Part 24

The end of May, the week with the bank holiday, the week we had had a loose plan to treat ourselves to a relaxing holiday, Greece I still thought was a good option, Turkey, somewhere with sea and sand where I could reacquaint myself with scuba diving. If you’ve  never been diving I recommend you try it at least once in your life, its liked being suspended in air, still, calm and surrounded by beautiful aquatic life. The colours in the underwater world are striking and stimulate your eyes in a very pleasurable way. After diving on a good dive, I feel so relaxed and totally at one with myself. I must admit though that I am a fair-weather diver, not for me the dry suit no visibility diving in the UK, I only dive in places where you can wear a shorty and need plenty of sunscreen to keep the tan golden. However all this reminiscing of holidays before boat needs to be put on ice, we were not going anywhere. The boat had been scraped and vac tanned every possible place we could inside and we needed the spray foam insulation to go in.

We were so close and yet so far, twice already the spray foam had been booked and had to be postponed. There was still welding to be done and the best way to ensure the next deadline was met was for us both to be on site. Bye bye Greece hello Glorious Goole.

I had run out of jobs to do that involved scraping inside the boat, in fact, inside the main hold of the hull I had run out of rust. I could not start painting inside till the fit out was started, and this could not start till the spray foam was done – I have mentioned yet that waiting for the spray foaming was driving me crazy? – the solution was obvious, I would start painting the outside of the boat.

Our first weekend in Goole, the bank holiday weekend, finally the English weather tradition was broken and we had glorious sunshine. The sunshine heated up the outside of the boat, and it became warm, then passed warm and became extremely hot. I was tempted to fry an egg on it just to see if it worked, a science teacher when I was at school said car boots often became hot enough to fry eggs and I wondered if the same was true for roofs. Having no eggs I didn’t try but also did not perch for sunbathing as it was also too hot to sit on without burning any part of your body that came in contact, even my boiler suit was no protection from the ferocious heat.

I was extremely hot in my outfit for the boat and beginning to feel that my feminity was disappearing. Simon suggested whilst it was too hot to do anything with the outside I should go to Tesco’s and buy a new boat outfit for working more suitable for the climate we were now in. This was nearly like buying a new outfit for going on holiday, I was convincing myself this was a working holiday and the outfit purchase would help me to fool myself.

I tried on a variety of outfits at Tesco’s, changing in and out of my boiler suit s few times. I noticed a lady who could have been a store detective hanging around me a lot, either that or she had a fetish for boiler suits. I know it could not have been anything else as I was nearly three quarters of an hour and every time I came out if the changing room she was pretending to be engrossed in the selection of sexy nylon and polyester underwear that only Tesco’s can do. No female on this earth could spend all that time looking at a small selection of underwear with such fervent concentration, it was simple, she thought I was putting outfits on under my boiler suit to walk out with – how very dare she?

Eventually I decided to be sensible and abandoned the white knee length shorts with a pale top and settled for three quarter combat trousers in navy with a v necked navy sleeveless top. A V neck line has always suited me best it really enhances my image, whilst a scooped neckline just makes me look messy, Gok would be proud. It was a few weeks later that I realised the three quarter trousers were actually full length, but it worked for me as a summer look, and if I didn’t tell anyone who would ever know?

I returned to work on the boat, the midday heat was passed and I felt cooler in my new stylish outfit. Simon and I were going to do a task together; we were going to paint the roof. First of all we had to brush it down and then sugar soap to prepare the surface. It was cooler but still quite hot, the water was taking about 45 seconds to dry once it was  put on, which meant once we had washed the roof down we could move straight onto painting.

When we had looked at the mooring in Kew we had also been given a tour of one of the neighbours’ boat, and the gentleman had introduced us to a paint we had not heard of before. It is a solar reflective paint and comes in one colour – silver. This is because it contains aluminium in it, it is an expensive paint but reflects the sun and along with insulation (which we would get one day) will help to keep the boat cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We thought it could be worth a try as anything that kept the temperature good in the boat and required no additional power would help to keep our boat environmentally friendly.

We both started to paint it on and it was a good paint to work with, but it looked bizarre and like nothing I had ever seen when painting before. It looked like we were painting tin foil on the roof, it was really bright and almost seemed to slither across the roof as though it had a life of its own, and then when deciding its own resting place on the roof, it took on the appearance of a blanket like they give marathon runners at the finish line.

I remembered the words of the gentleman on the boat, ‘after I’d painted it I did wonder what I had done, it was so bright and I needed to wear sun glasses all the time, but after about six months it settled down to more of a grey colour.

We carried on and in under an hour we had painted the whole roof, it looked fabulous but you did need sunglasses. Locals were walking past and sitting in the nearby boat house; a few comments drifted toward me and made me smile.

‘That’s a bloody car colour, it looks ridiculous.’

‘You can’t look at that it’s so bright, they must be mad.’

‘Do you think that’s the undercoat?’

Little did they know there was method to our madness, eventually they would see that it was a good idea – I hoped?

The next day we saw the boat builder as we begun a week of work to make the spray foam deadline, he looked dubiously at the roof, ‘it’s rather bright?’

Simon smiled, ‘it will be bright for a few months but then it will settle down, it is special solar resistant paint and will help keep the boat cool.’

Still the boat builder looked dubious but he made no further comment.

Simon knew that to get the boat ready for spray foaming he would have to do some of the needle gunning. The edge of the boat on one side of the hull had not been done and this had to be done before the insulation was put in, as once the insulation was in no welding could be done, so any holes found afterwards would be a huge problem.

There were still a number of other holes in the hull and at the bulkhead that needed to be fixed and with the amount of time left to make our deadline – 4 days – there was too much for the guys to do. Simon climbed onto the raft alongside Misterton and started to needle gun the edge.

Before starting his job Simon had shown me how to mix car filler and then use it to build up the pits on the side of the boat so that there was a smoother finish. One it had hardened I then had to sand it down for a smoother finish, and if necessary put on another layer. To smooth the filler down we borrowed an orbital sander from the boat builder. This job seemed to me to call on two skills that could transfer across, one was icing a cake where you dip a knife in hot water to get a smooth finish, and the other was filing nails to get a nice shape to the end of your fingers. I was working outside in my new outfit, with sunscreen and my ipod as my own personal karaoke machine. I was strangely enjoying my working holiday.

When we stopped for coffee Simon told me that he had found a few holes so far.

‘A few?’ I asked anxiously, ‘what are we going to do about all of them? Can we get them fixed in time?’

‘Hopefully, lets see how many more I find.’

As the morning progressed, I asked Simon tentatively if he’d found anymore.

‘I’m at about fourteen,’ he said.

I went into the hull to get some more sandpaper and bumped into one of the guys.

‘Alright?’ he asked. I knew he wasn’t really asking if I was alright, but just making noises for the sake of it as he still had not quite worked out what to do when there was a woman present. Still he had asked so that meant I could choose to take him literally.

‘Not really, Simon has just found another 14 holes in the side that are all going to need welding, and I don’t know how we’re going to get them fixed before the deadline for the insulation.’

‘Where are they?’

‘On the outside edge he’s working on.’

‘Don’t worry we can always weld on the outside after the foaming.’

I could not believe what I was hearing, was he trying to be funny?

‘You can’t weld on the outside or the inside once it’s been spray foamed, its got to be done first.’


‘It’s been a year, over a year, this is driving me crazy, I don’t know I just don’t know,’ I had the sense to realise I was about to go to far and took myself off to calm down.

Over lunch I explained to Simon that I had lost my temper and was not sure what the reaction would be, he was understanding and said it was not surprising and he was sure the guys would understand.

We returned to the boat and there was a surprise, they had called in a second welder. I turned to Simon and smiled, ‘maybe I should have gone a bit crazy before?’

‘You’re always crazy,’ he said.

‘Cheeky monkey,’ I exclaimed.

This little development reminded me of the fear men in men’s world have when a woman appears to be going mental, it’s not surprising really as lets face it there are cases in America when women have been forgiven for murder as they were suffering from really bad PMS. Men who operate in a dominantly male culture feel out on a limb when a woman points out problems. The natural inclination from men is that they want to fix the problem, to a woman if the problem gets fixed it’s a bonus, normally they just need to vent to someone who would listen sympathetically. Whatever their reasons for bringing in the second welder; whether it was fear or shock, I was delighted and secretly Simon was too.

The work progressed and finally the boat was ready for the spray foaming. The company turned up promptly in the morning, and efficiently got the boat ready in less than half an hour. At this point it was discovered that the front bulkhead weld was not entirely complete, a small gap existed.

I counted to ten, and decided to say nothing, I knew that if I said anything it certainly would not be helpful and would probably make things a hundred times worse. The man from the spray foam asked what the problem was.

‘They’ve found a gap at the front and it needs welding,’ we told him.

‘We can work from the back to the front and give them time to fix it,’ he suggested, I could have kissed him.

They men got to work at the front and the back of the boat. Unsurprisingly the spray foam team got to the front before the weld was finished. I was anxious that they would want to finish and leave and either get irritated by the wait or increase the price. I did the only thing I knew and offered them food and drink.

‘No thanks love, we’ve plenty here.’

‘I’m not sure how long they’ll be, they might be another hour yet.’

‘Doesn’t matter we’ll sit and have a little break, it’s a lovely day.’

They were right it was a lovely day and I sat with the guys and worked on my Yorkshire tan. They explained how these jobs can take anything from 2 or 3 hours to 2 or 3 days with the price staying the same. Our boat had been simple as it was well prepared, I felt like I was getting a good school report for all the work Simon and I had done with a little help from our friends. They were impressed that we had worked around the underwater weld that needed doing and said when they came to foam the back cabin they could fill those gaps in for us. This was all music to my ears.

Finally the weld was complete, the spray foam got the go ahead and the final section was completed. I felt delighted, I could not believe the sense of happiness and satisfaction I got from seeing it finished. I couldn’t help thinking about the amount of preparation that had gone on – over a year to get it ready.

I kept repeating, ‘I can’t believe it took 14 months to prepare and 3 hours to insulate. I know its all in the preparation but that’s a lot of preparation.’

Now Misterton was ready to begin rebuilding, our new home was one step closer to being a home we could live in.