High and Dry

Richard stayed at sea for what seemed like an age, but in reality was only for a couple of weeks after my return from the reality break of Glastonbury. I got quite comfortable again, then started missing him more, the usual schtick. In the meantime, we plotted over Skype about the next phase of Gwenning. I had planned to get her out of the water before he returned using the yard’s travel hoist, which had finally arrived after months of speculation. Some words with the man in charge revealed that this was not to be, at least until some problems with the slip had been resolved, so I spoke to the next boatyard along about an alternative.

On Tuesday night, after clearing the deck of all the shite I suspected might drop off it, I stayed up til 4am watching television (have you SEEN Orange is the New Black? Season 2 finale – don’t tell me you wouldn’t have done the same thing) and passed out on the sofa for a couple of hours. Then I woke all groggy to a misty morning of decaff coffee and toast and Nathan turning up in a big old RIB to pull Gwen away from our lovely pontoon. I plonked myself up on to the top step of the new coach roof hatch to enjoy the simple thrill of moving our homely beast up the river they call the lake.

Cheerio, neighbours

Cheerio, neighbours

At the other end the two men from Voyager boatyard waited to pull me alongside and I bid a fond farewell to Nathan, who merrily wished me a happy holiday. Half an hour (and a good ten minute refresher supernap) later the tide reached its peak and they brought down their super bastard 20 tonne travel hoist and started strapping her up. I offered my help and was advised to stick around in case they needed it, but they clearly didn’t, and when Jonathan asked if I was OK with how the straps were I informed him that I was unqualified to answer but perfectly happy. It wasn’t until Gwen’s huge body started to rise from the water that I felt a fluttering panic, a full realisation that everything we have was heading skyward by the grace of two fabric straps and two men I barely know.

Eek. EEK.

Eek. EEK.

And phew

And phew

As they reshuffled spars and made space for her in their outdoor area I chatted with other boat folk and marvelled at the sheer bloody size of our Gwen. They moved her in to position and grabbed wooden props which were slid in one by one to support her hull. It’s incredible to think that these measly little legs are keeping all 15 tonnes of her upright, and that one day soon we’ll be building legs to carry with us to do the same.

Over the day Gwen’s barnacles, now stranded further from the sea than any low tide could inflict, began to crackle like milk on Rice Krispies. Incidentally, barnacles have the largest penis in ratio to body size of any known animal, but I’m not sure if these were the bits I glimpsed frantically popping in and out in a vain attempt to find moisture. Richard returned that night to hunt for his home. In some ways it was a blessing that he missed the whole thing. While his expertise is often welcome in large scale manoeuvres like this, my lack thereof (and, I have no doubt, my unique place as woman in charge) made for very civilised, smiling, quiet proceedings. Not for me the barking of instructions and piss taking of my craft, oh no – though I’m sure they’ll eventually learn that I am as deserving of it as he. Even Nathan had returned to check everything was okay, despite my abandonment of his yard for the nearest competitors.

What a hoofing great beast!

What a hoofing great boat!

Ladders - an old enemy I must finally embrace

Ladders – an old enemy I must finally embrace

Rich has been despondent since the engine failed but it feels as though the last few days on board have perhaps rekindled his enthusiasm for boat tinkering, not least after I persuaded him to help me out with Serenity. I had painted the outside last week and was recovered enough from my injuries to restart the miserable task of scraping and sanding the inside. This weekend Rich joined me in that, and introduced me to the angle grinder he so adores (which I can report is really bloody heavy – no wonder he has such great arm muscles) to smooth the filler we’d put around the daggerboard casing. We patched up some dodgy bits with epoxy today and I hope to have the inside finished and painted before he leaves again, so we can do some sailing! Imagine that.

Man, mask, angle

Man, mask, angle

So, now it’s me to my boat and Rich to his. Our tree is still not down and the engine is still being fixed but while the weather is good he can still get stuff done, and after a wonderful cycle/climb/swim to the beach today it was heartening to plan together his activities for the next couple of days. He has already committed barnacle genocide and tested out some (sadly fruitless) paint removal ideas, and will move on to some deck fitting duties until the grit blasting man gives us a quote. The boat is out of the water until we’ve somehow removed all of her flakey and not so flakey paint, or at the very least that from the hull, and repainted her. Though this has been the topic of a hundred of our discussions we’re still not entirely sure which means we will use for either, but we will do our best as weather and budget allow.


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