This week has brought me to pastures newer and dryer, as Double Fracture is having her hull blacked at the moment. (In a dry dock. That was the dryer reference.) This has meant many small alterations to daily life, including walking the plank every time I enter or exit my home (and no inviting tropical waters for me to fall in should I stumble, oh no, it’s cold hard concrete for me should I not pay attention or tie up my shoelaces. But on the other hand, I walk the plank every day. Brilliant.). I am currently only a 10 minute walk from work, which means I have been late for work every day so far. Disconcertingly, there is no gentle sway as I walk from the dining room to the sitting room, or wobble as I lurch on and off the boat. Just complete stillness. And the guys undertaking the blacking have turned off my batteries, which means it have no lights again. I don’t know why they have switched them off, but I am not brave enough to flick the ‘on’ switch in case they had a very good reason for plunging me into darkness, such as saving me from electrocution.
I had considered blacking the hull myself – I had read about it on the internet and it seemed like quite a straightforward job. And whilst I’m not ruling it out for future blacking events (it needs to be done every two to three years, so volunteers will be required on a semi regular basis), I’m very glad I took my mum’s advice and ‘paid a man to do it’. (I don’t think her sentiment was meant in the sexist way it came across as I just typed that. I’m sure paying a woman to do it would have been equally acceptable. Though there is quite a lack of women running boatyards.) Anyway, unsurprisingly it transpires there is much I don’t know about boat hulls and covering them in bitumen. (You’re not surprised. Neither am I.)
I had the obligatory conversation with the boat yard owner, in which doubt was cast over the robustness of my boat. Electricity from neighbouring boats might be fizzing holes in the hull, he warned me. And there was water in the bilges – there shouldn’t be water in the bilges (which directly contradicts what another boat professional has told me). Had I noticed that my rudder wobbled? (By this point my heart had sunk to about knee level; I gave it a shove down to my feet by asking him about the occasional fountains of water that periodically erupt around the tiller. It was the face to face equivalent of three exclamation marks in a text). However, none of the above was as disastrous as it initially sounded.
A job that had not been anticipated was removing lumps of rust from the side of the boat before it was painted. I had an afternoon to spare and a willingness to help, thinking it might involve a bit of light wire brush work. I was handed a hammer, and told to hit the hull really, really hard. This is a piece of metal that is a mere 6mm thick. Less than a centimetre of steel is the difference between bobbing along on top of the canal and languishing at the bottom. And I was being told to hit it with force that would surely lead to punctures. Once again I had seriously overestimated my own strength, and underestimated the substantial nature of Double Fracture. I didn’t come close to denting the hull, let alone piercing it. I did manage to send several small lumps of rust flying, which comes with no small amount of personal satisfaction. It took me two hours to make my way around the whole boat, and was somewhat embarrassed when Ian then did the same thing in a fraction of the time. (I like to think I did the hull-de-rusting equivalent of loosening the jar lid for him).
And so now all those unsightly blemishes are being covered up, and I’m assured that my home is actually in pretty good nick. For now.
This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Semi Charmed Life‘ by Third Eye Blind.