The first job after being launched as a bare hull in 2017, with just sole boards and bulkheads, was fixing up somewhere to sleep.
The old bunk cushions, stored under our bed in Derbyshire for ten years after being carefully washed, were still in pretty good condition. The plan was to make new bunks to fit the cushions, with some improvements on the underlying wooden structure. By November, 2017 Steve enjoys his first night’s sleep on a bunk.
Without the tent, woodworking is more of a challenge as we start the long process of fitting out. Steve sets up a ‘Workmate’ on the pontoon and manages pretty well, but there’s more scope for accidents, with one or two items occasionally slipping into the water! It’s generally too cold to start work early in the year, but we took the plunge in 2019 and ‘upgraded’ the trusty Bongo for a 6 metre Fiat Adria motorhome with insulation, heating and separate sleeping/sitting areas. This means 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 major project for Easter, 2019 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 Samson post. 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. 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 when sleeping. 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! 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 just about enough headroom and room to spread out! The modified sole board and step, taken home for some more work, are re-fitted and looking good. The new van makes quite a good workshop, and is warm and cosy when the weather’s bad. May 2019 may be described as ‘flaming June’ meets ‘March winds’! Dodging the rain, and making use of the winter cover for protection, Steve’s finished fitting out the forepeak, including routing and painting the plywood bulkheads. “That’s the last time I’ll have to do that!”, he exclaims [the routing to make it look like tongue and groove]. We bring the bunk cushions back down after they’ve been reupholstered by Andy, the furniture restorer back in Derbyshire, complemented by Bev’s pillow bags and protected with tartan blankets.