And so it begins

I’ve found out that the “new” Drascombe Lugger isn’t new. I know! Amazeballs, yah? In fact I always knew that, but I’d blanked the fact that it’s getting on for fifty years old.

As with humans, and my own life, I’ve been thinking ‘1975, yes, so?’ 1975. That means, IU don’t know, The Sweeney? Awful tee shirts with collars layered over the outside of equally dreadful chequered sports jackets? 10cc singing “I’m not in love”? Roxy Music? You see, it wasn’t all bad.

What I don’t think is ‘1975. That’s 45 years ago.’ Just O.M.G. At my age the biggest question is ‘How?’

Not that it really matters. Without gloating, lots of other people didn’t get here, but I did, along with my not-very-new but definitely lovely boat. As with anything 45 years old, it appreciates a bit of touching up, so I’ve started having a look at what needs doing, despite the resolutely foul weather lately.

The gunwale is split on the starboard side, but not all the way through so that’s been simply glue and a clamp. It’ll need sanding down when the glue is set and then the whole gunwale needs a few coats of varnish or my preferred not-really-varnish Tonkinois, which doesn’t look as if it’s been done for the past 40 years at least.

The bumpkin hadn’t been varnished either, so I did that today. First I removed all the old, splitting varnish with a pad sander, then despite the weather, two coats of Tonkinois. The nicest thing about it is that it doesn’t smell much, and it doesn’t make you go a bit funny when you work with it, unlike a lot of varnishes. You don’t even need a mask.

What it really needed was somewhere to dry, preferably hanging up and luckily I was able to borrow a barn, as one does when one lives at an eighteenth century Hall in Suffolk. I chucked a ball of twine over a roof tie-beam, tied that off to the fitting at the end of the bumpkin and hauled it up until it was a few inches off the ground. Just one coat of Tonkinois makes a difference.

So obviously, I put another coat on today. It’s not drying very fast in this damp, cold weather, so I’m just going to leave it tomorrow.

A bumpkin, in case you didn’t know, is a stick that juts out from the back of the boat, that the sheet – oh rope then, if you insist – that keeps the mizzen sail taught is attached to.

Much more potentially serious is the beginning of a split at the top of the mast. I don’t want it to get any bigger, and if water gets into it, as it will left outside in winter, and it freezes then the split will get bigger. I’m thinking dry it out in the barn, layer some very thin fibreglass matting over just the top foot of mast, then put white whipping cord around it and essentially glue it all together with fibreglass resin.

That’ll keep it from splitting, surely. And there’s one way to find out, after all. As 10cc used to sing, big boys don’t cry.

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