Glug

You would not believe the mess of this place. You would not believe that two people could live in the mess that is the mess of this place. It’s been said so often – “we could really do with a tidy-up”, but it’s been instantly dismissed. Who has time to tidy up with everything that’s going on? Clothes and paperwork and cups cover every surface, the floor is strewn with shoes and wrappers, the galley is overrun with vessels and crumbs. In a small space mess is a disaster, but to deal with it seems too enormous – jobs have a hierarchy now, and this one is just beyond our line of sight.

There are six weeks left to go until we leave work and leave the marina, and we’ve entered an insanity which I can only report via a drunken burst. We both work full time for the money we desperately need to save to go away, and struggle through evening jobs and chores until a half-hour of hugs and encouraging natter before bed. We both work all weekend on whatever else needs working on. Nobody is in charge of the washing up or the cooking or the fire or emptying the wee, or even of making sure we have a wash or remember to say “hello” when we get home. This phase, a few weeks in, feels like one of Rich’s most acute obsessions, multiplied by two people on overdrive. It’s the final frenzied push that’s pushed us to something strange and traumatic, gripped with intense force in our shaking but determined fingertips.

I’ve been meaning to write for a while about the impact of leaving this place – and I will, but there isn’t room for that in this. I haven’t had time to reflect on it, or to see our great impending adventure for what it is, because I can only take one day, one hour, at a time. I lie awake at night thinking of small changes I want to make to the lesson plan I’ve been working on, of improvements I could make to the graphics job I’ve added to my workload, practical aspects that will improve the mini-opera (I’ve written that final song, at last), boat jobs we need to do, those we might have to change, what needs to be clean for what occasion in each of our day jobs. We both wake early. We hug and enjoy brief comfort before rejoining the fray.

So, tonight I popped out and got drunk. It’s necessary, sometimes.

What else? As far as the boat goes it’s mostly been small jobs and admin, ticked off yet another sub list which is taped to the galley cupboard door. There’s no big concern, there are just a hundred little ones. This weekend we sanded and primered our dinghies (and Rosy Primrose, who we’re finally repairing), happy in our toil in some rare sunshine, collapsing afterwards back in to our mess. I’d forgotten how tiring physical boat jobs are and returned to my computer work with a new appreciation.

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Getting to know Bob a little better

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Bob (yer uncle) and Fanny (yer aunt) awaiting primer

We’ve been spending too much on materials to get things finished, so Rich is about to start doing overtime to get back on track with savings, and I’ve taken on all the freelancing I can just about manage.  It’s probably best nobody speaks to us for a month or so. I’ll tell you when it’s nearly over.

 

A sail has been hoisted

Things that have happened:

1) A sail has been hoisted. But it has not taken us anywhere. Don’t get excited.

Gwen and Ren

Gwen and Ren. We’ve had a couple of nice Serenity pootles this week.

2) The swallows’ babies have started hanging out on Gwen. They had previously favoured the rusty white spray nearby, dozily bobbing about on her guard wires in their long rests between flights. Today they started to appear on ours too. They seem to find life exhausting. I completely understand.

3) Rich put in some shelves, mounted the radio and rigged up the bowsprit and the jib because he is a good, productive person.

4) I signed up for a half marathon in October because I’m a fucking idiot. Now I have to go running all the bloody time.

Things that have not happened: Big Joe didn’t organise a five canoe trip to Drake’s Island, the privately owned and abandoned defence isle which we most likely aren’t allowed on, and which we absolutely didn’t visit. We didn’t go and explore the catacombs of the derelict military barracks and it wasn’t amazing..

Ooooh

Ooooh

Mmmmm

Mmmmm

Aaaah

Aaaah

Foolishly not carrying my towel.

Foolishly not carrying my towel.

Catching Up

This morning, from Gwen.

Morning mist, from Gwen’s latest spot at the marina.

After a long weary winter of toil we have been eating up spring as though we’d never seen sunshine before, so apologies for the prolonged absence from words. Even now there is very little news other than hey, the sun is shining and so are our faces. Hey, we’re still not sailing, but we’re still close. Hey.

Emancipation from the shed had a strange effect at first. Annoyances, resentments, injuries that had had to be suppressed to get us through the constant work and planning and support and did I mention work, suddenly found an escape gap. I flipped out. It was needed. For a week as we did the last little jobs and cleared our stuff from the shed (and waited to put my last post on here) there was little in my mind but a catalogue of complaint, writing and rewriting itself in my head, sputtering moronically from my lips – I wanted my boyfriend back, I wanted my efforts recognised, I wanted never again to have to go through that shuddering hell. I hadn’t realised how far into survival mode I had sunk in those last shed weeks until I felt the daylight at the end. I am not a goddam boatbuilder and though I’ll help and help as best I can I never want to feel that weight of expectation, of never having done quite enough in the grand obsessive slogging nightmare, ever again. It gives Richard terrific drive but it burns me out in both body and mind, and I had begun to feel that I was of no importance unless a tool of some sort was in my hand. I wanted me back, now. NOW.

Rich flipped out in return – a combination of frustration with mine, exhaustion and (if you ask me) blindness to what manner of shitfest we’d just been through. There was an almighty explosion ricocheting with every manner of argument cliche, and then a steady scramble back to the relief of our cosy, cuddly near-normality. Peace at last, and a real chance to enjoy the bliss of being back on the water, with amenities close at hand and the sky a hatch away.

Old friends from the shed still come to visit us, though.

Old friends from the shed still come to visit us.

May came and spring sprung. Suddenly I had free time and at first I was terrified by it. I couldn’t draw any more, couldn’t rest without feeling guilty, couldn’t understand a world in which there is not something that needs to be done right now. When it hit me, it was glorious. Didds’ birthday party, Richard’s birthday, my (not a) surprise birthday karaoke – the world was suddenly about enjoying yourself again. Sod working at home – I work really hard at my job. Spare moments became opportunities to wander the fields, observing, photographing, writing, drinking chai, ending up in the pub, smoking, not running, eating myself into blubbery bliss. I have friends and I live in heaven! How did I forget.

Rich went back to work, I got more hours and in the evenings we’d play with kayaks that someone didn’t want (free toys) and fish off the back of the boat. And glory of glories – I got to start my own project. A few months back I designed a giant wearable puppet and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been making it in a secret hideaway.

Glamorous post-work fishing.

Glamorous post-work fishing (soon after this I got a camera with autofocus again, so shots like this should be a thing of the past).

For Rich's birthday and our 3rd anniversary I designed him a nautical tattoo, based on a picture I made for him a couple of years ago, featuring a compass to always find our way home. It's the unofficial symbol of Gwen, shown here the wrong way up.

For Rich’s birthday and our 3rd anniversary I designed him a tattoo based on a picture I made for him a couple of years ago. It features a compass which in sailor tat symbology is supposed to always find our way home. It’s the unofficial symbol of Gwen, and is shown here the wrong way up.

New kayak fun.

New kayak fun.

But nothing was getting done on the boat.

So as June arrived we made another list. This one’s a lot shorter than the last, but is not without its humdingers – notably the electrics, which Rich reluctantly finished off last week. The solar panels are up and wired in, as is the main switchboard, and we have some USB sockets for charging devices once we’re off the grid. Serenity’s fixed up (I learned how to scarph in fresh bits of wood to replace the rotten ones in the gunnel) and back on the water. We’ve bought some stuff, bolted the fire down, got some shelves and secured some cupboard doors with magnets in between our various excursions and a couple of heady nights of celebration.

As June wanes, urgency is mounting. We need to get the coach roof bolted down and stuff stowed away but we’re putting aside details like the nav lights and VHF to get the rigging ready, to get a first short sail out of the way so we can find out how much more needs to be done before Gwen can take her first proper voyage. This glorious evening I helped hoist Rich up the mast to attach the peak halliards, staysail halliard and some sort of jib halliard (he’s not quite sure what’s going on with that). I’m really fucking excited, but Rich seems composed as though it’s business as usual. I think forward to our first sail, whatever that will be like, the exhilaration of Gwen’s tip as she’s blown along, and the immense pride I’ll feel in the small jobs and big plans I’ve contributed to her transformation. What that will feel like for Rich, who has bought her, toiled on her and spent every spare penny on her for nearly three years, I can only imagine. For now he is consumed with the next job to be done, and still enjoying like me the freedom of long summer days in the company of a truly loved one and the best home in the world.

I got jealous so I've been promised a trip up the mast this week.

I got jealous so I’ve been promised a trip up the mast this week.

Lovely Cawsand. One day.

Lovely Cawsand, round the corner, will probably be our first destination for a summer anchorage.

All Good Things

On Thursday we finished off the antifouling, performing tours of the boat with cloth and sandpaper and paint at low tide, wellies clunking through smelly puckered black-brown mud at the aft end. I don’t really remember much of the rest of the day because of what happened later. Some messing about with things. Some friends coming to say hello. A nap. The tide came in, and Our Lizzie, the boat that was to take our place on the slipway, pulled up behind us.

We started the engine and sat for an hour to check that it wasn’t overheating. Then, for the first time since we’ve known her, and possibly for the first time since Jo and Eliot moved her up to the mill for her long stint as a houseboat or longer, Gwen moved under her own power. Rich took the tiller and between me and the chaps from Our Lizzie she was pulled with ropes round their bow and out on to open water, and she was free.

Rich gave the tiller over to me and I steered her through port and starboard marker buoys in the direction of Plymouth. Steering was simple – the tiller behaved exactly as I expected and we kept looking at each other, not believing that this was so easy. All that work, all those setbacks – the very fact that we should have done this a year ago for Rich’s birthday and were thwarted by an overheating engine – were over, and now we had a home that we can take whenever we like for a trip up the river, a night on a mooring, a fish in the channel. The sun shone, the breeze blew, and we beamed.

Grayhound, the construction of which Rich had been working on when we first met, was moored and looking beautiful in the channel. I drove a couple of circuits around her so Rich could yell hellos to their crew, including a very lovely Frenchman called Julien who had worked on Grayhound with Rich and was visiting on their recent cargo trip from France. We then toured a few buoys and tried out our picking-up skills, and Rich did some pirouettes to test out Gwen’s inclinations to steer one way and another. Then home to a new temporary berth in the marina, with Rich cautiously steering as I jumped off and secured her with a rope. Easy. Remarkable. A momentous day was over, and there was another to come straight after.

Go Gwen, go!

Go Gwen, go!

Rich driving Gwen.

Look at his happy little face. Rich driving Gwen for the first time.

Me driving Gwen.

A boat in my hands. The solar panel cardboard box and Grayhound as my backdrop.

Yelling hello to Grayhound

Yelling hello to Grayhound, her paint job still in progress.

Buoy collection squad, activate.

Buoy collection squad, activate.

Yesterday morning was sunny and we woke early, Rich performing his usual coffee making duty with the aid of a freshly cleaned percolator, me trying to find something clean to wear in the laundry-laden clutter of the saloon. I eventually located a bra and had stripped my t-shirt and the top off my dungarees when a noise like ropes and thumping hit the boat, and I turned around sharply to avoid the gaze of whoever was on the pontoon. They weren’t, and through the portholes of the port side I saw figures clambering on board. I clothed my boobs sharpish and went to see what the hell was going on.

Julien and a friendly young apprentice from Grayhound tied their dinghy up to Gwen and had coffee with us on deck, merrily yabbering and smoking in the cockpit after admiring the interior. Julien had lived on Gwen for a time while working here in the ‘Brook, and was impressed by our modifications, finding it difficult to remember what had been where before. Once they’d gone another visitor popped round to share his boat plans. We are back in society, even in the early hours of the morning.

Once 9 came I managed to call and negotiate a short day of work so that I could come back for the afternoon’s terrifying endeavour, and set off with a “good luck” to Rich for his morning of mast movement. The amount of erection jokes that have been made possible in the last couple of days has pushed my friends in to a Carry On league of smut, and my colleagues proved no exception. I spent the frantic lunchtime shift becoming less and less jolly, more and more nervous about the mast going in, and when the time came I rushed back down the hill to find Rich seeming unnervingly calm. He wasn’t. He was bricking it.

The weather had taken a turn for the murky. Rich and I untied the boat and drove her down a little way to another pontoon, close to the crane. Nathan controlled that while Rich and Graham helped shift the mast, which was already tied up and ready to go, from the shore to the sky. I watched from beneath the crane as they leapt from gravel to pontoon to deck and guided the bottom of the mast in to the hole in the deck, then went to join them. From below Rich yelled instructions which I translated in to hand gestures to Nathan – up, stop, down. Soon the rectangular end of the mast was in the corresponding groove in our saloon floor and Rich started bashing in wedges below and on deck.

A moment of "what the fuck?"

One of many moments of terror.

Jamming a tree in to a concrete deck.

Jamming it in.

A mast, and a very happy man.

A mast, and a very happy Chard.

A chilly wind was nipping when we said goodbye to our helpful mast-droppers, and we decided to wait until the tide had changed to attempt to return to our berth. Rich and I attached and modified the forestay with some extra shackles, had a warm up inside, then started reeving up the dead-eyes for the lower shrouds. It wasn’t too difficult, but it was cold and a bit miserable after the exhilaration of throwing a massive stick in to the boat. Fortunately those Greyhound lovelies Marcus, Freya, their little son Malachai and the other two from the morning’s visit appeared in two dinghies from their distant craft and came to bless Gwen with beer and raise our spirits for the journey home. Once we got back to our berth we both sank in to what little sofa was spare and finished the beers off.

Gwen, home and riddled with twigs.

Gwen. At home and riddled with twigs.

Rich modified the floorboards to take in the mast and put the headlining back up while I made us a big hearty dinner, and it didn’t feel like anything was really real. From a distance, now on board, the mast didn’t look so huge. From outside, Gwen looked like a sailing boat – a sailing boat! What the hell? From the inside, there was a tree where our table used to be. It wasn’t until I woke this morning (at 11.30 – our first lie in for I don’t know how long) and saw the mast through the scratched glass of the second-hand hatch above my bed that anything seemed to make sense. We live on a sailing boat and that’s our mast and that’s my view in the mornings from now on. Okay then. As you were.

A morning view.

Waking vision.

I struggled to write this. I haven’t had the words after this week – it’s a huge step followed by a huge step, a baffling journey in to nearly there. Rich is such a clever, talented man, and I look at him with pride, admiration and a sliver of envy for having brought this crazy plan about. I dream about where we’ll go, and I feel my own pride for my part in Gwen’s resurrection. I look forward to forging my own creative sanctuary in her newly functional belly and I crave more sleep, some brief holiday, and then a return to making our dream come alive.

Outside

Still groggy from a dream in which I forwent a steamy tryst with Tyrion from Game of Thrones (it must be the beard he has in Season 5) to return to Richard, I woke this morning to him calling me out from the dark forward cabin. He wanted me to witness an unusual presence in the saloon. Daylight.

The day before, while I went out for the afternoon and returned well after dark, the boat was moved from the back of the shed to just outside the front. Now the real world was streaming in through Gwen’s tiny portholes. After eight months of cold, dark, dusty, noisy shed life we had crept just far enough out to witness the start of a beautiful day. I threw on a top and some shabby trousers and had a cigarette and coffee on deck while I confessed the night’s indiscretions to my love, looking out over the boatyard like a fairytale princess who has been trapped in a tower for a long winter and has only just uncovered the window.

Hello world.

Hello world.

It was not long before Jonathan arrived to drive Gwen down the slipway. We followed and marvelled at her and received many a compliment on her paint job, got her nicely propped up on her legs and some blocks and climbed up to her from a ladder that became ever more submerged as the tide came in. Suddenly, it was summer. Suddenly working seemed like a terrible idea and cups of coffee and pottering about on deck were the order of the day. I took out my sketchpad and basked in the sun, trying to remember how to draw or relax or not work.

So much air. So much day.

So much air. So much day.

Remembering how to relax, watching the shitty dinghy.

Remembering how to relax, watching the shitty dinghy.

My scary orange deadeye children are shocked by the sun.

My scary orange deadeye children are shocked by the sun.

With the afternoon’s rising tide, however, came duties. Checking the ropes to start with. Discussing over and over again with visiting wellwishers how the water line isn’t the water line – we’ll find out what the real water line is when the tide comes in. Moving the ladder so we can still get things on and off. Running to the shed for something we’ve forgotten. Her arse started to bob, and people got hopeful – “she’ll be floating any minute” – and we weren’t so sure, but about 4.50 it happened. We amassed a team of assistants including two Johns and occasionally a Jonathan, and a nice guy from Brighton called Chris who had just bought a catamaran in the marina and was trying to fix its engine so he could get off our pontoon. Between many of us and many ropes we pulled and yanked and stepped and even windlassed Gwen over towards the pontoon’s floating steel mesh, and though we promised them all a beer our team dissolved and went back to work (or sailed home to Brighton with their windlass handle still on our deck – shit!).

Plank

Plank

Gwen nearly floats.

After the move

It was then back to merry sunshine laziness while the tide turned, followed by a cycle to the village for cider and cigarettes to celebrate while Rich began the evening’s main task of drilling and fitting the exhaust. When I got back the familiar scream of the drill was emanating from Gwen’s stern and I saw it emerge from a hole in the edge of the scum line that the water had formed, 2 inches below where it should have been but fine for the exhaust Rich has planned. I went and got in the shitty dinghy and pulled it round the small amount of remaining water to Gwen so that we could drill the rest of the holes from the outside.

There was this moment, when I was sitting in the dinghy only just still floating next to Gwen’s rudder, gripping the pintle with one hand and a rope with the other. Rich was sat in front of me, his extended foot jammed behind Gwen’s prop, both of us trying to keep the dinghy still. He showered me with the dust of old concrete as he drilled four bolt holes around one of two fitting holes for the exhaust and I put my head down and held on for all I was worth. Two geese flapped by with a honking, fluttering, mechanical noise and I thought “this is just fucking brilliant”. The whole day felt like that.

Tonight we’re knackered, again, and a bit sunburnt. Rich had to work well in to the night to get the fiddly exhaust plumbed in, so I’ve sat with him beneath the stars (STARS!) in the aft cabin to keep him company while I write this. It was a special day, so why not write it a post. Not our mast going in, first trip under our own steam or our first sail – those are yet to come. Today’s significance is small and forgettable in the large picture of what we’re doing with Gwen, but in terms of emotion it’s a boost like no other. Today we left the shed and went back to the water.

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.

No-One Ever Said It Was Going To Be Easy

I haven’t done much on Gwen in the last couple of weeks, but Rich has been on it as ever. He finished scraping the deck on his own, Merv’s blowtorch in one hand, a scraper taped to the other arm with a flip flop or piece of pipe to stiffen it, refusing to let me help as it’s hard on the wrists and mine are incredibly weak. He also did some filling on the keel, preparing for when we put on a glass shoe and make Gwen a seafaring Cindarella, and made seats for the cockpit from polyurethane foam and fibreglass through which the morse controls now sit.

Rich's deck contraption - scraper, waste pipe, bandages.

Rich’s deck contraption – scraper, waste pipe, serving mallet, jubilee clip, bandages.

But me, I’ve been rubbish. I have only succeeded in cutting a load of plugs with a plug cutter (while shooting seething looks at the “getting the little woman to help out” comments of a neighbouring boat person), cleaning out the bolts of the rubbing strake and plugging them up. I’ve performed my usual planning and catering duties, but I’ve been out of sorts or working the rest of the time and not much bloody help at all.

A week and a half ago I went away for a merry couple of days in London for a friend’s 40th, enjoying the train ride with the same blended sense of appreciation, anticipation and freedom that I hope will accompany our sailing adventures. I soaked in the old sights, the gossip, new highs of cocktail tasting (kindly bought by more affluent amigos) and new lows of karaoke participation, and the freedom of conversation with people who like the same things as me, drunkenly and warmly taking the piss out of each other, sharing stories with references I didn’t have to explain or have explained. With my return to Gwen came a sharp bump back to reality.

Boat life these days is all about the boat, and since the urgency to get out of the shed became our top priority Rich has been more obsessed than ever. His every waking thought is about the boat in some way, (even his leisure time is spent researching something that will eventually be in or on her) and he shares it all in a monologue that can sometimes be overwhelming, full of stages of calculation, prices, sizes, specifications, modifications. This has always been the case, and usually I can dig in with my own contribution or patiently abide it with an understanding smile. But this year it’s taken over and I feel almost as if another part of him has gone – a part that has maybe had to be temporarily sacrificed for finally making this dream happen – the part that is interested in me and fun and the world beyond. I didn’t realise until I returned from London how much of my life has become about surviving this cold, dark, dirty shed, the absence of shared enjoyment and the consumed distance of my partner in crime.

Me as a miserable octopus on a boat in a shed.

Me as a miserable octopus on a boat in a shed.

For a week I slumped, gradually falling in to a silence, a disconnection. Rich made a new forestay and started adding the hardware to the mast. I started smoking again. I’d do an hour or two’s work on the boat then lose interest, didn’t fancy running, stopped caring about what I ate, ate all the time. Work or volunteering or seeing friends kept me distracted in between, but I yearned for some project of my own or way to generate my own happiness. The oppressive shed, it’s day-long noise and night-long isolation, and the lack of simple comforts like a sink where the water can drain away so you can easily wash your hands or clean your teeth, made the boat seem more uncomfortable than ever before. How easily your head can turn a sanctuary in to a cell.

It’s still there and I’m still yanking the motivation to do anything from a deep place, and though Rich and I have talked through a lot of what is going on there seems to be no way to change it for now – we just can’t always be carefree. We can’t always have drainable water and space to put things and fresh free air greeting us on deck. Sometimes we just have to be in a shed and look out the doorway at a sunny day and know that we’ll be joining it soon.

But fun – despite our lack of money, surely we can have some of that. Today we togged up and took the dinghy over to Bogey Knights (ain’t no doubt – we are here to party) in Plymouth – as I put it in a tweet “traversing the windy warship-strewn Tamar in a shit little dinghy with an abused engine”. The place is a treasure trove of services surplus, boat paraphernalia and just plain weird second hand shit, and we came home with a heavy booty of paint. We had lunch in the sun, visited friends, played stupid games when we got home, drank cider and laughed a little. Important stuff.

Trip home from Bogey's with a rose found floating in the water.

Trip home from Bogey’s with a rose found floating in the water.

We’ve been in the shed for seven months now, and we’ve got an aft cabin and will have a new rig and paint job because of it, but both of us will be so relieved when we’re out. It takes its toll on each of us in different ways, but we are both agreed that it is utterly shit, and the fact that it will end keeps us both going until the day comes that we can fuck off out of here.