With the aim of eight coats of varnish, Steve’s hoping to get one coat done each day with reasonably good drying weather, and not too much rain.
Conscious of plans to go sailing, he’s also had a big ‘tidy up’, removing spare timber etc., ready for sorting out as rubbish or storage at home.
Now we know the date of Simon & Ricarda’s wedding in Paris, Bev’s been trawling the Internet to secure the best options for our two trips to France. Trains and an apartment for the wedding ceremony and ferries with the van for the trip to the party are now booked, hopefully allowing sufficient time down in Woodbridge to finish fitting out ready to go sailing at the end of July . . .
In between preparation and coats of varnish, Steve’s also been thinking hard about options for the chart plotter, and has come up with an ingenious plan for a swinging bracket allowing it to be used inside and out . . . rain has set in again though, forcing him to revise the varnishing schedule!
Once the electrics are done, Steve re-fits one of the Samson posts and starts to repair the storm damage done to the coachroof back in February 2018.
Baz calls on Monday 13 May to talk about the winter cover, and agrees to stitch the long panel on the summer cover, which is proving a bit too much for Bev’s domestic machine. Discussing all the options, and looking at the weather forecast, Steve decides not to take off the winter cover just yet and Baz takes the summer one away.
The weather changes for the better so we try out the van’s awning and Bev persuades Steve to protect himself from the sun with some new headgear. She gets out the sewing machine to make a cover for the mast boot, fitting it before the varnishing starts, and Steve rigs up a way to secure the forward section of winter cover to provide protection for varnishing.
Chilly winds and rain are inconvenient, and often drove us back to Derbyshire in the past, but don’t stop work on the boat any more . . . The winter cover provides excellent protection for Steve to work on board. Bev finds plenty to do in the spacious (and warm) new van and we retire for a warm and cosy evening with the heating turned on!
The first priority for this trip is to complete work on the switch panel and radio. After several re-thinks, re-wirings and re-designs, Steve’s ready to finalise everything, complete the wiring, fix the back boxes and front panel in position ready for final testing. For now, he leaves the chart plotter, as there’s still some thinking to be done . . .
We still need to source new panel labels for a couple of switches (ideally without buying a full set!) but it all works and makes better use of the space.
After a few days back in Derbyshire at the end of April, we return to Suffolk despite the bad weather forecast for the May Day Bank Holiday weekend. We bring all the sails from winter storage, fitting them easily into the Adria with plenty of space to spare for tools, wood, varnished panels, sole boards, the partly finished summer cover and Bev’s sewing machine.
Arriving in Woodbridge late, at the wrong state of the tide, but keen to wander into town to see what’s going on despite the wind and rain, we manage to sleep in the van with all the sails stacked in the cab. Next morning we carry them across the pontoon and find room to store all the sails under the winter cover. It’s still really stormy though, and not a very pleasant weekend compared with last year when we basked in sunshine! The modified sole board and step, taken home for some more work, are re-fitted and looking good in the cabin.
Steve tidied up after all the work in the forepeak, so Bev took the opportunity to test out the new space . . . it’s going to be really comfortable on the re-used cushions with plenty of headroom and room to spread out!
Following extensive research into how to replace the custom-made old exhaust box for the engine, and having failed to find any suitable replacement, or means of repairing it, Steve made a new one whilst at home over the winter . . . today it was fitted, and tested (albeit in the berth, with the engine in neutral) it’s a positive result so far (ie no leaks into the super-dry bilges).
After fixing all the supporting timbers, and making patterns for the forepeak boards, Steve needs to work quickly, now without the benefit of the tent, to get the newly-purchased plywood cut down so that they will fit into the boat for storage, as it’s forecast to rain . . .
Re-using the old forepeak cushions will be a bit of a challenge, as they were made-to-measure, but we think it will be worth it for the comfort they’ll afford crew sleeping in the forepeak. It will be cosy, but a bit less ‘coffin-like’, now there’s more headroom. The boat has been turned into storage and workshop space for now . . . good job we have the new van for ‘living space’, as the weather turns back to being chilly and windy with occasional showers!
On Tuesday, 23 April, Mike and Steve bring ‘Cachalot’ back round to her berth on the North Arm.
We move the van back to where there’s been a lot of landscaping over the winter and park up near where the tent used to be, looking upriver towards Melton again.
There’s only a couple more days of fine weather, and we need more plywood to finish the forepeak so once the boat’s in her berth, there’s a trip to Ridgeon’s at Martlesham Heath where the Adria once again comes into her own. Being based on a panel van, the two 10′ x 4′ boards fit neatly and easily in through the double doors on the back with the bed lifted up out of the way!
18 April and it’s only Maundy Thursday! We decide to leave before the main holiday traffic gets on the road, load up the Adria with provisions, tools, freshly painted cockpit sides, new sole boards for the forepeak and set off for Woodbridge. It’s not a bad journey, and we arrive in beautiful sunshine to find that the boat’s still in her temporary berth, and the bilge pump has only gone off once more since February!
Steve’s decided the cockpit coaming and cockpit edges need re-varnishing and uses the protection of the winter covers coupled with the warm weather to rub down and varnish over the Easter weekend. Bev asks how many, and his answer is ‘too many coats to count’. The other project is to re-engineer the forepeak layout, in an attempt to create more headroom by lowering the boards, but still be able to re-use the old fitted cushions around the new sternpost. In the hot weather, it’s a very small space to be working in, and the whole cabin becomes a storage area, but we don’t want to take the winter covers off as they afford excellent protection still.
The unseasonally hot and sunny weather means the Tidemill is very busy with boats coming and going . . . but Harbour staff suggest we can move round to our own berth on Tuesday, and park the van in the space where the tent used to be!
After our early start in February, March was pretty busy . . . but Steve did find time to work on the sole boards while we were home in Derbyshire, ready for fitting on our return to Woodbridge at Easter.
After sending the OGA Gaffers Log to press on 12 March, we drove the new van to Arnside, Cumbria for an excellent conference about boats built there by Crossfields and fitted in a short tour in the Lakes, including the narrow road along Wastwater.
A couple of days later we set off for Val Thorens, in a newly-acquired Mini [but that’s another story], calling to see Kate & family in Southampton before catching the night boat from Portsmouth, meeting Simon and Ricarda off the train from Paris at Gare de Moutieurs and enjoying a brilliant week ski-ing with them, before returning via Southampton on 31 March.
2 April found us with Mike & Dee of ‘Bonita’, sipping champagne and nibbling canapes at the Classic Boat Awards ceremony, Royal Thames Yacht Club, Kensington. Neither ‘Bonita’ nor ‘Cachalot’ was a winner but we enjoyed the event and felt honoured to have been nominated.
Thankyou to everyone who voted for us!
It’s generally too cold to start work this early in the year, but we’ve taken the plunge, and ‘upgraded’ the trusty Bongo for a 6 metre Fiat Adria motorhome! After 12 years, the Bongo was still a good van and, having passed the MOT (with a little bit of welding), we decided to sell and buy a van with insulation, heating and separate sleeping/sitting areas.
It was sad to see the Bongo driven off by her new owner last week, but lovely and cosy to cook, eat and sleep in the Adria, without having to change the layout of the van.
‘Cachalot’ is still in her temporary berth on the South Arm while the Harbour staff finish dredging and winter maintenance so we park just above the boat meaning Steve can get started with planning how to fit out the forepeak while Bev makes the new van our winter ‘home from home’. We’re still discovering all the options which include hot & cold running water, fridge, cooker and a great heating system powered by LPG or mains hook-up!
The great news is that the bilge pump only seems to have been tripped once, since November . . . and the cover has kept her snug against all the winter weather, and showing no signs of wear apart from bird droppings!