Black and Blue

I’m briefly popping my head out of “what the hell?” to write to you, breathe, and go back under. We’re tantalisingly close to completing the final push to get out of the shed – just a couple more weeks to go – and life is a frenzy of activity. It’s physical and mental, tiring and strangely calm. We labour all day and then soak in our lazy evenings, flopped in the cluttered saloon, reaching out to any simple distraction to numb our battered, buzzing minds. Welcome Tom Cruise, welcome Bruce Willis, don’t make us think too hard.

Spring looked like it was on the way and we couldn’t bear to be in the cold and dark for much longer. Soon after my last post Rich booked a date in mid April to put Gwen in the water and we’ve worked non stop to make that happen ever since. To start with, of course, we had an argument. I began to feel like I wasn’t Rich’s team-mate on the project any more, like he was taking my part in her story from me or missing it completely. We were both feeling pretty shit anyway – many months in a shed will do that to you. A silence fell – worse than rowing – the rotting away of resentment, insecurity, guilt. I felt closer to jacking it all in than I have for a long long time but determination to paint Gwen’s hefty rump kept me on board. We talked and talked and hugged and slid back in to our merry camaraderie, and to see us recently you’d think we’d always been a well oiled, if exhausted, machine.

Living by lists. This daily list book feeds from the master list on my computer. How did life come to this?

Living by lists. This daily list book feeds from the master list on my computer. How did life come to this?

We’ve scraped and wire brushed and filled and plugged and sanded and masked up, we’ve passed and held bits and pieces for each other and egged each other on. We put two coats of water-based and four coats of black two-pack epoxy on the hull, and one coat of grey on the deck.

In a moment of curiosity we prised open the tin of “safety orange” that was to adorn the rubbing strake. The lid popped off. Our mouths fell agape. It is lurid and hilarious – more neon red than orange, a colour difficult to replicate in this RGB space or look at without sunglasses. We laughed, and the colour scheme was rapidly revised. Scary orange for the deadeyes, spreaders and toe rails (where its inescapable visibility will hopefully stop us from falling off the boat) but broken up by something milder for the rubbing strake, for the benefit of all who see her.

The masked deck.

Scraped and masked.

Fun with noxious substances.

Fun with toxic substances.

Painting the dead-eyes. The worst job I have ever been given.

Painting the dead-eyes. My worst job .

It was with trepidation that we then popped open the tin of “mid blue” factory floor paint that we had ordered for the hull. It isn’t what we imagined (which was something resembling Serenity’s hull), but it is bright and bold, ever so slightly turquoise – lovely to look at and crying out for the Caribbean, better than anything we would have chosen ourselves. We painted the first coat yesterday and the second today and neither of us enters the shed without beaming at its light summery blue.

She's black.

She’s black.

She's blue.

She’s blue.

I still go out to work and volunteering, but the rest of the time I’m Gwen’s. Rich, of course, is in overdrive. He made a new tiller, put a fibreglass shoe on the keel with his friend John, fixed all manner of electrical and engine gubbins and finished serving the rigging and fitted it to the mast. We’re missing out on everything that is fun in the outside world, but finding entertainment in strange new jobs like moving the blocks beneath the boat or marking a stand-in water line by wandering around the boat with chalk and string.

New tiller and sporadically greyed deck.

New tiller and sporadically greyed deck.

Oiled spars in the afternoon.

Oiled spars in the afternoon.

The shoe crew.

The shoe crew.

This weekend boats have been returning to the water from the marinas and disappearing round the corner for adventures, and today the chirpy swallows returned to the shed. They’ve been to Africa and back, and we’re still here. Here and so so tired, flagging and leaning on each other for support. Today I helped with the Morse controls, oiled the spars and varnished the tiller and forehatch after the day’s painting was done. Tomorrow the final coats on the deck and hull and extra epoxy coat on the keel will be followed by more spar oiling and deadeye painting. Through all this the water shimmers in the distance, and it keeps us going, knowing that soon we will float back there where we should be, and that when we do, we will finally have a day off.

Mast top decoration.

Mast top decoration.


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