Friday, 26 October 2012

Boat Renovation

How do you eat an elephant? This seems to be the big question for us at the moment. A boat that you want to fit out for cruising seems to have multiple aspects. There are the obvious issues about hull, deck, keel, rudder, sails and mast – is she sound how will she behave – but then other thoughts crowd in – are the seacocks safe? What about the hoses and clips? Then, there is an engine and fuel system to be considered. What about the electrics and electronics, and the sea toilet, and the plumbing for the galley, and ropes and rigging, and the state of the woodwork and the gas pipes and connectors, the cooking and heating systems ... and ... and... and.

AND suddenly a simple sailor has to become at least competent in a whole range of skills and disciplines – maybe it was always that way. So new thoughts crowd in – do I have an adequate tool box and space to do the work? Do I have power and a supply of water to hand? What are the most appropriate materials and where do I source them?

This is all slightly stupid  - this is work we could have (should have) been getting on with while we were looking for the boat to buy and so there is an important lesson here for anyone aspiring to get afloat cheaply – don’t spend your time kicking your heals and dreaming – be practical and prepare, read, make notes and get your stuff together to takle the jobs.


QUESTION:                How exactly do you eat an elephant?

ANSWER:                   One bite at a time!

Now having found the boat, lack of preparation, may cost me time or money. I should have known of course – as a teacher (where I started my working career) it was drilled into me that preparation and planning were the keys to successful learning. Now, idiot that I am, I am having to re-learn that essential truth all over again. As a kind of academic, my first recourse is to books – and they all seem to say the same thing – preparation is the key.

So, before the first bite of the elephant I need to plan carefully and try to sequence the work – some things need to be done before other things, some things can’t be done until other things have been completed – but what are these things?

AND even before all that, I have to find somewhere to put the boat. I could put her in my garden. There are obvious advantages here. She would be close to water and power, there would be no charges and she’d be close by. Not everyone finds a boat on a trailer attractive however, and the neighbours might find a long stay unreasonable. A boatyard on the other hand would be an expense I could do without. Well in the end this is what I have opted for, partly out of concern for the neighbours but mainly because I feel I need boating people around me. I’m not confident enough to heroically go it alone. I’m hoping that the casual but expert advice available in the yard may help offset costs by speeding the work and helping me to get jobs right first time around. There may also be some tasks I really don’t want to take on, in which case the boat will be better located in the yard than at home. Finally, when ready, the boat can be launched directly from the yard – so no further road transport required – might even be able to sell the trailer.

I think I have found the boatyard, a couple of miles along the estuary from where I live – ‘Chantier Marine de Tannet, run by a very friendly Monsieur Seccourdan. It's close to the water, it has all the amenities including workshop, a small store of chandlery, and it has several building and renovation projects already under way. As a bonus, to my eyes at least, its a beautiful location. The sort of place you'd be happy to visit anyway, and I'm hoping there is a small but helpful community of like minded enthusiasts. 
Also, as a kind of bonus for me, M Seccourdan speaks no English whatsoever, so that should help my French enormously. Must make a note – first acquisition needs to be a yachtsman’s French / English Dictionary – Puis je peux commencer a manger cette elephant, morceau par morceau!

Ah - found one!
Yachtsman's Eight Language Dictionary