Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We're back in the water!

So Winter Solstice is afloat once again. Just before she went back in I took this photo:

I'd gone up to Portumna with Joe to do some hoovering and cleaning. Can you believe it? Jobs I hate enough at home and that's what I ended up doing on the boat. To be fair the hoovering was to remove the dust (the result of much sanding) from the deck, and particularly from the fenders so they wouldn't damage the pristine new paintwork when she was launched. And to be even fairer Joe hoovered the whole of the inside last week.

I would do more of the painting and varnishing (honest), but Joe tells me I'm slower than him, or that we can't both work on the boat together as I'll be in the way... Much as I say I don't need help with digging or shifting compost. Sometimes it's just easier to do the job yourself or, possibly closer to the truth, we all like our own sphere of influence.

The boat was launched on Thursday last - Joe was there for the event but I had poetry stuff to attend to - a meeting to decide on poems for the next issue of Skylight47 which I co-edit. I may not have told you about the first issue - see here and buy a copy!

Joe had the peel-off vinyl name stickers, picked up the day before in Limerick, and two new batteries. The sticker would have been better put on while she was on the hard, but Eamon insisted he'd done that job perfectly successfully while a boat was in slings just post-launch. Maybe not when it was quite so windy though. Joe had a bit of a bother with it, and then there was the rain, but finally it was done.

We went up together on Saturday to check the bilges. Winter Solstice had stayed in the slings for longer than we'd thought she might need to while taking up water, but was now in Connaught Harbour recuperating from her out-of-water ordeal.

The font was bigger than I'd expected - bigger than on the previous sticker, and somehow less dense. I like it. Here it is a bit closer up. 

Just after I'd taken this photo Joe asked me to spot the difference between this side and the other. 'A bit higher up?' I said. No. 'Um.' Spot was the clue. Because of the wind the dot from the i in Solstice had been whipped from Joe's hands as he was trying to stick it on, to be lost forever. I wonder how long it would have taken me to notice?

Inside she's a bit of a mess still. The floorboards are up so the level of water can be checked.

 It was still trickling in from under the starboard engine, so there may be a problem there. 'Not to worry,' said Eamon, who was walking past. If it didn't stop they'd find the spot and put a bit of silicon on it. Strange seeing water in the bilges that came from the outside - she's always been very dry except for the (too many) times when water has come from other sources. The main cause of overflowing water has been from the weed trap, particularly when we're on the canal. When it becomes clogged, we have to undo the wing nuts on top of the trap (see photo), slide the lid across and ram a stick up and down rather more vigorously than is decorous until water pours out and you know it's cleared.

This won't happen any more! A new stalk has been attached at the base of the cylinder, rising it above the water level. So we may return to dry bilges yet.

We hope to bring her down the lake to somewhere with electricity so we can finish the cleaning job. With a bit of luck the weather will be good enough this weekend. We might even stay on board. Nothing like having to live among mess as an incentive to a good clean up.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Not the end of the world after all - probably

I wondered was this how it began. Imperceptible, a slow realisation that it will never rain again and that, even though the sun shines, there is no warmth because a relentless wind blows from the icy north and dry east. Weeks it had been. Everything bleached and dry. Even the new nettles were going yellow. The fields were - still are - almost colourless.

Last year I planted the potatoes and onions just after St Patrick's Day, but this year there was no point - putting them into the cold cold ground would be a heartbreaking exercise. They would very likely fester providing food for the slugs. Except even the slugs were lying low in the bitter weather (an upside?).

But last weekend, even though the end of the world was nigh, I chanced it.

Potatoes on the right, onions on the left.

And here they are after the big coverup - the potatoes can fend for themselves being a foot under, but deer-trampled onions don't do well (four of the buggers charged across the track in front of me this afternoon as I was on my way out to do the shopping in Scarriff - heading in the direction of the Hollow. I'd better go and check...).

Finally the rain came on Wednesday. Still it looks almost like winter as I glance out of the sitting room window. It's disorientating having the evenings stretching so, but the branches still bare. The crab apple and spirea leaves in the Grove are, however, sneaking out of their buds. Brave souls!