Yet Another One

With the improvement in the weather we have been spending a lot more time on deck. Due to the shape of the boat, the position of the engine and so forth, I’m fairly sure that we have more ‘outdoor’ space than we do inside. It is really quite lovely to spend a quiet hour away from the daily grind, reading on deck (currently P. G. Wodehouse). The weather has also inspired us to do some more work on Teka.

When we first got Teka we quickly discovered that several of the stanchions were thoroughly rotten. We took the boat to be fixed (which resulted in us being on the news as the associated boat yard was due to be closed). Almost immediately after getting two professionally replaced we discovered that four more were disintegrating. Luckily Keith had been watching the initial work like a hawk. Getting every piece of work done professionally is all well and good, but if your intention is long voyages then it’s probably best to learn yourselves. With some kind help from a couple of other chaps, they replaced another four. We thought, foolishly, that was the end of our stanchion troubles. Yesterday we discovered another one which had a rotten patch.

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This, as you can see in the photo, was a particularly awkward one. The majority of the others had been higher up, under the downrail. For the most part they weren’t structural or load bearing (apart from two at the stern). This one was different. The stanchion in question supports not only that section of downrail, but also a cavel rail with some rather crucial lines attached. Even worse, the rot was at the bottom, running the risk that it would let water in to the boat, or even worse, spread to some of the more vitally structural elements. All was not lost, however. Step up Keith, epoxy, and my all time favourite substance: resoltech. Keith cut away the affected wood, then soaked the remaining stanchion in resoltech. For those who haven’t been lucky enough to come across this stuff – it’s basically magic. It seeps in to the pores of the wood, pushing out any remaining water and solidifying it to a quite incredible degree. Keith then filled the hole with epoxy, sealing out the water. Problem solved!

We had apparently been the target of a bombing raid by seagulls too. Again, Keith stepped up. We had, luckily, recently bought a brand new bottle of deck cleaner in preparation for repairing the leak above the galley. I feel like I should point out that for the majority of this time I was at work, not just being terribly lazy! Unexpected maintenance done, we can return to our planned maintenance for the rest of the week. Tomorrow we are sealing the leak (especially vital as there is a LOT of rain forecast next week), and the weekend will involve the perpetual sanding and varnishing. I say perpetual, but we are making visible progress now. People say that wooden boats are a lot of work. This is true. There’s no denying it. But! Who doesn’t work on their home? It’s the great difference between renting and home ownership. When something goes wrong, the incentive is there to fix it, improve it, and so forth. It’s incredibly rewarding too.

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Pontoon Life and Oddities

The rain is absolutely hammering down today, but I promise that it was beautiful for the majority of last week. British weather is famous for being somewhat temperamental so we took advantage of the dry-spell to do some work on Teka. It was mostly sprucing jobs. We swabbed the deck, washed the hull, scrubbed the rib, and tidied the cockpit; I could understand the latter getting covered in leaves when we spent autumn moored under a row of trees but now? In the middle of a marina? In summer? The mind boggles.

Of course we were not the only people out and about. As soon as the sun shines the marina comes alive with people tinkering away on their vessels. Some are doing a few jobs before popping out in to the channel for an afternoon fishing, while others are getting their boats ready for a long summer of sailing. A lovely Moody has recently moored up near us, and the couple who own her were struggling with their mast. While I love our gaff-rigged sails, I had always seen the attraction in the very modern Bermuda rigged boats where the main sail rolls up in to the mast itself. This is how the Eas Mhor is rigged, but something had gone wrong and the sail was getting stuck. By this point we had all said ‘hello’ and admired each others boats while we got on with working on our own. After an hour or two of the four of us cheerfully working alongside, they asked for some help unsticking their sail. Despite being injured at the moment (and not being the greatest fan of heights), Keith happily popped himself in their bosuns chair and up he went! The plan was to hammer a wedge of hard wood into the part of the mast which had narrowed in order to – hopefully – widen it again.

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Keith and I are still relatively new to this way of living, and are still learning the ropes (pun entirely intended). There is one aspect of it which I really enjoy, and that is the camaraderie on the pontoon. It’s not specific to where we are now: there were many similar occurrences in Bristol. There was the time that the electricity went down on the whole pontoon and, once everyone had breathed a sigh of relief that they hadn’t broken their boat, clubbed together to work out how to fix it. There were borrowings and lending of tools and advice. There was a lovely dinner party. The same seems to apply here. When we first arrived several people came over to help us with our lines. A couple who were preparing their boat to spend the summer in Cornwall kindly donated us some rope as they felt that they had a surplus. And Keith went up the mast.

I have heard people – usually older – talking about the loss of community in society. It was never something which had bothered me too much: chance has thrown you next to someone, but that surely doesn’t mean you have to be friends? They might be a total jerk! I wasn’t sure whether it was even ever real. Surely it was just that strange nostalgic thing that people do, saying that everything was better in the ‘good old days’. (I challenge anyone to actually be able to date ‘the good old days’ and show how they were so wonderfully problem free, but that’s another story). But now I get it, and I love it. Perhaps I am being naïve, but it seems to me that the automatic setting is a sort of cheerful vague helpfulness between all sailors.


This week’s oddities of boat life:

  1. Waking up at 3:45am to rush around closing portholes and hatches because weather is happening
  2. Very big splashes = starting to think there might be a kraken in Portishead marina