So far, my regular reader will know that, having sold Riff Raff, my Swallow Yachts BC23, because I was too unbalanced* to sail her any more, I’ve been pursuing the idea of building a smaller boat – a simple one with but one sail and as few bits of string to control it as possible. And one that I could make using sheets of plywood and the pre – historic method of construction – stich and glue. Although I intended to use cable ties for the stiches and Epoxy resin as the glue.
The project, codenamed Yellowhammer to reflect the UK political mood of the late summer of 2019, looked like it had fallen off it’s perch. The design was more or less finished and the CNC machine programmed to cut the plywood but I had no where to build her.
The Owers Agent and i had “downsized” from our Edwardian family home to a 1960’s “town house” at the start of my attempt to sail round Britain ( see http://vagabond-round-britain.blogspot.com/ ). This “new” house boasts an integral “double garage” which would just about contain two early mini’s ** so there was no hope of building it in there. Besides which, as the Owners Agent remarked, ‘just think of all the dust’.
Whilst Boris was negotiating with the EU, and Jeremy was sitting in the fence, I spent over a month looking for small workshop in the local area. It’s surprising how many little “industrial estates” exist in apparently agricultural buildings. They’re mostly car repairers of one sort or another, with the occasional woodworker or other craftsman. But they are all full. Having tracked down the owner of each place (and that wasn’t easy, for reasons best known to themselves) the usual anwer was “No mate, sorry we’re full”. ***
I hadn’t thought to talk with the owner of the barn where I had stored Vagabond – i knew his places were all used for agriculture. But one day I bumped into him and took the opportunity to explain my predicament. ****
He said he might have something suitable and took me to see it:
It wasn’t exactly prepossessing on the outside but there was space inside that seemed to be out of the rain. It had been (variously) a chicken breeding barn, a calf raising shed (fitted out the Min of Ag specification circa 1960) and a storage place of the various junk that a large building firm acquires during 20 years trading. It was now going to be a boat shed.
After a little negotiation during which I was able to ensure that the sliding doors almost closed, and electricity would be available and the space would be cleared I agreed to take posession from the end of October. There was no heating – but the landlord put my in touch with a useful source of pre owned (sorrt pre-loved) wood burning stoves….
The larger junk was pushed to one side and I got to work, removing about 50mm****** of various layers of unspecified detritus from the floor and installing the stove (the chimney was fitted later). I even painted the concrete floor in an attempt to reduce the dust.
The space was, if anything, too big and there were far too many drafts and sources of rubbish, so I built a tent within the space, using cheap(ish) tarpaulins. Lighting and power was installed by the landlord and he personally did the brickwork to make the doors work. An ACROPROP was generously supplied to improve the structural stabiltiy at the west end. The result became quite acceptable (in my eyes).
Just in time, too, for the plywood had been cut. Martina took me west to the coast of Wales to collect my flat pack boat (and another trailer). We sped homeward, with Martina hadly noticing the load (a little different to the journeys towing Terence with Riff Raff or Vagabond on board): the trailer was nudged through the doorway of the boatshed and that of the tent and I was ready to start.
* Physically, that is. You, the lone reader is free to judge my condition regarding other forms of balance!
** But only if you got out of them and pushed them into it with the car doors shut .
*** One such entrepreneur told me he’d keep my phone on file and call me if one of his tenants retired or died.
**** when I got the opportunity, after he’d told me how the Irish were dumping cows on Britain before Brexit happened and how he could’t get a good price on his cattle as a consequence.
***** 2 inches for any transatlantic readers