bed if you’re not holding on to anything. Putting on trousers has become much more of a chore than usual. The favoured method is to press one’s foot against the step while one leg is raised, but this can still go awry. Very little can be put down on smooth surfaces without it sliding towards the bow, so having a drink is a perilous and calculated affair. I attach some photographs to attempt to illustrate the angle:





This is all very educational, as when we’re at sea the boat is liable to tip as dramatically as this and more as we sail along. Firstly, oh dear, the floor’s a bit slippy. Secondly, oh dear, we’d better put some non-slip on the surfaces. Thirdly, we need lee cloths (particularly one between us) to stop us from sliding into each other/off the beds at night. There are some reassurances too – Rich seems permanently impressed that the cooker is tipped on its gimble and it seems most things stay in place on their shelves and cupboards. Sitting on the usual sofa is uncomfortable (here I am, back hurting from keeping itself up to one side) but sitting on the other one is fine as you allow yourself to slide into the lower corner. Yesterday we rowed/walked/ferried over to Plymouth to buy anodes** to replace the old ones which are mostly nearly fizzed out. Today Rich is cleaning out the foul grubbiness that is the aft cabin’s bilge. I’ve been working from home for a couple of days, and have popped out periodically to offer him my support and sympathy, but he just beams and tells me how long he’s been dying to do this job. To our shock he’s found that much of the surface is already painted (you’d never know under the filth). I know he’s excited because once these things are done, once he’s filled and re-drilled the hole for the prop, once he’s painted it again and done a bunch of other building and re-organising things, the engine will live there.

Rich in his filthy element

Rich in his filthy element

One day this dangerous no man's land will be our toilet/shower.

One day this dangerous no man’s land will be our toilet/shower.

I suppose one good thing is that this no longer feels like a rough week. Rich has plenty to occupy him until he gets more work, either on or off shore, and I’ve got through the shit stuff that has plagued the last eight months (ladies, never get a mirena coil) and we’re both very busy and coping jolly well with our home being lopsided. I’m off to boil some pasta in the right hand side of a pot, and stoke the fire in such a way that it doesn’t spill out on to my feet. Until next time.

Due to wonk, the fire has to be tied to the wall with rope and RIchard has to be stashed in the aft cabin.

Due to wonk, the fire has to be tied to the wall with rope (and RIchard has to be stashed in the aft cabin)

* “On the wonk” is actually an expression I first heard used by the laddish loudmouth on L!VE TV’s  “Agony”, as a term for lesbianism. “What are you supposed to do when you find out your mum’s on the wonk?” Britain has never known, and never again will know, low-budget exploitation TV of that calibre. Jeremy Kyle should be even more ashamed. Anyway, in this case, I mean that Gwen is lopsided, not homosexual, although she is of course welcome to be both.

**Anodes are metal things that live on the bottom of your boat, sometimes wired up to the metal bits of the outside of your boat. They form the negative part of the electrolysis in the water meaning that the metal bits of your boat do not, and so fizz away so they will not.


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