After just over a week at home, catching up with life in Derbyshire, jobs around the house and getting the OGA Gaffers Log to press, we return to Suffolk with the promise that the sails will have been brought to Suffolk Yacht Harbour for our collection on Monday.
As she seems to be taking up, Bev is tasked with cleaning the bilge and we drain it completely, fingers crossed she’s settling down now!
We’ve been doing lots of research into all the other ‘bits and pieces’ we’ll need, so combine the trip to collect the sails with quite an expensive visit to the chandlery, funded in part by Bev’s first State Pension payment! The special purchase, along with the essentials like the radio and water pump are a fine new clock and barometer. We also call at Larkmans to order cordage . . .
We’re getting used to being back in the water now, and at high water can walk across the pontoon back to the bank where the tent was for the past ten years.
With the bunks now in place, it’s time to make decisions about the galley, and final positions for the batteries, fuel cylinder for the Taylors stove, pump for the water etc. There are limited choices, but we spend some time thinking through all the options, trying the stove in different positions.
Lists, and more lists . . . what to do next? Now she’s back in the water, and seems to be taking up OK with the bilge pumps kicking in at ever increasing intervals, Steve asks himself, “What are the priorities for ‘fitting out’?”
The damage caused by the winter storms is top of the list, after fitting the base for the second bunk, so we can both sleep aboard in comfort. The broken porthole is polished up, reglazed and re-fitted. All the damage to the deck and coach house roof are also made good and repainted.
He decides that the mast will be OK, bearing the scars of the winter storm, but the bowsprit is taken ashore for rubbing down and another coat of varnish.
Most work on the electrics was done last July, before the launch, but we’re also having shore power, easier to install before she goes back in the water.
Steve spends Friday and Saturday wiring it all in so it’s as unobtrusive, but accessible as possible.
After several false starts, we get down to the boat at last on 10 May . . . thwarted by bad weather, more work on the house project, van repairs and bringing Cachalette back to the house for some long overdue maintenance, April seems to have disappeared! It’s just a quick ‘long weekend’ to make plans for how to work now we don’t have the tent. First priority is to get Cachalot back in the water as she’s dried out a lot, being out of the tent exposed to the elements all winter. It’s strange to set up our camp on the ‘other’ arm, but there’s plenty of space to test out the new awning which Steve and Simon installed on our hill in Derbyshire. After the third or fourth attempt at mending the bent poles, we decided to invest in a new one, exactly the same as we know it fits, and we’ll take more care to peg down the poles and tilt the roof when it rains!
On Saturday night we had our first visitors to sleep aboard! Annie and Will were boat-viewing in Mistley and stopped overnight . . . there’s still only one bunk, not fully secure, but they managed OK. More friends from Derbyshire with an East Coast connection.
The old bunk cushions, stored under our bed in Derbyshire for ten years after being carefully washed, are still in excellent condition. The new bunks are made to fit the cushions, with some improvements on the underlying wooden structure
It’s a great moment when we realise that, after all this time, we’ll now be able to sleep aboard again!
While awaiting spare parts to fit the bilge pumps and leisure battery, Simon and Steve start to think about the layout of the interior. There’s a detailed collection of photos on Steve’s iPad along with the carefully stored ‘patterns’ from the old bunks – all the cushions have been washed and survived the sinking and subsequent storage very well. They will all be re-used, on newly constructed bases. The old stove has been scrapped and will be replaced with a Taylors diesel heater and there’s a reconditioned Taylors stove to replace the old Calor gas twin burners.
After being forced back to Derbyshire by gales at the beginning of May, we set off for sunnier climes in Italy. Travelling by train via Derby, London, Paris and Milan then to Siracusa, Sicily (with the train boarding the boat to cross the Strait of Messina), we returned by overnight ferry from Palermo to Naples, flying back to Gatwick after a few days sightseeing in Rome.
Progress having been seriously delayed this year, Steve spent just over a week in Woodbridge in early June, achieving his Springtime goal of getting the whole of the hull interior painted at last! ‘Henry’, the hardy and generally trusted vacuum cleaner, did need the smile wiping from his face when he fell from a deck beam knocking a tin of (very expensive) paint into the bilges! With grey bilges and white above the sole, she’s looking good, and another step towards putting on the deck.
Mid-June found us back in Derbyshire for the Eroica Britannia at Bakewell Showground. Much colder than last year, the weather didn’t dampen our spirits as Beverley joined Steve and Rob for a most enjoyable (and challenging) 55 miles up hill and down dale along with 3,000 ‘heroic’ riders on classic pre-1987 bicycles.
4 July and it’s off to Suffolk again, taking the Bongo and the car for the ‘long haul’, with no distractions until August! The tent's become somewhat untidy, leading to some ‘home improvements’, clearing out old wood that ‘might come in handy’ as patterns and extending the workbench to full-width of the tent: total cost, one bag of nails at £2.49!
After more discussions, sucking of teeth and research into the definitive plan for the deck, it’s decided: marine ply and glass, painted to provide the look of canvas. Now the decision's made, Steve's fairing the deck beams and finishing jobs it’s easier to do without the deck on, and ordering the ply, of course. Water and fuel tanks are thoroughly cleaned, and securely installed along with a new fuel filter.
22 July: ten boards of plywood arrive on a large lorry from Lathams. After stacking it safely, we depart for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight for the weekend to say 'bon voyage' to the OGA fleet sailing to St Malo. On our return, we find Marion and Ian are stormbound on 'Eleanor' in Ipswich, they cycled round to see the boat and invited us back for supper. Yesterday, Trevor, Peter and Paul were in the Tidemill on 'Gromit', so we all repaired to The Anchor for an evening meal.
Our trusty Bongo, due for it's MOT in May, has to have more welding done in order to pass. This means another late start to work in Woodbridge, but there's been great progress in the Derbyshire hilltop workshop!
Steve's been working on the cockpit floor, engine box and cabin sole, using the reclaimed teak from the deck.
With all the patterns carefully made before leaving Woodbridge, and brought home to Derbyshire, the winter project was to make the engine box and sole.
After a few experiments with the teak reclaimed from the deck, and various options for 'holly', the final decision was made and Steve started work in earnest.
Many chilly hours spent in the workshop resulted in a wonderful varnished engine box becoming part of the living room furniture in February, and by Easter, the sole was complete as well!