Thursday, 16 February 2012

I know it has been way too long but, well, it’s been a damned long few months.

I will post the techie details at a later date, but following a phone call from an extremely good friend in the north of England (how’s the boat, why are you still waiting for that part – I’ll make it for you!) I emailed the drawing for my mast reinforcement bracket, then waited. When I drove up to visit my family at Christmas, I called in to see my friend on the way. I had forgotten all about the stainless plate work. It was a lovely surprise to see my bracket all welded up and looking beautiful! This surprise was only made greater by being cooked a wonderful evening meal of chilli burger and veg, with beer. . . . and also, a surprise “Captain Slinky” t shirt Christmas present! . . . . . . . And that was Christmas – I lounged around at the family home, drank an awful lot, put up with my little bro, dealt with a Capri steering rack and brake pad failure (assisted by my oldest and loveliest friends) then drove back home. Worked new year’s eve in the pub, dressed as a pirate (what else?!) then suffered total burn out for 3 or 4 days – only natural I suppose?

So, with Christmas out of the way, I set to on the lovely Maestro. Serious hard work now (as before, tech details will follow – for anyone who may be even slightly interested?), basically, having cut a bloody great hole in the boat roof with an angle grinder, and having already repaired the mast step in the garage at home, I glass-fibred it back into the boat. A professional rigger was paid lots of money to refit the mast……… Oh shit – boat now nearly ready to go back in water! This was when the stress and nerves cranked up to a whole new level! I panicked around on the boat, making sure everything was done and ready; antifoul – check, engine runs – check, spare fuel filters – check, upon the advice of a friend, I ran the diesel dry then bled the system (to check that I could) ………at this point I was ready to give up. I was dog tired, hadn’t slept properly in a long time, every waking (and most probably sleeping) hour was taken up with BOAT. I couldn’t see how it was all going to come together, how I was going to get everything done, how something major wasn’t going to go wrong on my 41 year old, unknown quantity of a boat. On Friday the boat yard lifted her into the water....... Somehow I didn’t cave in to the stress and half six on a crisp January Saturday morning I was getting dressed ready to go sailing (under motor). 
This was how she greeted me - still floating! Now I know she's a solid boat; the boat yard have known her for a while - but it's still the stuff of sailing newbie nightmares (and I do frequently dream that she's taking on water). What a relief to see her just sat there floating. Proper made me smile. :D

Ok, got the jump start pack, got a passenger ferry skipper to drive the boat for me (there’s some big rocks out there), borrowed all the kit (radios, life jackets, flares etc), got probably enough diesel to last a year, got tea, coffee and bacon….. oh, and the Moet…… we’re off!

Tom (the skipper) wanted an early start (for the tides), so we ran the boat engine up, checked the temp with the borrowed infra red sensor (very necessary as the gauge was telling some big lies) and were floating down the river by a little after nine. Beautiful, tranquil, all good! What a high, my boat, on the river Dart, on it’s way home! We hit the big bad sea not long after, it got a little more choppy but I was confident I was in good hands (and I was), so I just tried to enjoy the journey. An hour away from the marina I called and told them we’d be arriving in an hour, as the girl who took the deposit had said to. Then I just sat back and watched Torquay come into view. It was a beautiful day, sunny if a little cold, but beautiful all the same. Torquay looks it’s best in the sunshine, from the sea – all the white buildings sparkling on the headland, contrasting with the green wooded areas.It was surreal; my boat; Torquay marina; I couldn’t quite tie the two together…..
Anyways, we moored ok. Tom struggled to get her into neutral but eventually he expertly backed her into her allocated space. One of my closest friends was already waiting for us – bubbly in hand. Before we’d even got the bacon butties on,  some dude from the marina came a gave me a good telling off because that berth already belonged to someone else (think they got me confused with myself, as I’d selected that space about 2 weeks previously – and paid for it!?). I explained my innocence and never heard anything more.

We drank champagne on deck, out of plastic tumblers, and smoked cigars whilst watching the clouds glow as they skitted in front of the low winter sun. Pure bliss! We saw a sun dog (little patch of rainbow in the sky) which has significance for me - good omen...... Opening the champers at 14.00 was not clever though, really….. suffice to say, I shall not be holding any more boat parties. My poor little Maestro just doesn’t have enough room to hold 4 partying tipsy people – Lesson learnt!

I suspect that’s the first of many. Luckily the people here seem nice, I have some very good friends, without whom I wouldn’t have this boat, but I suspect that this is only the start of the journey…… to infinity and beyond!

(And I would like to thank all the lovely people I know; friends and family, but also total strangers, who have helped me with this. You have, supported me, listened to me when I was scared and miserable – then enthused and inspired me, you have fed me, leant me stuff, given your time, welded shiny things up for me, or have even just taken an interest and let me know I’m not alone in following this crazy dream. Also, thank you Mum for believing it was a suitable channel for my inheritance (and it’s the believing that matters), and thank you Dad, for leaving it for me – wish you could see her!)


  1. Congrats! You'll be taking her out for your first sail together in no time!

    1. Thanks Mitch, therre's a bit of work to be done yet (and money to be spent) before the main sail is servicable, but I'm looking forward to motoring her and getting a feel for how she moves!

    2. the big day, bit of a classic. lovely looking boat :)

    3. More boat pics please :-)

  2. Thanks Phil, I think she's gorgeous!

    David, there will be - I'll try and get a hurry on! ;)