Hi, I have read loads of 'boat' books
, so I thought I'd have a go: here is a bit I wrote a few days back.
Maurice Griffiths lived at the mouth of my river; I live at the rivers head
in an old fisherman’s cottage. Maurice when he was not designing or building boats, wrote magazine articles and the occasional book. He was infected by the design of the humble Thames barge, those flat bottomed leviathans of the muddy channels, sometimes seen crashing to windward in gusts, beasts of great power reminiscent of huge steam engines or other Victorian wonders.
Maurice designed some ‘box boats’ for the locals, now sixty years later I own a Eventide 26, called an ‘Eventide’: she sits upright on the mud for the majority of her time.
The design has logged many sea miles and was popular with homebuilders; the steel ones are as rare as hen’s teeth. I bought ‘Poppy’ a twenty-year-old steel Eventide 26 from a property developer; she has had just about every fault a boat of her type could boast. She has physically altered me: my left arm can now only lift
to shoulder height and has been this way for six months. My horizons have shrunk in appropriate scale to the weight of my wallet.
Autumn of this year found me in the cheapest (and friendliest) of boatyards
, with a tungsten tipped scraper, ‘doing her bottom’ after two weeks work I had revealed 50 pits that needed plates welding over. I then replaced her propeller
: she had spent her life in reverse with a prop that cut in the wrong direction. The engine
is an old Yanmar
SB12; its fuel tank
was rather rusty and in need of replacement, so I asked an ‘engineer’ for help, he discovered that the fuel filter
body had dissolved.
Now back on her mooring
‘Poppy’ sits surrounded by ice, I had not winterized the engine
, so I dressed up warm and set forth to save her from a split head
I broke the dingy line out from the snow topped ice on the foreshore, the line a loop between two blocks (one ashore, the other on a single
fluke fisherman’s anchor), allows me to pull my tender
away from the bank: safer from the hands of the curious. The pack ice was in meter wide chunks and slush; this extended for about three meters before the open water
. I have wintered aboard on this river without heating
in years past. To do this now would be to invite death.
I rowed across the channel and tied up alongside, thinking ahead I had prepared a safe boarding by carrying a snowbrush. Warm oil
melted the cabin
lock and I made my way below. Ice flows ground past the hull
borne in, on the rising tide.
The first move was to close the cooling
valve, so no water
would get into the engine. The tap seemed to take forever to close, when it did I opened it slightly and re-closed it again: it did not feel right. I then spread out a plastic sheet at the engines foot and removed the water pump impeller’s cover. Grey water ran out, and after two gallons the water was clear and not slowing. The valve on the hull
was obviously faulty (barnacles?).
The impeller would appear to need to be a tight fitting seal or it would not pump water, so I drained the engine down to the pump and rowed home.
It was quiet on the river I rowed past my sixteen-foot Shetland skiff and remembered simpler days.