The boat is about 100 miles away from where we live, to be honest it takes about the same amount of time in any direction to get to the sea, but the drive to Newport is a good one for me. It makes sense that I go down the night before to work on the boat, I get the evening without distractions and I have as much of the next day to finish off what I’ve started, so I decided the end of November would be the first time sleeping on the boat.
The last time I went down I met up with a friend of mine from the New Forest, Jamie. Jamie has been brought up with boats and worked with the up until the last few years but continue to sail on his dad’s boat in Sark. Unfortunately Storm Angus passes through and it was a total washout so apart from a few odds and sods we didn’t really get anything done. As the mast had been taken out and sitting on someone else’s mast stands I thought I had better make the effort to mouse the halyards and inspect the standing rigging, and because Angus put a stop to that the first time I needed to get it done pronto.
After a family meal in Welshpool I left the in-laws and headed down to Newport, car packed and hot water bottle top of the pile. I’m not sure if it was because it was dark but it felt like eternity to get down there, passing through every quaint Welsh village on the way, it felt like I passed through the same one a dozen times but eventually I made it to the boat. Getting through security and into the yard, head torch donned I opened the boat, connected the battery and unloaded the car. First thing first was and cup of tea, the full gas bottle connected on the cockpit and after sniffing along the pipework I lit the cooker. With the kettle whistling my first brew was made, a result! One thing I did notice was the rubber gas pipe off the regulator was dated 1991…. they should be changed every five years so that’s another job on the list.
The wiring on Sundance is a bit of a birds nest. It works, but I have no idea what’s what, the previous week Jamie and I removed a couple of lengths of old cable that wasn’t connected to anything, either end! The DSC VHF, needs to be connected to the GPS, so that if we need so send a Mayday it will have out coordinates. It’s a pretty simple job but in install, like most of the other electrics on the boat has been done to a “get it to function” standard, which as I’ve said works but it could all be done to a much higher, neater standard. Sorting this out, soldering and heatshrinking the connections took a large part of the evening, but it’s working now.
Alas, we come to the bedding down part, a simple roll mat and sleeping bag was laid out on cushionless port side saloon berth and the kettle whistled away again to fill the hot water bottle. I know you have to be so careful in boats what it comes to gas, boats are so good area keeping water out they don’t let the fumes or excess unburnt butane out either. I left the companion hatch open, sat the carbon monoxide alarm on the table and turned the gas off at the bottle after each use.
Maybe, because I had been working, using the cooker and with a slight beer jacket on it felt quite warm. Feeling optimistic for a good night’s sleep I put the near nuclear hot water bottle at the feet end and zipped up the sleeping bag right to the top. It wasn’t long till the air had a cold bite to it and shear tiredness took over to get me to sleep. I woke many times during the night as the cold set in, pulling the hood of the bag up over my head and bringing the now not so nuclear hot water bottle up to my chest was the only way I could keep warm.
I woke about half seven to a grey sky, I had made it through the my first night on the boat! I cup of tea and slice or two of toast warmed the air in the cabin and put me in good stead for the day. I got on with my list of jobs as the boat yard slowly filled with men wearing the similar attire nipped to the tea cabin at the waters edge just past Sundance.