The new jobs were begun and the list seemed to be working, with me brimming with confidence in my ability to work with little to no direction from Rich. While he was at work I removed the bobstay fitting and one of the anodes and scraped, re-plugged (where necessary) and sanded down the toe rails, whose plugs had been sitting proud and gluey since that time so long ago when we fitted them. When he was here I made a good start at de-rusting my two removed rudder fittings with a chisel and wire brush drill arbour. I got approving glances from the other workshop inhabitants, one of whom took time out to tell Rich he was a lucky bloke. I could feel patronised, but as the only female in this shed of fishermen and boatbuilders I happily accept that I am something of a novelty, and one who takes a compliment best when she doesn’t have to be present for it.
Rich finished working, and he is going to borrow money from his tax savings until Spring – getting out of the shed is too important for him to be spending half the week away and I should be starting part time work in a week or two. He aligned and connected the prop shaft to the engine, installed some filters, and then, suddenly, became a total grump, almost impossible to coax out of an aft cabin of misery. It would seem that the exhaust system in the boat and the exhaust manifold in the engine were not quite up to scratch, and needed a new, expensive redesign. Internet fora were consulted, boaties were bothered and parts were eventually ordered to lower the exhaust outlet and put a dry riser on the exhaust manifold (apparently this is the North Sea Exhaust system – I understand the principle but as far as terminology goes I don’t even know what I’ve just written here). While waiting for the parts Rich fitted a load of switches, dials and keys to the switch panel and wired some in to the engine.
On Friday we faced another setback, this time of a more domestic sort. The wind turned northerly in that very particular way that sends the smoke from the fire back into our saloon, and so it had to be put out. It was cold when I woke, as I dressed, cold outside in the workshop as I oiled the mast and continued work on the rudder fittings. By the end of the slow working day my feet were ice and I had bitten back enough tears. I told Rich I wouldn’t be working again until the fire was.
In fact not much could be done at all. The weather was too cold to epoxy the rudder or put rust stuff on the fittings I’d scraped, and Rich was still waiting for the pipes for the engine. A rough week which started with a funeral just seemed to get rougher, with friends falling in to calamity left right and centre and my guilt building from the lack of motivation to work on Gwen. So Sunday became our day off, and we went for a glorious walk to Cremyll in the winter sun, enjoying a pasty and a second hand bookshop on the way to Maker Church and a jam at the pub on our return to the village in which I cautiously took part.
Sadly all this joy could not hold back an anxiety that started to creep like electric shocks in to my veins, and by that evening I was an idiotic mess of nerves. Yesterday I tidied up a bit in jittery desire to distract myself in front of the re-ignited fire, but Rich, ever understanding, told me to go out in the sun and relax. I have a new sketchbook/diary and I took that with me, and I sat sketching the channel that is called the lake, consoled by him that his obsession with the boat is as much of an indulgence as me doing the creative things I want and need to do, that they both give or will give us both joy. Isn’t he sweet. By last night I was feeling decidedly better. Today I was back to work on Gwen, through desire rather than guilt, back running for the first time in a week and, though still a little jumpy, much more convinced of the goodness that my body sometimes struggles to believe is all around, even though my brain knows it to be true.
The other thing that has somehow happened amongst all of this is that I have started another blog! I thought it might be fun to write down some of the abominations that I concoct in my nightly galley duties. The result is Tilted Pantry, the least professional, precise or strict recipe site you’re ever likely to find. If I manage to keep it up it could be fun, but I’m not holding out too much hope – writing down what I’ve done seems to take longer than doing it in the first place.