Saturday, 2 June 2007

It’s a gas,gas,gas

After what seems like days of interminable faffing; umming, arring, making decisions, hesitating, changing my mind, dithering, cajoling myself to the brink, thinking better of it, having another idea, not writing it down, forgetting it and eventually going back to my original plans, I’ve finished the jobs in places that will be inaccessible with the decks on. And, having assured myself that all considerations have been considered I have, at last, affixed the decks to the hull.

I gathered weights for holding the deck flat while the glue cured and surrounded Onawind Blue with an assortment of gas bottles, large stones and logs. Then, as the day started to cool, I mixed up seven squirts of epoxy. To me this is a worryingly large quantity, and I’d just started to spread it on at an energetic pace when two friends turned up. Luckily they understood the situation and stood back to watch. Now, I don’t know if it’s just me but I find it very difficult to work when I’m being watched, the pressure’s on, I get nervy, I don’t think straight. I laboured on in a flustered fashion, used up the epoxy and mixed up seven more. And then Chief Vitalstatistix arrived.

I haven’t seen him for a while, and I presented him with a wan smile as his rotund form hove into view. Seeing what I was doing, Vitalstatistix began a protracted discourse on epoxy—he told me that it was a two part, petroleum based resin, and that once the two components were thoroughly mixed one only had a limited amount of time to work with the said resin. He was about to tell me how to apply it when I interrupted, ‘Hey Vital,’ I said, ‘How say we apply some of this resin to your mouth, see how long it takes you to shut up?’

No, of course I didn’t really. What, mild mannered me? No, I just grimaced and continued to beaver away.

This was all text book Sod’s law and the job ended up taking much longer than expected. Eventually darkness fell and so I got the lamp out and began tidying up. While I scraped away at the excess resin it occurred to me that I was sitting in my boat, I was inside the space defined by Onawind Blue, my own hand-built boat.

The stars were coming out, Venus shone brightly in the west, chasing the sun beyond the horizon. I looked up at the Pole Star then followed the handle of the Plough back to where Arcturus was rising orange above the rooftops, then let my eyes wander on to find Sirius shimmering in the east. I could hear the sea in the distance and smell the warm textures of the cooling land. Admittedly there was an electric lamp in the boat and I was surrounded by gas bottles, large stones and logs but for a moment I almost believed that I was out there, camping in some quite cove. And then a yellow moon rose, like a fat, happy cheese.

Call me a dreamer, a hopeless romantic, but it was almost more sensory stimulation than I could bear. I downed tools and lay back in the boat.


OzzyC said...

It's interesting to not only read about the boat building process, but to read the story itself. You have a gift for relaying tales.

ben said...

Thanks ozzyc, I don't feel qualified to write a 'how to' blog, so I make the most of everything else.

Anonymous said...

hey Ben !! ALOHA !
i meant to send a message earlier but i'm also busy working on boats here, in southern France... (bad excuse but nevertheless !) so i'm the little frenchy you met through Martial 3 weeks ago and whom you never managed to finish a conversation with (sorry by the way for being rude). I would have liked to ask you many questions about your boat-building but also about the "blue disc" you mentionned...
i did not succeed, so far, to read much of your writtings on the blog, i'm hardly online anyway, but i plan to find time for it soon-ish. i mean it honestly, it is just a nice matter of fact, since a few months i keep meeting people who build boats and i end up realising I MIGHT AS WELL ! so i'm sincerely interested and will keep myself updated about your plan/dream/work/boat (how will you call her by the way ?)
I like you pics a lot, and the "it's a gas..." one touches me even more coz i read the text and imagined you surronded by thoses bottles which i helped putting on, and with the gorgeous night sky i know from this beautiful place i miss (i'm harassing Martial to come earlier in July then i can drop by again, this house on the beach is addictive !!)... Then i try to imagine the feeling of yours between concrete satisfaction about the work you've done and that you can see, touch, sleep on even... and the amazing projection (can you say this in English ?) in your mind like : i'm on my boat, i see the stars... the gas bottle don't exist any longer, the grass turn into water... i'm sailing already !
i'm getting into it myself, i should cool down and go back to my boat-stories here (heavy work is finished, only small things to do, not hard but boring kind of, i just can't wait to be on the sea again !)
i believe we eventually catch up (a lo mejor este verano por mediterraneo, quien sabe ?!)
take care, have fun etc... carry on with this beautiful dream coming true !

Ben said...

Hi Aurore,
I've only just discovered your friendly comment. Maybe we'll see down here this July.