you can't beat a good night's sleep
First some good news! Even after a long very cold very wet winter, for the first time in ages Dawn Treader (DT) doesn’t need a coat of paint, the vinyl wrap making her still look fresh. Now the bad news: shut down for months like so many boats, little or no air has circulated. So we have the usual musty mould under lockers, in cupboards, etc. - all of which need a good wash out. I’ve tried these moisture absorbing crystals etc, but nothing beats opening all lockers, windows, vents, and cushion tops, as a couple of nights on board have been cold . Nothing absorbs water like a boat mattress – but I have a cunning plan later.
The boat isn’t going anywhere without an engine; amazingly mine fired up, but only on the pull start, not the electric. This really started to annoy me - mainly because it’s a beast to pull over by hand. But why wasn’t it working off the electric start especially when the starter was cranking it with gusto? The internet and especially boat forums seem to be full of people that think they know more than they do and gaily start ripping bits off an engine convincing themselves that if it isn’t x it must be y. But my engine runs, so no need to touch it.
A phone call to an old friend Mr Adrian Rush left me slightly deflated as he immediately pointed out the bleeding obvious. If my cushions etc are full of damp, I bet that the engine hasn’t enjoyed the rain, mist and freezing temperatures any better. So one can of WD 40, some emery cloth and a can of silicone waterproofing spray, and every electrical connection was taken apart cleaned and waterproofed. And now it runs like a new engine - for 10 quid’s worth of spray.
Next job - dinghy's out and I scrub her hull, especially the water line. Here is a neat trick: take two long mooring ropes and run them fore and aft under the hull ( you cant do side to side because of keel boards) then if you have a wife, partner or child that actually sets foot on board – one pulls one way one pulls the other and all the fresh water mussels , crud etc comes off. If you are on your own like me, then you have to use some ingenuity. Secure the bow end to the bank, then pull the stern end so the boat moves forward over the scrubbing rope. This also works a treat!
I’ve never liked the bunks on boats, its sort of a compromise between serious back injury as cushions depart from under you and freezing to death as they are right down in the hull. When I stared sail training at 15 some of the old boats still had hammocks -hmmm I wonder. The internet is a wonderful thing. Two hours later and an ex 1960s Royal navy hammock is purchased. Ok, in the advert it did say may need a clean and has aroma of old canvas and tarred hemp, and after my first extremely comfortable warm and snug night I am writing this smelling something akin to the sail locker on the Cutty Sark.
However, I am up out the way with air flowing underneath me and mine had the original flaps for the support boards. More importantly my bed clothes cannot fall out – quite the reverse, we are in a cocoon. I am not going to teach you to string and rope a hammock – basically you can alter their shape to suit by lengthening or shortening the support strings. The great advantage is you can furl it up out the way, in fact it’s so good I am chucking out the folding bed, giving me some much-needed space below.
Interestingly in the pursuit of a decent article I left a thermometer on the forward bunks and one above my hammock. The difference in temperature last night was 3 degrees. This doesn’t sound a lot I know, but I assure you, 7 degrees is more comfortable than 4.
Meanwhile I am still on a mission to make this boating as cheap as possible, and I suppose we are all missing the point – sustainability is living in the raw as means as possible. Maybe we have forgotten that a boat isn’t a house and indeed that must be half its charm. So, I have made a point of not using any gas, pulling over and lighting the Kelly kettle. I am after a spirit stove, but then, it would seem, so is half the world as a second hand one is still £200. Indeed, I have decided that for all the gas is coming out, it's just far too expensive. The electric motor is now bolted permanently to the transom, giving me the boost to get DT moving, and here’s something odd which needs investigating – I have a feeling it ends up as a charger, because as boat moves along, I seem to be getting a better charge into battery (though more than likely it’s because I cleaned all connections).
Now if you will excuse me – time to heat some water on Kelly kettle, grab a bucket and head for the shower – I seriously do smell like an old sail locker.