I was awoken to the gentle sound of 100 year old anchor being winched up somewhere near my head. This noise then followed by a short pause and then sound of giant chain unraveling rapidly. So, I thought, it’s the big day! Adrenalin will kick in and I will be ready to face the challenges. Pat is already wondering about black faced and panting from various high-energy activities including the anchor and also pulling down the mast. It’s an incredibly beautiful morning.
We are planing a maiden voyage tomorrow up the Thames and through central London. It has been a week of checking what works and what doesn’t and it has also been the hottest week of the year- Tuesday night was around 30degrees. All seemed to be progressing well until Pat sensibly decided to check the stern gland a few nights ago to see if it was watertight and it turned out not to be… NOT ideal, luckily the bilge pump works.
So I am currently sitting with my feet in a bucket of ice water watching Over the Hedge with Nina waiting for Stuart the local boat welder/general boat fixer to return with new material to pack the propshaft again. As I write Stuart pulls up next to us in a Tug owned by local Marine yard and jumps off carrying a scrappy looking bag with ‘packing’ in it. Not sure how this all works so I looked it up and still not much clearer.
But basically a lot of grease and rags are applied around the stern gland which is essentially a part of the propeller which is what moves the boat once the engine is on. Obviously if this is too watertight it doesn’t work as it needs to have some movement… Equally if it’s not watertight at all then the boat sinks.
I have packed life jackets and had various dreams about me jumping (7 months pregnant) into the river to rescue the 4 year old child. I have also bought croissants for breakfast and juice even though I’m aware of the high sugar content it contains.
So, in accordance with latest rulings of the river we have had to install a poo tank that actually works and into which our waste actually flows. This is of course a very important thing that all boats should have been doing instead of flushing waste into the river as before (shhhhhh…. Everyone did it and it was a well kept secret amongst boat folk but before you judge, remember that many sewage overflows in London lead to the river so when there is heavy rain the waste water is forced into our precious waterway and the quantity of that is next level to what a few boats plop out every day). (None the less, appreciate its pretty anti-social so definitely time for progress).
So since January 2016 we’ve been implementing a system enforced by the PLA which has involved some waterworld-esque sub-tanks being built at various points around the mooring and a ‘king of all the crazy tanks’ tank which sits right at the entrance to the mooring and makes us look like a mad Max style community. Mainly, when you see it, you expect anyone coming off the mooring to be dressed head to toe in combat clothes complete with muddy face and a shawl of that autumn leaf-mesh stuff they use to enhance camouflage. They should also be crouching down and whispering while pointing at things as they exit.
The situation now as follows- poo flows into our tank on the boat. Every week our newly installed pump works to send that waste into the holding sub-tank and then finally that gets into the King tank which is big enough to hold 75 years worth of excrement and no one has thought to work out how the heck it will be emptied. Currently it floats lopsided at high-tide or sits on the base of the river at low-tide filling up with poop.
I’ve decided I just need to break the silence and start writing so I’m going to be gentle about it and start off writing about any old thing until I get back into the swing of it all and then I can write something more boat related again. So, we spent some weeks of the winter away in Salvador, Brazil, and came back to mid-winter February NOT carnival and heat and fun. So that was challenging. And yes, I can’t complain because lucky old me to get to go away at all. But damn. That transition back between two such insanely opposite cultures is hard. In order to get myself through I wrote a list of attributes of each country. And it reads like a language exercise: Brazil: Hot, England: Cold, Brazil: Bright Colourful, England: Dull, Monochrome. Etc. Obviously this is very much simplifying the situation, but on the surface it is distinctly bi-polar. Which is probably why I am a bit too.
So I started acupuncture when I got back as part of being a better less bi-polar person. It is run by an ex- Advertising Art Director who had some sort of mid-life crisis when she was working on a particularly full-on job and realised she was existing on Marlborough Lights, no sleep and Frazzles alone. As good as Frazzles are they are Not a sensible Lifestyle Choice , so she had a life re-think and came to acupuncture. Now a qualified therapist she runs ‘community’ acupuncture sessions in a church hall nearby and anyone can go, pay £20 and have an hour long session in a bed with a other pinned-up people all in a row next to you. It’s actually very sensible and I am so far loving it. Not only because I like the actual effect it is having (placebo or not) on my stress levels (I’m a terrible hoarder of emotions) but because I love the idea of this ‘let’s all get together and be cured’ business. ‘Get those needles in us and feel us better!. And all in a cold fusty church hall.
What happens is that there are staggered start-times and you each come in, tell the acupuncturist all about your ‘isshoos’ or how your week has been and then she lies you down and in they go. What I like is that we all sit there listening to each other’s ailments and emotions and that feels just fine. What we normally keep behind private doors flows about freely and its humbling and reassuring. No one on this planet gets away with not feeling all these things. These ‘deeply personal’ things. Maybe if they weren’t so deeply personal we would all feel less traumatised by them. Anyway, as a non-religious sort, I like this little slice of conviviality.
…since your last post, its almost certain that you had a baby, got married and decided to start a company at the same time. And then you discovered that your wordpress blog was about completely expired and you needed to spend 5 entire days updating and reinstalling and accidentally deleting it before finally coming to a compromise about what it could look like and how you can incorporate photographs. Here’s to a new era!