Rich and I really wanted the headlining to be up, the lights to be in and the roof to be back on the aft cabin by the time we got to Christmas, and neglected the usual social engagements to work hard on realising this dream in the weeks before. Eventually, around the same time as we started installing my fresh and beautifully painted (but not entirely expertly sanded) panels of ceiling, my first cold of 2014 decided to make an appearance. This meant that soon after, dear Richard spent a 15 hour day fitting the electrics behind it while I languished on the sofa, consuming large amounts of fluids and occasionally muttering nonsensical cheers of approval and support. Don’t feel too sorry for him – you can tell how much Rich craves doing certain work on the boat by how ridiculously late he will carry on doing it, moaning and swearing all the time, beyond the normal constraints of tiredness, hunger and needing a poo. By this criteria he absolutely loved it, and also managed to look after me well, only occasionally moaning about my relentless requests for a herby honey tea. The cold lingered but did not keep me sofa bound for long, and all but a few cupboard jobs were finished in plenty of time.
I had spent a lot of my spare time in Plymouth making this year’s present, a calendar featuring a load of our photos and my illustrations to which I painstakingly added significant and not-so-significant days of interest such as bank holidays, change of clocks and squirrel awareness day. These were delivered in plenty of time with a few quick trips round the village and surrounding environs or posted out, obliterating my usual Christmasstress. We were relieved, entirely by poverty, from most family-visiting duties, so I was tasked with cooking our first Christmas dinner on board. I was vegetarian up until a few years ago so roasting the leg of pork was challenge enough itself (my usual method of cooking meat is to buy already cooked meats, chop them up and pop them in things, although I still avoid it most of the time), let alone within a tiny paraffin oven and only one hob. The leg was stuffed and squashed up and pushed around to leave room for a small tray of roast veg, and all went marvellously. We enjoyed the whole feast alone, happy and tired and full of wine, and carried on ignoring our friends and family for a little while longer.
My anxiety came back a few days ago, largely triggered by the changed wind blowing back in to the bodged chimney which woke me at 6am with one of the scariest asthma attacks of my life. The next day while Rich sought to fix the chimney I tried to console myself from the terror of waking without breath, but it was not until I’d explained the experience to him a couple of days later that I found some peace in myself and comfort from him. I am now doing an online CBT course to try and break myself from patterns of worry in 2015, and I bought a carbon monoxide detector, which I promptly left in a friend’s car.
Since Christmas we haven’t done much to the boat, although Rich has installed the magnet which holds the door to our heads open (for when it’s also a shower in its dual purpose future). We’ve been on some fantastic walks, together and apart, and wandered the edge of the lake, admiring the wonderful world in which we live while Rich tested me on the names of the rigs and configurations of the boats we passed. And of course, there have been some nights out, culminating in last night’s traditional new year fancy dress pub crawl around Cawsand and Kingsand. Tank Girl (me) and Booga (Rich)’s evening tour of the Shire took us from house to barn to pub to square and eventually saw us hug the new year in on the beach beneath fireworks. By one o’clock we were so satisfied with our night of revelry that we forwent any afterparty for a romantic walk home. Sober working time has come around again, and this was to be our last hangover for some time.
What we have also been doing a lot of this Christmas is reading. My mum gave me her old Kindle as she was getting a new one from her boyfriend, and as well as a book on quantum physics (which is hard) and a few novels, I’ve treated myself to a few cheap sailing books from those evil old tax dodging bastards at Amazon. I’m leaving the dryer “boating on a budget” books and Robin Knox-Johnson’s A World of My Own for later – I’m looking forward to reading it even though my romantic mind leans more towards Moitessier’s account of the same race which he abandoned to piss off back to the Pacific – I’ll save that for after victorious RKN’s reportedly more practical, ex-military approach. As they say on Peep Show – brown toast for main course, white toast for dessert. Currently I’m knee-deep in to Glenn Damato’s Breaking Seas, a lively account of a 41 year old portly software worker who decides to circumnavigate the world without experience. So far he’s not gone far and has just installed a compost loo. These are the sorts of practical, static considerations to which I can still relate.*
Rich, meanwhile, is reading Float Your Boat and occasionally disturbs my train of thought to regale me with truly astonishing facts about the size, rig and capacity of traditional Chinese and square rigged craft, as well as slightly infuriating me with persistent explanations of nautical etymology. That’s fascinating, darling, but I’m mid-sentence etc. He’s also researching compost loos because I told him about Glenn Damato’s, although I haven’t yet read far enough to know whether his was a wise purchase. Rich’s devoted obsession with the boat is as gorgeous and admirable and annoying as ever, and yet he seems to have taken well to some time off, or as close to time off as he comes. I have much to thank him for as I come to the end of an unusual year.
2014 has been wonderful, and has been merrily rounded off with extraordinary kindnesses such as Merv (Didds’ dad)’s gift of a painting for our saloon and delightful cards and gifts and food from friends and family, many of them home made. 2015 starts with two very happy, excited and temporarily a bit too lazy boat renovators anticipating and hoping very hard to be sailing their beloved home by summer. There is much to do, and even when she is sailing there will be a fortune to save, but our well lit, ceilinged boat is now more comfortable and inspiring than ever and we don’t really have a choice any more – it has to happen. Happy new year, people who read this. May your 2015 be as exciting as I hope ours will be.
*Review edit 06/01/15 Having just finished this book I should add that although I enjoyed bits of it, eventually Damato’s attitude infuriated me and I wouldn’t actually recommend it.