Maintenance, covers and Award nomination, 2019

After the launch in 2017, the decision was made to store ‘Cachalot’ ashore overwinter as the hull was still taking up and we didn’t want a repeat of the ‘Sorry, Steve, your boat has sunk!’ story.

With stormy weather lashing the country early in 2018, we scour reports and forecasts for the East Coast. On Tuesday, 13 February Steve receives that dreaded phonecall from the Tidemill (whilst in Southampton enjoying being ‘grandad’). “Steve, your boat cover has been shredded in the storm and there seems to be some damage to the deck and coachroof.” What to do? It’s a long trip, but Katie lends him a sleeping bag and he sets off only to be caught in long traffic jams on the M25 to arrive cold, tired and in the dark just before 8pm. After a fine meal and a pint at the Anchor, he settles down for the night, cosy in the warmth of the fan heater, loaned sleeping bag and comfy on the new bunk. No damp inside the boat, and it will all look less bad in the light of day. A warp had tangled itself round a belay pin, ripping it out and using it to flog the deck, mast, coachroof and bowsprit, smashing the glass in one porthole. Having no workclothes, tools or varnish, Steve called at Larkmans and James lent him an ’emergency maintenance bucket’ with everything he’d need to make a temporary fix. A call at Suffolk Sails resulted in the possibility of a temporary cover being made in the next few weeks.

While she’s out on the hard, Steve tidies up the paintwork on the hull and she’s booked to go back in for May, 2018.

Ready for storing ‘Cachalot’ afloat in future, we commissioned a full-size winter cover from Baz Brackenbury of Woodbridge (who also built us the excellent tent that did good service for nearly ten years). Bev decided to experiment with Mum’s old sewing machine to make summer covers and acquired some offcuts of Sunbrella. After several attempts, and lots of research, she decided it was worth a try and ordered 20m of Sunbrella from Parker & Kay Sailmakers at Suffolk Yacht Harbour along with polyester thread and double-sided tape.

The sewing machine seemed less happy about the ‘real thing’, but eventually, with help from Joe and a Derbyshire sewing machine mechanic, she learned how to adjust the settings to sew through the thickness! The project was quite a challenge, with all the cloth draped down the stairwell. Baz has promised to provide some guidance for the ‘final touches’. The smaller covers were much less of a challenge and after a first fitting, and finishing off ‘on site’, they look very smart, protecting the varnish and, in the case of the coachroof, keeping the rain out.

Steve was thrilled to discover that ‘Cachalot’ was on the shortlist for Classic Boat Magazine’s Restoration of the Year Award, 2019 (Sailing Vessel under 40 ft). 2 April, 2019 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!