How She Was
27th January 2015
27th January 2015
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Scrub Up

für mein schönes Mädchen 1 from Bill Hitchins on Vimeo.


In the ‘summer’ of 2010 Katja and I lived on board Orque whilst in the yard in beautiful Woodbridge.  Living in the same small space that occupies your home and work area is a significant commitment.  Amenities  were at a minimum, showers taken infrequently at the local swimming pool.  I got some odd looks from a line of showering men as the gutter turned deep blue with anitfoul dust.  Most food kept by storing it in the bilges during the day and the cockpit at night.  After a short time a sort of system emerges and life becomes pleasant again.  Plus Woodbridge has a good splattering of proper pubs to keep your hand in, as it were.


We had a particularly English summer and made full use of both days.  It only rained about three days per week, which isn’t bad for August.  A lesson learnt the hard way is a lesson learnt well; the first job is ALWAYS to drop the rig, tenting is made very much easier.  On such a small boat it can be easily done with two long, sturdy poles (not the type that would come and tile your bathroom).  See this simple method in the ‘VIDEOS‘ menu.

We raked out and re-caulked around twenty foot of seam in total, sanded and re-painted top and bottom, sorted the rig, got rid of the stupid little inboard engine, carried out various repairs to the hull, rudder, deck and interior and swamped various parts of her in water based epoxy.  The plan for the time we had was simply to make her watertight and ready for sea, well, coast at least.  We knuckled down and worked well into most nights with no days off, for about a month.  Then, with no time to spare, she was ready for the water just before the coming spring tide; our one and only chance to launch.  That was certainly the impression I got until I put the tiller on at the end of the day and noticed that the rudder stock and the tube it is supposed to turn inside of were turning together.  This meant removing the rudder, this was also just before dark on the evening before our two day window of tide. 


We had to make this spring tide.  If this did not happen the trip did not happen and we would have worked for nothing, to have to leave her there as we both returned to paid work soon after the next springs.  We had a good friend helping us and managed to have it out by four in the morning.  Unfortunately, even though we had managed to separate the two by about ten a.m, we could not find a suitable part to re-attach the heel before the high tide made it’s way back out.  We still had one more chance the following day and managed to use a length of bolt which was wildly unsuitable as it was stainless steel (two very dissimilar metals next to each other in salt water) but it was all that could be procured and we made high tide the next day.  

I didn’t really know what to expect as the weight came off the lifting strops.  I had never caulked before and now in many places that was what was keeping the water out.  I was then heartily pleased when there was only a trickle, making the bilge pump cycle every 3/4 of an hour which by 24 hours was down to drips, this then ceased by half way into the second day.  


The next days were spent preparing her for sea.  First thing was to get the basic safety kit; VHF, running lights, life jackets, charts, all that good stuff.  Our good friend, as an ex-coastguard, was straight into that while we saw to the multitude of husbandry tasks, after which we were ready for sea trials…


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