Monday, 13 February 2017

Photo essay of a weekend

Leaving the office Friday evening, a bright moon hung large and low in the sky. The incy-wincy lens on my camera phone was unable to even touch the visual effect of it as it hung low and luminous over Chalford Valley.

Expecting the temperature to drop away overnight, I'd agreed with Dad we'd take the night off from our labours over Buffy. The next stage was to lay the first coat of varnish, and we both agreed that the best chance we'd have of getting it to dry in the draughty boat-shed would be to lay it first thing Saturday morning in the hopes that the temperature would climb a little through the day so the varnish would have a chance to go off in time for a second coat Sunday morning.

Complete aside, I've failed to set up the mobile view of this site with an Instagram feed previously written of. If you're curious, but reading this on a mobile and/or wondering what on earth an "Instagram feed" is, then mine is here:

It's essentially an online photo album / sharing site, that's fed by (and can also be viewed via) a dedicated "Instagram" camera app installed on my mobile. Basically social media but in photos, so fewer of those annoying Facebook "copy please don't share" statuses to worry about.

Saturday morning therefore, I met up with Dad at his workshop before heading down the club with him. He's got a lovely workshop - it was originally built as a studio for the band, but at some point through the tumult of the years, we moved out and he moved in along with all his tools and machines. I've often tried persuading him to enlarge the door to something wide enough for me to fit a dinghy through, but he's always resisted.

I can't blame him.

It is the perfect place to rebuild Buffy's centreboard however. The board is a vertical laminate of hard and soft wood, and at some point over the last season we managed to damage the end, compromising the varnish and epoxy sheath sealing the wood, and consequently, unnoticed and therefore untended, wet had been wicking up through the softwood laminate and turning the wood to spongy mush.

Dad has used a router to cut back a fair depth of the laminate concerned. It hasn't cleared all the rot, but there is enough good wood left in it to maintain the structure of the board. He's then going to refill the lost wood with epoxy.

We caught up with Hels at the Club and between us spend the rest of the morning cleaning and prepping Buffy's decks, and then laid a first coat of varnish; International Original varnish, cut 75:25 with Thinners No 1.

Saturday night's gig was a dinner dance at the Walton Park Hotel in Clevedon for Portishead Cruising Club. The hotel itself boasted a gorgeous location, high on a bluff overlooking the Bristol Channel. The band setup in a large bay window, our backs to the sea view. A fresh, cold easterly was blowing across the water, and we watched one of the big car carriers out of Royal Portbury making its way down channel in the grey fading light of the encroaching evening whilst we set up and sound-checked. By the time we were done, the light had gone and the only evidence of the wide expanse of sea behind us in the darkness was the blinking flicker of the lights on the navigation buoys; Avon, Welsh Hook and Clevedon.

It was an unusual mix of business and pleasure playing for the PCC crowd. It was great to catch up with some friends and familiar faces I'd not seen for a while, and although not multitudinous in number they were lively, and danced through the night as we played.

It was early hours of the morning before I finally got home, ate and chilled out enough to be ready for bed.

Sunday morning found me back at the sailing club with Buffy by about 0900. I left Dad at home in his workshop working on the centreboard rebuild and found myself alone in the boat-shed with the dinghy glimmering under her first coat in the morning light as I sipped my coffee. I couldn't bring myself to touch the varnish to check if it had gone off, and sat there for about twenty minutes before Hels finally arrived, admonished me for being silly, stuck the palm of her hand uncompromisingly on the deck and smiled.

The varnish had cured fine.

A small piece of the laminate by the mast-step had lifted under the combined stress of both drying epoxy and varnish, so I sanded that out whilst Hels wire-wooled down the decks in preparation for the next coat. We laid it on quickly enough, increasing the varnish : thinners mix to a more viscous 90:10. The job was done by noon and we went our separate ways, leaving Buffy to settle and dry once more in whatever warmth lingered in the boat-shed.

On the way back from the Club I called in at Dad's to see how we were getting on with the centreboard restoration. It's looking very promising, although we are on the verge of running out of epoxy.

Back home, I spent the rest of the afternoon ferrying scrap wood and cut up carpet to the local tip from out the side of our house where I'd left it neglected and mouldering for a few too many weeks. I was done by a shade after 1600, and exhausted but not unhappy, enjoyed the brief sensation of satisfaction you get from thinking all your jobs are done.

Three sets of paws and tails lay in wait for me at the top of the stairs to remind me that there was, in fact, still one duty I'd thus far left untended.

Nice thing about winter weekends is daylight. Makes it much easier to play ball in the park with the dogs.

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