Part 27

We had realised from all our work over the holidays that more work got done on the boat when we were there. Determined not to spend the next winter driving up and down the A1, I decided to be selfless and offer to go up to the boat in the week through my summer holidays to keep a presence on the project. Everyone has seen Grand Designs, and they always say if there is not a project manager on site then the work does not continue smoothly. I promoted myself to Project Manager and decided to get on site. In order to put some holiday spin on it, I decided to take my friend Sabrina up on her offer to come and help on the boat.

Off we went, two girls together to work on the boat and check on the progress. Sabrina was slightly jealous of my boat outfit but she put up a good show with tracky bottoms and a baggy t shirt. We looked like professional workers and the drive up flew by, Sabrina and I had plenty to talk about. Stuart, her fiancé, had finally returned to the UK and I had not seen her since his return, so we had to discuss life with Stuart back, great, wedding plans, slow and how men all need a good woman behind them.

When we arrived in Goole the guys were all on the boat and almost seemed happy to see us. I took Sabrina around and introduced her to the team, and they were all friendly but looked slightly uncertain about what to do, two women on the boat, it had been bad enough with one, I’m not sure they knew what to think.

After a well deserved tea break, we had driven a long way, talking the whole time so our throats were dry, we returned and started to sort ourselves out with work. We were going to continue cleaning and treating the decks with rust converter. Sabrina took too to the job like a duck to water, and showed off her talents to the fore particularly well with the way she cleaned around the wynch on the front deck. I can honestly say she did a better job of that than I would have. As we worked away there was a distinct change afoot, the men started to ask me questions, when we’d been before they always addressed questions to Simon, but they were happy enough to ask me. This challenged my perception of the male female divide I had assumed existed locally, still now I had to answer the questions. Was I up to the role of project manager? This would be the telling time.

‘Mary, do you know where there is fan?,’ I was asked.

‘Yes, hang on I’ll get it for you.’

‘Good job you are here, without a fan we would have had to go home.’

I smiled to myself, this was why Sabrina and I were here, to keep the boys on track. The easy questions kept coming and I felt able to answer them competently, Sabrina admitted to being a little impressed and this helped my confidence no end. Then came the question,

‘Where do you want the gear lever to be positioned, we are going to attach it now,’ as I listened to this question I knew I could not bluff and answer, I also knew Simon had a really clear idea about this.

‘I’ll ask Simon,’ I said.

‘Is he in the café?’ the boys asked.

‘No, he’s in London working, but I can phone him.’

I then saw the look of mild shock pass along the line of boys faces, ‘you two girls are here without him?’

‘Yes, but I can speak to him.’

I phoned Simon and explained the dilemma.

‘I showed them the other week where it would be best placed,’ Simon said, even I knew this was not going to help the situation.

‘It might be frustrating but I think they need to check they’ve got it right,’ I mediated.

‘I’m happy to talk to them about it; just not sure they’ll understand. How is it going with you and Sabrina on the boat?’

‘Interesting,’ I said, ‘I do feel like a project manager from Grand Designs so it must be right.’

At the end of a long day of work Sabrina and I retired to the luxury that is the Premier Inn. There was still no door on the boat, I did not feel comfortable camping out on the boat. Sabrina also needed thanking for all her hard work so a night in the premier inn seemed the least I could do.

We had a lovely meal and ordered a very nice bottle of wine from the menu, the price was fantastic compared to London prices and as we were having such a nice time, and one bottle soon leads to another. This then lead to real girls conversation, and I decided we needed to purchase Sabrina a wedding magazine first thing in the morning.  Sabrina wondered whether Stuart would think Sabrina and I away together was a good idea, still we were both having fun.

The following morning we made our way to the boat, via a local shop to purchase the much needed wedding magazine. When we got to the boat the guys were already working and there were signs of progress, all pleasing to see.

Sabrina and I continued to finish the decks with rust converter to prepare them for their journey out on the sea and to protect them from the nasty saltwater. Once we had finished this there was a job to do that was not clean or pleasant, but really needed doing. The workshop needed a good tidy, and all the tools needed sorting out from the rubbish. I had decided, as project manager, that we needed to put all the tools and other workshop type stuff into the centre of the space. My reasoning was very logical, they still needed to finish off the lining around the edge and as long as there was a whole lot of clutter in the way it would never get done. I explained the task to Sabrina and she smiled and agreed to get stuck in.

As we started to tidy, one of the guys noticed what we were doing, abut fifteen minutes later another one asked if I had any bin bags they could use. A miracle was occurring before our eyes everyone was tidying up the boat. I confided to Sabrina that this has to be her influence as never before had I seen the boys tidy up, but after an hour the boat looked a lot more ship shape and definitely nearly ready to depart.

We had been working down below decks, so I asked Sabrina to put my prescription sun glasses in a safe place with her wedding magazine. When we had finished tidying up we were getting everything ready to hit the road and return to London, I climbed the stairs and noticed Sabrina’s magazine on the roof.

‘Sabrina,’ I called to her, ‘where did you leave my glasses?’

‘On top of the magazine, like you asked.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes, why?’

‘They don’t seem to be there anymore.’

Then suddenly a light switched on in my head, they were not there as the magazine was on a curve in the roof, the magazine was glossy, shine and slippery, and my glasses were not at the bottom of the canal.

Sabrina joined me above deck, ‘can’t you find them?’

‘Ni, I think they’ve gone in there,’ I pointed.

Sabrina started laughing, and then I joined in, I could see the funny side too, and the world was not going to stop spinning just because I’d foolishly lost my glasses. Luckily I had my other glasses with me so I could still drive us back.

Sabrina and I said our goodbyes, complimented the boys on their work and drove home. It was a great ride home as we played guess the chick flick from the music, by the time I got back I had a whole list of chick flicks I wanted to see again. Working with Sabrina had been a lot of fun, and Misterton was close to coming down now – surely?