Tuesday 31 January 2017

Buffy: A Saturday sundown

One of Google Photos' clever, stitched up panoramas. Sunset at the Club last Saturday afternoon at 1633. After our Saturday morning Bristol shopping trip, we went straight back there on the way home. I met up with Hels and we spent the rest of the day sanding down the Enterprise whilst Dad took some necessary measurements around the centreboard case and then headed back to his place to chop some wood up to size.

It would've been a lovely day for a sail.

The building over on the right is the new boathouse, and the reason the Club's old boat-shed is currently vacant and available for us to use for Buffy's much needed repairs and make-over.

Buffy: All stuck up

Think I got as much epoxy in my hair as around the panel.

Last night's sticking together has cured beautifully. Tonight's work was filleting in the gaps. Tomorrow, as long as it cures as well as last night's work, we turn the boat over and do the same on the other side.

At least the temperature has gone back up; 12C earlier this evening, wet and windy with it. The warmth can only help the glue, and this coming weekend, the varnish still to come.

I should add that Dad, as always with all things practical, has been indispensable.
Home now to wash the glue out of my hair and find some supper.

Buffy: Dry capsize

Saturday 28 January 2017

Buffy: We have a plan

On our way back to the Club after a morning shopping trip to Bristol. That sheet of 4mm marine ply in the back of the car is the newest bit on my dinghy. Though it doesn't know it yet.

Friday 27 January 2017

Buffy: Dusty pores

Did briefly consider sailing over to Cardiff for the weekend. But the forecast is for a F4 gusting 5, and it'd be a down and back on the Saturday only, as I need to be back at Frampton on Sunday for a first aid refresher course that I need to keep my couple of RYA instructor tickets.

Discussed it with Dad last night and agreed a 5 in the forecast isn't worth it for just a day-trip. Perhaps if we'd had the time in the weekend's diary to stay over in Cardiff, the temptation of the Italian by the marina might have persuaded us to weather it. But otherwise, no.

Any anyway, there are things to do, things to get done closer to home.

So the weekend instead will involve a lot more sanding in a cold boat-shed in Frampton. Made a start on her last night. Two showers later, a night's sleep and a change of cloths and I can still smell and feel the dust in my pores. Forgive Dad's expression in the photo above, he's just spent an hour on top of an orbital electric sander.

The centreboard case is still a worry; still very damp, and the wood is spongy. A trusted friend is hopefully coming over to the club this evening to have a look at it and advise. Dad and I were thinking we could perhaps strengthen around it somehow, perhaps by adding enlarged cheek-blocks for the centreboard pin after hardening the affected area with epoxy.

Cutting away and replacing rotted wood is beyond my ability or resource, and if we have to pay somebody to do it professionally, the boat is probably an economic write-off.

Monday 23 January 2017

Buffy: Note to future self

Next time I find myself in the market for a boat I must remember that no matter how pretty the wooden ones might look, the good lord gave us GRP for a reason.

Spent a good part of yesterday in a very cold garage at the Sailing Club divesting Buffy of her fixtures and fittings in preparation for a much needed sanding down and re-varnish.

As can be seen from the incriminating photographic evidence, we have, in our enthusiasm to keep sailing, let her go a little bit too long. I have a poor track record with wood. Perhaps it would be different if I had easy access to a garage of my own to do the maintenance. Perhaps.

In any case, we've made a deal with the Sailing Club committee for them to allow us to use the old, now redundant boat shed for shelter to get the necessary work done. It's due to be converted in to changing rooms, but work isn't expected to start for a while, so we have a lucky gap we've been able to exploit, in return for an appropriately proportional donation to the Club's "changing rooms conversion" fund.

She's now been in there a week drying out. She needs a little more time, but I think she's dry enough for us to start sanding.

I don't expect to be able to make her pretty again. But I would like to get her water-tight and weatherproof once more.

The centreboard case is worrying me, however.

Saturday 21 January 2017

Calstar: Cobwebs, photos of the first sail of the year

First sail of the new year today. Not counting the previously mentioned True Grit on the 1st, which was in a dinghy, on a lake. But a lovely day for it, at last. Hard frost first thing, clear skies and hazy vis, then clearing away as the temperature rose. Relatively speaking.

Locked out 1200, pottered about as the tide took us up towards the Bridge. Locked back in 10nm and 3 hours later. Wind was no more than 7 knots gusting 10 from the northeast, veering east as the afternoon wore on.

Enough for our needs.

A perfect day to knock the cobwebs off.


Preface: Shockingly, I've not posted anything up here since 11th December, aside from today's photo from out on the water. Typically, I started writing what follows at the beginning of the year, got distracted, never found the time to go back and finish it and couldn't bring myself to post anything else until I did.

I have an irrational fear of leaving things undone.

A friend nudged me, mentioned my silence and said had it not been for the usual emails back and forth between us, he'd have been worried. I found that oddly touching, the Internet is a wonderful thing and I both keep in touch with old friends and have made a few new where, a mere couple of decades ago, there would've just been silence.

I have no fear of silence, but only so long as it's on my own terms.

We live in fantastic times, despite the odd scary bit.


Had a pretty bug-ridden Christmas and New Year. Stuffed up, feverish, throat-sore and wracking coughs, but no more than any two symptoms at any time, hitting me in progression, recycling and hitting me again.

I suspect the warm winter hasn't helped. Not enough ice in the air to kill off the germs.

I watched family, friends and work colleagues all succumbing to it in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and picked a path of paranoid seclusion between them, avoiding everybody like the plague. I had a gig booked for the 23rd, and I was terrified of picking up a chest infection and losing my voice. I can generally sing through congestion, a sore throat or fever, but the second it goes to your chest and you start coughing that's generally it.

Though it has to be said, since I gave up smoking some many years ago now (think it's more than ten) I usually avoid coughs, and when they do catch me, they rarely last for long anymore.

Anyway. There was nothing special about this particular gig to make it stand out from any other, other than it was the last of the year, and other than the fact that it was the first time we'd played a venue close to home in years and years, a lovely, cosy canal-side pub called The Pilot Inn in a cosy suburb of Gloucester called Hardwicke, so close to home we could've walked. So lots of old friends and family and fans of the band (we allegedly have one or two, I understand) that hadn't seen us play live for years had made lots of various noises to suggest they'd be coming.

Losing my voice in time for it would've been a disaster on many levels, most of them personal.

I had it in my head that if I made it to the 23rd uninfected, it wouldn't matter what happened after that, I'd have all of Christmas to get over it.

I woke up on the morning of the 23rd feeling grotty, feverish and all blocked up, but that was fine. Nothing that a dose of paracetamol and a box of Kleenex wouldn't handle. We did the gig, my voice held fine.

I don't generally rate gigs one against the other. I learned a long time ago it's a bit akin to rating women; it might seem funny and clever at the time, but is an inappropriate, misguided venture that can only come back to bite you in the face later.

So suffice to say the Pilot gig was one of the good ones. A house-packed, crowd-thumping, jumping, screaming kind of good. The best way to end the year's run.

The following morning I felt like I'd been hit by the metaphorical truck. But I didn't mind in the slightest.

Christmas was good. The morning spent walking the dogs with Nikki and the kids, then over to Dad's for dinner. The following gap between there and New Year was like one long Sunday, or at least the kind of Sunday I imagine most people are used to.

Mine usually involve sailing, but other than the usual Boxing Day race, which was a bit of a drift around the lake with Ben, most of the air movement provided my my coughing in the direction of the sails, any other sailing was otherwise thwarted by a ill-fortuned combination of inclement weather and awkward tide.

Still, it was good to spend some lazy time with Nikki and the dogs.

For the first time in living memory, I spent New Year's Eve at home with Nik in front of the telly with a bottle of wine and a Chinese takeaway. The kids had all gone out to parties of their own. The band was this year mostly hungry to play but were fending off offers of gigs midnight gigs from numerous directions, as we'd been vexed by the lack of a drummer. Can't blame him; heavily pregnant wife, family commitments, I can understand his desire to stay at home this time.

So I saw in the New Year with Nikki, watched the London fireworks on the telly, a Robbie Williams concert (not my call, I long ago ceded any control of the TV remote in my house) and then a bit of Jools Holland before taking Lilly out for a walk in the early hours where I intercepted my by then somewhat inebriated youngest son (18, and to clarify, he's legally allowed to be inebriated) walking his somewhat less inebriated girlfriend home from their party, and accompanied them for the distance to make sure they didn't get lost.

Up early the following morning, I picked up my hung-over eldest son from his sister's place on the other side of town and we headed to the lake for the New Year's Day "True Grit" race. Seven boats in total. The conditions started light, but as forecast, escalated dramatically over the course of the morning, so by the end we had big, screaming gusts blowing through that saw us both hiked out and tearing along in a plume of spray.

photo: ken elsey
So good to be hanging over the side of the boat again rather than scrunched up in the bilges or hunched over on the leeward side in order to keep her balanced.

Three boats finished, the rest were forced to retire by the conditions, one Laser with a  broken mast. We finished second. A tactical error, as it means we draw committee boat duties when the race is held again next year.


Postscript: And that's as far as I got. Needed to proof-read and illustrate, and that led to an inexcusable silence. But I'm back. And fit and well once more.

More or less.

Calstar: Winter Sailing

Will be back in Portishead in about twenty minutes, but for now, the feeling is sublime.

So good to be out here again.