Archive | April, 2013

Boatbird Blues

20 Apr

A few of my loyal readers have complained about my lack of presence here of late, notably missing March completely. So, suitably admonished, BB is back on the blog.

Truth is, Boatbird has been a bit blue. Miserable in fact.

No boating, no flying, no adventures (and the longest winter that ever was) makes BB a dull girl and therefore a dull read. That was my thinking.

I blame the lack of a first mate. Now that might seem tantamount to believing that life stops just because you’re on your own but that’s not what I’m saying. I’m fine with my own company and can quite easily keep busy and motivated but fun and adventures aren’t so easy to come by. It’s just not the same, however you paint it. Not in my world anyway.

To this end, I need and should get a new first mate but I don’t want one. I want the original one back. But no amount of wishing on my part will make this happen. I know that. Get over it and get on with it I must.

So what have I been up to?

Ever hopeful that Spring will spring sometime soon, I have cleaned inside the good ship Hobo from stem to stern. So that’s 40+ feet of walls (x2), 40+ feet of ceiling, plus bulkheads, cupboards, windows and so on. I’ve tackled this in bite-size pieces, as one must with any 40+ foot job, and am happy to say that it is now complete. And looking very clean and shiny now that the grime created by burning the stove 24/7 all winter has been removed. It is something of a chore but no way would I be without my little woodburner, so a small price to pay for the cheery warmth and anti-suicidal tendencies it dutifully delivers.

I’ve also been getting a bit creative; knitting squares (took me back – used to do this as a child for the poor kids in Africa) to make a top blanket for the bed, fitting new curtains, making new cushion covers, rugs and re-arranging stuff, as much as one can here. But little changes make a big difference in a small space.

The knitting I found to be calming and good therapy. A true winter pursuit. In fact now that that project is finished, I am missing it. Doctor Who scarf anyone…?

A neighbour machined a couple of old denim skirts into covers for some foam I foraged from a skip at a marina on the Thames, where one finds a better class of rubbish. Two cushions then for the roof, so less numbing on the bum when perched on the roof at the tiller.

You see, I told you it would make a dull read.

There was the battery experiment though: pulled the plug on the shoreline (good to discharge the batteries from time to time) and it was a whole six days later before the inverter cut out. Meaning that I can sit for six days if I want, when cruising, without running the engine. That’s not dull, that’s a result.

And I did join some of my neighbours in the drinking shed last night,  an outdoor space where we light a fire, chat, laugh, swap stories. And drink; the clue being  in the name.  BBQ’s in summer. Most pleasant. There’s a few ‘big nights’ coming up when boaters from far and wide will pitch up and swell numbers so that should be fun. Or a damn nuisance if I’m feeling anti-social.

We’ve all bitched ferociously about the weather; the mud down dog-dirt-alley has been legendary, finding its way into the boat, car, onto my clothes, up my nose, in my ears and hair – everywhere really. Wellies an absolute must. But hasn’t today been marvellous? At least I can at last open up the hatches and let the sunshine in. Many boats have been on the move and at least two of my neighbours are readying for their summer cruises. Lucky buggers.

Talking of moving boats, even the ones that never do are. As in swapsies. The neglected, unloved and rarely visited specimen that moored behind me has changed places with the shiny bright red one that has been undergoing total renovation on the hard for the last twelve months or so.

There is a definite advantage of being parked next to a scruffy, dejected boat though. Yep, you got it,  must crack on with the the great Hobo spruce up.

Seems to be a feverish doing up of boats going on right now. The slipway is seeing more traffic than the M25 – keen DIYers blacking their bottoms, tiddling up their tops, sealing their windows etc. It’s definitely the cheaper option (for blacking – no haul out to shell out for) but hard work, and I’m not sure I’m up to it, but a decision I can defer till next year. There have been a few crane-ins and outs, always resulting in my car being in the way and me being dragged from my bed to shift it. Always a good start to BB’s day. Not.

If it carries on like this tomorrow, I shall be up on the roof finishing off the painting that I couldn’t last year – because of the weather. And then there’s the rest of the boat. More grinding, priming, painting and varnishing needed. Brass to polish. Pots to plant. Endless  little chores to be done. Relentless. It’s a bloody good job I (almost) enjoy working on the boat as much as I do cruising her.

There’s also a whole host of improvements and additions that the first mate and I have started that need finishing, not to mention those ‘good ideas’ that still need implementing. I shall just have to get a bit clever and give them a go myself, although some may be outside my skill set/ beyond my strength. But that’s not to say it will stop me trying.

Or perhaps I should just smile sweetly at some random bloke…

Just think, about this time seven years ago (just before my birthday) I had secured the purchase of Hobo and was winding down the house, getting ready to move aboard and making plans to cruise her for two weeks to her then new home at Hartford Marina near Huntingdon. I’d hardly set foot on a boat before, let alone driven one.

Exciting times. And I loved every minute.

Still do.