Sunday, 10 June 2007

Roobarb and custard

Well the deck went on fine, then, creaking and groaning, the gunnels. With ratchets straps, clamps, knees, elbows and a mouthful of screws I forced them into position. Then took them off and did it all again with epoxy. I planed and sanded the gunnels to shape and stood back to admire the quality of completeness they bring to the boat. It all looked good, very good, too good, in fact, to last.

I was working in a congratulatory frame of mind, basking in the projected glory of a finished boat, when I did a silly thing, a very, very silly thing. Even the twittering blackbirds were reduced to silence by the mad barking issuing from under the boat. I got to my feet and did half an hour of penitential deck sanding before I could even think straight—installing a self bailer in the cockpit sole I’d cut off the forward end of the skeg.

Ferreting through a pile of scrap for something to rebuild the skeg’s front end I was reminded of a children’s animated TV series called Roobarb and Custard about an enterprising and resourceful dog, Roobarb, who, in the heat of the midday sun, would think up crackpot schemes then disappear to rummage in a shed and rapidly reappear with some fantastic invention. Custard, a sceptical cat, along with a host of colourful birds would look on hoping to enjoy a spot of schadenfreude as Roobarb’s invention spectacularly failed. The series conveyed an atmosphere that is often prevalent round here, though obviously the language in the workshop wouldn’t be suitable for a children’s program.

I repaired and repainted the skeg and, just when everything was going along smoothly again, I upped the ante by naming a launch date. It seems that this has been tantamount to pulling the trigger of the setback gun—there’s been another bout of severe deck staining, pollen and mud seeping through the poliytarp cover, not to mention the copious smattering of bird shit. Every time the swifts swoop by like a squadron of fighter planes I run for the boat cover but the blackbirds are the worst, I don’t know what they’re eating at this time of year but the stains are deep purple. I got the caustic soda out again but had a worrying time of it with acid dripping into the boat and burning the paint. The decks go a beautiful dark colour when they’re wet but there’s some filler I’ve used that stands out in bright pale patches. I bumped into Mr Mushroom in the hardware shop and asked his advice; he recommended that I try varnishing the filler on some scrap and went on to make some very complimentary remarks about the size of my red peppers. I invited him to the launch.

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