Monday, December 19, 2011

When we changed to timber

Ten years ago Joe and I were preparing ourselves for the arrival of our new boat. We found her in November and went to see her in the marina in Poole in Dorset where she was kept. She'd been having some vital repairs done, paid for by the seller as part of the deal - we didn't want a project. Here she is as we first saw her:

Burma Star was a motor cruiser constructed from timber – mahogany in the hull below and marine ply in the coach house above. The hull was white but the carvel planking showed through. The coach house with its angular aluminium 1960s windows had recently been given a single coat of matching white which didn't look good. The decks were pale blue. Our salesman told us the boat had been launched in 1969, one of the last to come out of the highly respected Rampart boat yard in Southampton.

We'd been looking for a while, had been to see a couple of boats that wouldn't do, being either too small or requiring too much work. Standing on the deck looking at Burma Star I tried to keep in my excitement. We were determined not to be caught up by the moment and buy something that wasn't right - we have a habit of doing that. The seller climbed on deck and invited us on board.

Up we climbed, marvelling at the way the boat held steady in the water. I peered into the cockpit. Lots of mahogany. A bit narrow. A proper instrument board with a light on a stalk you could bend around for night sailing. (Night sailing! Imagine! This boat could do that.) Above your head as you stood at the wheel was another board of switches, all labelled: wipers; cockpit light; nav. lights; instruments. The floor was painted an ugly blue.

We went into the saloon.
'Mind your head,' I said to Joe, an essential precautionary measure in Caoimhe, our tiny Freeman – the scab on the top of his head was generally fresh.

Little Caoimhe

It was palatial. You could seat six people comfortably: three down each side. The upholstery was a royal blue with small dots of gold insignia and was, we were told, new. It looked it. There was a substantial ship's table set between the seats. Highly varnished mahogany lockers (presses or cupboards to land people) were cleverly placed for maximum storage.

You could shut off the saloon from the rest of the boat with a door that closed –  there were two cabins. On the right was the galley. A two-ring hob sat above a miniature fridge, half-size sink and drainer beside it. Behind was a short section of counter. It was perfect for playing house (or boat).

Opposite the galley was the bathroom (heads in sailing-speak). Very exciting. Caoimhe had a walk-in locker containing a toilet on which, with careful manoeuvring, you could seat yourself. Here there was a toilet, a sink that pulled in and out from the wall on runners, a shower and enough space for two people to turn round.

Finally at the front of the boat was the fore cabin incorporating a V-berth: two bunks tapering into the pointy end of the boat. There was also a jolly board for linking the two together into something like a double bed so you could have jollies (contortionists only). It was all very satisfactory. I tried not to grin. I knew we'd found our boat.

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