Launch and demise of the tent, 2017

Preparations began a couple of days ahead of the official launch date. She’s taken off the cradles after ten years and loaded onto the trailer.

‘Cachalot’ leaves her tent and makes the long slow journey round the Marina for a ‘trial’ launch . . . she’ll be dipped in to check the hull before cleaning and loading all the lead and ballast. Friday 4 August morning dawns, and there’s still lots to do. Yvonne arrives with the flags and the old bowsprit is taken round to the boat as a temporary mast to dress her overall. She also has bunting for the inside. Chris has very kindly let us make use of his empty tent for storage. He’s also happy for us to make use of it as a reception venue, so this is also dressed up and trestles laid out with drinks and nibbles. The launch is scheduled for around high water at 1050 and people begin to arrive as the preparations continue. It’s great to see so many people coming to help us celebrate.

The party goes on all day, and into the evening with another musical gathering to round off the night. Throughout the day, we’ve also received messages from as far away as the Baltic and South West England – thankyou to everyone who’s supported and encouraged us on this rather long journey.

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. 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 to continue fitting out ‘Cachalot’ next year. There’s plenty more to do! 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.