Those best made plans . . . we were the third boat due in the travel hoist on Tuesday. First it was the Dunkirk Little Ship from Ramsholt, ‘Maid Marion’, who had been leaking badly since going back in the water after her winter ashore. She was coming up to the Tidemill to hang in the hoist while her seams were recaulked. Was this an omen? The next boat, ‘Rosebud’, was being lifted out as she was leaking badly and needed to come ashore for repairs.
Once ‘Maid Marion’ had set off back to Ramsholt and ‘Rosebud’ was settled on her cradle, it was our turn. Andy and Steve loaded her into the hoist and drove her down to the dock, Steve climbed aboard and she was lowered into the water . . . he went below, and after some time came out with a worried look. There’s a small waterfall from one of the seams and the pumps won’t take it. What to do? After a bit of consultation, it’s agreed we can stay out in the hoist overnight, recaulk and be ready to go back early in the morning.
Steve rakes out the offending seam (yet another different one, quite low down) and leaves it to dry overnight . . . we sleep in the van and at 6am Bev wakes to hear the gentle knocking of a caulking iron. By 8am when Steve and Andy arrive, she’s ready. We’ve asked to borrow a mains pump this time, just in case. Second time, and there’s just a trickle as expected, so Steve motors round to our berth.
As Bev waits on the pontoon to take the lines, he seems to be going very slowly – no, he’s aground as it’s still low water! Gently does it and eventually she’s secure in her berth, back on the arm below where the tent was. We’re expecting more visitors today, Joe and Angela are coming down from Derbyshire for a couple of days, so we book a table at the Anchor and Steve sits on board to check the bilge pumps are doing their job.
Thursday 17 May we drive back down to Woodbridge, with the car all bright and sparkly after it’s trip to the bodyshop.
Steve assesses the work to be done before going back in the water. The main area of concern is where the stern post is leaking at the seam with the only old planking he didn’t replace . . . it had been bedded in with Sikaflex, which had failed, and there’s been quite a bit of shrinkage.
He decides to rake out the whole seam on both sides, spline the gaps and engage James to re-caulk. He’ll be here next Wednesday afternoon.
With no jobs on the boat for Bev, she spring cleans the Bongo, making a few modifications to over-tired bits of upholstery. She also measures up to make covers for the skylight and forward hatch.
After the launch, the bilge pumps were set and timed regularly – it all seemed to be going OK so we went sailing with James on ‘Kestrel’ with the East Coast OGA, setting out from Waldringfield for the August Cruise to Brightlingsea on 11 August. Andy agreed to keep a watchful eye on the bilge pumps, so Steve didn’t need to worry (much!) and could enjoy the sailing and a bit of relaxation for a week away . . .
On our return, the priority was to be the mast, but the bilge pumps were still running rather too frequently. Reluctantly, it was agreed this was more than just ‘taking up’, despite all the old tricks of sawdust under the hull . . . she needed to come out for a better look below the waterline. We could have had her lifted at the Tidemill, but a better option seemed to be the short motor up river to Larkmans, where James could have a look at her seams and do any work while she was left in the slings for 24 hours. The tides were just right, with high water around midday, so Steve motored up river on 23 August.
There’s still lots to do, but it’s not all work . . .
July 7, 2014 finds Steve and Simon in Suffolk, preparing Cachalot for caulking. Before he leaves for Berlin, Simon makes a perfect job of putting more coats of primer on the hull, and we engage Paul to start work on 22 July while we go to Berlin to visit Julia and Simon.
At the end of July, determined to join in with the Dutch OGA Cross Country Tour, Bev took her bike to the Netherlands on the ferry, joining the fleet in Haarlem to ride and sail with them to Den Helder, returning mid-August after helping Claudia to move Else. But that’s all another story . . .
Paul and Steve made excellent progress with caulking and starting with the interior and we return to Derbyshire for a couple of weeks at the end of August. After an epic furniture removal trip to help Kate and Simon (Chesterfield – Barnsley – Matlock – Birmingham – Southampton – Chesterfield in 36 hours) we return to Woodbridge as the weather looks set fair until October.
On 26 September another milestone is reached as Paul completes the caulking and ‘paying up’. We spend another week tidying up and preparing the tent for another winter, concerned as to whether it will actually survive. This really must be the last winter Cachalot spends under her tent! We head for home on 4 October.
It’s April, Easter weekend, and we’re off to Suffolk for the first time this year for the OGA Tollesbury Rally.It’s still too cold to stay long enough to do much on the boat, and we need to get back to Derbyshire anyway where we’ve left Neil and Joe tree-felling in the garden!
2014 looks like it’s going to be another late start for work on ‘Cachalot’, due to the weather, but Steve’s been making good progress in the workshop at home with the component parts for the cockpit all ready to go. Now the hull’s pretty well finished, we’re also thinking about caulking and what to do about the interior, before replacing the deck.
The May Spring Bank Holiday looks set to be fair, so we load the van with the first bulkhead and cockpit sides, made of marine ply, routed to simulate tongue and groove. Carefully put together from patterns, 300 miles away in Derbyshire, Steve starts to fit them all in place. Not only is the hull taking shape, we’re getting started on the ‘fitting out’!
The other major job is to prepare the hull for caulking, filling any minor blemishes before applying more coats of primer. In search of some sunshine and warmth though, we fly off to Italy for a week on the Amalfi Coast at the beginning of June, back in time for Steve to take part in l’Eroica Britannia based at Bakewell Showground.
Late at night on 15 December, 2006, there was a phonecall from Mark at the Tidemill Yacht Harbour, "Steve, your boat has sunk!"
'Cachalot' was hauled out of her berth in the marina, and put in a cradle ashore, following a call from a passer-by to the Tidemill staff that she seemed to be ‘lying a bit low’ alongside the pontoon. Why had she taken on so much water so suddenly?
Was she telling us something? She’d been booked to be lifted out for work on the counter and seams just two weeks later, on 10 January 2007!