Now the boat is in the water, we have to dismantle the tent, remove it and clear the site where we’ve been working for the past ten years. Deadline is 18 September, so not much time! Steve cuts down and bundles the fabric, which is well past re-use, and James lends a hand with the rather precarious (and somewhat dangerous) task of taking down the scaffold. There are a few ‘near misses’ when balancing a ladder on pieces of scaffold, but the whole structure is finally stacked ready for removal tomorrow.
Having arrived back from Derbyshire just as the light fades, Bev joins Steve and James as they relax in the Anchor with a well-earned evening meal and a pint of St Ed’s.
Friday 15 September finds us loading the tent and scaffold onto James’ trailer. The scaffold is being re-used as new winter storage for ‘Charm’ when she comes ashore at Larkmans next month. It remains for us to clear the rest of the site ready for the next phase of development at the Tidemill Yacht Harbour – with a new road planned and clearance of the area beyond where our tent was.
Chris has kindly let us use his tent until the end of the month as Steve sorts out the scrap wood and makes a tidy pile for fitting out Cachalot’s interior next year. Carefully scouring the ground for discarded screws and nails, we gather a valuable pile of scrap to weigh in. It feels strange to see the site so bare and empty, thinking back to all that’s happened here over the past ten years . . .
Now that the tent is empty, there’s room for the mast to be under cover. Two fellow berth holders volunteer to help move it inside, with a mast trolley loaned by Larkmans.
The tent has to be dismantled, and it’s not before time! The lean is becoming more and more pronounced, and it seems unlikely to survive another big storm, but makes an ideal workshop to finish varnishing the mast as another bout of wet weather approaches.
As Steve cleans up the mast and applies several more coats of varnish, Bev returns home to get the ‘other’ project up and running again after the summer interlude. There’s the plumber and plasterers to schedule in as well as sorting out the new floor.
Steve finishes the mast, prepares the cross trees and gets the final bits of metalwork from Moray at BronzeWorks. It’s agreed that the best way to get the mast in is to take the boat to Larkmans again, so James takes the mast by road and Steve works at Larkmans to get the mast ready. Eager not to miss the tide, and having re-calibrated the depth sounder, Steve sets off a little early to motor up river and spends a few moments in the Deben mud part way to Melton . . .
Once work on the engine was finished when Jim came to help last week, Steve installed a bracket for the main battery unit and fitted the new depth sounder and prop. Having stayed at home to work on the house project, Bev returns to Suffolk with Simon, who joins us for a few days. He's the first person to sleep aboard since we bought the van in 2007! He has to manage with a cushion directly onto the sole boards. The interior isn't scheduled until after she's launched.
Dave and Moray arrive to check out the 'fit' of the chainplates, and make some final tweaks to the curves. These are now all firmly fitted in place, and looking good.
A major 'essential' task is to clear the front of the tent, where the workbench and storage area has been for the past ten years. Simon and Steve get to work sorting through all the wood under the bench, with smaller pieces put aside as firewood for Claudia. Then there's all the tins of old paint and varnish, glue that's gone off, out-of-date flares and fire extinguishers, etc., etc. . . . what a lot accumulates!? Fortunately, Chris has let us have use of his tent next door for dry storage, empty since his boat was launched a couple of weeks ago. Thankyou, Chris! As the bench is cleared, it's moved to the other end of the tent and re-erected. Bev returns from a shopping trip to find that the new bench has the electrics set up almost well enough to pass a Building Inspector's visit (unlike the trailing wires we've had for the past ten years).
As we make progress with the ‘winter project’ of extending the kitchen back in Derbyshire, in quite reasonable weather for the time of year, we keep an eye on the forecasts for Suffolk as Storm Doris approaches with warnings from the Met Office of gale-force winds and “. . . potential for a shortlived core of very strong winds to develop.”
Sunday 26 February we receive a text from Jeff, skipper of the boat next to ours at the Tidemill: “Your roof is ripped over the forward part of your boat, not sure if you’ve been kept informed.” After a phonecall to confirm the extent of the damage, Steve enlists the help of Joe and they set off for Suffolk early on Monday morning armed with strong ropes, tarps and cable ties – not sure what they will find and if they’ll be able to repair the damage. Hoping their repairs to the tent would survive the winter Steve and Joe returned exhausted after their 500-mile round trip.
We really do need to tidy up the site around the tent as we see the end of the project in sight. All four sides are littered with a mixture of usable timber along with a range of waste materials and bits and pieces that 'might come in useful'.
As the Tidemill is returning to a state of tidiness, we're keen to play our part, and are told to create a pile of wood for burning beside the new mound. Beverley sets about moving timber, creating two sticked piles of usable planks, the final set of 'templates' and quite a large pile for a bonfire!As Autumn approaches, we have to decide how to secure the boat, and tent, for the winter. There's plenty of discussions with Tidemill staff, and others, about whether to dismantle the tent or leave it 'in situ' as a workshop for the Spring.
We decide on leaving it up with the scaffold well secured. The fabric is so fragile it provides limited protection against heavy rain - however, we hope to have the hull and deck painted and varnished by early October and can set up an 'inner tent' for protection.
The storms in early June did no more damage to the tent, but the frame is seriously buckled and, once it's opened up, the lean from the vertical is clear to see.
Back in March 2008, Steve made a new rudder, having sourced some elm from a Derbyshire woodyard. Constructed in the newly-built garden workshop at home in Matlock Bath, it seems such a long time ago now. Those were the days when we thought the project would not be quite such a 'long haul'!
But at last, after storage under the boat in Suffolk for the past eight years, it's time to set the rudder in place.
Returning after a couple of days in the Derbyshire warmth, Steve set to work on the rudder in early June, 2016.
There was some tidying up of the rudder stock to do and fitting the 'boot', then hanging the rudder to make sure it could swing freely.
With the beginning of May looking promising, Steve goes down to Woodbridge. Departing much later than planned on the 11th, he didn't arrive 'til nearly midnight! Bev stays at home, still hobbling around, looking forward to some advice from the physio about what she can and can't do . . . Steve's first job is to make more repairs to the tent. It has a serious 'lean', several degrees from the perpendicular, with the poles bent at alarming angles. Apart from the ripped section in the side, there's several holes along the top where the poles have rubbed through the canvas . . . an inner tent made of tarps is a necessity whenever rain is forecast now.
The tent fixed as well as he can manage, Steve concentrates on the boat, removing all the 'peel ply', filling the blemishes and finally sands the newly-glassed deck. Almost ready for buying the paint and a trip to Larkmans confirms the colour. James is finishing the deck of 'Charm': International Sand it is. Next job is the rubbing strake, carefully crafted from larch and fixed along both sides from stem to just past the cockpit coaming. A visitor passes complimentary comments on the fair of the hull.
Paul’s available to do some work during August, and there’s the usual beard-tugging, sucking of teeth and considered conversations as Steve and he discuss what to do about the rudder tube, and queen plank over the counter stern. It’s all agreed and Paul starts work. As we depart for Cowes, and the final OGA Anniversary celebrations, August 2013, Paul continues working on the rudder tube, and we leave the van safely stored on Jo and Paul’s drive. We’re going back to Derbyshire from the Isle of Wight, for a couple of weeks at home.
Returning to Woodbridge in September, it looks like the weather’s set fair for us to carry on working for a couple of months. With the tent open on all sides, and the hull pretty well fair, its time to sort out the sheer.
After careful skimming with the plane, Steve and James (who’s popped by to see how we’re doing) keep taking another look, just to be sure, and the starboard side is done. With more good weather forecast into the Autumn, we’re on track to get the hull painted to protect the wood over winter.
While we were in Cowes, Paul finished the rudder tube and now its time to fit the queen plank. There’s lots of discussion about how to ensure the ‘slope’ is right for the deck over the counter to drain properly.
With a final check of the hull, there’s a few more bungs needed to be made, and glued in place. It’s an important job, to get the sheer right, and difficult to judge. So we enlist the help of Trevor and his brother this time, to help get the line just right on the port side.
Henry the vacuum cleaner has been a permanent resident in Woodbridge this summer in an attempt to keep on top of all the dust and woodshavings. Once the hull is ready, Beverley helps with cleaning it down, ready for painting with yacht primer.
Take a last look at the lovely wood, before the paint goes on! As the weather becomes more autumnal and the days get shorter, its time to go back to Derbyshire for birthday and anniversary celebrations. It’s been a good year for both sailing and boat building, we did some sailing, joined the OGA50 celebrations and managed to get the hull painted as planned.
But there’s some bad news, the tent is beginning to show its age. The battering it’s had over the past six years has worn the fabric in the roof. Now the hull’s got no drainage holes, the last thing we want is for her to fill with rainwater, so its off to buy more tarps for laying up this winter, and we create a ‘tent within the tent’ for ‘Cachalot’.