Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Boat Renovation: The Best Bits

You would think that the best bit about renovating an old boat would be launching and sailing her after all that hard work. So did I. In fact I was so eager to use the boat that last summer that I sailed her even though the cabin was still pretty much a slum, a place to be tolerated rather than enjoyed. Last year we had an endless autumn, and until Christmas at least the weather wasn’t so bad – so renovation time lost due to summer sailing was easily made up.

Recently though, the weather has become more wintry - high winds and driving rain rolling in from the Atlantic with depressing regularity. I shouldn’t complain too much though because, for the main part, the worst of the storms have tracked north, blasting the UK and leaving this corner of France in relative comfort. There is a bonus too, because this winter most of the jobs I need to do are located inside the cabin where it’s warm and dry. The harbour is five minutes away and everything I need is there. Shore-power for tools, heating and lighting, a stove to keep the coffee-pot warm, an endless stream of good blues music and I even have an old guitar on board for use whenever the mood takes me. After all those months of sanding, polishing painting and varnishing – the tasks are smaller and more interesting – choosing and fitting door handles, making a surround for the charcoal burning stove, fitting out a toilet and hanging locker - life is good! I’ve been going to the boat almost every weekday.

Weekends are different of course. Weekends are about car boot sales, garage sales and second hand shops – anywhere where there might be a chance of finding useful boaty bits and pieces for less that retail prices. Every event has treasure. To date, among other things, I have bought a VHF radio transmitter/receiver, a Silva steering compass (as new, still in box) Two brass portholes (for decoration) and porthole mirror, an oilskin boat bucket, and a Swedish gimballed brass oil lamp. Nothing cost me even a quarter of the retail price. In fact, the oil lamp (currently on sale via the internet at 200E, cost me 4E – yes four!

Best buy of all though – i.e. the one thing that has contributed most to my comfort and well-being – was a 2x3 Metre tarpaulin which stretches across the boom and makes a cockpit covering tent. It protects the wooden hatch and washboards and keeps the rain out of the cockpit – best of all though, it allows me to stay dry and work in the cabin with the hatch open – cost? Two Euros. Is this the most enjoyable phase of the renovation project – you bet!