Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Boat Renovation - A Faltering Start

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Winter has finally arrived in Plouer Sur Rance, icy rain, hail with the odd flash of lightening to add drama to the occasion. First steps were to empty the boat of all its gear and try to make an evaluation of its worth. Sadly there is much to jettison, perished lifejackets, broken compass, out of date flares, and depth sounders that came out of the ark.

There is good news however, the mast and sails are all in good condition and the berth cushions are as new.

The most frightening part of the project seems to be the electrical systems which have been changed, altered and added to over the years since this old boat first kissed the water in 1968 or 69.

Having decanted most of the gear, the next most obvious job was to clear out accumulated water in the bilges. I set to with a bucket but soon found the bilges too restricted to accommodate the bucket, fill it and lift it out without spilling a good deal of water back into the boat. In the end I resorted to using a large sponge to soak up the water and then drain it into a bucket on the cabin sole, a slow dirty and cold process.

Following that I decided to take another look at these worrying electrical wires and guess what? I found a switch just behind the bulkhead. Well, what do you do when you find an unlabelled hidden switch? Exactly, press it and see what happens. In my case it activated an electric bilge pump in perfect working order. It could have cleared the bilge in two effortless minutes if I hadn’t already spent two oily hours working on its behalf. There is a lesson here – the plumber’s equivalent of the famous woodworking advice – measure twice, cut once.

The temptation now is to keep working on the interior, sorting out the electrics, making her comfortable and boaty, but I think I’ll take another route – winter is here and the priority must be to preserve and protect what I have – so next job will be to clean sand and get some wood protection on the teak rubbing strake, get some polish onto the newly painted green hull and to clean and protect the topsides. I’ll worry about making this boat pretty once I am sure that she won’t suffer further degradation due to the season.