We receive a message from Lou that our boat’s ‘adrift’ after the February storms! All a bit worrying . . . so Steve calls Ben who said he’d take a look. He ties her up alongside her own pontoon and reports no damage and the bilge counter still only showing x2 since November. We hoped to get down as soon as the weather improved, but stranded at home in ‘Covid isolation’, there was another call, this time from Marco. It seems the cover has big puddles and may need attention . . . Out of quarantine at last, and a good forecast, we pack the van and drive down in glorious sunshine on Friday 25 March.
All the boats are out on the hard, but we manage to manoeuvre the van in between an old barge and trailers so that the electric cable will just reach. ‘Cachalot’ is still slightly adrift and Steve finds a warp has sheared through! The puddles have made the cover very dirty but none of the water has gone inside, and the bilge counter is still only on x2. After the long drive, we decide to try our luck in town and manage to get a table at ‘A Listers’ for an excellent evening meal.
By lunchtime Saturday the cover is scrubbed and tied back down securely along with a new warp to tie her more securely to the pontoon. The tides favour a late afternoon out for a paddle in the kayaks. Sunday is another fine day, with light later into the evening now that the clocks have gone forward.
Steve fits the auto-helm and refits all the component parts of newly varnished galley, which have been at home overwinter. With the weather taking a turn for the worse, we decide to return home on Tuesday, after a bike ride into Ipswich to catch up with John and see his newly built skiff.
We’d promised ourselves a trip to Scotland, once the midge season was over, and drove up in the van at the beginning of September. The midges were still out in force, but that didn’t stop us enjoying ourselves on the first serious ‘trip’ since the pandemic started 18 months ago! With stuff to do back in Derbyshire, and somewhat inclement weather, we didn’t get down to Suffolk again until a few days to celebrate Bev’s birthday and our 10th wedding anniversary at the beginning of October. Another few days at the end of October, without too much wind, meant we could lay ‘Cachalot’ up for winter.
Apart from the laying up, we managed one last paddle in beautiful autumn sunshine on a calm, but very chilly day. Steve also spent time fitting all the new galley cabinets, a drop-leaf table and door for the cupboard beside the stove . . .
We take ‘Cachalette’ up to Robertsons where she’ll be permanently stored on her trolley with use of the slip for launch and recovery. Baz makes her a smart new fitted cover ready for the winter.
After a couple of trips up to Honolulu Beach we venture further upriver, under Wilford Bridge, in the kayaks. Claudia has kindly lent Bev a paddle until she manages to purchase one, and joined us for an enjoyable afternoon paddling as far as the water allowed us.
We decide it’s time to find a better place to keep the ‘little boat’ and check out prices and options at Eversons (Woodbridge Boatyard) and Robertsons Boatyard. We decide on Robertsons and, as we’re walking along the path Steve notices an inviting ‘for sale’ sign pinned to a long red kayak. That would be a good idea, wouldn’t it?
Sunday 15 August finds us on Robertsons slip with Neil, who is selling the 16’ kayak. Steve takes it for a trial and decides to have it – but what about Bev? No worries, Neil has a smaller one in his garden and, on trying it out we make an offer for them both. We spend the next couple of weeks exploring the river up and down stream from the Boatyard.
Now she has a permanent ‘home’ we also decide to invest in a proper, custom-made cover for ‘Cachalette’ and ask Baz to measure up to make us one. Watch this space for some pictures, but no, she still doesn’t have her new rig, just the spars!